We woke up around 7am, feeling very refreshed. We did some re-arranging of our packs and looked at pictures from the day before. Because we were worried about the camera batteries dying, we hadn't really looked at any of our photos during the whole trip. But now that we'd made it to the top, on the original batteries no less (we had plenty of spares), that was no longer an issue. Ironically, the battery in the Sony camera finally died, which was very impressive given the number of pictures taken and the small size of the battery.

We got breakfast at 8, and got on the trail sometime between 8:30 and 9:00. The walk was all downhill, which was good and bad. The good part was that we had more oxygen to breathe, and the temperature was warmer. The bad part was that our old knees and feet really didn't appreciate the pounding going downhill. The farther we went, the slower we got. For the first hour or so, we had good views of Kibo behind us. After that, it was quite cloudy up at the summit, although it was still sunny where we were. We realized, again, how lucky we were with the weather the day before - we could have had that same cloudy weather.

After about an hour, we started to see some of the same plants we saw on the Shira Plateau. Today, however, they were much larger and much more dense. Presumably the reason for this is water, as there is much more rain on the southern and eastern slopes than the western and northern slopes. We saw a couple of malachite sunbirds, which like the Protea flowers. One was particularly close to the path, which was nice since our big DSLRs weren't with us - we didn't want to lug them up and down the mountain. On the way down, we were passed by some people who were already descending from their summit attempt that same morning. While we had been up for only 3-4 hours, they had been up for 8-9, hiking the whole time. Good for them - their knees are undoubtedly better than ours.

We got to camp a little after noon. It was nice, sunny and warm outside, a welcome change for us. Justin used the shower tent, and he didn't have to shiver his way through this time. Lunch was leek soup and meat pies (basically giant empanadas), which were cleaned out quickly by the 3 of us. After scarfing everything down, we spoke with Joseph about his career aspirations. While he isn't old (we think he's younger than us), he was about the only guide on the mountain with any gray hair, and you can't be a guide forever. But he told us he really enjoys his current job, and doesn't have anything on the immediate horizon. Interestingly, after his first time up the mountain as a porter, he said never again. Now he's summited 207 times as a guide, and has been up the mountain many more times as a porter. He told us he thinks of the mountain as his home.

Justin offered his hiking boots to Joseph, which he enthusiastically accepted. Neither of us has any long or arduous hikes in our future, and Justin's trail running shoes (which he used about 1/3 of the time on the Kilimanjaro trek) are more than sufficient for most trails. Basically, Joseph was going to get much more use, and much better use, out of the hiking boots. Joseph mentioned that every time he reached the summit with the boots, he'd remember us, which was a nice gesture.

After lunch, we set aside other items to give away as gifts. We wanted to make sure we had at least one thing for everyone, 17 in all - Joseph, Alexi, Zachio, Franco, and the 13 porters (2 others had already gone down). We set aside warm weather hats, gloves, Crystal's balaclava, our gaiters (which we never used, they were still brand new), two of our four water bottles, some "snack packs" full of the snacks we hadn't eaten on the hike, some of the hand and foot warmers we hadn't used, and some other stuff. Since we had already given Joseph some boots, we next grabbed Alexi, Zachio, and Franco and had them choose what they wanted. Then we grabbed Elo, who had maintained the shower and toilet tents for us. For the remaining 12 items, we just wrote down numbers on pieces of paper and had a lottery for first through twelfth choice. Just before dinner, we gave everything away, and also got everyone to sign our trail map. We'll get that framed when we get home. We had a slightly early dinner, since we'd be leaving early the next morning. We chatted some with Joseph after dinner - it's amazing the wealth of knowledge he has about all things Kilimanjaro. We also tentatively agreed to go again, together, in 40 years. We'll see.