Today, Sunday 23 September, the team packs up the vehicles and heads off on their journey. Their itinerary for the day includes a few hours’ drive from basecamp followed by a 3 hour hike to Forest Camp, located at 2,438 m above sealevel.
The bloggers were asked the following question as they set off on their journey: Did you do anything, mentally, physically, educationally and/or scientifically to prepare for this trip?
I’ve been dreaming about Kili for a few years now, so my mental preparation consisted mostly of trying to keep myself from shaking with excitement in the weeks leading up to departure. I’m very fortunate to live in Colorado, where signs for trails seem to pop up with every intersection! I was able to hike Long’s Peak and other 14ers, as well as smaller hikes close to my house in Boulder. Educationally, I had dozens of conversations with friends who have successfully reached the summit. Everybody was so supportive, and thrilled to give me any advice and old gear they could! I also watched the IMAX feature on Mt. Kilimanjaro with my parents… we’re an extremely chatty family, and that film had us all speechless by the credits. Needless to say, they both wish they were here too! Overall, I feel prepared, but there’s plenty of room for surprises along the way! (Editor’s note: a 14er is a mountain whose peak is at or above 14,000 ft (4267.2 m))
I suspect this trek will be one of the most physically and mentally demanding experiences I will ever attempt. Mentally, I prepared by asking lots and lots of questions. I talked with a number of people that have been at high altitudes (including Kilimanjaro) about what to expect with altitude. My hope is that if I know ahead of time what is coming, I will be able to handle (both mentally and physically) these changes better. Physically, I trained by swimming, hiking up and down our local ski hill, yoga, and occasional long bike rides. I also had a week of field work on the Seward Peninsula (western Alaska) in early August. This week was great training for me as each was spent hiking long distances over tussock tundra as well as long and steep climb at the end of the week.
In preparing for this expedition I began several weeks ago focusing on my running and biking in order to build my cardiovascular system. I usually run 30 or more miles a week and put in another 60 to 100 miles on my bike. Of course, during the training I have lots of time to think about what it will be like at such a high altitude and what I will need to bring with me to make sure that when the weather changes I don’t get in trouble. From an education standpoint, I have been reading and learning about the area of Tanzania that we will be visiting and trying to convey that information to the students so that we can all get a basic understanding of what to expect. I have studied the Globe protocols so that I know what kind of measurements we will be taking, as well as reading information on the permafrost and glacier conditions at the top of the mountain.