If you were going to *start* hiking mountains, which mountain would you choose for your first adventure?
- A. Mt. Eden (Auckland, New Zealand)- 643 feet
- B. Mt. Rainier (Seattle, Washington, USA) – 14,411 feet
- C. Mt. Kilimanjaro (Arusha, Tanzania) — 19,341 feet
The correct answer is *not* C. And still, I have non-refundable tickets to Tanzania for this Thursday with my name on an itinerary list to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro next week.
I was at the gym the other night taking a brisk walk on the treadmill in my new hiking boots. Not your typical gym attire, I know, but desperate times (and rain) call for desperate measures. I’m just below that tipping point before your walk is fast enough that it forces you to jog. I’m sweating, reading a magazine I actually bought as a gift for someone else. There is an older man on the rowing machine beside me. I’m a little jealous and placing a bet against myself that that he could order off the senior citizen menu, without being carded, at Denny’s — and what I would give for a $3.99 Grand Slam at this exact moment.
Then I remember that I’m hiking a mountain in 10 days… with a couple of Olympic medalists — rowers, in fact. Reality check: I’m also “training” on the treadmill in my hiking boots because I’m trying to break them in before a brutal 40+ hours of hiking that will be right in front of my face very soon. I’m that person… that you’d likely never see at the gym because real hikers walk outside.
I learned on Wikipedia tonight that Mt. Kilimanjaro has the 4th highest peak in the world. It means “mountain of greatness” and for damn good reason. It’s the world’s highest free-standing mountain and Africa’s highest (regular?) mountain. Only 41% of those who attempt the climb actually summit due to “considerable discomfort, shortage of breath, hypothermia and headaches” (Wikipedia, you don’t mess around). It’s considered one of seven natural wonders of Africa. Wonder-ous, I think, because it’s a double-edged sword of beauty and crazy. It’s also a volcano and “could erupt again”.
It’s 32 times higher than Mt. Eden,
6.4 times the height of Snoqualmie Pass,
136% the height of Mt. Rainier,
and a whole whopping 2/3 the height of Mt. Everest.
The journey from the gate to the peak is like traveling from the equator to Antarctica in a matter of days. Throughout the climb, temperatures vary considerably with the altitude and time of day. At the base of the mountain, the average temperature is around 27°C to 32°C. From there, the temperatures will decrease. At the summit, the night time temperatures can range between -18°C to -26°C. Due to Mount Kilimanjaro’s great height, the mountain creates its own weather. It is extremely variable and impossible to predict. Therefore, regardless of when you climb, you should always be prepared for wet days and cold nights.
-26°C is = to -15°F.
There’s something about all this information that makes me want to eat a whole pizza and skip work tomorrow to catch up on Game of Thrones, which I would never do. Plus, it’s largely frowned upon to eat whole pizzas and skip work just before a giant “work trip.” Instead I’m eating a donut.
If I had to choose my very last meal, ironically I’d probably choose pizza and donuts. Probably not the diet choices of my fellow-climbers Mahe Drysdale (five-time World Champion rower and Gold medalist) and Juliette Haigh (bronze medalist rower) who are training already for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Our little hike is my office’s red carpet (albeit, a long, treacherous, uphill red carpet) premier to the launch of our new initiative: World Vision Micro — funding the small business loans of hardworking entrepreneurs in developing countries. And a red carpet it will be — alongside Mahe and Juliette, our CEO Chris Clarke, Kerre Woodham (hilariously witty, and annoyingly knowledgeable radio host who does well to remind our group of the physical pain we are soon to endure), jewelery maker slash singer-songwriter Boh Runga, and Rhys Darby (New Zealand’s favourited international comedian and actor).
So I’m starting my week in Auckland, New Zealand but will end it in Arusha, Tanzania. I’m focussing my last days on getting as much work done as possible, enjoying Thai takeout, and texting while I can still feel my fingertips. My middle of the month is predicted to experience shattered legs, swollen but frozen feet, and false perception of hope. Next Wednesday when you’re cozy in your pj’s watching XFactor, think of me climbing Africa’s highest mountain with this motley crew.
Some people think God tests them spontaneously. But my testing starts on 19 June, and is well-planned. I will be leaning heavily on prayers and enough Twix bars to eat two a day to get me up and back down that mountain (and the saving grace that Colin is flying over on the 26th before we embark on a safari then holiday in Zanzibar and Dubai).
Aint no mountain high enough… I beg to differ.
But there is an island oasis that awaits at the bottom… on some beach. somewhere. (where) there’s a big umbrella casting shade over an empty chair…. with my name on it.
Why is the social media manager hiking the mountain? So you can follow the whole trip live, of course. Updates begin from Tanzania on 15 June. Follow the trip on World Vision New Zealand’s Facebook Page, and @WorldVisionNZ and #KiliChallenge (and @lindseytalerico) on Twitter and Instagram.
If you’ve ever considered donating to microfinance, now’s the perfect time. More on the trip, World Vision Micro, and Micro entrepreneurs at worldvision.org.nz/teamwv