Miracles on Mount Kilimanjaro Summit Night

Miracles on Mount Kilimanjaro Summit Night

 

Hardest and craziest thing I’ve ever done…

Warning! This post is more gritty than my Kili Part 1 Mountain Climbers Breakfast post (check it out here if you missed it) but worth the read, I assure you. It was written right after my summit climb when I got back to base camp. I didn’t want to forget any of the details of how it felt at the time. Hope you enjoy it!

Woke up at 10:45pm after getting only about an hour of sleep.  I had thrown out my old contacts and had a new pair ready to go.  Really hard to get them in my eyes, sitting in total darkness in my tent with a headlamp as my source of light. I was slow getting to the food tent for “breakfast”.  Then I realized something wasn’t quite right and turns out I didn’t have my left contact in.  Must have lost it.  Luckily I had another spare so went back into the tent to put it in.  Dammit, I dropped it and couldn’t find it.  Finally found it, but it had a small rip in it.  Oh well… I’m going to wear it anyways because it’s better that wearing glasses that will fog up and get in my way and be uncomfortable under my balaclava.  So ripped contact it is….

“Breakfast” was tea and tiny little chocolate cookies.  Aren’t I going to need a more substantial meal to climb to the top of a mountain?  So I ate a few tiny cookies (probably too many looking back now) and packed an energy bar in my pocket. My guide Dickson said that if you’re going to eat on the climb up, just eat a small bite and chew very slowly or you’re going to get sick. Is that like the pole, pole kind of slowly that I was supposed to be doing for the past 4 days, but pushed it just a little (ok, a lot!) and was totally fine?  Better than fine, I was kicking some Kili ass!  We will see how it goes but my mountain climbing appetite is insane and I’m going to be hungry really soon.
Started the climb at 11:30pm in good spirits, thinking this won’t be so bad, it’s kinda cool seeing a trail of headlamps both behind and in front, lighting up the night like candles.  Hunger was setting in so I ate three quarters of my energy bar.

Then about an hour and a half in, the altitude and exhaustion I guess hit me like a brick wall! I felt nauseous and a little light headed and dizzy , like a really bad hangover. Ok, like the worst hangover ever! Maybe Dickson was right and I shouldn’t have eaten that much.  And tired, so tired just all of a sudden. I was almost falling asleep while hiking. Which I realize doesn’t make any sense because you’re exerting so much energy just to walk at this altitude.  When we stopped for breaks my stomach felt a little better momentarily but I thought I was going to pass out I was so tired. All I wanted was a glass of ginger ale, a Gravol and my comfy bed at home and to be able to sleep for hours and hours; my hangover cure… Wondering why I was even doing this.

This went on for a few more hours (yes, hours!) while hiking up steep gravel paths and climbing rocks and feeling like total shit. Really rough terrain. I looked up at the summit a few times but it seemed so far away, and made me dizzy. I just had to focus on my feet in front of me so I wouldn’t fall over. I kept telling myself that I am strong and can do it and it will be worth it.

Superwoman, strong like Simba like my guides called me.  I climbed the Lava Tower dammit, I can do this!   I certainly do not feel like Superwoman now, but repeated this mantra in my mind to get through the gruelling climb.  “I’m strong like Simba and will soon be at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.  I’m strong like Simba and will soon be at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro….” Over and over like a broken record.

Miracles happen every day. Expect them and they will find you when you need them most.

 

My miracle number one…

 

Just as I was thinking this, a guide from another group that was trekking close to our group passed by and recognized me. Hey, Superwoman he called out to me with a wave as he walked by. I guess he could tell I was struggling because then he added, “you can do this. You’re strong!” Wow, just motivation I needed to keep going.
Looked up a few times and there was the full moon with a halo around it and one bright star between the moon and the halo.  I specifically planned this trip around a full moon summit so wanted to enjoy it.  Very pretty actually, but I couldn’t fully appreciate it at the time because looking up made me feel worse, like I was going to barf! Pole, pole, I can make it.  Trying to keep those thoughts of my bed back home out of my head.  I am strong like Simba and will soon be at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro…

The moment you’re ready to quit is usually the moment right before a miracle happens. DON’T GIVE UP!

And then finally after what seemed like forever, all of the sudden there was the top of the crater, Stella Point!  It’s hard to describe and really took me by surprise it was so beautiful and just hit me that I was at the top of the mountain. I felt so happy and elated.

 

Miracle number two…

 

My sickness instantly went away and I felt fine, like MAGIC! Seeing huge glaciers on the left and this massive crater with the full moon on the right, totally beautiful and insane. And the sky was a really cool shade of sunrise orange in the distance. I got really emotional and started to cry as I hugged my friend Carl.  We made it!!!

Then the guides quickly scurried us away to stay with the group for the 45 minute walk to the actual summit point. When we got there it was pretty anti-climactic actually. They only let you stay for a few minutes barely enough time to get a picture in front of the sign. It’s like a factory assembly line the way they rush lines of people in and out of there.  But got my picture and a few of our group.  Wish I had time to appreciate it more and let it sink in.  Took more pictures on the way back to Stella Point and still feeling fine.

