Wednesday, August 16, 2017

To the Roof of Africa (Days 5 through 7)

"You never know what's around the corner. It could be everything. Or it could be nothing. 
You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back...
and you've climbed a mountain."
 -- Tom Hiddleston


Day 5 was our hike from Karranga Camp to Base Camp. PJ described this as an easy day, which in TZ guide terms means "not as steep as yesterday." I was looking forward to hiking with him again when he came up to me with a secret: "I'm heading down today with one of your friends today." The news hit me like a brick. I had come to value and trust him as a guide and friend - how could I ever do my summit without him? I somehow found the courage to smile, hugged him tightly, thanked him for everything, and insisted on a picture before he headed down. "Hakuna matata. Today is easy. You will get to that summit tomorrow. " His words echoed in my ears for hours that day, especially as I joined the big group for the hike to Kosovo Camp for the first time since Day 1. 


Although our adventure guide described Day 5 as a 600 meter climb to Barafu Hut Camp, we later learned we would actually be hiking 800 meters to a new camp called Kosovo that day. The extra 200 meters didn't seem like much at the time, but I continually underestimated the correlation between altitude and difficulty. Rising from 4,000 meters (13,123 feet) to 4,800 meters (15,748 feet) is no joke, and is especially strenuous when it occurs in just over 3 miles.


We walked in and out of the clouds for the most part all day, with only a few breaks in the sun. I kept up with the group off and on throughout the day... when I slowed down, I'd end up catching up with them again when they'd take a break later on. I'll be honest, though - I didn't enjoy this day. The terrain was dusty, and the trail seemed to be never ending. I guess that's what 5 days of hiking will do to you though. So many girls seemed to also be feeling it as well - I heard quite a few comments that let me know that we weren't all joy and giggles that day. ("It's all fun and games until someone rolls an ankle!" "Um, when was this fun and games?" LOL).


Our arrival at Barafu Hut Camp was uneventful. The camp was crowded and smelly, and I was glad we were continuing on another 200 meters to have that much less to climb in the morning. And then we approached this! No, you're eyes aren't playing tricks on you and this isn't a fancy angle. Between Barafu Hut and Kosovo was this nearly sheer rock face that you had to climb to get between them. Keep in mind that the majority of hikers stay at Barafu Hut for their base camp, so they summit this at night. Also keep in mind that Barafu means ice (or glacier) in Swahili, so this rock face is typically covered with water and/or ice. Yikes! I hated this part of the hike - thank god for Langeni going up and Andrew going down. I would never have made it up or down this rock without them.


Kosovo was cold and all I wanted to do was sleep. Unfortunately, some tent changes and other issues made that an impossibility before lunch, so I hung out with my friends and some of my favorite guides in the mess tents instead. This later proved to be a huge mistake as I didn't get to nap after lunch either. The sun burst through the fog, and the tents became insufferably hot. I was a mess by dinner - I had lost all of my appetite, and was exhausted. I force-fed myself dinner (it was delicious, as always, but everything is gross when you're that tired), and tried to force myself to sleep. I got a full 3 hours before being awakened to hike early with the slow hiking crowd.

I have no pictures from summit night. We woke up at 11pm to begin starting at midnight, and I had neither the energy or enthusiasm to whip out my camera to document our ascent. About 6 other girls decided to get up early to hike with me that morning, most probably not needing it but I was happy for their company. Our lead guide Aboo introduced me to my summit porter before I even began - Teddy. He explained that Teddy would be carrying oxygen and my backpack for me to ensure I conserved my energy for the hike. I didn't see them take anyone else's pack so early, but I was again too tired to care. 

Everyone warns you that summit night sucks... and it does. You are fighting exhaustion and extreme cold (below freezing) the entire time, while climbing a very steep trail made of scree and boulders. "Pole, pole" was more than a mantra here, and Marissa and I took that more seriously than most. After the first hour, our new slow hiking companions were taken away without us, leading to my first battle with giving up. If we were already going slow, and I couldn't keep up... how would I ever make it up before 8? 

