Mount Kilimanjaro

On Saturday, Robert and I took part in a hike partway up Mount Kilimanjaro with Tom Burger and Pastor Simon Wairerah from With Open Eyes.  We had to leave our hotel at 6:30am.  We met the other guys at their lodge a little later than expected because our driver couldn’t find it.  The only marking was a sign with a K on it and then you drove into what looked like a banana farm.  But at the end of the trail was this:

kilimanjaro-morning

It was absolutely gorgeous.  We packed up our box lunch and headed to the gate of the park.  My Carolina friends may not appreciate the picture on the left, but they’ll just have to deal with it.  On the right, is a bag from Longleaf Middle School in Columbia.  The whole school read ‘A Long Walk to Water’ last year and they asked me to come talk about my experiences in South Sudan.

 

We entered the park at about 10am.  Walk, walk, walk, walk, walk, walk, walk.  I don’t think I’ve ever walked so far in my life.  Did I mention it was also uphill??  It was REALLY uphill!  You are walking through a rain forest as you are going up and it is really spectacular.  Huge trees.  Dense foliage.  Our guide, Ronald was great.  We finally turned around before reaching the first camp, but should have turned around sooner.  My left knee went into revolt when we started down.  Don’t think I’ve ever endured so much continuous pain in my life.  But I had no other option to get down.  There are some areas where there are steps and those were the worst part on my knee.  But I made it all the way down on my own and I feel no need to try that again!

Below are porters.  They carry climbing equipment up for people who are climbing further up the mountain.  It takes about a week to go up all the way and come back down.  The elevation is over 19,000 feet and it is the tallest peak in Africa.

 

On the left, above, is a Kilimanjaro impatiens.  It only grows on the mountain.  Could it be that the mountain is also a Clemson fan??

We came out of the park at about 5pm.  My knew nickname could have been ‘Hopalong,’  because there was a definite hitch in my giddy-up!  After a good round of Advil, the old knee started cooperating again.  What a day!

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