“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…
Sorry to hear of your injuries but congratulations on pushing through! Kilimanjaro was definitely a lesson that anything is possible if you never give up! Looking forward to hearing about your next adventure! Big roars to you!
Thanks! Not sure yet where it will be but I’m sure it will involve hiking. 🙂
Again congratulations for an adventure of a lifetime…
Thank you Sally! 🙂
Well, what would beat that trip?
I haven’t figured that out yet! 🙂 But knowing me I’m sure I will find something to dare myself with!
Bravo. What an achievement at the best of times & more so as a chronic pain sufferer. I have suffered from back problems for over 2 years now & I know it’s not going to go away. On my darkest days I realise sadly how much chronic pain has affected my attitude & my abilities. But the rest of the time I remind myself that I’m more physically fit than a lot of people. I can still walk & exercise & am not yet reliant on daily pain killers. So whilst I think twice before some trips or activities now I don’t plan on hitting the retirement village with regrets. You are an inspiration & I really hope I can climb Kili too one day. It’s been great reading your posts & I hope that beer tasted real good 🙂
Thanks so much! I too know a lot about chronic pain as I’ve had a bad neck since I was 13 years old and its been 30 years of it! 🙂 The funny thing is that stress seems to be a huge reason why my pain intensifies and when I’m traveling usually all my injuries disappear. I even found that my hip didn’t hurt as bad. I never take pain meds or even over the counter anti-inflammatories as for me it is a life-long issue with pain. I’ve found that relaxation, yoga and meditation work wonders as does a nice glass of wine or icing or laying on heating pad. I agree with you that I’m no way going to back down and will live my life to the fullest. 🙂 Thanks so much and I am glad you enjoyed the posts so much! 🙂
Reblogged this on wwwpalfitness.
And the next one is …? 🙂
Really big question. I really want to go to Bhutan with my dad. We are hoping to go there but we will see! Other than that, I’m not sure. 🙂
That’s pretty high on my list, too! Chomolhari or Snowman trek, although the latter is 24 days … as you say, we will see!
Yes I’m hoping it works. Got to make sure my dad is still healthy but I can’t be gone that long as my kids are still only 9 and 11!!!
Brava! I could not do that.
Thanks Debra! 🙂 Believe it or not, I loved it. 🙂
Wow Ive always wanted to visit Kilimanjaro..Great post 😀
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Oh man…that first shower!
I love all those smiling faces in the last photo!
That first shower was so amazing! I felt so incredibly clean! But was still so sore!
What an incredible adventure! 🙂
Yes it truly was and I’m sad it is over. I’m so glad I did it. It was pretty amazing, especially the incredible views.
What a journey and what an inspiration you are to your children. 🙂
Thanks LuAnn! Not sure what the kids think of it all. 🙂
I don’t think you are crazy. I think you are brave. Obviously, nothing stands in the way of you and your dream. I am sorry that you had to pursue it in such pain but that makes your achievement even more inspiring. Thanks for taking us along for the walk.
Congratulations Nicole! A fabulous accomplishment. WTG!