Somewhere around 17,000 feet (according to my guide, Nelson), I started having dizzy spells. Around the same time, Marissa asked if I was ok. I thought I was... until I realized I couldn't lift my left pole or leg. They had completely gone numb. I asked for a break, during which my summit porter tried to massage my arm back into life. Nelson took my backpack from Teddy at some point, and Teddy started becoming my left side as we made our way over even more boulders on the way up. At some point, the later hikers passed us too. I really wanted to give up. At least I had made it this far, right? Strangely, every time I wanted to give up on the mountain, Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" started playing loudly in my head. Really? Of all songs? I'm seriously going to Rick Roll myself up this damn mountain? 

I promised Nelson that I would never ask how much longer til the summit. His request made sense as "how long" greatly depended on our pace more than distance. That said, I would often ask how high we had climbed. He would look at his watch and tell me, and it seemed like we would never reach the summit. At sunrise, Nelson had us take a water break to enjoy the sunrise over the mountain. It was beautiful, although I couldn't lift my arm to pull out my camera to take a picture. (You'll just have to trust me here). Once the sun was up, I never considered giving up again. I fought through the blackouts and the numbness, and finally reached Stella Point a little after 7:30. 

My guide and summit porter were excited that we made it up. They congratulated me and Marissa on our climbs. I wish I could have shared in their excitement - I felt like a failure. You can see Uhuru's sign from this point, but my guide advised me that it was about another hour and 300 feet away. As much as I wanted to do it, I couldn't. My left side still felt numb, I was very, very dizzy, and I had other private symptoms that were concerning. Marissa said she wanted to give it a try, and asked our other guide Rojas if he thought she could make it. He said she definitely could, and they took off with Teddy to give it a go. (Marissa made it to Uhuru! I am so proud of her as I know how hard it was for her to do that day - below is a pic of her making that final push to the top).


My guide Nelson asked me again if I thought I could do it, but I heard my mother's voice in my head: "Don't be stubborn, Rebecca. Go down if you need to go down. Don't risk your life for a picture." I cried and said I needed to get down, and he nodded and asked for my camera. He ran up the crater to take a couple of pictures, took a picture of the sign, and then took a picture of me sitting down. I looked at the pictures, and asked how far the glaciers were. He said they were just a few feet higher, so I went up to see them for myself. I had to at least see the infamous glaciers if I wasn't going to make it to the top! Nelson told me congrats for making it to 5,800 meters with my baby climb - just 300 feet short of the summit. Ugh - just saying that still makes me sad to have not made it to the top. :(




While I started to regain movement in my arms, my heart was still racing and I still felt really faint. We started making our steep descent back down the scree trail, and I immediately fell. Nelson picked me up and tried to move me more quickly down the mountain, but being the terrible patient that I am, I fell again and insisted on just going at my own pace. It took me FOR-EV-ER to get off that friggin' mountain. Most of my hiking companions passed me along the way. About 30 minutes from camp, several of our waiters and chefs rushed up to me to congratulate me with pineapple juice. My eyes welled up with tears and I started to explain I only made it to Stella. "Not 'Only' Stella, momma. But Stella! That's great!" It was so comforting to hear that. 


After a quick hour nap and an equally quick lunch, I was back on the trail to head to Millennium Camp for the night. While I started right behind the group, that damn rock face slowed me down and I ended up hiking alone for a bit. Another guide, Andrew, caught up to me and ended up being my companion guide for the 7 km walk to camp. Andrew was a fascinating hiking partner, but he kept our pace very slow. I later learned he did that out of concern for my health after hearing of both my asthma issues on Day 1 and my summit issues earlier that day. We walked by several hand-carried and rolling stretchers on the way, and I joked that I'm glad I didn't end up in one. "Yet," Andrew warned. "We still have a long way to go." He wasn't joking. Night was quickly falling, and another guide warned that if we didn't hurry, they'd have to get someone to take me down. I immediately retorted that we could go faster, and we made it with an hour to spare. Whew!


Millenium Camp was steep and rocky, and I didn't appreciate its beauty until the next morning. Day 7 was going to be a steep decent of over 8,000 feet, but we began our day with a tipping ceremony and dance party before we started on our way. I asked if I could thank the summit porters. True to form, I cried during my speech and my GAL ended up having to translate for me. I also hugged the wrong summit porter! Through my tears, I saw a guy in a grey coat and yellow scarf, and made the assumption it was Teddy. It was only after my friend, Ingrid, pointed out my mistake that I saw that Teddy had taken off his coat, and I quickly apologized and hugged him too! Ugh - can we say hot mess?! Thankfully, I got to dance with my luggage porter and summit porter during our dance party, so that was a lot of fun. Who knew I'd like Swahili folk songs so much? :)


My left side for summit night, Teddy


While I wasn't afraid of the Day 7 descent at first, two early falls on the gravel taught me to respect how steep this actually was. My legs were still quite weak from the day before, so Geoffrey (the other lead guide) reminded me to go "pole, pole," and said he'd help me make my way down. 


