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Roof of Africa

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By: Marcy Predmore

A little over a year ago I started enjoying a book…”Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill.

He suggested writing down your goals and looking at them regularly – believing that you have already achieved them!

kilimin-dsc02005_0310As the story continues…A friend, Kristi Faraguna, and I have a passion for hiking and wanted to do something outstanding, and out of our comfort zone! It is so awesome to have a partner to work together towards a goal. We constantly encouraged each other.

So last spring we began training, and looking at what the world has to offer in opportunities. I wanted to do Everest Base camp, she has had a desire to do Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Well, we decided after much research on Kilimanjaro. We began talking with other people who have climbed it. We also had the task of picking a Tour Company. This was a hard assignment. The route was also a tough one. We chose Machame, seven days on the mountain.

We looked at some of the big corporate companies and their costs, and something just didn’t sit well. Some who know me, know I am a “local fanatic!” I like to do business in my own community.

So, we started to look at smaller, less flashy companies. We found Bryson Adventure Tours out of Moshi, Tanzania. We looked into references and found several people to communicate with.

One particlar person was “Ranger Rick.” He was a wealth of information and spoke highly of Bryson, the owner, and his company. The owner, guides, cooks and porters are all from the Moshi area. He has recommended Bryson to over 300 climbers, he even made a conference phone call to Kristi and me.

Kilim-dsc02078_0237We began communicating with Bryson and were pleasantly surprised at his quick, kind and professional response. We ended up hiking with them and it was the best decision we could have made!

We booked our trip and flights, thanks to the terrific help from Patti at Columbine Travel! It pays to shop local!

We then had checklists to accomplish. Passports up to update, Visas, shots, (I drug my feet on this one). Bryson provides a check list of gear so again thanks to Rob at the Mountain Shop, we began collecting everything needed, and a little more. Rob had climbed the mountain before so again we had first hand experience and a wealth of information.

In the process of preparing, I got a bright idea to make this a fundraiser for Rotary Youth. Interact and Rotaract are young adults in high school and college that are members of Rotary. I am the mentor for the Estes Park Interact club from Estes Park High School. I have a terrific bunch of kids, and have had for over seven years. My thoughts behind the fundraiser was to create an account for the kids to apply for something to “get outside their comfort level” and see the world! Rotary’s motto is “Service Above Self” and there are so many local and international projects to be involved with, I am anxious for the kids to experience giving!

Starting October of 2012, I began to journal and videotape my training. It motivated me to realize that a goal this large cannot be achieved overnight. It’s the journey, not how fast you can run the race!

One of my personal passions is hiking. I feel I am privileged to have the best backyard in the world! I have hiked for many years with many different people, and they can all attest to the fact that I sometimes forget to enjoy the journey and go a little too fast. (right, Nate, Barb, Karen, Sarah and others?)

November comes and goes, it’s time to apply for my Visa. We can’t believe how close it’s getting. December, and January is last minute stocking up, training and for me Googling Mt. Kilimanjaro and looking at it regularly to “see” myself on the top! I’m a little driven at times, especially when there is a summit to be achieved.

I had several agenda items planned. I wanted to do each one on the summit. I am so thankful for my community, I wanted to take a little of Estes to Africa. I also took the Estes Park News, a Rotary hat with my Interact pin and Paul Harris pin because I wanted the kids represented and summiting with me as well as my Rotary family too, so many of you were so supportive! One of my favorite places to rejuvenate on a Friday afternoon is Ed’s Cantina, so Bronson fixed me up with an Ed’s tee shirt. Yes, I wore it to the top too!

I also wore several pieces of jewelry to represent my family. Whenever I travel I like to share it with my granddaughter, Callae, so she will always know the world is at her fingertips!

January 31 is finally here! Kristi and I decide to go to DIA the evening before just to be in Denver. Our flight time is over 31 hours, through Minneapolis, Amsterdam, and then into Kilimanjaro Intl. Airport. I did forget to say I do not like flying…

We had communicated with our families, telling them where and how we were…but little did we know, our phones say you have service, but you don’t. At least we weren’t sure if anything was going through.

We make it to Moshi, Tanzania at about 11:00, you all were 10 hours behind us here in Estes Park.

The car ride to the cottage where we were staying will never be forgotten, I screamed out loud! Andrew our guide was so kind, and let us know they would be over in the morning to give us our itinerary.

We woke to a Mosaic prayer being prayed over a loud speaker, and a neighborhood rooster. Wow! Our eyes were truly opened to third world. Poverty doesn’t even begin to explain it.

Then, our “journey” begins.

We were picked up in a van filled with eight young men, who do not speak English. The ride to Machame gate was again, terrifying! But we made it, and we were actually the first ones there.

Kristi and I start snapping photos and exploring our surroundings.

At each ranger station, you have to sign in so we signed in and wrote our message to the world!

