Hiking in a Forest of Giant Plants!

Three people take water samples from a brook.
Measuring water temperature.

After breakfast we split into the two groups.  Mark Brettenny of GLOBE Africa's Regional Office and I, stayed with group 1 to focus more on science.  Our next camp site is Baranco camp, 3940m, so a lower elevation than Lava Tower and set in a magnificent glacial valley. 

A sharp and steep rock formation.
Lava Tower, over 100 m high and formed when the volcano was active.

During the hike we stopped and took a stream measurement.  The stream was frozen, and the Omani students were excited to see it.  The water flowing underneath had a temperature of 5C. 

Several people hike through rocky terrain with tall vegetation.
Hiking in the clouds through a forest of Giant Groundsel.

We hiked through a layer of clouds to get to the camp site.  As the clouds cleared our guide James told us about some of the endemic Kilimanjaro plants, including the Giant Groundsel (Senecio kilimanjari).  Its adaptation includes having 'woolly' leaves that allow it to survive the cold.

View of clouds from a mountain height.
Clouds roll in the Baranco Valley. At this attitude, we were now above the clouds!

As we reached the site, we could see group 2 hiking up the 'wall.'  This is short for Baranco Wall... a practically vertical wall of lava to be climbed!  They waved their Omani flags and the students with us waved back.  It was good to make that connection.

At this campsite, we are still above some clouds.  What a beautiful sight to look down on cumulus clouds!  We got to camp relatively early and had a few restful hours for the group.  They are in good spirits now, we hope the altitude will not be such a challenge as we continue.

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