The first part of our descent was still in the heath, opening to beautiful views while we were still above the clouds. After hitting Mweka Camp, however, it was all rainforest and mud for the last 5 miles. And SO - MANY - STAIRS. I knew about the stairs going up, but why didn't anyone warn me about the stairs going down? Haha. Geoffrey and I had fun chatting about our families and respective lives, but I felt bad that he felt bad about me slipping and sliding on the mud on the way down. "I will not let you fall again, Beck." Oh, Geoffrey... if you only knew how often I trip and fall on dry ground!





When I finally arrived at the gate, I was greeted warmly and kindly by the hikers, porters, and guides. My friends who had returned early were there too, and it was so good to be reunited with them here. I was given a Kilimanjaro beer, swooped in to the tourism desk to sign out (and certify my summit), and took so many pictures with my new friends and family. 


PJ and me 


Andrew (my descent guide) and Langeni (my birthday twin and frequent guide)


Nelson, my summit guide


Geoffrey, one of our lead guides and my rainforest descent buddy

As one of my Kilimanjaro climbing friends, Katie, said best - Kilimanjaro was never about the mountain. As much as I wanted to summit, the value of the experience far exceeded all other expectations and desires during these seven crazy days. I climbed one of the seven summits! I overcame my fear of heights and did some crazy rock climbing and scrambling! My body reached heights I didn't know it was capable of reaching! I hurt in places I didn't know could hurt before!

And I learned so much about Tanzania and it's people. Oh... the people. The men (and sometimes women) who guide the Mzungas like me to the summit are some of the most amazing people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. They work hard day and night to ensure my comfort over their own, and do it all with kind smiles and warm hearts. I am honored that so many of them shared their stories with me. I learned about their homes, their families, their dreams... They held my hand when I was scared, lifted my spirits when I was discouraged, and in one instance literally became my left side when my body failed me. I am humbled by the grace they showed me, and will forever keep them dearly in my heart. 

And speaking of people... I have to say a little about that people I met on the trail too. Being separated from the group did have one perk, and that was that I got to speak to people from all over the world who were attempting to summit too! First there was Matt from Scotland, attempting his summit solo with a small crew of his own. After that, I met Natalie and her family from Switzerland (they were doing the 6 day route - I ran into them again after their summit on my way to Kosovo). On Barranco I met a family from Chicago... who I later ran into again at our hotel off the mountain in Moshi! Then there was the family from Germany, which included a 14 year old girl doing this to start her attempt at the 7 Summits. On my way down I met a pair of gentlemen from Spain, who gave me fist bumps and high fives when they heard I made it to Stella Point. ("Stella! That's the dream, amiga! Wish us the same fortune!") And then there was the group of doctors from New York, who stopped me for pictures and advice, also congratulating me on my climb. 

Oh, and how I can forget the other girls hiking with me! These 29 amazing women from all over the globe welcomed me warmly and became some of my greatest friends on the mountain! There was the 18 year old who turned 19 on the mountain who was a daily burst of sunshine to all of us, the nurses who treated us and gave us medicine when we didn't come as prepared as we hoped, the ladies who made us laugh and sing, the one that kept me limber with yoga, and the others who shared their stories and listened to mine. You ladies are gems, and I'm so glad to have met you!

I know a lot of people make fun of me for my small town tendency to say hello (or Jambo!) to strangers when I hike. Others tease me about my habit of making small talk with anyone with talking distance. (I'm friendly, ok?) But I'm so glad I did this on this trip. These experiences - these encounters - are what I will remember more than the attempt at the summit. 

