Believe it or not, in about two weeks I will be heading halfway across the world with WHOA Travel to climb Kilimanjaro, the tallest freestanding mountain on earth! If you’re feeling really confused, read about my decision to climb Kilimanjaro here.
When I signed up for this trip last year I did not feel ready to hike 38 miles over 8 days with a total elevation gain of (gasp!) 13,435 feet. I didn’t even know what it felt like to hike for multiple days straight, or to climb a mountain at night, or to stand at a summit in a snowstorm with wind almost blowing me off a mountain. The idea of doing those things scared me. So for the last 9 months I’ve been practicing for all the things that I think Kilimanjaro might throw at me. But even my backpacking trips, long and challenging day hikes, and moments of hiking in the dark, wind, and cold still doesn’t totally make me feel ready. In fact, I’m more nervous than ever now that I know I’m leaving really soon!
I thought I’d be blogging more about my specific Kili prep over the last few months, but this isn’t like training for a running race. I don’t feel like I’ve been sticking to any kind of “training plan” (is there one for something like this?), just doing multiple hikes a week. I’ve been trying to make an effort to do more difficult hikes while also realizing that if I make hiking about training instead of about having fun I’ll stop enjoying it. So when I ask people to do a short but steep after work hike, or plan a long and difficult weekend hike with amazing views, I’m mostly doing it because it’s what I love doing. But every time I struggle on the trails I know that it’s building me up for the hardest summit of my life which does help me feel a bit more prepared.
It also feels like there are a million things I need to do before going to Tanzania. I had to get a new passport, see a travel doctor for vaccines and medications, and my Amazon shopping cart is constantly being filled with all the random little things that I’ll need for Kili, the post-hike safari, or my solo beach trip to Zanzibar after all the hard work is finished. I’m trying to remember my favorite things to wear on frigid winter summits while also packing lightweight summer options that won’t leave this heat-fearing Alaskan sweating to death in Moshi before and after the hike. I’m definitely doing a post on what I end up packing and another one on what gear I actually used/didn’t need at all to help out future hikers who are feeling as overwhelmed as I am right now!
As I sit here preparing to make another Amazon purchase while dealing with a stomach ache from my Typhoid oral vaccine pills, the last thing I feel is excitement over this trip. I’m in that annoying stage of trip planning where all you feel is overwhelming fear that you are forgetting something and that you are not ready for this. How am I seriously going to fly halfway across the world alone to climb a giant mountain with a group of girls I don’t know? I’m sure I’ll feel a million times better two weeks from now when all of my packing is done and there’s nothing else to worry about. But I have to admit that I’m really looking forward to finally starting this adventure. I’ve been dreaming about this moment for a really long time, and I can’t wait to stand on the top of Uhuru Peak in just a few weeks!
Do you have any tips for me on international travel, packing for all 4 seasons in one trip, or handing multi-day hikes at high altitude? Please leave any advice in the comments!