My goal was to have simulated each day of the climb at some point prior to going. Now, obviously there is no way for me to actually simulate the experience. I live in the Midwest – Chicago specifically. There is no altitude here and everything is very flat. BUT – I’m hoping to at least put in the hours of walking. So according to the breakdown of my route, day 1 is about 3-4 hours of walking a total of 6km (3.7 miles). Yesterday was a gorgeous day by Chicago in February standards. It was about 48 degrees and sunny. I drove out to the Skokie Lagoons which is roughly 5.9 miles of paved trail. It’s actually not ideal in that much of it runs directly alongside I-94 and at times can be heavily congested with bicyclists. But it’s familiar, has parking and feels somewhat safe. So for a single female – will do just fine. For a gorgeous Saturday morning/afternoon it was actually quite empty. I walked the 4 miles in about 3 hours. Very leisurely pace and stopped in a few areas to enjoy the scenery. I used my altitude training mask for the first hour and eventually became annoyed with the sound of my own breathing. I talked to my mom for the remainder of the time and it flew by.
I technically put in the time and the mileage to “simulate” day 1 but I know that walking through the Skokie Lagoons is nowhere near what the actual experience of day 1 on Kilimanjaro will be like…even with this goofy training mask.
…is what I thought people’s reactions would be when I began announcing that I would be climbing the tallest mountain in Africa.
Apparently, my friends and family have come to believe that I can and will do just about anything I put my mind to. It was their reactions – without hesitation- that made me start to believe in myself as well.
The first person I contacted was my cousin Athalie. A fellow adventurer and lover of all things Africa, Athalie was instantly on board. I’m paraphrasing but this is essentially how the conversation (via text) went:
That was the moment that this dream became a reality. Knowing that I would have someone with me to share the experience made the impossible seem totally doable.
Next I ran the idea by my friends Sami and Kathy. They too were instantly on board. I wasn’t entirely surprised. These two are pretty much up for anything. That’s why I love them.
The most important person to me though, is my Mommy Moon. I know that my Mom would probably prefer that I not fly halfway across the globe and attempt to climb a very tall mountain. But I also know that my Mom always supports me – no matter what. When I had a bit of a breakdown prior to turning 30 and spontaneously decided that I would travel SOLO to Central and South America my Mom actually came with me to Barnes and Nobles and helped me look through travel books. I know that she was nervous/concerned…what parent wouldn’t be? But she has always allowed me to choose my own paths in life. Her support of me climbing Kilimanjaro was re-confirmed when all of my Christmas and birthday gifts were Kili gear!
And this is why I’m the luckiest person in the world. And this is why I feel confident enough to make this journey. Because I have friends and family that believe in me (even when I don’t) and support me. Always. Period.
Over the past few months, I’ve trickled the news to other people and pretty much everyone has been fully supportive and excited for me. It’s funny…I got way more push back and flack when I decided to be vegan for 90 days. All of this to say, I don’t think that I need the support of others to follow through with anything (I’m stubborn like that). But having it certainly makes the process so much more enjoyable and I know that in those final hours on summit day when every part of my body wants to shut down – knowing that I have support with me and at home is going to make it that much easier to push through.