by Renee Onstot Clark, Gamma Chi – Texas Christian University and Housing Resource Director, DV
“Jambo,” came a voice outside of our tent. It was now 10 pm on August 27, and after 6 1/2 days of trekking, fatigued due to no recovery time, we were preparing to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro. At 11 pm, dressed in multiple layers for the 10 degree and 25 mph wind, ice and snow we would encounter, our group left School Hut Camp for what would be a 9 hour trek to Uhuru Peak, 19,341 feet above the plains of Africa.
This journey really began a year ago at a Fourth of July party when a close friend expressed a desire to vacation “away from the cities” and suggested Mt. Kilimanjaro. This sparked my attention, much to my husband’s complete surprise.
And so began a year of preparation.
Physical: a trainer, stairs, leg machines, weight lifting, planks, core strengthening, treks with 25 pound weights up and down hills.
Gear: buying, borrowing, and renting equipment and clothing to take us from tropical to moorland to alpine desert to glacier ecosystems.
Completing all the paperwork involved with booking the climb and subsequent safari.
Then, we had to see to the needs of our 20 year old dog, 4 outside cats and a house.
We boarded our KLM flight to Amsterdam/JRO on August 16, 2018 at 3:05 pm.
On August 28, 2018 at 7:58 am we were on the roof of Africa.
Lessons from the roof of Africa:
- OMG! 19,341 feet is a long way up!
- The guides all say “pole, pole” (slowly, slowly) which at 65 suits me just fine.
- Stay hydrated.
- I CAN survive 9 days without washing my hair.
- The descent is as hard as the ascent.
- It is okay to ask for help.
- Comfortable broken-in boots and good socks are a must.
- Mother Nature is amazing.
- Embrace diversity.
- I really did have the mental and physical fortitude to achieve the summit, and I have the pictures, certificate, and t-shirt to prove it.
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