Once every couple of years I do a solo vacation. One that pushes my boundaries, scares me a little and gives me a new view on my life. This year I’m climbing Mount Kilimanjaro! Yes, Kennedy is coming for “everyman Everest”.
I participated in the Charity Warriors Challenge this year – which is sort of like the Apprentice for fundraising with some amazing women. It was ten weeks of challenges leading up to a finale of five warriors who arrived at a gala and whoever raised the most money won ten grand for their charity. I was there supporting South Shore Mental Heath and I was one of the finalists.
I was up against some pretty heavy hitters to include Flying Kites – they provide a school in Kenya for young people who wouldn’t ever have that opportunity. I came in fifth. Flying Kites raised so much money it was stupid. In a good way. I met Virginia during this process. She is the director of programs and a force to be reckoned with. I think she’s like 12 – well, not really, but she is young and has the heart of a lion. As I learned more about their mission I found out they do a few incredible adventures, one being a climb of Kilimanjaro. It’s a fundraising effort (so I will be asking for your money soon) that brings you to the school for a few days and then takes you up the mountain . I was sold.
So, as I wait to get all signed up and such, I decided to get started on the hiking part. Today I took my haven’t-had-cardio-in-months-or-maybe-years ass to Middlesex Fells and took a hike . I was planning on doing the Skyline Trail. It’s a 6.9 mile trail that has a tower on the trail that gives a beautiful view. The Instagram pics were forming in my mind. So, I woke up at 6, grabbed my brand new CamelBak backpack and drove on up. The website says they are open at dawn, what I didn’t realize is that that doesn’t mean the gates are open that early. So I had to drive and drive to find a parking lot that was open. I found one at the ice rink. I had a map, but I seriously had no idea how to read it. I am geographically challenged in life. Pre-GPS I was helpless. Seriously, if you are ever with me and I say “go right’ you should most assuredly turn left. So I got parked, I got my backpack and my earphones and got to the business of hiking. I got on a trail that was marked by blue flashes and started going in a direction I figured would be about 4 miles all told. But instead I turned left and only did maybe a mile or two. Hard to tell. I lost my Fitbit a month ago. I woke up one morning and it wasn’t on my wrist. But that’s a story for another day.
I started to hike! And it up and down really fast.
Oh… there are stairs. What I didn’t take a picture of was the stream I had to jump over as soon as I walked into the woods. It was a big jump. Like hope for the best jump. At the end I realized I had bypassed the trail and was in no mans land, but still, I felt like a warrior! Within 5 minutes I was wondering what the hell I’d done. I found a big stick to use as a walking stick, it was old and falling apart and ripped my hand up, but necessary. I wore running shoes instead of the hiking shoes I’d purchased for my safari trip two years ago. Shoes I wore but never really walked in because there were no “walking safaris” as promised, we were always in the vehicle . I’d read some blogs that said “sneakers are fine for day hikes” so that’s what I did. MISTAKE. I’m one clumsy girl and I realized fast that every time I tripped over a root or a rock it hurt. As I said earlier, I had brought earphones to listen to a book. I used to do this when I was training for half marathons. I thought that it would pass the time. After I walked off the trail twice and had to backtrack I realized I needed a little more focus, so I put on The Marriage of Figaro (which I’m super familiar with thanks to the BLO) and kept walking. Up. Up.
Then I got lost again. I kept my eyes on the ground so I wouldn’t trip, but by keeping my eyes down, I didn’t see the markers on the trees and got lost again.
So, now I have to watch my feet and the trees, and the rocks and all the blue. Jesus, who knew. I continued along the path and at one point saw something hop in front of me. HOP. Scared the shit out of me until I realized it was a cute frog. By the time I got my phone out to take a picture he was running for the hills, but he was cute.
On and on I go. It was really early so I was all alone. Or so I thought. At one point I was looking at the beauty of a tree that had lost it’s bark and was also scared by a runner who came out of nowhere. Seriously, this was getting more nerve-wracking than anything.
But I continued on. Up up down down over rocks down some serious inclines (which I’m sure I’ll look back on and go “really? THAT’S and incline) but it was my first day…so…
Pretty flowers were all around, everything was so green. It really was so beautiful and I made a point to stop and enjoy it all.
Long story short I took the trail until I hit a main road and decided I was not interested in walking my sweaty, stick holding ass down, and I turned around and headed back.
I got back to my car feeling pretty fucking good about myself. It was the finale of the first act of Figaro – I knew this was about an hour and a half – so I thought I had done some work. I came out of the woods (across a bridge which spanned the creek – the one I had jumped over earlier) and headed back to the parking lot. I had to pass one of those outside gym things that was a kind of circuit training that looked like it could be in a prison because everything was metal, and the guy doing incline pushups – and got back to my car. I was dripping with sweat, pretty sure I had been bitten by every mosquito there because it was nothing but stagnant water everywhere and I didn’t even think about bug spray, but felt triumphant. When I got in the car I checked the map and realized I’d turned the wrong way and did the shorter route. I was a bit disappointed, but still proud that I’d done anything at all. I mean OITNB was on Netflix and I was right in the middle and chose to hike instead of sit in bed – so it was still a win.
After my hike I showered and got on with the business of my day. I decided to head to REI – which I love more than some shoe stores but JESUS the prices. Anyway, I wanted to get some legit walking sticks. There were two men standing in front of the display, so I did a lap. Came back and they were still there . Did another lap, they are still deciding . I was losing my fucking mind. Patience, not one of my virtues. So I encroached on their space and was about to pick the cheapest (which is almost an oxymoron) and was about to leave when the nice REI man came up and asked if I needed help. I said no. He said “well you are looking at the wrong one….” so I said “show me what I need”. He pulled up a pair of sticks, fit them to me without asking my height, put them in my hands and they were perfect. He explained how to use them on an ascent and the descent and I said SOLD. Then realized all my coupons were at home, because of course they were. The only thing that took the shock off the price was as I walked away, he told the men they were holding women’s sticks. Dicks.
So almost 200 bucks later I have sticks, socks, bug repellant and a thing that will hold a whole bottle of wine. Winning.
Tomorrow, I’m going back. And I’m turning right.