Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mt Kilimanjaro—the trek to the summit—Climb High, Sleep Low

Jambo everyone

I started this adventure on January 9th in Moshi Tanzania. I met my 8 fellow treking/climbing companions who were 21-32 years old (the 53 year old guy bailed on day 2)—HA! Off we went on a 3 hour jeep ride on a bumpy narrow dirt road to the start of the 8 day Lemosho Route to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro at 19,341 ft. I learned that we would acclimate to the altitude by "climbing high and sleeping low".

Day 2—we came out of the rain forest to get our first glimpse of the mighty mountain that we would eventually summit.

The mountain loomed far away as we made our way to Shira 1 Camp at 11,500 ft. Still amazed that I am in Tanzania Africa and this is the mountain that I am going to climb, while I kept silently asking myself was I going to make it to the summit?

This is my tent where I slept for 8 nights—you can't even imagine...

This was our private bathroom that went from camp to camp with us.

Day 5—Climbing the Barranco Wall with our guides Richard and Johnson. On our way to Karanga Camp at 13,000 ft.

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.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro

Today, I start my journey to Tanzania Africa to climb Mt. Kilimajaro. It is the highest freestanding mountain in the world and is 19,341 ft. I will be 8 days on the mountain, sleeping in a tent. I am in good shape, both nervous and excited with a good dose of "what was I thinking". I am looking forward to putting one foot in front of the other, a little self reflection along the way with a good bit of exercise. With all good intentions I have my sketching kit in my pack and hope to journal my trek.

See you in a week and a half.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A California Christmas

I spent Christmas visiting my family in the San Francisco Bay Area. My parents still live in the house I grew up in. They have lived there for 55 years and married for 60—wow! Not much time for sketching except for my afternoon with Myrna Wacknov.

I did notice that the next door neighbor's had three pomegranate trees, the branches laden with fruit bursting open with juicy red seeds. And like the rest of the neighborhood I helped my self to an armful, but I waited until dark. I brought them inside and painted them while we cooked dinner.

I brought my dog, Sophie, with me. Being only 14 lbs she fits easily in a carrier and under the seat on the plane. She was fairly appalled when I shoved her in a carrier and then gave me the face through the mesh openings. Once on the plane she fell asleep only to wake up once and of course give me the face, again. Once in California, she had a great time romping at the dog park everyday and having many people to pay attention to her, take naps with and laps to crawl in.

On our walks around the neighborhood I noticed these wonderful Ponerosa pine cones and once again was stealing from the neighbors.

We had the best time.

My amazing family.