I figure it’s about time I start a log of my Kilimanjaro trip. I have three days before I fly to Tanzania and I’m bloody freaking out, dude!
The idea came…came…I have no idea how I got this idea. The little man in my head tells me to do things and I’m just crazy enough to listen to him.
I’ve actually been dreaming about going up Everest for many years. I think I got that from some of the books I’ve read (books of people dying on the mountain). I figured if I really wanted to go up Everest I should try something more simple first. Kilimanjaro immediately jumped into the picture (actually Little Man gave me the idea).
So I started doing some research more than two years ago. I had started going to the gym already and I was feeling rather good about myself. But the information I found gave me the impression that I wasn’t fit enough just yet. So I continued training until I decided that if I didn’t do this now I’ll never do it. It’s a good time in my life. I’ve been training, I left my fulltime job and started freelancing, which means I have a flexible schedule, and my husband will be around to take care of the kids.
So I made reservations for August. I had more than four months to prepare so that seemed good enough for me.
Preparations meant jogging, swimming, horseback riding, biking, and going up and down the stairs of my ten storey apartment building.
Now, mind you, when I put it that way, it sort of looks like I’m a superwoman with super-physical skills. The thing is, I’m not. I jogged about two to three times a week in the beginning. I jogged around the horse track (about two kilometers) at the Cairo Horse Club. I started by going around once. Eventually I could jog around it twice, then three times. I’d get severe headaches afterwards and it took me awhile to figure out what my body needs to avoid post-exercise fatigue (my body wants water, bananas, and lemon juice…ask Little Man, he’ll tell you).
I went swimming twice a week. That means that I’d swim the width of the pool at Al-Ahly Club, rest a few minutes, then swim the width of the pool back. I’d repeat that for awhile and then get out and read a book. Eventually I was able to swim the length of the main pool once, rest a bit, then swim the length of the main pool back. And I also managed to swim the length of the diving pool several times back and forth with minor few-second-breaks between each lap. That’s big stuff for me. You have no idea.
When I say I went biking, that means I went biking about three times in the whole four months. Once I took the bike out onto the Cairo-Alexandria road and biked up hill and down hill for about 20 km as far as I can remember (it might have been twelve…I’m pretty sure there’s a two in there somewhere). The second time I biked through Zamalek (and got whistled at by a doorman and a young traffic officer). And the third time was in Alexandria along the sea shore. That’s me biking.
I did a lot of horseback riding. That was real. I took lessons three times a week for several months. Do you have any idea what horseback riding does to the thigh muscles?
I also really did go up and down those apartment building stairs. I eventually was doing 10 storeys, 10 times, in less than an hour, and about two to three times a week.
After ALL THAT, I pretty much figured I was the strongest person (not even just woman…PERSON) in the world. Now what I needed was to get some camping experience (yes…I had reservations to go up Kilimanjaro and I had absolutely no experience in camping). Thus one of my previous posts dedicated to peeing in the outdoors. Quite an amazing experience, that.
Now that I had peed in the outdoors I was ready! I cannot fail! If I couldn’t summit Kilimanjaro then no one could!
Last weekend a group I hooked up with organized a special honorary hike for me up Egypt’s highest peak, Mt. St. Catherine. Yehia, our organizer, planned it to be a rigorous hike to simulate what one day up Kilimanjaro would be like. I carried 17 kg on my back and we had very short and infrequet breaks on the way up. The group was all young (no one in that group was older than 27). Almost all of them went up as if they were strolling along the Nile on a cool summer’s night. They chatted (I have no idea how they had the breath to do that) and could have done without the breaks if they were allowed to. I panted all the way up. It wasn’t easy. But I managed. My main problem was that I had to pee (a main theme in my life these days) very frequently. I later learned that altitude diuresis is a healthy sign of acclimatization to high altitudes. How the heck it’s healthy to get dehydrated I have no idea. But I did get dehydrated. The result was that the way down was really hard for me. I did not bring anything that would make up for the loss of electolytes that was bound to happen. I had to give my backpack to our guide to carry for the last hour of the trip. I was that out of it.
I do have to add that it was very much worth it. The view from the summit was gorgeous. And while I was at the summit I was perfectly fine and healthy and had a great time. I have the pictures and the videos to prove it.
But on the way down, I had to take very frequent toilet breaks. On facebook, one friend asked me how I chose the rocks behind which I’d do my thing. Here is what I told her (I actually do think this is interesting enough to share with the world):