What I will remember about Kilimanjaro will not be the tears I cried at the summit. It won't be the missed photo opportunities, the days I was last to camp, or the bruises on my knees that lasted for two weeks. It won't be how I must have smelled after 7 days without a shower, or how much I missed washing my hair. No... What I will remember about this experience is how big Kilimanjaro is once it appears above the clouds. I'll remember the smells of the volcanic dust, and viewing the clouds below my feet at various places along the trail. I'll remember the night sky filled with stars containing my favorite constellation (Orion!), and how bright the full moon appeared on summit night. And I'll remember the people - all the beautiful, wonderful people who made every day a good day on the mountain. It is this that makes Kilimanjaro so special in the end. And for that, I will always be grateful for Tanzania. <3


Until next time....

Cheers!

Becks

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

To the Roof of Africa (Days 1 through 4)

"There, ahead, all he could see, as wide as all the world, great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun, was the top of Kilimanjaro."
 -- Ernest Hemingway


Kilimanjaro rises above Africa at an impressive 5,895 meters (19,341 feet) above sea-level. It ranks as one of the easiest of the Seven Summits to climb, requiring no technical skill or special equipment to complete. Because of this, over 35,000 people annually make the trek to attempt to summit Kilimanjaro - about 65% having success of same. Why? Well, calling this an easy trek is a great disservice to both the mountain and the people who attempt to climb it. It's dangerous to assume that anyone can climb this without any training - the climb requires long hours at high elevations, and some routes include some rock scrambling that can take you by surprise if you're not prepared for them. An estimated 7-10 tourists die making this attempt each year, including an Irish woman about my age who passed away just before my own summit. This isn't a day hike, folks.


Your success on the mountain greatly depends on the route and crew you choose for your trek. I booked my Kilimanjaro adventure with WHOA Travel, a female-based travel agency that partners with Trek2Kili for their porters and guides. WHOA Travel combines adventure travel with philanthropy, with our trip including visits to Treasures of Africa orphanage and  to Shirikisha, a restaurant slash textile business empowering the deaf and disadvantaged to provide for themselves and their families. Our travel fees also helped WHOA sponsor two local ladies to accompany our climb - both of whom became good friends of mine on the mountain. When WHOA selected Trek2Kili as our crew, it couldn't have been a better choice. Not only is Trek2Kili a registered KPAP member (you can read the importance of this here), but they were professional and well prepared for our trek. The above picture was taken at the gate, and we were stoked to start our journey!


Our travel company selected the Machame Route for our 7 day hike. Also known as the Whiskey Route, Machame is well-known for its beautiful views, steep terrain, good acclimatization, and high summit success rates. While the 7-day success rate for all routes hovers around 65%, the summit rate for Machame is closer to 85%. Keep in mind that "summit" at Kilimanjaro refers to reaching the crater rim, and not Uhuru itself. I read somewhere that the actual summit rate (at Uhuru) is closer to 78% for Machame, but that's still pretty impressive. 


Day 1 was scheduled to be a nearly 4,000' climb through the rainforest to Machame camp. "Pole, pole" (meaning "slowly, slowly") was the name of the game, but for some reason I really struggled here. As part of my training, I had completed nearly a dozen hikes with similar elevation gains in the 5 months leading up to this hike. Yet here I was... finally in Africa... struggling to keep up. Not wanting to admit my defeat, I pushed on and didn't even try to hike at my own pace... leading to an asthma attack around two hours in. I was so embarrassed! I had trained for this. I had hiked with most of these girls before! Why was I failing on Day 1? It was a humbling moment, for sure, but my guide Aboo noticed I was in danger and quickly rushed me into taking a break. He took my pack from me, assisted me with my inhaler, and forced me to slow down. I was lucky to have two other girls (Isher and Melody) accompany me on the final hours into camp, which helped me feel a little less lonely through the ordeal. Did I tell you how much I loved these people? :) 


On the morning of Day 2, I woke up early to take some pictures around camp. I was too embarrassed to do that the night before, and it was nice to spend the morning on my own exploring. Machame was very crowded, with our tents stacked nearly on top of each other. After breakfast, one of the WHOA leaders asked me if I would be willing to leave early with a guide and another hiker to make sure I could hike at my own pace. I was embarrassed, but I agreed. I didn't want to be the last person at camp again, and I figured I might as well get an early start in case I did struggle like I did on Day 1. 


