KILIMANJARO DAY 1: I move boldly in the direction of my dreams

Choosing a guiding company

With hundreds of companies to choose from, we went with a guiding company called Climb Kili. Every step of the process was meet with a quick responses to all questions and complete confidence, which helped to calm a bit of anxiety as we sent thousands of dollars overseas. They sent a wonderful preparation package full of information, beanies, stickers, pens and luggage tags, skyrocketing our excitement and anticipation, while helping us to prepare in-depth for the trek!!! We highly recommend Climb Kili to anyone interested in this specific adventure. And we especially recommend Good Luck and his team as a guide!!! Highly qualified, extremely compassionate, and full of enthusiasm. Their energy was magnetic, spreading hope and encouragement every step of the way.

Travel day(s) success

After a 2.5 hour drive to Denver, 3 hour airport wait, 4 hour flight to Washington DC, 6 hour airport wait, 13.5 hour flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 4 hour airport wait, 2 hour flight to Kilimanjaro, 1 hour drive…..we arrived at Summit Lodge in Arusha, Tanzania. No delays and all our luggage made it through customs before we did, a true relief! We settled in to the Summit Lodge, our headquarters for the next two weeks. Although a bit colder than expected (winter in Africa was surprising chilly and the hotels didn’t offer heat), the rooms were very clean and large. We gave ourself a day much needed day to settle and recover from jet lag before we began the trek.

The trek begins

We woke at 6am, the hotel room had a chill and the lighting was dim as we finished our last minute packing. A stop by the breakfast buffet and then down to the lobby with all our gear. Day packs and duffle bags for the trek, a suitcase and valuables left with the front desk. Our guide entered, a tall and slender gentleman with a warm smile, he went by a variety of names. Good Luck or 100%, we could choose. He was enthusiastic, joyful and full of information. He briefed us on the details of the morning agenda and led his crew gracefully in the preparation details.

Loading our Climb Kili bus

Our gear and all the supplies were strapped to the top of the bus, and we began the three hour bus ride to the trailhead of the Lemosho Route. As we passed through the urban city and into the countryside, I could feel my stomach begin to swirl. A common side effect when I am under stress, my body began to grasp onto the energy of the day. The journey was starting. All the prepping and planning and dreaming, now in action. The excitement was high, yet also the nerves sweltered throughout my entire being.

My mind chatter was running constant as we zig zagged our way through the Tanzanian landscape. “Wow how is that lady balancing that bundle on her head, dang look how many people are on that motorcycle, those cows look skinny, I wonder how far that family is walking with all those bags, OMG look at all the beautiful bright colors everyone is wearing and the patterns ……..I can’t believe this is starting, I wonder how hard the hiking will be today, I wonder if I’ll be the slowest, is my pack too heavy, how are the other members of our team, is my family prepared, do we have the right gear, did I remember to pack the…………..” the thoughts went on and on, swirling manically. I felt it directly in my gut. Tension building, no space for quickshifts, but plenty of time for mediation. I drifted in and out of silent meditation, repeated affirmations, and practiced deep belly breathing. Releasing tension as best I could.

Pain makes me grumpy. Accepting the pain and understanding it is temporary helps me to move through it with more grace and less irritability. The more I accepted the stress within my body with compassion, the more I could see beyond the pain and prepare for the unknown adventure that was just around the corner.

Londorossi gate to Mti Mkubwa

We enjoyed lunch under the pavilion while our team unloaded the gear and we got checked in. The porters loaded all the gear into large rice sack type duffle bags, and prepared for departure. Then it happened, the sight was unreal…..with large backpacks on their backs, the porters would each grab a giant duffle sack and place it upon their head or neck, then one bye one they began up the trailhead at rapid speeds. So incredible to witness the strength and stamina at which our team hauled our tents, food, duffles, chairs, as well as their own personal gear.

With each of us packing just our day packs, we too began the trek. Pole Pole. Slowly Slowly. Following our guide one slow step at a time, we began to ascend through the montane rainforest. The pain in my gut slowly faded as the anticipation was over, and the trek had been initiated. “I move boldly in the direction of my dreams” repeated softly through my being as we ascended slowly. With each step, each breath, I was heading towards my dream, with my family right beside me each step.

So many feelings to embrace while the senses remained on high alert. Green of all variations embraced the emotions of gratitude, joy, fear, hope…..it was a magical land, full of amazing flowers, trees, and new wildlife. So alive with love and mystery. The incline was gentle, allowing our bodies and lungs to get used to the pace with ease. We inched our way through the landscape, basking in the beauty, admiring monkey’s and walking to the rhythmic sounds of our breath.

Although I desired to stop and capture every new leaf and flower along the way, the pace remained constant as to prevent a nightime arrival to camp. We rarely stopped unless to find “service” (code for pee behind a tree), or to view the wildlife. We trekked gradually for about 3 hours until we arrived at our base camp at Mti Mkubwa right before sunset.

We were welcomed to camp by our increible team, tents ready for lounging, tea and popcorn ready for munching. A washing basin and clean drinking water were available instantly. A dense fog began to engulf the camp as dinner was served. And DANG, the food……it was remarkable! Each day had a variety of flavors, first starting with a delightful soup to warm and hydrate the body. Next an array of fresh veggies, and abundant amounts of avocados. Then large portions of rice, topped with homemade meat and veggie sauce. And finally, fresh papaya, pineapple or watermelon to complete the meal. Delightful fuel for the tastebuds and body as we had successfully finished day 1 of journey from motel to Mti Mkubwa camp.

Bed came early, not long after dinner was finished. Sleep came sporadically, in between the frequent bathroom trips (caused by the high altitude medication) and the screeches made by hyraxe tree animals. Relief and confidence poured in my body as I snuggled deep inside my sleeping bag. Day 1 was a success, and I move boldly in the direction of my dreams.

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