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Posts tagged: kilimanjaro

Lessons from the trek: Kilimanjaro

My sister is in her fifth day of trekking up Mt. Kilimanjaro. I read succinct summaries of her journey from the sponsoring group’s website. Here is what I have learned:

Day 1: Immediately the group had to take a three-hour detour due to muddy roads and difficult conditions.   The transmitter allowing us to follow their journey did not work.  Lesson: even when we have made perfect plans, adventures must allow for change and accommodations – even from the start. Do not be discouraged. Sometimes the extra time and effort needed will get you exactly where you need to be – even when you cannot communicate that achievement to others.

Day 2: A perfect day of walking and arrival at the destination. No rain clouds, instead a glimpse of glaciers in the distance for all trekkers. A message to one mom: “Your daughter did not fall off the mountain.” Lesson: Detours can be closely followed by rewards and perspective. Don’t despair – and no matter the distance between loved ones – messages of love and status are always welcome.

Day 3: Awakening to snow, the group trekked through a day of acclimatizing to the high, changing altitude. Lesson: Surprises arrive as we sleep – we take on the challenges and adapt.  We surprise even ourselves with what we can not only tolerate and become accustomed to, but even enjoy.

Day 4: Reports says the trekkers are a few hours away from their destination where dinner awaits. Queasy stomachs reported, but everyone is feeling happy. Cell reception available upon arrival where messages can be received. Lesson: Our bodies, not just our minds and hearts, react to changes. Acknowledging that reaction can assist in coping with it. And no matter the distance or adventure, family connections mean everything. Communicating love – even when someone cannot hear it – is always the right message to send.

Day 5: Stay tuned.

(S-R archive photo: Unusual trees, found nowhere else on Earth, rise from the fog as climbers scale Kilimanjaro.)

Big steps

One of my three sisters left today to trek Mt. Kilimanjaro – and I can follow her journey from the comfort of my computer. She is the athletic and adventurous one of us. Her life has been filled with big transitions in the last year so big steps up a mountain may feel like a logical adventure for her. I am awestruck.

As we move through middle age and the dreams of our youth end, disappear or never arrive, we create new dreams in directions our youthful selves could not possibly imagine - like second careers, new loves or big steps to our inner selves.

My sister has traveled deeply inward over the last 12 months – her trek up Kilimanjaro makes perfect sense.

Where have your new dreams taken you? 

(S-R archive photo: Dawn's first light illuminates Barafu, the base camp. From here, at 14,950 feet, climbers begin their final push to Kilimanjaro's summit.)

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Writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., addresses issues facing aging baby boomers and seniors as well as issues of serious illness, death and dying, grief and loss.

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