A few weeks ago, Elise was talking with some of her Cub Scouts and she told them, “Next month when you have your meeting, I will be on the other side of the world halfway up the highest mountain in Africa!”
One of her Cub Scouts looked at her with big eyes and asked, “Are you coming back!?!”
We laughed about that but then several days later we saw that Cub Scout’s mom and she told us that Ms. Elise climbing a mountain is all that boy has talked about for a week!
The mom told her son, “Ms. Elise used to live in Africa, but…” and the kid interrupted her, “…but that was South Africa! This is Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. That’s in EASTERN Africa!”
That little boy represents much of what is AWESOME about this trip! See, a big part of why I wanted to do this adventure is to inspire children (specifically my own children, but also those around them) to dream big and study and prepare carefully so that nothing will ever be beyond them!
American parents like to tell their children that they can grow up to be anything they want to – that they have unlimited potential to excel. But I didn’t figure that was a message that I could communicate if I was laying on the couch on my butt watching TV, eating Cheetos, and drinking soda pop.
So I chose an adventure that is literally the diametric opposite of the Slough of Despond. Kilimanjaro lies 8500 miles away from home on the other side of the planet in an alien land with exotic-sounding names like Serengeti and Zanzibar and Olduvai – a place with lions and crocodiles and elephants. We can only get there after a 52-hour journey by air!
The trek begins at 7800 feet AMSL and winds its way up the slopes of a still-smoking volcano through jungle, heath, and meadow. Then we clamber up a 1000 foot wall of boulders and across fields of volcanic scree to the arctic peak at 19,341 feet AMSL over the course of 40 some-odd miles in 6.5 days. Then we have to get back to the bottom!
There are bigger, more arduous adventures on this planet – but none as iconic!
And you know what is both liberating and exciting? We have already won! We cannot be defeated by this mountain because we have already inspired at least one child to the point of wide-eyed obsession with adventure and travel and excellence!
Now we can embark on this adventure and give it our best, free of doubt, taking it all in, and having the time of our lives!