Thank you and War Eagle

Thank you to everyone who helped me in someway throughout this journey.

Thank you to those who exercised or hiked with me to prepare pysically.

Thank you to those who listened to me talk about this for 10 months to prepare emotionally. 

Thank you to those who prayed for me and helped me prepare spiritually.

Thank you to those who sponsored my climb by giving to Missions of Hope International.

 

Thanks for joining me on this journey. I would love to tell you more or anything else you would like to know about my hike. Just ask! 

Kilimanjaro? Check!

When we got back to Kibo Huts we only had 1 hour to rest. I crashed! The guides tried to feed us lunch but I literally had no appetite. We had just hiked 13 straight hours and now we had to hike back down to Horomobo Huts. This took about 3 hours, and I won't lie, I don't really remember this hike. We all went to bed so early as this was the longest day EVER.

On January 5th, we left Horombo Huts around 9 AM to descend all the way back down the mountain to the park gate. We arrived at the park gate around 2 PM and I have never been happier to see the finish sign! We walked over 50 miles throughout this journey.

Now we were done with the adventure of a lifetime and headed to shower for the first time in 6 days. 

Summit

On January 3rd, at 10 PM I woke up to banging on the doors of our room. It was time. This was the moment I had been preparing for the last 10 months. I don't know that I have ever been scared more than this moment. Part of me wanted to hide in my sleeping bag. I finally got out of bed and began layering my clothes for the summit hike. I had on 5 layers. Let's be real, I get cold when it is 60. We layered up and put our headlights. We began our hike at 11 PM. We all got in one large single file line. It was cold, but my layers were working!

At around 16,500 feet I began feeling a little naseous. I had to sit down twice and take some medicine for naseua. I felt better shortly after. Around 3:30 AM, we stopped to take a break for hot tea. Our guides are amazing! I was very blessed to not have severe altitude sickness. But I was having extreme fatigue. During our break for tea, I just wanted to sleep. It was weird. Sometimes as I was standing up, I would find myself falling asleep. Fatigue is a symptom of altitude sickness that a lot of us were feeling. I also was having a hard time with basic coordination. When we were on break, I couldn't pull my water bottle out of my backpack, figure out how to get my gloves back on, and even how to unbuckle my backpack. One of our guides, Innocent, was literally my lifesaver.

The guides are there to help us make it to the top. Innocent was the one who helped me get to Gillman's Point. Innocent would help me get my water bottle in and out and help me with my jacket, gloves, and backpack. I seriously could not have done it without him. The guides were so encouraging! They would sing and talk to us to keep us motivated. At one point, as we are struggling to breathe some of them are on the ground next to us doing pushups! Some of these guides have climbed over 200 times! They definitely have a passion to help people get to the summit. This is not just a job for them. If someone had to turn around they would walk them back to Kibo and stay with them. 

With there being so many of us, we were not all walking at the same pace. I arrived at Gilman's Point with a few others at sunrise. Gillman's Point is 18,652 feet. When we arrived here it was our first glimpse of snow. At this point, we still had 2 hours (mostly uphill in the snow) to get to Uhuru Point. I was with 5 others and a few guides. From this point on, Bruce was the guide who helped me make it to the summit. He held my arm and hand to keep me standing up and walking. It was not easy walking uphiill in 4 inches of snow. At one point, we passed part of our group who was already on their way down. My group arrived at the top around 8 AM. We literally only stayed at the top for maybe 10 minutes. We took pictures and began our descent. At the top, it was about 10 degrees but the wind chill was miserable!

 

Honestly, coming down was harder. I slipped on the ice and snow multiple times. We didn't get back down to Kibo Huts until 1:30 PM. 13 straight hours of hiking. Talk about being exhasuted. I am humbled beyond belief that I was one of the 20 that made it to the summit. I wanted to call my family and friends right away but that would have to wait! 

Kibo

This morning we left Horombo Huts and started our hike to Kibo Huts around 9 AM. Today was a very hot walk as we were walking through the desert. We arrived at Kibo Huts around 2:30 PM. Kibo is 15,000 feet which is the highest altitude I have ever been. At this point, I was still feeling great, having no altitude sickness whatsoever. Up to this point, I would say hiking Pikes Peak was harder than what I have climbed so far here at Kili.

