Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Homeward Bound

Day 6
On the last day we were all ready to get off the mountain; we were tired, some of us were sick, and it was raining all the time! We all went at our own pace and we were quite spread out along the trail.  For a while I was on my own and as we re-entered the rain forest I could hear a loud thud.  I kept walking and heard it again.  I looked up only to see a monkey staring down at me!  I realized that he was throwing ‘something’ at me; luckily he missed. 

When we were about an hour away from the entry gate a mini monsoon hit us on the trail! We were all too tired to stop to put our rain pants on so we powered through.  The only problem with this was that our waterproof boots were also great at holding the water in and we all ended up with huge puddles in our boots.  We arrived at the gates after what felt like an eternity.

When we got back to the Marangu Hotel I had never been happier to see a shower.  After 6 days with minimal running water the baby wipes were no longer cutting it. After we all showered and freshened up we met in the lodge to receive our certificates from the climb.  The guides and porters all sang for us and relaxed and had some beverages at the bar.

This trek was the most challenging thing I have ever done and was an amazing experience.  As Nelson Mandela one said, “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”  Who knows where our travels will take us next!

To see the full photo album from our trek click here.
It’s still not too late to make a donation to help us End Polio Now, please click the donation link and thanks in advance for your support!

Summit Day

Day 5
We were woken just before midnight so that we could pack up out gear and start our hike towards the summit. As we walked out to meet our guide it was pitch black; we had only the moon and our headlamps to guide us. We started to zigzag up the side of the mountain at a very slow pace. 

After a few long hours we finally arrived at Gilman’s point just in time for the sunrise.  The view was incredible.  We stopped for a quick rest and some photos, and then continued along the rocky path to Uhuru Peak. 

Two hours later we were finally at the highest point of Africa.  We looked around at the giant crater and endless display of glaciers.  All of our months of hard work and training had truly paid off. 
After taking in the view we began our hike back down the mountain.  When we walked down Gilman’s point re realized in the day light just how steep it was.  After a quick stop at Kibo to grab our gear; we hiked all the way back to Horumbo Hut.

Desert Snowstorm

Day 4
On the fourth day we left Horumbo and continued through the moorlands.  After a while we hiked into the desert on the mountain.  It was completely flat with almost no vegetation.  As we travelled along the trail the fog rolled in, then it started to snow!  We hadn’t expected snow at that altitude so we were all freezing.  Every once in a while our head guide would come up to us and brush off the mini snow banks that were accumulating on our hats!

When we arrived at Kibo Hut is was foggy and cold.  The hut is actually built right into the mountain and it was extremely damp.  When we got to our room you could see your breath!  We hung up all of our gear since it was soaking wet.  We ate lunch and then put on every dry layer of clothing we had and were bed by the afternoon.  We had to wear ear plugs because the chattering of our teeth was keeping us all awake. 

Above the Clouds

Day 3
Waking up above the clouds is the best feeling!  After checking out the breath taking view we headed to the food lodge for another large breakfast.  The lodge was filled with chubby little mice that looked like chipmunks; they ran around the hut eating every crumb that dropped!  They are referred to as the plague of Kilimanjaro, but they looked cute. 

We stayed at Horumbo an extra day to hike to Zebra rock. Staying at this altitude for the extra day helps your body to acclimatize and increases your chance of making it to the summit.  As we went along the trail the fog would quickly roll in and it was hard to see. 
After our day hike we headed back for dinner and then went to bed early to get ready for our big hike to Kibo Hut. 

Poli Poli- Slow Down!

Day 1
We met in the courtyard of the Marangu Hotel and waited for our porters to weigh our packs and pack up our supplies, food and gear. We selected our wooden walking sticks and the piled onto the back of a rusty white pickup truck to begin our short journey to the gates of the park. When we arrived we registered with the park warden, then entered the gates walking past the armed guards. Within 5 minutes our guide was yelling 'poli poli” which means ‘slowly- slowly’ in Swahili! The key is to keep a steady slow pace to help your body acclimatize while you hike.
The base of the mountain is a lush rainforest filled with huge trees, vines and moss. As we walked; groups of monkeys watched us from above with their bushy white tails dangling from the trees. After a few hours we arrived at Mandara hut at 9000 ft. We stayed in a cabin in a large room with bunk beds. We each claimed a bed and unpacked our belongings. We were called for dinner shortly after and we all made our way over to the main lodge. The food was actually quite good, we were served chicken, cooked spinach and potatoes. After dinner we headed back to the cabin and go to bed early so we would be ready for our early wake up call.

Day 2
In the morning we were woken by a porter who brought us hot water for washing and warm tea. We dressed, packed our day bags and gave our camel packs to the porters to fill up with fresh spring water. We headed over to the main lodge for a huge breakfast of porridge, toast, fruit, eggs and sausage. The one great thing about the trek is that you can over eat and not gain weight because your body needs the fuel!
After we ate we started our hike out to the Maundi crater.  After that we hiked back through the rainforest and then into the moorlands.  The vegetation was sparse and it was very rocky.  At the end of the day we arrived at the Horumbo hut. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Roof of Africa

     At the Kilasiya Waterfall

On March 19th 2011 at 8:40 AM the Toronto Twilight Rotary Club reached the top of Kilimanjaro!  The 6 day climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro was a fundraiser for End Polio Now— Rotary’s $200 million challenge to eradicate polio.
Over the next few weeks I will be posting a day to day breakdown of this great accomplishment along with photos. 
The day before the trek started we had the honor of meeting with President Cynoc Martin of the Moshi Kilema Kati Rotary Club.  He took us on a tour of the Kilema Primary School, the Kilema hospital and HIV/AIDS clinic, and the Kilema Girls' vocational school.  We also made a quick stop at the Kilasiya Waterfalls in Tanzania!  Click here to see the photos from our daytrip.
Alice, Chrissy and Mary Catherine talking with Cynoc Martin at the Kilema Hospital
Its still not too late to make a donation to help us End Polio Now, please click the donation link and thanks in advance for your support!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Final Countdown

For our final training trek we did back to back hikes; on Saturday we hiked along the Trans Canada Trail near Mary Catherine’s cottage.  It was sunny but very cold, and a great test of our base layers and other gear!

On Sunday we hiked along some new areas of the Rouge Trail.  It was very icy and we had several slips along the way.  At one point I was walking down the side of the trail to avoid some icy log stairs and I completely wiped out and started sliding down the hill full speed ahead on my bum!  I was fine, so I jumped up with much enthusiasm shouting at the girls to hurry up only to wipe out again!  Needless to say Chrissy and Alice were laughing at me so hard that they almost fell down the stairs.  I think that our group will be a great source of entertainment for everyone on the mountain next week…….

This will be the last post until we get back as we fly out in 3 days!  Thank you to everyone who has supported our trek so far.  It’s not too late to make a donation; please click on the link to the right.  Stay tuned for more updates when we return!