It turns out that on the last day of our trek someone died climbing Kili. An Irish guy was struck by lightening. We found this out after the fact, and it’s not completely uncommon, but still sad. Apparently approximately one person every three weeks dies on the mountain. There’s a lot of people that climb, so as a percentage it’s not too high, but still, after doing this, it’s not hard to see how someone can easily get a heart attack or experience other medical issues. If you do need medical help and you haven’t keeled over, you get wheeled down the mountain on the stretcher. But thankfully we didn’t need it.
To conclude our journey, it took us two days to get down. We descended down another side of the mountain, and the rain forest was even prettier than on the way up. Even though it was a long 30km trek, it was a breeze compared to what we had done to get up. It did rain a bit on day 6, but we were finally rewarded with glorious sunshine for all of day 7, and boy did we relish in it. There were some really slippery and muddy parts, so we had to be surefooted which didn’t make it exactly easy, but still, it was way better than going up. Maybe it was just because I was feeling like a new person. Going down was actually a lot of fun.
On the trail at the height of the rain and sickness, I originally decided not to blog about the journey. I was afraid I would make it sound like such a horrific experience. Due to the sickness I didn’t fare as well as probably a lot of other people do. Altitude sickness and rain pick and choose their victims, and I was penalized with both, but I don’t think everyone experiences it like this.
But upon reflection when I sat down and looked back, I realized I owed it to myself to capture the experience. Because despite some of the setbacks, it was hand’s down an incredible and awesome adventure. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Yes, we had adversity, but it somehow made it all that more rewarding and adventurous. You don’t appreciate as much what you don’t work for, and we worked for this climb. Admittedly there were a lot of low points, but somehow there was a bitter-sweetness to those low points that made things exciting. It’s hard to explain what this trek was like and in someways I still think a part of me is shell-shocked. I suppose it’s like a much tougher and longer version of a really grueling workout…or a marathon…or a massive project that seems overwhelming. In the middle of it you don’t think you can handle it and you wonder why you ever signed up for it, but when you finish, it’s the ultimate euphoria. That’s a feeling not easy to duplicate.
Someone warned us that climbing Kili was boring. I can vehemently say that for us it was not one ounce of boring. If anyone has even an inkling to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, start saving your pennies now. It will be the adventure of a lifetime, and worth every cent.
Heading back to Arusha on the bus, I was unbelievably excited for the creature comforts waiting for us at our hotel, the daily things I always take for granted. I don’t remember ever going 7 days without a shower, mirror, or the Internet. Needless to say, a shower never felt so good, a mirror never looked so scary, and logging online never satisfied a technology itch so well.
But even though we were exhausted, we only had one afternoon and night to relax because we still had adventures ahead. Next up: a safari!