My trip to Mount Kilimanjaro started out as a dream vacation to Bora Bora.
For years, I’ve wanted to go to Bora Bora. I’m an island girl at heart. I picture myself relaxing out in the huts hovering over the water, complete with the glass floor where I can watch the fish swimming beneath me. Floating in the clear waters, snorkeling when the mood strikes. But in this dream, I’m sharing the fantasy with a special someone who makes it the romantic odyssey memorable for all the right reasons. Romance novel kind of stuff.
But I don’t have a special someone of that kind in my life these days, so, until that happens, I’m taking the solo trips that inspire me.
And, when I think of traveling alone, I think of walks in nature, pushing my body to its limit, discovering more about myself with each step.
After a pal told me about his journey through Africa and to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, I knew that needed to be my epic trip of 2018.
Consider it part of my quest for more resiliency I intended to build on at the beginning of the new year. When I chose ‘resilient’ as my word of the year, I didn’t really have Kili (that’s what the folks who have climbed her refer to her as) in mind. But when I committed to climbing her, I knew there was no looking back.
I did the research. Figured out what it would cost for the required guides to get to the summit, put down my deposit, and booked my flight.
When I shared with friends that I was doing this, most offered encouragement, while one or two implied I’d never make it. I have to tell you, those one or two are going to be the biggest motivation to get me to the top.
You know how some people really love proving to others that they CAN when they’re told they CAN’T?
Yep. That’s me.
So, hearing their hesitancy only inspired me to get training. That day.
So boom, off I went to find a pair of hiking boots.
Yeah, I’m the gal who decided the first hiking she was going to do in her life was going to be to the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. Nearly 20,000 feet high.
I hear the laughter. I get it. Might not have been the wisest move, but that’s me. Des, jumping in with both feet. In this case, those feet need to be wearing hiking boots.
So, I started shopping for the best. My mountain climbing friend told me about his Lowa brand and said there really was nothing better. I promptly started searching for deals, because that’s how I roll, and through the help of Wikibuy, found a good deal with a 20% discount
Boom. One thing off my list.
The next was a backpack. Again, I was told I can’t go wrong with the Osprey brand, so off I went to find another discount. Again, Wikibuy to the rescue.
I picked up a couple other must-haves for the trip, from a Camelbak water bladder to a special insulator to keep that water from freezing (at the top of the summit the temperatures are minus 30 and the oxygen level is half of what I’m used to at sea level). I figure I’ll keep buying what I need until I go in late September.
In the meantime, I’m focusing my training on hitting as many hikes as possible in the months from now until I leave.
It’s a trip I’m taking alone, and these days I’m training on my own most days, with the help of a trail app that another friend shared with me, AllTrails. It’s great for people who, like me, have no clue where they are or which direction to head while climbing the trails around me.
In the end, it’ll be just me and the guides heading up the mountain, all the way to the summit, if my fortitude sticks with me. Which it will. Failure is not an option.
I have a special mission at the top of that mountain that I’ll share after it’s accomplished. Suffice it to say I will have someone’s spirit with me for that portion of the trip. An angel, if you will.
I read that each year, approximately 25,000 people attempt to summit. Nearly two-thirds are successful. I intend to be among them.