Shortly after agreeing to leave early with the other girl and our guide, I found out that the other girl decided to climb with the rest of the group. I was disappointed to be hiking without the other girls, but quickly bonded with my guide, PJ. We talked about our families, the mountains, the porters... He taught me Swahili, while I explained American slang. When I told him about my reasons for wanting to do this climb, he was happy to encourage me and assure me that I'd make it to the top. Day 2 was a steep, rocky climb with lots of unexpected scrambling, but it was my favorite by far. We arrived to Shira Cave Camp about 30 minutes before the rest of the group, which meant I had hiked as fast as (if not slightly faster than) they did that day. It helped restore my confidence, and I ended the day very happy. 


After dinner that night, my friend Marissa asked if I would mind if she joined me and PJ for the early climb on Day 3. I was happy to have her join me! Sadly, I layered improperly and quickly overheated. So much for that early start advantage! Day 3 was all about acclimating as we climbed from Shira Cave Camp to Lava Tower. This was a long, steady climb but the altitude and poor choice of clothing made it feel much harder than it should have. We did finally catch up to the main group about 2km from Lava Tower Camp, but it was a battle getting there.


We reached Lava Tower Camp just in time for lunch. You can see our tents and the Lava Tower that gives the camp its name in the background. This camp sits high at just over 15K feet in elevation (4,600 meters), and it was the first place that many in our group started showing the symptoms of altitude sickness. I thankfully avoided same, although I did take the best nap of my life in the mess tent after lunch :) This was the highest elevation I had ever hiked to at this point, and I decided right there that this was no longer about summiting... I couldn't believe what I had already achieved!



Following lunch and my brief siesta, my friend and I rejoined the larger group as we made our way down to Baranco Camp, where we would sleep for the night. I loved this part of the hike. It was rocky, but not terribly slippery, and we passed by these really cool trees that looked like they were pulled out of a Dr Seuss book. We made it to camp first, only because I didn't want to take a break. Throughout this trek, it was one thing I almost insisted on... if I was going to be hiking at my own pace anyway, I didn't want the extra breaks to slow me down. It's always so much harder to get started again if I stop. Sadly, Baranco camp was shrouded with clouds so we didn't get a preview of the great Baranco wall that we'd be tackling the next morning.


The biggest challenge for Day 4 is supposedly the Baranco Wall. Rising over 800 feet above Baranco camp, this steep rock wall ascent challenges most hikers. Truthfully, it was the day I was least looking forward to because of my fear of heights. There were only three parts that truly scared me ("Just swing your leg and jump across this gap... don't mind the 50 foot fall!"), and somewhat surprisingly this became my second favorite day. I have never thought of myself as a rock climber or skilled scrambler, but I surprised myself a lot that day. It was fun, and I wouldn't hesitate to hike that section again if I attempted Kili in the future. 


All of that said, there's no way I could have climbed up that wall without the aid of our guides Langeni and PJ. While I was shaking with fear at the dramatic drops in a couple of sections, one or the other was always there to grab my hand and lead me safely to the next section. The only bummer of this day was the "descent into camp." One thing I will tell you about this hike is to trust no one - an hour usually means two, short usually means steep, and descent often hides two ascents that must be made to complete the hike. Haha. 


The "descent" to Karranga Camp after completing the Baranco Wall wasn't challenging, but was more of a down-up-down-up than a true descent. The clouds had moved in again by this point, so we were fighting both the cold and fatigue. At least two of our girls were showing signs of sickness, and it showed in the slowing of our hike. Alas, we arrived safely to Karranga about 45 minutes after the big group, so we were cold but happy to settle in for the night. This was the one camp that I never saw the sign for, but I was too cold to care. Tomorrow would be the final hike up to base camp before submitting, and I knew I needed to save my energy!


Tomorrow's post will wrap up my Kilimanjaro hiking adventure, so stay tuned!

Until next time...

... Becks

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Climb

"Kilimanjaro is a snow-covered mountain 19,710 feet high, and is said to be the highest mountain in Africa. Its western summit is called the Masai 'Ngaje Ngai,' the House of God. Close to the western summit there is a dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude." -- E. Hemingway 


If you follow my other blog, you already know that I have committed the majority of my year so far to hiking. While it's been a lifetime hobby of mine, I only recently got back into hiking after a long hiatus while I started my career. (Houston and New Orleans are surprisingly void of hills to climb... lol). My hikes were casual at first - mostly with my dog and/or with Shika, and primarily in the Hollywood Hills (Griffith Park). Last year, I started tackling longer, more challenging hikes as I found it helpful for my half marathon training. Speaking of, I completed three of those last year, along with several 5 and 10K races! Who am I?

