On March 12, 2011, I left Shira camp 2 with my Simba group and we headed toward Lava camp. It was a strenuous trek that took us to 15,213 feet. At that point, 15,213 was the highest elevation I had ever been at.
It seemed to be a day of extremes, if I remember correctly. The climate went from cold to very cold with snow and wind.
I got very sick on this day. That evening was one of the most miserable nights I’ve ever experienced but that’s what it’s all about. You go to climb Kilimanjaro and getting sick is part of the game plan. If you do not want to get sick then you do not climb the mountain. But, we all went to climb Kilimanjaro. Everyone one of us on this trip is crazy like that. It’s awesome…until you get sick. And then, it’s just miserable. After the sickness, though, it becomes awesome again.
Btw, Thomson Safari was the company that took me to the top of Kilimanjaro. This company is excellent. They worked out all of the logistics for us. We simply had to pay for the expedition and complete it. Thomson Safari took care of the rest. The guides, were amazing. Bernard…I’ll never forget that man. He was a great lead guide and leader.
Here are the videos in sequential order for this day, March 12, 2011:
Shira camp 2 early morning:
On the way to lava camp with obsidian:
made it to lava camp:
Well, that’s it for day 4 of my kilimanjaro trip last year. Tomorrow, we pickup bright and early on day 5 for more adventure on Kilimanjaro!
So, day three of my Kilimanjaro trip was in the Shira plateau. We went from Shira camp 1 to Shira camp 2. We took a side trip to the Cathedral and were met with hail and wind on the way back from the Cathedral. Leaving the Cathedral my stomach began to flare up in anger. I felt miserable and full of you know what…gas. I made sure to stay away from everyone because it seemed the polite thing to do. Also, I left my goretex rain gear behind when I went for the cathedral and I paid the price for that when the rain and hail came down. So, word to the wise…when trekking in Kilimanjaro always carry your rain gear with you. You’ll be glad you did if it suddenly rains and hails down on you. Of the group, I was the only idiot that left his gear behind.
The cathedral was spectacular and I would love to visit that again. I placed a rock with a prayer atop the highest point at the Cathedral on a giant cairn.
I took several videos on this particular day, March 11, 2011. So, I’m posting all of them here.
It’s been nice looking back on this amazing trip. I’m so happy that I’m still in contact with so many of the people I befriended on this adventure. It’s amazing how fresh the trip is still with me. It must of made a big impression on me, eh?
Here are the videos:
First one is at Shira camp 1 early in the morning as we prepare to hit the trail for the Cathedral and Shira camp 2:
I shot this video a little later that morning. It had warmed up considerably and I was feeling considerably better:
This is a very short meaningless video I took from the Cathedral. It was fun:
This last video was in Shira Camp 2 after an arduous day in Shira plateau. Despite the hardship it was a fantastic day:
Thank you so very much for stopping by.
I’ll continue posting my Kilimanjaro trips until I have relived the entire adventure. This trip was 8 days. So, I’m almost half way through.
On March 10,2011, We were crossing the Shira plateau. It was windy and a bit chilly. I did not see any wildlife during the hike but one of our guides pointed out the hoof tracks & scat of buffaloes. At the Shira campsite I saw a bunch of white-necked ravens. They were all over the place. I saw a lizard but it dashed into some bushes before I could get a really good look at it. During the day’s hike I became better acquainted with Naina, Mike and Larry (Mike’s dad and became quite fond of them. The sunset at Shira camp was spectacular. The night sky in Shira I will remember always. I’ve never seen a more spectacular night sky than I did at Shira camp. The night sky was completely clear and there was the most array of stars I have ever seen. The entire night sky was covered with stars that seemed closer than I’ve ever seen them before. It actually seemed fake. It was like being in a planetarium. If it had not been so bone chilling cold and I had not been so tired I would of stayed up outside of my tent all night long.
One year ago yesterday, March 9, 2011, I began to fulfill my childhood dream of one day climbing Kilimanjaro. This was momentous for me. I had dreamed of the day of climbing that mountain since I was in middle school and it was finally becoming a reality in my middle-age years. Talk about stubborn persistence in following your dreams, eh? It was in 2008, that I finally began to set aside money for this trip. I had mentioned to a few people that I would be doing this trip in either 2010 or 2011 but most didn’t pay much attention to that…except one. The only person that had come to know me well enough and believed I would do this was a beautiful woman named Margaret. Margaret and I are no longer in touch but it meant so much to me that she believed I would realize this dream. Thank you, Margaret.
