Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro Part 1


A few years ago, I summited Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa. the peak is 19,347 feet and it was the toughest thing that I have ever done. Mentally and physically.

The journey was filled with lessons...with love...joy...friendship...hardship...grit...perseverance...overcoming obstacles and triumph.

Today, I am going to tell you the story about it.

One of the greatest things that I had started doing many years ago, is to keep a travel journal on my journeys. I remember the intricate details that way. From time to time, I take them out and read them and it makes me smile. It makes me recount the special moments that meant so much to me back then. If you don’t do this already when you travel, I highly recommend it. Mine aren’t fancy. They are plain brown thin notebooks with the stories of my life, lessons and travels in them.

Now, for those of you who don’t know me, 2016 was a rough year for me. I had gotten out of a very abusive relationship with mental and physical scars, my beloved step-father had passed away. My poor brother was in a world of hurt and pain. I wanted to get the F out of here.

So, just like any other sane woman would do, I picked Africa. LOL. My parents wanted to kill me. A single girl, traveling all of the way to Tanzania by herself.

Training time!

Now...I consider myself to be in really great shape, especially for a 40 + year old....but THIS training that I was about to embark on took me to a whole different level. I had to way way up the lunges, the leg work, upper body strength (to pull myself up the mountain when needed and FYI this turned out to be invaluable...as I was not only able to help myself, but others too) the stamina, cardio, running, oxygen depravation etc.  Needless to say, the training was very difficult. I trained my ass off. Every day for a little over 3 months. I would put my boots on, put 50 lbs in my backpack and put my oxygen deprivation training mask on and go hike miles and miles in the middle of summer in San Antonio, TX. I looked like a complete weirdo, but I didn’t care. I even made a sign that I wore that said, “Training for Kilimanjaro” so that people would stop stopping me on the trails asking me what the heck I was doing. By the time August hit, I was ready.

So, I packed all of my gear and hopped on the plane and flew to Tanzania.

You see, I really want to travel the world. I feel like this is something I am supposed to do. I have a sense of wandering about me and I want to explore and experience places and things...and conquer and challenge myself. I love to see how other people live and I am so blessed to have a career that allows me to do this.

So, you might be thinking, “Why Kilimanjaro?” I think that I just wanted to know that I could conquer it. The year had started so horribly, part of me wanted to just run away. To me, it was a journey to find awareness and to just think shit out. In my own words back then, I wrote, “So, my journey of self-discovery starts here...figure shit out, or maybe not. Maybe that is what I will figure out...that I don’t have to figure it out.”

And here is my journey...

You are going to hear about what it was like and what I learned along the way. I will be taking several snippets from my travel journal. I hope you enjoy...


Ahhhh day 1. This is at the beginning of the Trek. I was all nice and fresh still at this point. Full of hope and vigor.




Day1: Shira Camp. Well we made it through the day and we set up camp at Shira Camp that is roughly 12,000 feet up! It is cold as shit. I now have on my fleece pants, support socks, winter coat and a hat. It is about 6:30 Tanzania time and the porters are making dinner that smells delicious. I wish I would have brought more shirts and socks. Note to self: bring those items. I fit in well with the group, a bunch of doctors, but I made them all laugh when I told them I was the loan doctor. Bad joke. 

What I learned today: #1-We are so lucky to live in the USA. The things that I saw today are incredible. They are so poor. #2-Don’t bitch about stuff when hiking. The porters carry way more than you do so suck it up. They climb Kilimanjaro in freakin tire sandals that they made and carry bags on their heads, back and shoulders.

Day 2: Shira II Camp. Today I got to see a sunrise over Mt. Kilimanjaro and that was a freakin awesome start to my day. Last night I froze again, but this time, I had multiple laters on. Today we started our hike at 8:30am and finished around 2:30 or so. It was a long, hard day but I know that they will get ever harder, so best not to complain even if it is to myself. We are at 12,870 feet now...we went op to over 13,800 feet and then descended back down to sleep. They are trying to get us acclimated to the altitude. Only 7000 feet more to go LOL!  I am all alone right now on the top of a rock on the side of the mountain. Adjusting to the altitude so far so good...I am exhausted but I don’t want to go to bed too early for fear of waking up too early! Praying this continues that I handle the height.

I must say that Kili looks a heck of a lot different than all of the pictures you see. There are no giraffes or elephants in front of it. We must have gone up on the ugly side.

Doing this adventure makes me crave more...let’s see if I still think that way when I am done.

camping above the clouds - the sunset



I ended my entry with this: My final observation for the night. I have been hanging with the girls tonight and really taking my time to get to know them. All of us are strong and successful women and every single one of us has struggled with great tragedy recently. Each of these hardships catapulted them to where we are right now. Together and fighting for something that we pray to God we can conquer.

Ana’s husband has just committed suicide.
Sara just divorced her husband who had tried to kill her.
April, a med student, had saved for 3 years for a wedding...and then they broke up so she decided to come to Africa.
Me...well you know.


Just a stop along the way!

Having a little fun!

Sara and I






I will leave you with that tonight...until tomorrow. Tune in cause I got more!

Jen




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