Anyway, in January of last year, I posted a picture of me and my dog that got "liked" by Girls Who Hike LA. This hiking group was founded on December 31, 2015 by a girl looking for more girls to hike with in the LA area. I figured that while I didn't live in the LA area, I'd definitely be up for meeting girls to hike there so I quickly joined! There were just under 200 members at the time, and I was anxious to join them for a hike. At the time, it just seemed like something fun to do; I had no idea how this "little hiking group" would change my life! By April, I became a Moderator of the then 1,000+ member strong Facebook group. By November, I was planning my first group hike. In March, I helped kick off a chapter more local to me (Central Valley), and I've since led or co-led 3 group hikes! It's amazing to me how many kind, wonderful people I have met through this group, and what a difference it has made in my overall wellness.


The community as a whole has been terrific. It has challenged me in more ways than I can count, and has taught me how to be a better hiker, communicator, boss, and friend. It also taught me how vastly underprepared I was for hikes I was doing in my teens and twenties. I've been incredibly humbled by the mountain a few times this year, and that's exactly why I'm writing this post.

Earlier this year, I decided to sign up to hike Mount Baldy (Mount San Antonio) for charity. Before climbing this mountain, I had climbed several others... some with more impressive elevation. I had climbed a 12-er in Colorado, and several 8-9K mountains in California before my climb. But... I was still scared of this mountain. It had killed several experienced hikers already in 2017, and we were taking the dreaded Devil's Backbone route to the summit. While the climb was strenuous, it was that backbone that nearly did me in. I panicked; I cried. I told myself and several others in my hiking group that I just "couldn't" finish it. But I was persuaded to push-on. And thanks to a couple of wonderful girls... I did! I summited with minutes to spare for the fundraiser timeline. 


Since that summit, however, hiking just hasn't been the same. I have continued to hike regularly, but my confidence took a really big hit. After a challenging backpacking trip during which I struggled with back pain and heat exhaustion, I was very concerned that hiking isn't a good fit for me anymore. And with my upcoming trip to climb Mount Kilimanjaro looming... I guess you can say that I'm not as self-assured as I was when I signed up for this thing.


I have recently read several stories from girls I know whose confidence has similarly been shaken. There have been several girls who couldn't summit Baldy due to fears similar to mine. Other friends have tried to summit various peaks, but have turned around for one reason or another. And then there's my best friend... She really loves hiking and being outdoors, but her health has made it difficult to do hikes she previously would have breezed through. So why do I share these stories?


I am flying to Tanzania on Friday to climb to the top of the Roof of Africa (Kilimanjaro) with several of these friends. We all have different backgrounds and fitness levels, and each of us has committed to this climb for reasons that are our own. And while I sat here earlier today dreading packing for this trip, I suddenly remembered why I hike in the first place. I never started hiking for the pictures or the bragging rights. I hike because I love it. I enjoy how it makes me feel, and love spending my time out in the wilderness. Sure, I've struggled on a hike or two, but each hike is unique, no matter how many times you've climbed it. Yesterday, two friends and I climbed Mount Pinots and Sawmill Mountain, and I did just fine. EVERYONE huffs and puffs when they're climbing a steep grade - even those that were climbing past us. Hiking it yesterday felt a lot different than hiking it in June, and that's what makes it fun! It was hotter, and the air was smokier, but the company was fun and the others on the trail were friendly too!

So as I sit here contemplating my trip to another continent, I am pledging to be kind to myself when I start my hike next week. If Kilimanjaro was easy, everyone would do it. It's going to be hard. I'm going to get grumpy, and I'll probably find some days are harder than others. BUT... if I can remember this, I should be just fine: No one is racing me to the top of the mountain. This hike is my hike, and I'm allowed to enjoy it. I can take a million pictures, or I can take none. What I will do, however, is be present in every waking moment I have during my time on the mountain. I will try to remember each sound, each smell, and each view. And if I don't summit? That's ok. Hiking has always been about the journey anyway. I have several friends to thank for reminding me of this tonight, and hopefully you know who you are if you're reading this. In the meantime... 

Afya!! (Cheers!) Hopefully I'll have the energy to update this blog upon my return :)

Until we meet again...

Becks