Then the 3 hour walk downhill to our base camp. I think that was worse than the way up if you can believe it! My nausea came back, although not as strong, and so tired! It’s mostly this rocky, dusty “scree” that you have to kind of ski down and it’s really slippery. Sound kind of fun? Not at all, it’s brutal! I only managed to fall flat on my ass once. It was so hot now as the sun was out and I was dressed for -30 degrees Celcius with 500 hundred layers of clothing on.  Ok, it was 4 layers of pants and 5 layers on top, but felt like 500 🙂 Took off my top 2 layers on top, but still super hot and dehydrated with the taste of dry moon dust in my mouth.

And I didn’t have any water because one of the guides took my pack a while back and he was with a group at the back. He was with me to start the trek down but then he got a call on his cell phone if you can believe it!! I was NOT waiting around.  I was not thinking clearly. All I wanted to do was get back to base camp as quickly as I could so that I could take off some layers of pants and have a drink of water and rest. I hadn’t really had anything to drink since early on the climb up before the guide took my bag.  At the summit I went to drink from my water bottle but the lid was frozen shut and I couldn’t open it.  And there was such so much going on that it wasn’t a priority at that moment.  But by now I desperately needed a drink and my guide was nowhere to be found.  Carl was kind enough to give me a small cup of tea from his thermos, which was fantastic!  But I was still so thirsty.

Finally arrived back at Moon Camp.  I’m back in my tent, sitting here stripped down to my underwear, typing before I forget how this day really felt. And in another hour we have to hike 16km more downhill after all that. F**K! It’s almost 10am now and in the past two days alone I’ve hiked 27km up a mountain with only an hour of sleep. I have never in my life been more exhausted!

Was it worth it? Ask me in a couple of days when all this sinks in, but hell yeah, absolutely!!!

You can do accomplish anything you set your mind on. Push yourself beyond your limits. Go out in the world and climb your mountain!

What’s one of your greatest accomplishments and how did it make you feel? Please share in the comments below.

Thanks so much for reading and feel free to share the love on social media using the buttons on the left! I’d be super grateful 🙂

Leanne
xox

About Leanne Weaver

About Leanne Weaver

Holistic Nutritionist & Founder of Radiant Botanics

Leanne is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner, Iridologist, Reiki Level 2 practitioner and wellness speaker and writer.  She has spent 20 years in the corporate world as an engineer and project manager while pursuing her true passion—holistic wellness. What started as an interest in green smoothies and wellness turned into a dedicated, life-changing journey.

She is a First Class Honours graduate of the Toronto Institute of Holistic Nutrition and founder of Radiant Botanics,  a line of chakra-based spiritual skincare that combines natural ingredients with intentional affirmations.

She desires to help people feel radically, radiantly healthier and happier. 

Leanne resides in Mississauga, Ontario with her dog Bailey. They enjoy hiking on the weekends, kayaking, stand up paddling, and remaining present.

Mountain Climbers’ Chocolate Breakfast Cereal

Mountain Climbers’ Chocolate Breakfast Cereal

 

Ever wonder what kind of breakfast is eaten every morning on a trek to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro? Ok, you’ve probably never given it much thought, but now you’re wondering, aren’t you?  I had the pleasure of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in January 2014 so I can tell you firsthand.

Well, as you’d expect you need a hearty breakfast for the energy required for long days of trekking up hill at increasing altitude.  So eggs, toast and banana fritters were on the menu every morning. But chocolate? Yes, chocolate breakfast cereal was a staple on the slopes of Kilimanjaro!  My version of Mountain Climbers Chocolate Breakfast Cereal is actually quite different, but far superior if I do say so myself. More delicious and nutritious! Read on for the recipe and tales of my Kili adventure.

Kili Adventure of a Lifetime

 

This was the best trip ever! Long days filled with hiking beautiful trails, breathing in fresh clean air, enjoying the absolutely breathtaking scenery and meeting new friends.

Not for the faint of heart, we had no running water for 6 days and slept in tiny tents. The toilets were wooden shacks with a hole in the ground at camp, or our “luxury” toilet carried by one of the porters – a bucket with a plastic toilet seat on it in a canvas tent with a zipper door. But I’m pretty hardcore so none of this really bothered me, just added to the experience.

Pole, pole is the Swahili motto for climbing Kili.  Slowly, slowly.

The theory is that you need to save your energy or the altitude has a way of kicking you in the ass if you overdo it. You need to adjust slowly so you’ll be ready for the grueling overnight trek to the summit. I knew I would have a really hard time with the pole, pole thing. In addition to being hardcore, I like to do my own thing. Early on the slow single file walking was killing me, so I was able to go at my own pace ahead of the pack with a couple of friends and one of the guides.  Ahhh, sweet relief from the crowds. Strong like Simba my guides called me.

 

Day 1 – Enchanted Rainforest

 

Scenery on the trail on day one was spectacular! Beautiful rainforest trees, with long hanging moss, an enchanted forest like something out of Hansel and Gretel.  Suddenly we got hit by pouring rain, thunder and lightning.  It took a couple of days for my boots to completely dry out, but I didn’t let it get my spirits down.  I mean hey, it’s called the rainforest for a reason right?