So, I’m just going to jump right into the first day of the Kilimanjaro trek: Forest Camp. The first day was warm and muggy and a little strenuous. Along the hike I got to better acquaint myself with one of our guides, Sunday. He’s a magnificent human being who seemed to always be smiling, has a great sense of humor and disposition and a hearty laugh that made me feel good to be around him. Sunday explained some of the vegetation we were coming across and pointed out a couple of blue monkeys that seemed perfectly blended into their environment. Along the day’s hike I also saw a colubus monkey dart down a tree and hop onto another but it disappeared so fast that only half of us witnessed it. It truly was a glorious moment.
I had always dreamed of seeing monkeys in the wild and on the first day of the trek I see two different species on the trail. How cool is that?
When we reached Forest camp the porters and guides greeted us with excellent music and dance. It was a wonderful first day.
I’ll post a video for each day of the 8 days it took to reach the summit (Uhuru) and make it to Mweka camp Ranger station. I hope you will join me as I relive this epic trip.
Here are some of the pictures from my trip to Tanzania and Kilimanjaro climb which I did this past March.
This was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I had dreamed of going to Africa since childhood. This trip to Tanzania was planned out for three years.
The people I befriended on this trip are some of the most interesting and culturally rich people I’ve ever been around.
Climbing Kilimanjaro was a dream come true. The people I befriended during this trip were a great gift and blessing to me.
I may not correspond much with you all but you are all always in my heart.
Tonight will be the last night for me in Kilimanjaro National Park and in Tanzania. What an amazing experience this trip has been to this point. I don’t know if I will ever be able to share with others what this trip has been like with my limited writing skills. Hopefully, the video clips I’ve taken will help tell this adventure. This has been an amazing adventure, indeed. Truthfully, I have met some amazing, wonderful people. When I say that I am the least among my group (Simba) I truly mean it. I have climbed Kilimanjaro with a business owner, a scientist, a developer, two accountants, and an investment banker. I haven’t accomplished much in my life but this certainly seems like an accomplishment to me. I am happy and I am satisfied how this trip has turned out.
Tomorrow, we exit the park at Mweka Gate (I think that’s what it’s called). From there I go one way and the rest of Simba goes another. Tomorrow the trip ends for me but continues for Simba. They go on to a safari and a balloon ride. Part of me wishes the trip would continue mainly because I just like being around all of these guys – Naina, Larry, Mike, Francisco, Ross, Melinda, Jason. But, I think I am ready to go home. I came here to climb a mountain and I did. I met some wonderful people along the way and that has made it so much more special. I will remember this adventure for a long time because of the people I shared this time with. My time here, though, is over and tomorrow evening I begin the long trek home. I miss my family. I miss my dog. I’m ready to go home
This day has been so long. It’s hard to believe that just this morning I was grumbling in Crater Camp wishing someone would put me out of my misery. Barafu Camp seems so far away too. We trekked from 18800 feet to 10065 feet in one day. That’s a heck of a descent, if you ask me. My knees feel like they’re shot. My right hip is a little tender (but not bad). Just today we crossed quite a few climate zones. We did the hellish Crater camp Arctic zone, desert zone (I guess), moorland zone, rain forest zone (where we are at). And, let me tell you, the forest zone is a rain zone for sure. The last hour of today’s hike was sloshing through lots of rain on highly eroded, muddy trails. We had to be very careful not to fall.
So, right now, at 10065 feet, in Mweka camp, I am very tired, knees feel spent but I feel great! I have the strongest feeling that I’m going to sleep well tonight.
I love Tanzania and it’s people. I will come back to this country. I’m sure of it.
I have no more journal entries for the Kilimanjaro Trip. So, I’m including in this blog a video and pictures I took at Mweka gate and the hike from Mweka camp to Mweka gate.
The hike down to Mweka gate was a very pleasant leisurely one. We all seem to take our time hiking and talking. For me, I knew that I would probably never see these wonderful people again. So, I wanted to drink them in as much as I could.
Since returning home I have missed everyone I befriended in Tanzania. Naina, Larry, Mike & Ross had a profound impact on me. I think about them much and probably will for a long time. God willing, our paths will cross again.
I am again, firmly entrenched in my life in Savannah, Georgia. The memories of this trip are dissipating faster than I expected. Soon, this amazing adventure will fade away deep into my memory and only these words I’ve written down along with the pictures I’ve taken will be what reminds me that I climbed Kilimanjaro and, with some very amazing and wonderful people.
I assume that each member of Simba has re-entered their lives and may be feeling the same as I, -deeply impacted, richer in character and, a little sorrow that this is now over.
