Just a few days away from one of the most awaited adventures of my life. The last 40 days have been all about preparing my body, mind and soul about this expedition I’m about to undertake. I thought of writing this blog about my purpose through emotional connections, items I’m taking to the summit, the preparation for this journey.
Starting with a few facts about Mount Kilimanjaro, it is the tallest mountain on the African continent and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. Also, nearly every climber who has summited have recorded their thoughts stored in a wooden box at the top.
The first part of the blog I want to address why I am doing this climb. When this thought of climbing it crossed my mind and me and husband had chance to talk about it, to be honest it took me a couple of days to say yes. The reason being, kilimanjaro isn’t just a hike you go on, it’s a commitment and something you need to be prepared for. Given the fact I hadn’t climbed for over a period of 3-4 days before, I had my concerns. Once I addressed my concerns I said yes right away.
Not many know, but I grew up for the first four years of my life in Tanzania, Africa. I’m returning back after 20 good years and it feels emotional and nostalgic. Thought I spent 4 tender years of my life in Tanzania, I have seen so many childhood videos of me near the foothills of Kilimanjaro. It brings back a warm, homely feeling when I think of Tanzania. Post my expedition we plan on visiting my childhood home. I want to stand in front of that house and I don’t know, imagine myself as a 4 year old there. I signed up for this climb not just because I was able to address my concerns but I have some driving forces.
And here’s a happy photo of me from Tanzania!
I strongly believe only a few people in the world have this opportunity. That being said, not everyone can finance this, prepare for it, have all their gear ready, and have knowledge about the know- how of climbing mountains. I considered myself so lucky for this opportunity life has given me, as life is short to not take chances. Like Buddha once said:
Life doesn’t give me a chance like this every single day or fortnight. I think when I got this chance I’m happy to realise it’s not a cup of tea for everyone.
“The trouble is you think you have time”
To add on, being blessed was one aspect and getting the opportunity to climb with one of the best mountaineers in the world: my husband. I’m going to take that chance!
I’m doing this climb with my husband and father and I couldn’t have asked for better men to climb with. I don’t know how many people would get this chance. Growing up in Tanzania and seeing video tapes of my dad shooting Kilimanjaro and talking about it, gives me a sense of purpose. We offered the proposition of climbing Kilimanjaro to him because I always knew deep down he is an adventurer. He wanted to climb this mountain when me and my sister were 2 and 6 year old’s. And I’m sure as a dad with two young girls, he wasn’t feeling as confident as he would feel by doing it today. Maybe this is life’s way of giving him a chance to climb it with his daughter.
I think it’s very important to set yourself personal goals, something beyond your general routine. Something that can fulfil a much bigger purpose in your life. David climbed Kilimanjaro in 2018, and has taken a photo of mine to all the biggest summits in the world. Starting from Everest, to K2 to Kilimanjaro my photo has been in his hands in all those summits. This is my chance to do the same for my husband. And he’s the best thing that ever happened to me in my life. I don’t know how my life would have turned out without that amazing, amazing man by my side. He’s someone who supports my dreams, made them come true, puts exciting challenges in front of me and the best part: gives me fancy rewards after. He’s been the reason I’ve wanted to get out of my comfort zone and try new things and he’s to thank for the positive attitude.
And that leads me into the next thing, what I’m taking up to the summit with me. The few items I am taking are a mini sketch pad with my pens, a photo of David as a baby, and my bucket list journal as well as an Indian flag. I have decided to sketch what I see each day and write what I feel every single day of the expedition. I decided to take this as a chance to connect with my inner self with zero technology influence. I think it’s a blessing to even have that chance in today’s world.
My last, but not the least reason to climb this mountain is that I don’t consider myself a mountaineer. But I definitely consider myself a person who wants to have new and interesting experiences in my life. Ones that I can learn from!
One of the most important parts of climbing this mountain, is preparing for it. I think preparation is both mental and physical. For the mental part, the first thing I did was prepare a checklist, because I don’t like working without one. It’s helped me a lot in not forgetting a single thing on this expedition. I also spent time in the gym watching documentaries on Kilimanjaro so it would keep me motivated.
In terms of the physical preparation for Kilimanjaro has been endurance training. Being on the treadmill for about 60 mins on an incline, getting on the bike for an hour, on the stepper for 20 mins has been the routine. I was spending between 1.5-2 hours in the gym at least 5 times a week. And there were days I was tired and exhausted and needed a break from it. And I did give myself those happy breaks because I did know I’ve never prepared this way for any other goal in my life. And despite this, I know climbing this mountain isn’t going to be a cakewalk.
The key is to move slowly, as they say in Swahili “Pole-Pole” translating to “Slowly Slowly”. Sticking to the plan each day and moving slowly is going to be the key. I suffer from migraines and that was one of the concerns for me along with the altitude sickness which I’m going to try my best to avoid. But this being said, above all I am super excited and thrilled to be on that summit.
The summit day for us is going to be waking up at 1am and walking all night and that is something I find hard to visualise. When David used to tell me this, I used to keep wondering how difficult it must be to climb with just a headlamp and snow all around and being cautious at the hours your body is used to usually sleeping in. But I’m going to save that to talk about my post-kilimanjaro experience.
Whether I make it up on the summit or not, and I’m hoping it’s the former- I am truly proud of myself for training for it. Because, believe me: I’m more of a wearing the pretty heels and makeup kind of girl over the hiking boots and jackets kind of girl. But I consider it important to not miss opportunities in life because of these small personal qualities we may have.
As I write this, I am on my flight to Tanzania and getting to Arusha. Arusha is the closest town to Kilimanjaro where me and my husband will be sorting all our last minute mountaineering gear.
It’s going to be an experience of one of a kind and I love travelling to Africa. There’s something about travelling to Africa and being around nature that makes me feel content in unexplainable ways. I love places with culture and history and lively people. I have a soft corner for people who know how to enjoy life, take life in moments and dance it off.
I’m going to keep smiling all the way up to the top of Uhuru peak!
For now, that’s all from my end
Lots of Love
The Road Dress Traveled x