When we arrived inside the huts we met a girl who had just come down from the summit. She looked awful. She stated she made it all the way to the summit but got sick 15 times on the way up. I was able to sleep for about an hour before it was time for snacks and dinner. Around 7 PM, the guides asked us to get as much sleep as we could before we woke up to summit. 

Acclimization Day

On January 2nd, we had a day to acclimate to the altitude. The weather is really overcast and rain is on the horizon. We hiked to Zebra Rock and it started hailing on us! We took some pictures at Zebra Rock and then went back to the huts for lunch and to rest. Today we explored the area around the huts and found a waterfall and some rocks to walk out onto. It was a very relaxing day! 

 

 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Every morning we will leave our water bottles outside for the guides to fill up for us.They would also give us our box lunch to carry. Lunches typically consisted of chicken, fruit, a hard boiled egg, bread, and mango juice. We also would leave our bags outside in the morning before our hike for the porters to take on to the next location. They also would bring us bowls of hot water in the morning so that we could wash since we have no showers. We left Mandara Huts around 9 AM and hiked for about 4 hours before we stopped for lunch. When we arrived to the lunch spot, the guides had hot tea waiting on us! We arrived at Horombo Huts (12,000 feet) around 3:30 PM. It was very cold and cloudy here. The view is amazing as we are literally above the clouds.

The hike begins

On Decemeber 30th, we boarded two buses to head to Moshi, Tanzania. We spent the night at a hotel and prepared for our hike to begin tomorrow. 

On December 31st, our 8 guides from Zara Tours came to meet us at the resort. You are required to have guides in order to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. We are hiking the Marangu route that has huts rather than tents. We each have 2 porters who are respoonsible for carrying our one bag and food, etc. We are responsible for just carrying a day pack with our day necessesties. Our 8 guides would be the ones we would interact with and hike the mountain with. When they picked us up, we drove to the Kilimanjaro National Park Gate.

We began our hike around 12 PM today. The altitude at the park entrance is around 6,000 feet. Today we walked through the rainforest. The scenery looks like something from Jurassic Park. I literally kept waiting for a dinosour to walk by. Everything is so green! We saw monkeys and some beautiful waterfalls while hiking. We ended our hike for the day around 4:30 PM. We hiked to the Mandara Huts which is at 9,000 feet. For me, today's hike was easy and enjoyable. It rained on us for a few minutes walking through the rainforest today. The Mandara Huts had one large hut for all 27 of us. When we arrived, our bags were already waiting for us. The porters are amazing!! We did not stay up for New Years Eve as we all knew we had a long day ahead of us tomorrow. 

 

Missions of Hope International

On Devemeber 29th, we went as a team to tour Missions of Hope International in Nairobi. We got to hear about the history and work of Missions of Hope.

Missions of Hope was started by Wallace and Mary Kamau in 2000. They originally began by serving 50 of the most vulnerable children in the area. Within 2 years, the school had grown to 140 students!! Children were on the waiting list as they did not have the money and resources to accoodate any new resources. There is so much more I could tell but today Missions of Hope has grown to 16 different centers throughout Kenya. Not only does Missions of Hope provide an education but also, meals, medical care and hope.

As of today, Missions of Hope serves more than 15,000 children in 16 different centers throughout Kenya. As of right now, the need is in Turkana, Kenya. The money we raise as a team will be going to build more classrooms in Turkana as that is where the greatest need currently is. 

One of the things that surprised me the most is that girls as young as 7 years old, can be married off. If a young girl is not in school a man can approach her parents and buy her for goats and cows. If these young girls were in school they would not be in this vulnerable position. Missions of Hope is trying to keep these girls from being in this position and giving them hope of an education and future. Turkana is roughly a 2 day drive away from Nairobi. My team was not able to visit the actual school where the money is going. We were visiting the main campus of Missions of Hope during Christmas break. Not only did some of the children from this school come to welcome us, but some of the children from Turkana drove 2 days to come and meet us! The children performed songs and poems for us. After their performance, we walked through the slums of Nairobi. The streets are filled with sewer water and trash. To see families of 4 living in a house smaller than the size of an average closet is heartbreaking. 