We are back in Barafu camp for lunch. I love this place. When I reached Barafu I bought a Coca Cola for myself and Polite. I offered one to Ross but he said no. I gave $3.00 to Joseph (my porter) to buy himself a Coke but I don’t think he wanted to spend the money I gave him on a Coke. That’s cool. I am enjoying my Coke, though. Tanzanian Coca Cola tastes very different than American Coca Cola. For instance, the Coke here is made with sugar instead of corn syrup. Also, the ingredients say that it has plant extracts in it. I’ve never seen that ingredient on an American Coca Cola. Interesting.
We left Crater Camp at 5:30am and made it to Barafu by 8:00am. We were moving. Polite, Ross and I kind of steamrolled ahead of everyone leaving Crater behind as quickly as possible. I’m no fan of Crater Camp. It’s a beautiful place and had I felt like I feel now I probably would of loved Crater but the fact remains that I felt like total dog pooh in Crater and it will forever be a diabolical, tainted place to me because of that. It’s interesting how every step I pulled away further from Crater Camp the better I felt. I wonder how much was real and how much was mental?
Upon reaching our old camp site in Barafu I was pleasantly surprised to see Francisco and Karen. Francisco had gotten very ill after reaching the summit yesterday and had to descend quickly. He had a slight case of cerebral edema. Believe it or not, he saw elephants walking around the glacier at the top of Uhuru. He even saw Jesus carved into the glacier. After Jesus gave Francisco a blessing he made haste for a descent to Barafu Camp. Lucky dog! I wish I had seen Jesus on the glacier. That would of been the ultimate cool! And, I would gotten a free ticket to Barafu Camp. Dang! No fair! Any way, it’s great to see Francisco cheerful and healthy.
When I left Crater Camp I was wearing a stretchy wicking running shirt, silk thermal top, Nike cold weather running shirt, fleece pullover sweater, down fill marmot jacket, goretex shell jacket, thermal underwear pants, polartec fleece pants, Columbia water proof powder pants, fleece gloves, 2 pairs of socks, hiking boots, gaiters, hat covering my ears and I was still cold. It was so cold that the water in my Nalgene bottles was frozen solid.
It’s still a bit chilly at Barafu Camp. The temp is probably in the mid-forties and it’s windy.
We are supposed to re-sort our gear at Barafu, have lunch and then continue down until we reach Mweka Camp way down some where in the 10,000 foot area. Barafu, as you remember is 15,213 feet. It’s the coolest camp in Africa because you can buy Cokes here and hang out with chipmunks. If only we had monkeys here. Then it would be heaven.
It’s amazing how easy it is to breathe at this altitude. The first time I hit 15,000 feet I felt I was going to die. Now, I feel like I’m in Disney Land. The oxygen is so thick here that I feel like I’m going to gag on it. How things change.
We all summitted Kilimanjaro. Everyone one of us. That’s quite amazing. I feel like total crap, though. I think dying would make me feel better. Ugh. Crater camp sucks. It’s very beautiful here but I cannot appreciate the beauty when I feel this sick.
I’m also exhausted. I’ve never been so exhausted in all my life, – at least that I can remember. I hardly had any energy to get to Crater Camp. Sunday had to help me down the snow-filled stairwell to this damned Crater camp. I’m beat and I’m sick. My head hurts. My stomach feels like crap and I got bad gas. Nice.
I cannot believe that this altitude sickness has totally taken away my joy of reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro. Wow, how pathetic is that?
Today I climbed the tallest mountain in Africa, fulfilled a childhood dream of mine and, I feel like total crap. Ha ha. Wow. That’s something. I should be jumping up and down and dancing all around! Instead, I am in my tent feeling miserable and fantasizing about how badly I want to get off this mountain.
19340 feet. That’s what I climbed today. Wow. That’s pretty high. No one in my family has ever done that. Maybe, tomorrow the excitement will hit. Right now, it still feels surreal. And, I kind of don’t even care that I made it to the top.
Tomorrow, it will begin to mean something to me. I’m sure of it.
Dear God, thank you. Thank you! Thank you! I made it to the top. I made it to the top of Uhuru Peak! Thank you. Thank you for the strength and stamina. Thank you for the drive. Thank you for the dream. Thank you for keeping it alive all of these years. Totally awesome. Thank you. Now, could you please take this headache away? And, make my stomach feel good, too? How about the gas? Can you get rid of that? Ha!
Tomorrow, we head to Mweka Camp. That’s some where in the 10,000 foot range. Thick air finally tomorrow!
My next journal entry was at Crater Camp, after we had summitted. So, I’m going to try and recall most of the events that occurred between the time we hit the trail Tuesday morning (which was 5:00am) and reaching the summit. Fortunately, I took several videos along the way and that should help fill in the gaps of my memory and piece together this momentous day.