We left the trailhead with Justo our assistant guide at about 10:30. Off to Machame Camp for our first night. We hiked through a rain forest, it was so hot. We got to experience our first boxed lunch. So many surprises ahead!

Machame camp at 3:00-ish, exploring and meeting our crew. Kristi and I were taken care of by 10 men, for just the two of us, so we got the royal treatment. Our snack was popcorn, and mango cookies.

Our first real look at Kilimanjaro brought tears to my eyes, I’m really here! She is the most gorgeous mountain! In my eyes they all are, but this one is special!

We get settled into our home sweet tent for the next seven nights…way out of my comfort level! Outhouse… again we could write a story just on the bathroom structures. Tree’s here we come. We got to know each other very well, and we still like each other!

Each evening we have a wonderful meal prepared and served to us, by Niko, and cooked by Faustine. Kristi tried to get him to come to Estes and open a restaurant.

Andrew takes us through a health check-up each evening and morning. We had to start taking things like Malaria, Potassium, and Diamox. One side effect of Diamox is you “pee” constantly – sorry about the graphic detail, but it’s true.

Each morning we ( I didn’t sleep much, especially in a tent) would be up early. Our guides would say we need to be on the trail by 8:30, we were always ready by 7:45 or 8:00. Our guides didn’t like early mornings!

On the second day, we are off to Shira camp, out of the jungle and into the moorlands. There were low hanging clouds, very unique plants and it was so exciting, I had a hard time going so slow. “Pole-pole” was all we heard. That means “slowly-slowly. I’m being tested.

We arrive at Shira and again it is breathtaking. We get cleaned up and then do a small up climb for acclimatization. We try our hand at the video camera (thanks, Tim) let’s just say there will be lots of laughter when we share.

The bathroom structure here is even worse (really!) So we scope out rocks and trees, privacy is also hard to come by. We eat a delightful meal, sunset was like a photo, so pretty. We head to the “rocks and trees” with a very small flash light, yes we both went with head lamps, but they were safely in our packs, in out tent!kilim-topd-

We laugh out loud trying to see…but then the laughter dies down…we are lost! We can’t find out tent, or camp! Kristi says, “I recognize that tent” and I say “Great where in camp is it?” We don’t know. There are no city lights, no moon, and it is dark, and getting cold. We hang onto each other for safety, and security.

Finally we are just about to yell for Andrew, and we see the cook tent. We actually had to put hand warmers in our socks to warm us up! So if you ever need advise, always have your headlamp at night on the side of a mountain! Our flashlight stopped working about five minutes after we got in our tent, so we were truly lucky!

Day three is off to Lava Cliff’s and we will be over 15,000 feet in altitude. I can hardly wait! First, it was sunshine and warm, then the clouds roll in and so cold, so we took advantage of our layers!

Next, we descend to Baranco Camp at about 14,000.

We go through our regime with Andrew, our oxygen is doing great, and we both feel really good! We had a great dinner once again, and because the “Wall” is tomorrow and the wind is worse than Estes, we go to bed early. I was up most of the night due to the wind, so I resorted to ear plugs.

As I took pictures and videos of the “Wall” I had no idea what was in store for us. Kristi says to me “What did you think the “Wall” meant?” I guess I really didn’t think it through!

We are packed and ready by 8:30.

We are actually climbing! Kristi is a climber, and good at it. I am a hiker, and not so good! We could also tell a complete story on the lives of porters, and guides. We both wished we would have brought three times the food, snacks, and candy emergencies to share as white bread is one of their main staples. Their attire is almost jaw dropping, no real warm clothes, and all are hand me downs. We see a young man in Hello Kitty pajamas that are two feet too short. But they all have wonderful smiles on their faces. we say “Jambo” a lot. It means “Hi.” We are gradually learning more words.

At the top of the wall we are rejoicing! At least I was. The view of Kilimanjaro is massive and again we had to pinch ourselves! There are lava rocks everywhere.

The Diamox has kicked in so there are lots of stops. We see Karangu Camp across the valley. Don’t ask African men how long or how many miles. It is always just a few more minutes, or an hour!

We have to descend a very steep valley and then ascend it to camp, at least a mile, and by the way, did I mention steep?!

kilim-ladies-waveI would go up a mountain any day if I didn’t have to come down. The trail was dry loose rubble.

We make it to Karangu camp. Clouds are down low and it’s windy. Once the clouds lifted, you got it, it was spectacular view of the mountain. we could actually see where we would be ascending for the summit.

We rested until 3:00 and then another uphill climb, I was not a happy camper, we went way too slow! It’s the journey right?

We have decided to do this story in two parts so stay tuned to “One Step at a Time to the Top, Our Journey!”

Hope you enjoy the photos, we will also be doing some presentations in the near future.

I also wanted to say a loud “Thank You!” for all that have contributed to the Interact Rotary fund!

© 2014 Estes Park News, Inc

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