Kilimanjaro ~ September 30, 2014 ~ Day Seven

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We are given certificates – it’s official that we summited Kilimanjaro! Specs for the trek: 7 day, 43 miles (69 km) and 13,043 ft (4,085 m) – highest point 19,341 ft (5,895 m).  One of the seven summits! And I am able to cross this off my wanderlist…but does not even begin to abate my wanderlust – where to next?  Oh luckily we have safaris planned next…

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We have a certificate ceremony with lots of song and dance from the Taraji Kilimanjaro team.  This is such a bittersweet moment – on one hand, I think that we are all ready to take a very long shower but this signals the end of this adventure and we will have to say good bye.  We had spent a week with these guys (I hesitate to call them all men because some of them were obviously quite young – boys really) and they were what made the experience amazing. These guys really are the unheralded heroes/workhorses on the trail and ensure that their clients have the best chance of summiting.  It really was such a privileged thing for us – We wake up – eat breakfast and they would break down camp and we would start on a daily daypack hike, they would pass us on the trail (and give out encouragements), set up lunch for us (break down the lunch camp), and be there to greet us with “Good Job!” when we had reached the next camp site!  I started giving them high fives and telling them “Good Job!” because who really deserved the praise? Let me tell you – on that last day, once I had kicked the AMS and wasn’t hampered by the pole, pole mantra – I was given free reign to hike as fast as I wanted.  So when the team passed us on the trail, I decided to that I would finish it out with them…yeah that was the plan.  They were trail running and at a pretty fast clip! – with 25 kg kit bags – and I kept up with them for about 10 minutes….

Two things that I wish I had done differently with this Kilimanjaro adventure: 1. I wish that we had brought A LOT MORE snacks/chocolate/goodies and gear for the team.  I ended up finding out  that the guys were not as well fed as us (not even close) and they really appreciated the chocolate and protein bars that we had brought for the trek.  At the end of the certificate ceremony, you are given the opportunity to leave/give any gear away and this is how many of the porters get their gear.  And most of our team was decently equipped and attired (hiking boots or sneakers) but not all.  It really was distressing to see so many of the porters that we passed on the trail were hiking in ill-fitting or deteriorating shirts, pants/jeans and footwear.  2. That I had left more money for them and I would have known how much money I would have left at the end of the trip.  Of course, we had tipped generously but wasn’t sure how much money we would need for the safaris/gifts/etc.  I always think back and wish that the extra money that went back into my savings account would have been of better use – given to these guys.  Hindsight is 20/20 right?

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One of my favorite images that I captured on Kili - every camp you would have sign a log. This is at the end, documenting how far you hiked...
One of my favorite images that I captured on Kili – at every camp you would have sign in on an official log for the park. This is at the end, documenting how far you hiked…
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