This morning I went for my last long walk before I leave. It was cold, snowy, and they had not plowed the sidewalks yet. We were walking in several feet of snow at some points! We went for about 2.5 hours, and over 12 km. Our pace was slower, due to the crazy snow.
At this point, I can just hope that I have done enough training and will be ready to conquer the mountain – I have run out of time to do much more.
If you’ve been following my blog from the beginning, you will know that part of my challenge in preparing for this trip was to improve my upper body and core strength. It needed work. I started my fitness challenge unable to complete 1 military style, nose to the ground push-up. This morning I did 10! I will admit, they were slow, but I did it. Thanks to Cindy for the encouragement and drive to make it happen!
Thanks to all my wonderful family & friends, my gear “wish list” is almost complete. I have borrowed a great sleeping bag, thermarest mattress and a Z-foam mat, so I will sleep comfortably. I received lots of last minute necessities – including a new headlamp, hut booties, water bottle and water bottle parka, liner socks, gaitors and toque. My husband gave me the most recent Garmin 910XT watch. It includes an altimeter and tracks the grade I am walking. I took it on a test walk, and the steepest grade I could find was on Montreal Street – 26%
Who knew one trip could require so many new items?!
Today, my husband and I joined other Kili 2014 team members and mountaineer Angus Murray on a training hike on the Bruce Trail. The purpose of the hike was to try out our gear in conditions typical to the Summit of Kili, assess our fitness level and have fun! Angus has climbed Kilimanjaro seven times and he taught us techniques we will use for high altitude climbing, (the rest step, power breathing, pole use), and tips on packing and organizing our gear. We discussed nutrition on the mountain and what chocolate bars are still edible in -20 weather (Wunderbar and Bounty), where to store snacks in your parka to still access them with your gloves on, and the etiquette of voiding in the bush when wearing multiple layers.
I am happy to report that I had a great day! I was warm (which is an accomplishment – it was -21 with the wind chill, and we were outside from 10-3:30). My feet didn’t hurt. I had no problems keeping up with the group and was not tired or sore the next day. We left the day sharing big hugs with my future climbing partners – looking forward to seeing them in less than a month, at the airport!!!
I have been asked on a few occasions if I received my passport yet…..the wait is over. My passport arrived in the mail today, and has a Tanzania Visa inside! One piece of this preparation puzzle is complete!
In May, I started my training and it was hot, humid and I had to consider how to keep myself cool. Today I had a 13 km walk around Midland. It was freezing rain, snowy, slushy damp and cold. In Midland it has taken 6 months to experience the dramatic weather shift. On Kilimanjaro it will take 5 days to transition from tropical to polar climate!
Outward Bound Canada has started to blog about the 2014 Kilimanjaro Expedition. Each week, they plan to post articles featuring the participants that will be raising funds for OBC and climbing Kilimanjaro. I am the first climber featured 🙂
When we are on the mountain, they will continue to blog, sharing our journey on a daily basis.
Today I had my appointment at the Simcoe Travel Clinic. I have all of my prescriptions ready to go – Malarone (for prevention of Malaria), Diamox (to reduce symptoms of acute mountain sickness) & a broad spectrum antibiotic. I have an oral vaccine for traveller’s diarrhea ready to take 2 weeks before I leave. I also received vaccinations against Typhoid, Hep A and got my flu shot! Here’s to staying healthy during this adventure! 🙂
Today I applied for my Tanzania Visa. This process involves sending my passport in the mail – which is a little unnerving…but they promise me I will see it again. One more step in making my dream a reality.
I first learned about the opportunity of this adventure in November, 2012. I submitted my application video in April, 2013. It became a reality that I will be going to Tanzania in May, 2013. It seemed like a long way away…..
Two months from today – I start my adventure.
The reality is setting in. I feel like the majority of my preparations are falling into place – medical, fund raising, fitness training, gear, etc. However, the thought of being away from my family for 12 days is not getting any easier.
As I share my upcoming adventure with friends & family, several recurring questions arise. To the best of my “pre-climb” knowledge, I will answer some of those questions now:
How much weight do you carry? I will only carry what I need during that day’s hike. I carry my lunch, 2L water, camera, extra layers of clothing, hat, sunscreen, etc. It will likely be about 15 lbs.
What happens to all of your other gear? Porters will carry the majority of our gear up the mountain. I am allowed to bring 25 lbs of gear (including sleeping mats and sleeping bag) in a duffel bag.
What about the bathroom? There are public washrooms along the climb to the summit. I have been warned that they are less than pleasurable. Chagga Tours will provide our own, private latrine, which will be set up at each camp, inside a narrow little shelter.
How do you avoid altitude sickness? It is advised that I take Diamox starting a day before our climb, and every day we are climbing. The Himalayan Rescue Association (HRA) is the world authority on high altitude trekking and they state, “Trials with thousands of trekkers show that Diamox benefits most climbers adjusting to the increased altitude. A small minority of climbers experience no benefit.” It is also advised to drink 4L of fluids each day (and we circle back to the last question). Most importantly, we will be climbing very slowly, to allow our bodies time to adapt to the elevation.
What happens at Summit? It has been explained to me that every day on the mountain is leading up to Summit. We try to go to bed very early after Day 5. Day 6 will begin at midnight. We will hike, slowly, in the dark & cold with a goal to summit by 8:00 am. I cannot tell you the emotions that I feel – thinking about being at the top of Africa watching the sunrise!!!!!
Outward Bound Canada hosted a “Meet and Greet” for alumni and 2014 participants of the Reach Beyond Expeditions Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb. I met five of the eleven participants that I will be climbing with. We were able to share our fundraising successes (and challenges), training regimes and get to know our fellow climbers for the first time. One of the alumni told us that the experience is “like doing the hardest thing you’ve ever done – while nauseous”. The other climbers that I met come from various backgrounds, different parts of the country, range in age and experience. We all share a common excitement for this opportunity and can’t wait to meet again in Africa!
We had a presentation on gear and packing by an experienced climber. At the end of the night we received a “swag bag” with some Outward Bound promotional material. My favourite part of the whole night – I got a BUFF! As a true Survivor fan (guilty pleasure) – I am very excited to have a buff 🙂