Destination Kilimanjaro. It was a year ago that I read that email.
Preparing for this great adventure has been a lesson in delaying gratification. The entire year has been devoted to working, training and planning for a trip that will commence in just three short days. I had been looking for something to challenge me, to take me out of the comfortable cocoon that had become my life–I knew at first read that this was the opportunity. The search was over!
I remember the first time I decided on a minus 30 degree day to climb the stairs in my home. I did this without hiking boots and pack, just in socks. I went up and down the stairs for 20 minutes. I was crippled for days after this challenge. Who knew that months later I would climb 1600 stairs in 30 minutes on my lunch break and that some weeks I would do this 3 times in a week without any pain during or after.
I recall hiking in the winter and how sore I was after just a few short hours. I was so pleased with the level of fitness attained since, when just a few weeks ago I hiked for nearly 9 hours and was disappointed that we had to finish the hike as it was getting dark.
I had many illnesses and injuries, but I do know that I did all that I could to achieve this great goal. I worked hard and at times three different jobs were juggled to make it all fit to pay for this trip. I worked hard at our home, staining and painting the house, maintaining the garden, doing yard work, dealing with the dogs, cats, house and all that is required for Summertime at the acreage.
I cycled, biked, hiked, ran, stair climbed, hill climbed and mountain climbed. I woke up at 0300 and drove to hike in Nordegg, then drove home to care for the dogs. I hiked with lung infections, sore knees, sore hips, sore feet and when exhausted to prepare for Kilimanjaro tough. I read books about this great mountain, visualized the route, practiced breathing, meditated and did yoga. I prayed that we will finish the climb together, that our group will all make the journey to the top, and asked anyone I met to pray for us. I kept a journal, a calendar to keep track of my training and another to keep track of my jobs. Preparing to climb Kilimanjaro was a priority for my life this past year. When I could not make group workouts, I did more at home to make up for the fact that I did not attend. When walking was difficult due to one of the many injuries, I did core exercises twice per day to strengthen–it worked. I went to my doctor more than I have in any recent year. To determine the nature of my pain, I had a bone scan, x-ray and consult with a Sports physician. Convinced I was likely too fat for my body, I lost over 30 pounds and many inches and that is what made all the difference. I’ve met many great new friends and learned some of the stories of their lives as we hiked together. I hope that we will remain friends after we have shared this amazing experience together
I know that the mountain will change me. I am hoping to leave some of my less admiral traits on the roof of Africa. I will take people with me in spirit–my grandparents, parents, patients that have passed and patients that I currently care and have the honor of being a part of their lives at present. I will think of my daughters, my grandson and new grandchild and hope that their lives will always be full of adventure, that they will never allow their live to be limited and that they will always aim high.
I will use this as a launch to the next chapter of my life.
I have no idea what the future brings–how many more years that I have left to live, but I do know that I will continue to live every day with intent and purpose. I will continue to challenge myself physically, mentally and spiritually. I will not sleep walk through life, nor take the days for granted. I will continue to learn, grow and develop to become the best that I can be in this life.
I do know that I have done all that I can to achieve this great feat and I’m ready. To the Top!