“A great accomplishment shouldn’t be the end of the road, just the starting point for the next leap forward”. – Harvey Mackay
I woke up on the last day on Mount Kilimanjaro feeling tired, sore and irritable. My left knee had finally just given out and I still blame it all on my fall in the rice fields the day before the climb which injured my left leg. I never mentioned it before but I also have been battling a two-year annoying injury somewhere within the confines of my right hip. Right in the midst of the pain and physical therapy last April I decided on a whim that I wasn’t going to let anything including pain deter me from fulfilling my dreams. I was going to climb Kilimanjaro one way or another.
I worked hard against the pain to get my body fit for the climb and motored through it all despite the soreness. Looking back now, I realize that my injury to the other side of my body made me overcompensate for an injured right side and put all my weight and pressure on the injured left knee. It would take three days after the hike down to be able to walk properly and three long weeks at home until my left side got over the inflammation and pain.
You may think I’m crazy but I’m not one to let anything get in my way. I’m still to this day working on improving the issues with my right hip because I love to be active more than anything and not being able to run, bike and play like I want to has been very difficult. I’ve learned a few valuable lessons throughout it all. First, my body is not as young as it was before. Yes I will fight aging as much as possible yet injuries will happen when I push myself. Second, I will never give up doing the things I love unless I absolutely can’t walk. Being active is a huge part of my life and without it, I’d be even more miserable. I must fight to keep my body healthy and strong.
“The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall”. – Vince Lombardi
Despite the fatigue and utter feeling of being completely filthy after seven days without a shower, we were all slightly euphoric for our final walk down. It would be about three short hours back down to the Mweka Gate where we began our journey seven days before. We would once again walk through the different ecozones of the mountain leaving the moorland and heather behind and entering the muddy jungle at the bottom of Kilimanjaro.
We were told by our guide Chaney to keep our eyes out for the last view of the top of Kilimanjaro, a special gift about half way down, Through a clearing in the thick foliage, I saw it and felt at ease. I had been there. I had done that. I had been on top of the world.
All in all we had walked 62 miles (100 kilometers) up and 24 miles (38 kilometers) down beginning at an altitude of 4,890 feet (1,490 m) at the Machame Gate and reaching the top of Uhuru Peak at 19,340 feet (5,895 m). It was quite an accomplishment and I felt exhilarated that it was now finally complete. I could finally lay my long-held dream to rest.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment”. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
The last hour of the walk was exceedingly muddy and slick. I continued downward with one foot in front of the other. We were almost there.
And then in the distance we saw it and knew my long walk down was almost complete. I was overjoyed!
I had never felt so dirty in my life but we had made it! All 19,340 feet and back. It was time to celebrate!
Let the festivities begin!
It was a joyous one hour ride back to our hotel in Moshi. I knew it was going to be a mad dash to the shower. I could hardly wait to wash my hair!
Climbing Kilimanjaro has been an absolutely incredible experience. It had been a long held dream of fifteen years and not once was I ever let down by the journey. Climbing with the amazing Solar Sister team to help bring light to the people of Africa made the journey even more meaningful. It is an experience I will never ever forget.
Now on to the next one…