When I think about the Kilimanjaro 'experience' I count in all the training and fundraising too, as one big take away for me is that I can achieve a lot in my spare time and I can take on a challenge and succeed. One of my lessons from this is to say yes to more. I'm usually quite cautious and retiring and often said no to things or didn't volunteer myself in case it didn't work out. Tom really had to talk me into the Kili climb. However I've learned from this that if you put yourself out there and say yes to things the worst outcome is probably going to be that it doesn't pan out, then you are just back where you were before you started. What's to lose?
Lesson - Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.
I left not really knowing what to expect, but that it was going to be hard. However it was harder in different ways than I thought. The walking actually wasn't that challenging, we went at a slow pace and depending on the route you probably won't actually walk more than 10 miles in a day other than summit day. My training walks were all 10 miles plus so the distance wasn't an issue for me. What made it hard was the altitude, the terrain and the conditions. We had some wet, cold foggy days. We had nights when the water seeped through the bottom of our tents, and our kit got damp and cold. We walked up seemingly endless steep sections only to go back downhill again. Some of us did it on little sleep, or no food, or feeling breathless and ill. We did it all though, sometimes I felt like crying, and sometimes I did cry, but I made it.
Lesson - Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and you'll get there.
I made it to the summit, but not without a lot of support, moral and otherwise. However I made it, and I made it at the same time as others who didn't need so much help. I can be very insular, and often want to work alone. I tend not to take offers of help when I should. I had to swallow that pride on the mountain though, I had to take advice, help and hand holding. I wouldn't have made it without it though. Plus if I had made it without the A Team and the amount of memories and friends I made it wouldn't have been the same.
Lesson - It's still an achievement even if you have help, and sometimes the journey and who you meet on the way is more important than making it by yourself.
I can do that...
Since we got back I found that my gym classes seemed really easy and I have since changed gym, and I have a lot more confidence when climbing to try routes that are challenging. I'm not fitter than before I left, it's just that I am so much more willing to be challenged. I'm looking up other challenges and my general attitude is 'Psh, I climbed a mountain, I can do this'. Summit night was one of the hardest things I ever did, and the whole experience was so outside my comfort zone that it really made me appreciate what I can do when I have to. We bought a wooden giraffe as a souvenir on the bus back to the hotel. I named him Raymond, after the guide who carried my bags and held my hand on summit night. He lives in the hallway on the bookshelves and when I am leaving for a hard day, or something I don't want to do, then I look at him and remember that I climbed a mountain. I can do this.
Lesson - You can do more than you ever think you can, if you just get that voice in your head that says no to shut the heck up.
You can read the first 2 posts on the trip here and here.
Happy Christmas everyone reading, I'll be back before New Year with a post. I have no idea where I'm going next year blog wise...it seems to be a challenge to keep it up but I have a few more Kili things to talk about (I have not shut up about it since we got back) and I hope then I might get back to doing some home improvement things before the wedding completely takes over my life...4 months to go!
It's not too late to sponsor me!