 

Day 2 – Rocky Trails

 

After the rainforest, day two started to feel more like a mountain.  Spent the day scrambling rocks on the trails, and getting a first glimpse of Kili when it appeared for a brief moment from behind the clouds at lunch. It was at our camp that we really got a great view.  Wow, so majestic, surreal and looked so far away!

This moment right now is something you will never experience again so BE PRESENT and enjoy it.

 

Day 3 – Lava Tower

 

My most enjoyable day on the mountain! Walking with views of Kili all morning, the altitude was getting higher and having an affect on some of my climbing buddies, but not me. I’m still feeling strong like Simba.

The Lava Tower is a rock formation about 300 feet tall and formed from, you guessed it, lava way back in the day when Kilimanjaro was still an active volcano.  It used to be pretty common to climb, but they’ve gotten strict over the years. I told my guides I wanted to do it, and they told me I’m not allowed.  It’s dangerous, it’s against park regulations and they cannot be responsible if anything happens. They really tried to talk me out of it.  But this is something I really, really wanted to do and will never have this chance again.  So in the end I persisted, wrote up and signed my own waiver and climbed the lava tower with a friend and two guides.   A super cool bonus adventure!

 

Day 4 – Barranco Wall to Moon Camp

 

Started off climbing the Barranco wall. Looking a little intimidating from camp, it’s an 800 foot steep, almost vertical rock and you have to use both hands to scramble up the wall. So much fun!

Enjoyed hiking through the rocky alpine desert after lunch. Then we finally reached our base camp in the late afternoon. Moon camp I called it because it really does feel like we’re on the moon.  Altitude is now 4550 meters, too high for any plant life, it’s super dry and dusty and barren.

I was getting nervous for the summit climb now.  They had been taking readings of our oxygen levels and blood pressure every night and I always had really good readings, so far…. But on summit night my oxygen level was the lowest in the group. Still ok to summit, but made me nervous. Off to bed after dinner for a couple of hours, hoping to get some sleep before our 10:45pm wake up to start the summit climb.

I know that you’re excited to see how that turns out so check out my Miracles on Mount Kilimanjaro Summit Night.

But first, as promised, here’s my chocolate breakfast recipe.

 

Chocolate Breakfast

 

Milo porridge was our chocolate breakfast on the slopes.  What the heck is Milo you ask? My new Australian friends described it as an Australian version of Nestle Nesquik chocolate powder. I later looked it up and it actually has some malted barley in it, so probably marginally healthier. I guess we needed the sugar for energy for all the hiking. And I totally love the concept of chocolate for breakfast!

So here’s my SO MUCH HEALTHIER (and much tastier!) version.

Inspired not just by Kili Milo porridge but mainly the lovely and talented Sara B from My New Roots.  Check out her version here.

 

Chocolate Mountain Climbers Breakfast Granola Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 cups large flake oats
  • 2 cups raw buckwheat groats
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup rough chopped nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts – mix it up!)
  • 1 cup seeds (raw pumpkin seeds, raw sunflower seeds)
  • 1/3 cup raw honey or maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1-2 Tbsp ginger
  • ½ cup raw cacao powder

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 200°F.
  • In a small saucepan over low-medium heat, melt coconut oil. Add honey/maple syrup, vanilla, raw cocoa powder and spices. Whisk to combine until smooth.
  • Pour liquid ingredients over dry mix together thoroughly.
  • Spread mixture out in an even layer on a lined baking sheet.
  • Bake for about 2 hours total, removing from the oven to mix part way through and check to make sure it’s not overdone.

Notes

  • Another option is to bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes and remove from the oven to flip after the first 10 minutes. Watch carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn.
  • Get creative and adjust the spices to your tastes. I also like to add some cardamom and sea salt.
  • Switch up the nuts and seeds that you use to get a variety of flavors and nutrients.

I like to enjoy with almond milk and a sprinkle of goji berries, but it’s delicious all on it’s own, and quite addictive!
What’s your fave healthy and delicious breakfast? I’d love to know! Please share in the comments below.

Thanks so much for reading and feel free to share the love on social media using the buttons on the left. I’d be super grateful 🙂

Leanne
xox

About Leanne Weaver

About Leanne Weaver

Holistic Nutritionist & Founder of Radiant Botanics

Leanne is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner, Iridologist, Reiki Level 2 practitioner and wellness speaker and writer.  She has spent 20 years in the corporate world as an engineer and project manager while pursuing her true passion—holistic wellness. What started as an interest in green smoothies and wellness turned into a dedicated, life-changing journey.

She is a First Class Honours graduate of the Toronto Institute of Holistic Nutrition and founder of Radiant Botanics,  a line of chakra-based spiritual skincare that combines natural ingredients with intentional affirmations.

She desires to help people feel radically, radiantly healthier and happier. 

Leanne resides in Mississauga, Ontario with her dog Bailey. They enjoy hiking on the weekends, kayaking, stand up paddling, and remaining present.

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