Climbing Kilimanjaro – Part 1

September 20, 2016 1:44 pm Published by
Editor’s Note: From October 24th through October 28th, JBFC is hosting Trek Tanzania. It’s a walk-a-thon, where we’re inviting our friends around the world to walk the same number of steps that it would take to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to benefit JBFC’s healthcare clinic. Guest Blogger, Melinda Wulf, is JBFC’s Administrative Director in Tanzania. Melinda has climbed and successfully reached the top of Mount Kilimanjaro an amazing THREE times!

Below is Melinda’s account of her first experience climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in 2013.
Day 1
With nervous anticipation I watched the guides and porters gather all the equipment, food and supplies needed for six days on the mountain. I sat and wondered how they would get it all up there, when we would start hiking, and if I would actually make it to the summit. Everyone in our group was sitting around eating snacks and making nervous small talk. We all had one goal in mind, to make it to the top, and we were all a little nervous.
We finally started walking up the path around noon and I was in awe, watching the porters pass by us wearing flip flops and carrying 20 kilos (44 pounds) on their back. The initial phase of the trek is in a rain forest, but there aren’t many animals, we saw a few monkeys and lots of insects and birds. We walked pretty slowly, but it’s amazing how quickly I felt the loss of my breath. It started raining and continued to rain until we reached camp that night.
We walked 7 miles and climbed over 4,000 feet in altitude that day. A lot of my things were wet and it was cold. We sat in the mess tent on wet canvas chairs and tried to enjoy our first meal on the mountain. Doubt really started to seep into my head at that point and I remember thinking I couldn’t handle 5 more days like the first.
Day 2
I woke up early with the birds chirping and the sun shining. It was a new day, a new start. I hung my wet clothes from the day before on the outside of my backpack, had some breakfast and started trekking. On the second day we hiked out of the rain forest and into the heather and moorlands that contained lots of moss. We had a lot more sunshine and laughter on day two as we got a “peek of the peak” through the trees. That day we walked 4 miles and climbed about 3,500 feet and spirits were high in the mess tent that night.
Day 3
Looking back, this was by far the hardest, but also my favorite day of the trek. We climbed out of the mossy trees and into the desert which meant climbing lots of rocks. I was thankful for my boot camp training where I’d been doing tons of squats and lunges. Kilimanjaro is not a technical climb, but the Barranco Wall could make you think twice about going further. There’s a portion of the climb where my guide told me to trust my boots and not to look down. I wasn’t sure if I really trusted my boots, but I sure as heck didn’t look down. The hugging or kissing rock, is a large boulder you have to hug to get around on the edge of a cliff. This part of the trek is not for sissies.

At the top of Barranco Wall, we sat and ate our snacks
and took pictures of us above the clouds. We marveled as we watched porters from other groups carry plastic chairs on their heads as they climbed over the wall. It was a challenging, but rewarding day. We walked 3 miles and climbed high and slept low that day reaching our campsite 13,106 feet above sea level.
To be continued…

You can join us on a virtual climb of Mount Kilimanjaro by participating in Trek Tanzania! Click here to register!

Trek Tanzania is JBFC’s inaugural walk-a-thon! All proceeds from Trek Tanzania will benefit JBFC’s Health clinic which provides preventative health services to a community of over 400 children and families.

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This post was written by Mainsprings