“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work”. – Colin Powell
Our night at Karanga Camp would be our last full night’s sleep until after the summit attempt the following day. It was hard to believe that we were already on day four of our climb. I was beginning to get used to living on the mountain and breathing in the cool, crisp air at night. Yet the thought of a hot shower and a real live bed sounded heavenly.
My nerves were a little edgy as well given the knowledge of what I’d have to do the next day. We would hike three hours to Barafu Camp at 14,930 feet (4550 m), eat an early dinner and try to fall asleep before our midnight rise for our summit attempt. I didn’t know how I’d do it with so little sleep and I worried about the cold. Since I’d been fine in the past with altitude I wasn’t too concerned about getting altitude sickness but the thought of climbing up for five or six hours in bone-chilling temperatures made me nervous. Thankfully we had a beautiful view once again to bring me peace.
We had all afternoon to rest and relax while the other groups on the 6-day summit route continued on to the next camp. Initially I wanted to just get it over with and keep on going but in retrospect I’m glad we had the extra day. It helped with acclimatization as well as providing much needed rest. My leg was still swelling up each day since my accident in the rice paddies the day before we left for Kilimanjaro. I didn’t know what kind of injury I had but would find out on the climb down that it wasn’t good.
The clouds covered the valley below like a thick, down blanket. I was mesmerized by them and will never ever forget how heavenly it looked. Once again, I sat on a rock outside of my tent, sipping hot cocoa and taking in the views. After fifteen years of dreaming about climbing Kilimanjaro, here I was almost on top. It felt surreal.
Despite my anxiety, I felt confident I could make it. I was tired but not as exhausted. So far, the climb was not as difficult as I imagined it would be. It helps that I’d done long hikes before as I knew what to expect and thankfully I was feeling good.
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them”. – Walt Disney
“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before” – Edgar Allan Poe
“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours”. – Henry David Thoreau
I slept peacefully despite the fact that at this time tomorrow, I’d be trudging up to the top and hopefully fulfilling a 15-year dream. I could hardly wait.