As I stated earlier, we started the trek for the summit at 5:00, Tuesday, March 14th. As I can recall it was very rocky, steep and cold. Using a headlight to navigate up this trail was without a question mandatory. The trekking was cautiously slow. Rocks were loose. As we approached 6:00 am the sky began to turn greyish red. By 6:00, we beheld one of the most strikingly beautiful sunrises I have ever seen.
As the sun became more prominent the trudge up the hill became slightly easier but only because we could now see where we were going and, the going was up, up and up. It was a slow trudge up the mountain with many breaks to catch our breath.
Obviously, as we moved higher large patches of snow & ice became more apparent. Several days before, I had abandoned my trekking poles after one had broken on me after I slipped backwards in the Barranco Valley. Moving up the mountain without the aid of trekking poles made the ascent that much more laborious. To be honest, though, I kind of preferred not using trekking poles as they seem to get more in the way than not. Any way, none of the guides used trekking poles. So, I guess they were not that important to begin with. 😉
All of us kept pushing on and on. Sunday, Bernard, Ross and I stayed together for a long while pushing and pushing up the mountain. We would stop and rest a lot (as I mentioned earlier) and we would then see Melinda, Larry, Mike, Naina & Francisco. Every now and then we would also meet up with the Tembo group which always seemed to be one step ahead of us. Soon, though, Tembo was moving as slow as the rest of us.
We continued to push up. Again, some of us moved up a little faster than others. I believe that Ross and I along with Bernard pushed ahead of most. To amuse myself I began to make little snowmen and left them behind me as “guides” to lead the way up. It was all in good fun. Believe me, when I feel a lot of discomfort I try to lighten the mood by being silly. So, my snowman building was a distraction to me from the discomfort I was feeling as we edged higher and higher.
I remember distinctly that at 17100 feet I saw a spider on a large boulder. At first I didn’t think it was alive but extending my index finger from my left hand toward the spider proved that the spider was indeed alive! I could not understand how a spider could live at this altitude especially, when it was so chilly too. I think at that altitude the temperature must of been in the forties, maybe, low fifties but not much warmer than that. How did that spider survive in that climate and altitude? What did it feed on? These were the questions that were going through my head. And, never did the thought of taking a picture of the spider crossed my mind! Can you believe that? What a big dummy I am! With it’s legs spread about it’s body, I would say that the spider was the size of a quarter. There you have it…spiders living at 17100 feet! That’s miraculous to me and a testament of life always pushing the boundaries.
Those white-necked ravens were also flying around in the seventeen thousand foot range. Those birds are not only big but tough. They have very strong looking, heavy duty black bills. I would hate to get pecked by one of them.
We finally reached our lunch spot around 18291 feet. This was an uncomfortable lunch. I was hungry but I couldn’t eat much. Food just didn’t taste good to me. I forced myself to eat as much as I could, though. Also, I drank a lot of water. I was sitting by Mike as we were having lunch when Francisco approached the lunch spot. He looked rough. It seemed to me that he was in great discomfort.
It was during lunch that Bernard laid to rest the ongoing dilemma of whether we crash out at Crater after summitting or push down to Barafu. We were going to stay in Crater. Bernard settled it. This is what I expect of a leader – to make a decision when the rest of us could not. In my eyes, Bernard proved himself a worthy leader through and through.
We finished lunch and began our ascent again. We were aiming for Stella Point. At Stella Point, we would be 45 minutes from the summit, Uhuru peak. When we reached Stella Point my head began to throb a little.
Bernard, Sunday, Mike, Larry, Ross, Melinda and I began moving closer and closer to the summit. My childhood dream was unfolding before my eyes. I could now begin to see that infamous wooden sign that I had dreamed of one day touching. My headache went away and a burst of energy raged through me. It all began to come together for me – why I push myself so hard. This is it! This is why I train hard and remain disciplined in my training and in my goals. I am now within a hundred yards of standing at the highest point on the entire African continent!
I am now standing on roof of Africa! This is a childhood dream realized! This is the culmination of four years of planning. Three years ago I climbed Long’s Peak in Colorado to see how my body would react to high altitude. Long’s Peak is 14255 feet. I am now standing at 19340 feet above sea level! All this dreaming, all of this planning, all of this money I saved…all of this time that I waited and waited – all of that for this moment – to stand at the highest point in Africa! Wow! Exhilaration is not a strong enough word to describe how I felt when I reached the summit of Kilimanjaro!
