Kilimanjaro Update and Lessons


I'll cut to the chase: WE MADE IT!

I'm thrilled to let you know that I have been to the roof of Africa! 19,341 feet!  

  • It was uncomfortable (just like I hoped)
  • The weather was perfect (just like I hoped) 
  • Our guides were indispensable and amazing (just like I hoped)
  • and we did it!!!

Few lessons I'm taking into 2023!

Pole Pole wins the race:  (Pole Pole is Swahili for SLOW!) We went slow.  I have never walked that slow in my life.  From day 1 our guides Andrew and Justo set a very slow pace.  

On day 2 we asked what "like a turtle" was in Swahili and "Pole pole kama kobe" became the mantra.

On day 4 (Summit day) we sure were glad we had gone slowly.  Our muscles weren't overtaxed, we didn't have too much trouble with the altitude and we had enough juice to get to the top.

I don't know about you, but when I look at my to-do list, and it's longer than my arm, I whip myself into a frenzy and start trying to bang things out in a stressed out, overwhelmed tizzy.  My effectiveness goes down.  My tension goes up, and I'm not nearly as productive as when I just set it in 2nd gear and cruise calmly through the list.   Next time you feel like you're rushing and stressed and you're sensing a burnout coming, take a breath and remind yourself...Pole Pole still gets you there!  In fact, it could be more effective and a heck of a lot more enjoyable.  

When you get overwhelmed, just take 10 more steps:  At 3am on 12/28 we were only half way to the summit (we started at 11pm!)  We were tired from only sleeping 4 hours, from climbing for the past 3 days, and from the altitude.  It was pitch dark, and looking at where we were heading, all you could see was lines of headlamps from the climbers in front of us, and they seemed REALLY steep and very far away.  It was terrifying, to think about trying to get where they were.

There was some graffiti on one of our bunk beds the night before.  "When you think you can't go any further, just look down and take 10 more steps."

When you're faced with a task that seems unsurmountable, sometimes thinking about the finish line is too much and you can get in your head.  If you shrink your view, and just think 10 steps in front of you, (or 1 step) it's a lot easier to continue making steady progress.  So instead of thinking "I have to climb this steep hill for 4 more hours" I would think, "Just take 10 more steps.  Then 10 more."  

You don't have to do it alone: I used the headline "WE made it" because I couldn't have done it alone.  Our guides were brilliant, and my friends Erin and LeeAnn were champions of strength and support and best of all laughter.  We seriously laughed our way through Kenya and Tanzania, and I'm convinced that was why we made it.

Lean on your friends.  Talk to people who know more than you do.  Ask the questions, provide support, and share a laugh.  It makes the tough stuff in life easier, and a lot more enjoyable! 

My last lesson is, if there's something you want to do, START PLANNING!  It's so easy to say "I'll do it someday" or "Maybe when...." but I've found that the best way to accomplish things, experience things and cross those things off the bucket list is to start planning.  Once you start the planning, things have a way of falling into place, or at least you can start taking just 10 steps more towards your goal, pole pole kama kobe....remember the tortoise and the hare??

Go get 'em Kobe!   

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