Day 1 - Machame
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Mon Jan 14th

Start Machame Gate 12:15pm 1800 m 5904 ft
End Machame Camp 6:45pm 3000 m 9840 ft
Distance 10 km 6.2 mi
I woke early this morning at the Marangu Hotel, all ready to go.  We got things packed up & had breakfast - took all my valuables (including wallet, passport & most money to the office for safekeeping. Then the porters & guides started gathering for work.. They had already picked who they wanted to use but a crowd was outside the hotel hoping for a job.  They assigned 4 guides & 15 porters to our party of 6.  Three of the guides also carried smaller loads. The head guide is Joseph & Frederick is his asstant.  The personal porter for my gear is John. I would have thought they would try to get going earlier in the morning but their scheduled time to head out was not until 9am. 

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Porters lined - ready at Marangu Hotel

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Group at Machame Gate

It took almost 2 hours to drive in a Landrover to the Machame gate.  The last few km was pretty steep & rough.  It was raining when we got there & there were a number of other groups there head of us.  We were able to wait in a shelter while Frederick began arranging the fees & paperwork.  It was raining pretty hard all this time. Finally at 12:15 we were ready to hit the trail.  They gave us sack lunches at the hotel before we left so we were ready.
 I had put on my gaiters, rain pants & shell so did not mind hiking in the rain. It started rising gently at first but occasionally got steep.   We were hiking thru a rain forest with lush vegetation everywhere.  The rain slowed down but the trail was very wet & muddy & slippery.  We started off trying to follow the advice to take it slow and steady but I thought we were too slow since we started at about 6300 ft. Several other groups passed us but we kept on.  We ate our lunches about 2:00 with only a brief stop.  Often it was Tom leading - I deliberately tried not to lead since I knew I would hit too fast a pace for some. Most of the way we just followed up a ridge edge between 2 valleys. As the day went on, the trail seemed to get nastier.  I even fell once when my stick slipped.  I was using two walking sticks and very grateful for them. 

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Hiking the muddy trail

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Machame camp

It was almost 6:45pm when we topped the ridge and staggered into camp. The cook tent & 3 sleeping tents were up & they were putting up a dining tent.  After putting our gear in our tents they brought us hot water for washing.  Then they served tea & popcorn in the dining tent.  Then came dinner - soup, bread, potatoes, spaghetti, mystery meat and bananas for dessert. They had a folding table in the tent & stools to sit on. They set out cloth napkins with the silverware - quite elaborate - more than I expected.   I ate till I was stuffed - we were carbo loading for the next leg.  Finally off to bed.