I thanked God for this moment. The pictures were taken. I left three prayer flags at the summit of Kilimanjaro. One prayer flag was for my immediate family – nieces, nephew, brothers, parents, spouses – Lauren, Grace, Lucas, Mom, Dad, Bobby, Sam, David, Kate, Katherine, Delora, Ashley and Taylor. I even fastened a lump of hair of my bestest little buddy, Mr. Gypsy, on my family’s prayer flag. I also left a prayer flag that was made for me by a ten year old Wyoming girl named Trinity. That little girl has touched my heart like few have. Recently, I told Trinity that I expect her to retrieve that prayer flag one day. She has an adventurous spirit just like her mother, Stacy. So, I have no doubt that Trinity will scale Kilimanjaro one day and, will probably scale larger than life mountains. This young lady will make an impact on humanity one day. I’m sure of it.
The third prayer flag I left on the summit was for my dear beloved sister, Ruth, who passed away way before her time. I miss Ruth. She was such a vivacious woman. She died in 2005. I still cannot believe that she’s been gone six years. How does that happen? How does life move on when someone as beautiful and amazing as Ruth is no longer a part of it? Ruth’s birthday was on Wednesday, March 16th. I made it to the summit of Kilimanjaro one day before her birthday. I wished her a Happy Birthday from 19340 feet. I think she heard me…
We all made it to the summit! Everyone in Simba group and Tembo group reached the summit! What an amazing group of people I had the privilege of spending twelve days with! These are some of the strongest people I have ever known. All of these men and women that I met on this trip are the most driven, passionate, strongest, kindest people I have met. I am least among them but so very proud to be in their midst.
Simba Group: Ross, Naina, Larry, Mike, Melinda, Karen, Francisco, Jason – what an amazing group of people!
Tomorrow, I will continue my Kilimanjaro adventure with what I wrote in Crater Camp (which wasn’t much I assure you). I will finish this Kilimanjaro journal adventure with my last entry of my journal which was on March 16th, 2011 at Mweka camp. Stay tuned. 😉
I’m in my tent early in the evening hoping to fall asleep quickly because the next day we are off for the summit…
We finished dinner and having our ritualistic oxygen saturation and heartbeat reading. My heart rate is 80 and my oxygen saturation is 91. 91 is actually not bad. Of course, Mike, the terminator, is always off the chart. I think that him and Lance Armstrong are related. They are both super human or possibly, XMen Mutants. Who knows.
I feel like a kid anticipating Christmas or Hanukkah. I just cannot sleep. I’m too excited about tomorrow. That, and it’s also way too early for me to go to sleep. This is the stuff I hate about camping – the nights are long. Everyone retires early but me. If only I had an internet connection. That would be so great. I could always watch a movie on my iphone. I do have zombieland on my iphone. I think I’ll watch a little bit of that. I’m just afraid of running down the battery on the phone and not being able to video tape the summit. I could use my camera to video tape my summit but I prefer using the iphone for that. I can see myself on the iphone when video taping. I cannot do that with my camera. So, no zombieland tonight.
Tomorrow morning we are waking up at 3:30 and hitting the trail at 5:00am. Tomorrow’s the day! We’re going for the summit! That’s so exciting. Yeah.
I have a nalgene bottle with hot water comfortably set between my legs in my sleeping bag. Let me tell you, this feels so awesome. I think when I get back home I’m going to continue this practice of going to bed with a nalgene filled with hot water. It warms you up well. Every one should try this at least once.
I think I’ve gotten some pretty good pictures. I cannot wait to see them on a bigger screen. Also, I’ve only used one battery for my camera so far. I still have two full batteries. That’s killer.
I’m not yet sure if I want to put on my vff’s on the summit. I love wearing my vff’s but this terrain that we’re trudging through is rough. Some of these rocks are very sharp. I’ve worn my vff’s a great deal but when it comes to hiking toward the summit I’ll stick with my hiking boots. Have I mentioned that I’m giving my hiking boots to my porter at the end of this trip? Yeah, I am. That guys boots are in really bad shape. I don’t know how he handles this climb in those boots. Any way, I’ve talked with Joseph (he’s my porter) and I told him that he can have my boots at the end of the trip. I’m not sure if he understood me or, if he just doesn’t believe me – he didn’t seem excited about that. They’re pretty good Asolo boots. I just bought them a few weeks ago for $130.00. Joseph will get more use out of them than I will. Back at home, they’ll just sit in my closet for years. Here, I believe Joseph will be able to put them to good use. So, why not give them to him? It would be wrong for me not to. God has been very good to me. It’s time for me to do something nice for someone. Right? Yeah, right.
Oh boy. I wish I was sleepy.
I think I’ll read a little bit.
Running, Hiking, Traveling, Exploring, & a dog named Mr. Gypsy