Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mt Kilimanjaro—The summit and the long downhill

I made it to the summit walking "slowly" or "pole pole" as they say in Swahili because the air is so thin. 6 1/2 hours straight up to 19,341 ft. It was about -15 with the windchill. We started at 11:30 pm on Jan 14th and summited at 6:00 am and the 15th. The guides and porters all sang beautiful songs as we climbed keeping us motivated and together as a group as it should be. I burst into tears at the top. The young ones, our guides and I all hugged, laughed and cried. I can't help reflecting that the goal had a feeling of elation, excitement and accomplishment, but the journey overflowed with heart and spirit and soul and that is what made me cry. I couldn't have asked for a lovelier group to share that moment at the top of the mountain.
I wore:
Hiking boots and expedition weight socks
2 pairs of long underwear under heavy winter sport pants,
A heavyweight base layer shirt, a fleece jacket, 2 down parkas and a Gortex wind jacket.
Heavy winter sport gloves with liners
A balaclava and a fleece hat with ear flaps
and I was still freezing

On the last day at the last camp we gave the porters gifts of thanks for without them we would not be able to climb the mountain. They carry our stuff, set up the tents, cook our meals and break down camp and move it to the next spot everyday. Many of them carry 40+ lbs on the backs and heads and many only wearing sneakers or worn out shoes. I saw one porter laden with stuff running in a pair of flip-flops.
I gave away my fleece hat to the fashionable porter posing with me in the photo above, my Therma Rest pad (the porter who got that kissed it), my heavyweight winter sport pants, insulated waterproof gloves, fleece pants, a down parka and my beloved Asolo hiking boots. They need that stuff so much more than I.

It was an amazing experience that taught me so much about survival, spirit and will. I clearly realized I am stronger than I thought, I can survive on very little creature comforts, that there are truly wonderful people and places to meet and discover all over this planet and most importantly that it is actually okay to eat some carbs...sometimes...hakuna matata.

Sketches coming soon.

14 comments:

Shirley said...

Congratulations! Your enthusiasm and joy are apparent from your blog post. And you sketched???

Sandy in Michigan said...

You are truly inspiring. I can't wait to see your sketches and read more about your fantastic trip.

lyn said...

You are AWESOME!! First sketch is great looking forward to more!

donnamcm said...

Wow, wow, wow Jen!!!!! Congrats!!!! Glad you made it up and even more happy that you made it down safely. Looking forward to talking to you when you get home!

meegan said...

congratulations, what an amazing effort. cant wait to see the illustrations.

Sandy said...

Wow Jennifer, I am speachless!!!

Sharon said...

You are such an inspiration. Congratulations!!!!

Nancy said...

How do you wear that many layers of clothing and still look great.I guess that is why you could keep up with the 20 year olds. Congratulations on the summit...

Marc A said...

I'm so proud to call you friend! I think that mountain blew the last bit of blues right out of your soul!
You go!

sep6005 said...

Jen, I can't remember if you knew that Phil and our daughter Julia did this hike in 2008. Julia, who is an alpine ski racer with lots of frigid temps in her past, said it was the coldest she had ever been. they both said the guides were amazing and the morning tea thermos kept them going. What an accomplishment! Congratulations to you.
Susan Peck

Elizabeth said...

Hongera! That is quite an accomplishment. I grew up in the area, and it was not until I left Africa that it occurred to me that people climb Kili. So, it is on my list as well.

Signe said...

Dear Jennifer.
I feel as lucky as you for a lot of the same reasons. I feel I found a friend and a lovely travel companion right there on the mountain. You express our experience overwhelmingly beautifully in your words and drawings. Thank you for that. On the mountain age doesn't matter - only attitude. Thank you for a great time. Xx, Signe

A Brush with Color said...

What a fabulous opportunity, Jennifer. Sounds like the trip of a lifetime. I'm so proud of you!

Margaret Ann said...

Chill bumps and shivers here...not from the cold... but from your beautiful spirit and enthusiasm that simply touches my heart each time I visit you. ♥