Editor's Note: From October 24th through October 28th, JBFC is hosting Trek Tanzania. It's a walk-a-thon, where we're inviting our friends around the world to walk the same number of steps that it would take to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to benefit JBFC's healthcare clinic. Guest Blogger and JBFC Administrative Director, Melinda Wulf, has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro THREE times! Here, she describes the second part of her summit on her first climb in 2013. The first part of her trek is chronicled here.
Happy and healthy, we enjoyed our trek through more alpine desert. This was a short trekking day and we arrived at base camp in the afternoon. We sat in the mess tent with our guides eating popcorn and playing cards, laughing a lot from the altitude. We had hiked just 2 miles but climbed 2,000 feet and were now over 14,000 feet which was the highest altitude any of us had ever climbed. We were giddy thinking about summiting the next day.
We woke up around 1 am with our tents covered in snow. We piled on the layers because we knew it was going to be a cold one. We gathered in the mess tent eating cookies and drinking warm tea and coffee. Our nervous anticipation was back. We had all been preparing for this was the moment for quite some time.
The first few hours of the summit were switch backs on the mountain. I couldn’t see much other than the guide in front of me, which was probably for the best. The wind was pretty fierce and my layers were working but I was having issues with my gloves. My liners were not warm enough but with the fatter ski gloves I’d brought I couldn’t hold onto my trekking poles. I sucked it up and used the liners hoping I wouldn’t get frost bite. The water in our water bottles was starting to freeze and I was feeling nauseated from the altitude.
Just around sunrise we reached Stella point which marks the end of the switchbacks and is a short resting point. I really wasn’t feeling well at this point and the guides had to take my head lamp from my head, as it was light out and I hadn’t even noticed. The distance from Stella Point to Uhuru Peak only takes about an hour to walk, but it felt like a marathon.
The walk was pretty surreal as we reached the glaciers and eventually the summit, 19,341 feet. It was a bit chaotic at the top with people that had achieved their goal and were posing for pictures with the infamous sign. We couldn’t stay long at the summit because of the altitude, but got our pictures with the sign, the glaciers and our awesome guides.
As we started walking down the mountain, we started breathing easier and my headache and upset stomach went away. Our water melted and we started stripping off our layers as the sun warmed everything. Exhausted, we “skied” down the scree on our boots and our butts back to base camp for lunch. We were greeted by our porters with a cold Fanta and big smile. I remember choking up at this point just feeling so proud of my accomplishment.
Do you think you have what it takes to reach the top of Mount Kilimanjaro like our brave Melinda? Join us for Trek Tanzania and see just how far you can make it! Grab some friends and family, create your own team, and see if you can walk the 89,480 steps it takes to climb Africa's highest peak (steps are counted collectively). All proceeds from our inaugural walk-a-thon will benefit JBFC's Health Clinic.