Tuesday, May 14, 2013

My Kilimanjaro Experience

In October 2012…  I met a girl in Brussels through my Bikram Yoga classes and we became friends.  One day after class, she mentioned she was planning a trip to Africa to climb the Kilimanjaro.  My response “That sounds awesome… Can I come?”  I don’t think she thought I was serious or at that point understood my carefree, daring, adventurous nature. 

The thought of going to Africa and climbing the Kilimanjaro…. I knew this was my opportunity to experience this once in a lifetime experience.  I have to be honest and all I knew about the Kilimanjaro at that time was….... uh… Nothing.  I just knew it would be an adventure and an incredible experience and that I had to do it.  Once my mind is made up… there is no turning back!

Of course not knowing anything about this trip, as time got closer, I was getting nervous of what I have signed myself up for.  The equipment list itself was so overwhelming!  I had to review it over and over again and went to ask the outdoors retail store experts what all this was for…. Most important is Your Hiking Boots… so that’s what I started with.  One item at a time, I gathered my things. 

I wasn’t so worried about the physical or mental aspect as I knew I would somehow manage as I always do.  My best preparation was not to worry so much and just deal with things as they came.  I was fortunate to have my 2 bestfriends from Toronto join me on this trip who shared the same mentality so together we would support each other and help one another to survive.  It’s important to have a strong team with you.  The Physical aspect will help make the climb easier… but the Mental aspect and support is what determines whether or not you will get to the Top!

Thank goodness for my “Don’t think.... Just Do” mentality… because if I had thought and researched the Kili more in depth beforehand… I may have opted out.  Rather, I followed my heart and intuition and just dealt with what I needed to to make it happen.

It was a struggle to the top!  Challenging you both physically and mentally beyond your limits.  7 days of Hiking.  83 Km total.  5895 m high.  We experienced all types of weathers…. wind, rain, hail, mist, snow, sun…. and honestly would not have had it any other way.  Had the best team with me to get thru mentally and we were all resourceful and used and shared everything we had and needed to get thru the day (ie.  Who needs a rain poncho when you can use garbage bags to cover up!).  I felt like we were in Survivor and every time we reached the camp we had a dinner to reward us from the challenge.   The Kilimanjaro is all about surviving and learning life skills.  Nothing will ever be perfect.  You have to use what you have and do the best that you can with it.  Every second that passed, the only important thing was NOW and the next step I had to take infront of me.  Just as in life, the time you have infront of you is a present, so do the best that you can with it.  Live in the Present.  Don't hold back.  Use all that you have.  Make it count.

The last and final day was the hardest.  There was no doubt in my mind that we would all make it, but I knew it was going to be a struggle and required all that we had inside…. In the words of my chingoos “we need to Dig Deep.”  It was a blessing that we started the ascent to the summit at midnight.  If you could see the trail going up while you were climbing, that itself is a major struggle and could break you down mentally.  "Pole pole" is the only way to do it to conserve your energy.  With freezing toes and hands, we all pushed each other to the top and supported one another.  We all made a pact that we can Never Give Up!!!

Once you are at the TOP, there are no words to describe the feeling inside.  So many emotions.  All mixed into a big mumble jumble, solidified into one solid concrete piece embedded inside of you.  It will stay with you forever.  It's always been there.  You can draw upon it when you need inspiration and you build on it as you continue the struggle to survive.

Standing on the Roof of Africa (Friday, May 10, 2013 approx 6:40am)…. An amazing experience and achievement and another example of Never giving up on your dream… You will get there.  It doesn’t matter how long it takes, the end will be worth all the effort and will give you strength to continue to dream big and reach even higher beyond you thought possible.  Congratulations to all that have reached this point!!

What goes up must come down.  Life is a roller coaster with ups and downs. So down we go… another 9 hours total over 2 days to reach the bottom. 


Dream Big Beyond Yourself

We Killed the Kili!!!
Chingoos for Life <3

Finish Line!!!

Above all, can't forget all the great people and friends we met and made.  The fun, laughs, good times we had singing and dancing to our favourite song:

Kilimanjaro Song

Jambo Bwena
Habari gani
Nzuri sana
Wakari Bishua
Hakuna Matata