Finally to Base Camp

December 10, 2006
Day 438

Kaieteur Trek Day 3

Picture of beach.

Craig and Sally sitting on the beach at Wartok Falls.

The rain finally stopped sometime before sunrise, so were able to break camp in somewhat dry conditions today. We made our way through some more difficult terrain and got to Wartok Falls after about an hour of walking. Craig, Sally, and I relaxed on the beach for about ten minutes, but Diego immediately jumped into the water, fully clothed. He looked absolutely exhausted. We continued walking to where we thought the settlement would be, but unbeknownst to us, it was on the other side of the river.
Sally had taken the responsibility of helping Diego, and pretty soon Craig and I got way ahead of them. We stopped at a nice spot for some breakfast, but there was another problem. My stove was broken. The pump that compresses the fuel bottle wasn't working, and I couldn't figure out offhand how to pull it apart. I had been using it without incident almost daily for weeks until now. I was starving after eating nothing all day yesterday other than a little bread, so the stove broke at the worst possible time. We decided to try to get to the falls and fix the stove later. We could always cook on a fire if necessary.

The path wasn't nearly as bad today, partly because it gets used more, partly because it's upstream, so the side streams aren't quite as big. Consequently, the trek changed from masochistic yesterday to quite enjoyable today. I lost sight of the river a few times crossing the side streams, but never for more than a few minutes. By 2:00 PM, Craig and I were at the base camp. We decided to wait there for the others to show up, and decide from there whether we wanted to lug all of our gear to the top.

We cooked a huge breakfast and lunch on a fire, and finally my stomach was full. It was sunny all afternoon, so I was able to get everything fairly dry. The area around the camp was absolutely beautiful with pristine jungle in all directions, a large set of rapids, and another waterfall on the other side of the river. We couldn't see Kaieteur yet, but we found the path that leads to the top. We did some more fishing and waited some more for the others.

At dusk, Diego and Sally still hadn't shown up. I was worried, but Sally is a local who is way more competent in this type of outdoor situation than even Craig, so we decided to give them another day to show up before going off to look for them. Tomorrow we'll head to the top of the falls without our gear and come back down again.

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