We had a few women whose husbands were climbing that came on the trip to stay behind and work with Missions of Hope. They were able to visit the school at Turkana! 

Once the classrooms have been built we will get photos and updates that I can share with you all! Our goal was to raise $150,000 and we currently are at $138,750.Thank you for helping me reach my goal of $5,000. If you want to still give towards our goal as a whole you can:

 

https://give.cmfi.org/hiking-for-hope-30.cause

The Adventure begins..

On December 26th, I left ATL and headed to Nairobi, Kenya. It took almost 24 hours of travel time to arrive in Nairobi. Luckily a few people from my team were on my flight from Amsterdam to Nairobi. 

On December 28th, We had a free day to get over the jetlag and get to know each other. This was the first time I was meeting 26 strangers who were going to be doing this thing with me! We ended up only having a team of 27. We range from ages 17-70 and are from all parts of the U.S. including: Colorado, New Hampshire, Indiana, Illinois, Virginia, and California. 

They all turned out to be wonderful and I miss them so much!

 

Training

One of the most frequent questions I got was "How are you going to train for that?" 

If you know me, You know that I hate running and you normally can't find me in a gym. I love being outdoors and have always enjoyed hiking but unfortunately Florida is flatter than flat so I don't have any mountains to climb around here. I researched and talked with people who have climbed Kili before. What I kept coming across was to walk as much as possible.Yes, you need to be in shape but no, you don't have to be a marathon runner to make it to the top. 

I went to Georgia and hiked to the highest point in Georgia. Brasstown Bald which is a whopping 4,784 feet!! Kili is only 15,000 feet higher than that. I needed more. 

I decided I needed to go to Colorado to do some real training. I went and stayed in Denver with some of my parents friends who climbed Pikes Peak with me. I climbed from the bottom which is roughly 6,000 feet to 14,110 feet in 8 hours via the Barr Trail. My biggest worry was altitude sickness. I had a really hard time breathing the closer I got to the top and I was having to take intentional breaths. But other than that, I experienced no altitude sickness. What's another 5,000 feet I thought? I left Colorado feeling very confident and sore...

My legs were so sore for DAYS! This was the perfect training for me because I was able to see what I needed to work on. When I came home, I started doing lunges, squats, and running stairs at least 3 times a week. I also started walking on the treadmill at an elevated angle. I was very strict with my workout routine up until I left. I left knowing that I had done everything possible to prepare and could not be disappointed with myself if I didn't make it. 

Are you crazy?

I paid the full cost of my trip and started telling friends and family what I was going to do. After I called my boss and asked for the days off of course! A lot of people thought I was crazy.

I began fundraising for the school in April. I began a fundraising page online and also sent out some letters. I really had no idea what to expect. But I was shocked at the amount of people who gave to help me raise money for this school. I created a giving board to show that even $5 would help me towards my goal! I asked friends and family to choose an amount left on my board and to donate that amount. I ended up raising $5,120 with the help of 65 people giving towards this cause!! Some of you donated anonymously and I so wish I knew who you were so I could hug you. 

The mountains are calling and I must go

On February 13th, 2016 I received an email from CMF that was titled " Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and change children's lives in Africa."

Excuse me, what? I really felt like this email was written for me.

In the email it said that there would be an opportunity for up to 30 individuals to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro over the new year. Part of the trip was to help raise money for a school in Kenya. In order to sign up for this trip you were asked to raise $5,000 to donate to Missions of Hope International in Kenya. The teams goal as a whole would be $150,000. This money would go towards building 6 new classrooms in Turkana, Kenya. This would allow 240 children in the slums of Kenya to be able to have the hope of a future through an education. 

I immediately forwarded this to my parents and said "I really want to do this." Thankfully they support my adventurous spirit and heart for missions. They both responded saying to go for it. I was signed up within a week of getting the email.

Why climb?

As most of you know, I first went to Africa when I was just 17 years old. The place we stayed had an excellent view of Mt. Kilimanjaro. I was fascinated by this mountain and have been forever since. I came home and added "Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro" to my bucketlist. To be honest, I never really thought this would happen. Who would want to climb this with me? When would I go? It truly seemed like a fantasy. I never forgot about wanting to climb but I wasn't actively searching for a way to make it happen.