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!