From Toronto, Canada to Tanzania, Africa
20.01.2005 - 21.01.2005
The wild dogs cry out in the night
As they grow restless longing for some solitary company
I know that I must do what's right
Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti
I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become
- Africa, Toto
Way back in October of 2002, I was living briefly but happily in the Bay Area of San Francisco. While there, I did a day hike of nearby Mount Diablo, which rises 3,849 feet from close to sea level, just east of the San Francisco Bay.
The view from the top was amazing. To the west was the Golden Gate Bridge and out into the Pacific, and to the east the central valley and far away the crest of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
The central valley is quite flat, and as Mount Diablo stands alone, the view is extensive. A plaque at the peak stated that one can see 35 of California's 58 counties, and from which it is possible to view the second greatest surface area seen from any peak in the world, exceeded only by Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa.
A seed was planted that day about Kilimanjaro. A few months later a travel show on TV was talking about Kilimanjaro, and how (along with being the highest peak in Africa) it was the highest mountain in the world that a person could climb with no special climbing skills or training required. Kilimanjaro is the highest "walkable" mountain in the world. "Some day," I thought to myself, "I will climb Mount Kilimanjaro."
And that day has come. Actually, it came much quicker than I would have imagined, really. I'm a little surprised myself that I decided to do this. But I figured that I should do it now, before I get old and not up for the physical challenge. "It's tougher than giving child birth," says the website of the company with whom I booked. Less than 50% of the people make it to the top. 1 in 100 need to have an emergency evacuation. Chances of death are 1 in 3000, rising to 1 in 300 if the weather turns bad.
Scary stuff, no? When I told my Dad about this he pointed out that he had a couple of people in his "post-cards" club who climbed Kilimanjaro. The Post-cards are a group of older gentlemen, all of whom have had some sort of cardiac event, who work out 3 times a week at the local YMCA. If a couple of retired, heart-attack victims can do this, I shouldn't be scared, right?
Today I leave Toronto on Continental flight 1991 from Toronto to New Jersey at 2:10pm. Then a quick jaunt over the Atlantic to Amsterdam, and a short hop down to Tanzania from there. If all goes according to plan (and what doesn't with airlines), I should be landing in Tanzania at 9:20pm local time on the 21st of January. That's 2:20pm eastern time, which means all told I will have spent 24 hours and 10 minutes travelling from Toronto to Kilimanjaro.
...if all goes according to plan.