Blog - Lewis N. Clark
  Loading... Please wait...

Blog

My World Consisted of My Breathing: A Journey to the Top of Mount Kilimanjaro (Part 5)

Posted by

This is part 5 of Suzanne’s journey to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in support of the American Foundation for Children with AIDs. To read the rest of the series, click here.

We were awoken at 11pm for a meal and a midnight hike. As I explained, I was nervous. I had been working toward this for over a year. I raised over $8000, bought and organized gear, got quite a few shots, selected plane tickets, broke in gear, trained...It was an odd feeling. Never in my life have I worked SO hard for something with such a culminating, focused ending that I didn't already know! College, sure, but I knew I'd graduate. Having Audrey, of course, but that was "only" 9 months, and I was confident in her arrival. But this? Failure was possible. But alas, there I was.

I think I slept some, because soon I heard Godson gently saying "hello....it is time" or some such gentle thing outside our tent. Instead of the usual groggy lollygagging, it was business. Anne and I both arose, almost robotically gathering our gear (including our packing cubes), cramming water bottles into dirty socks, putting on layers. I was anticipating the cold, and it was crisp when I (again) stumbled ungracefully out of my tent. We ate, but I have no recollection of what. I'm not sure there was even much talking other than when we gave our breathing rate. It's a blur, as is much of the next 12 hours.

The dampened, quiet of the night was very much present. We got in line, in some order. Our headlamps illuminated a small circle ahead of each of us. I felt like my world consisted of my breathing and the few feet in front of me. Aware of others, but focused on doing everything I could to get up that mountain. I snapped a quick picture, and realized how hard night pictures are, and that I needed to focus on climbing.

When we stopped I'd get a bit chilly, but when we were moving I was fine in the layers I had on. Hike, stop. Hike, stop. I have no idea how long this went on. Funny how your mind works at midnight at 17,000 feet.

When we stopped, I started to consider just laying down on a rock and taking a nap. Now, the high-altitude mountain girl that I grew up being KNEW that this was a) caused by lack of oxygen, and b) NOT a good idea. But oh, it was tempting, and I'm pretty sure my thoughts were verbalized at least once.

Then it started getting harder. Moving my legs was hard and I had to focus on moving them, the lure of a nap still growing. Jessie was ahead of me, and I remember her collapsing and vomiting a bit. Goddy, a guide, quickly came and helped her. That moment is vivid in my memory because it made me realize how I was struggling, how the altitude was affecting me.

Slightly rejuvenated, I looked up. Looked up, only to realize we still had a LONG way to go still. Pole pole, we continued up. Pausing some, but moving steadily. My foggy brain was starting to get frustrated. Frustrated that we weren't there yet, frustrated that I couldn't make my legs go faster. Frustrated I wasn't doing better. Anne, Chris and Donnie all seemed to be chugging up that peak as if it were a Sunday picnic. I didn't understand. I felt a bit defeated, as if my body were failing me.

To read more of Suzanne’s adventures, please visit her blog!

Tips for Staying Healthy and Happy on Your Camping Trip

Do you like camping but wish it was a more pleasant experience? With just a few adjustments, these little things may make all the difference in the world.1. Consider how you sleep. If you have a lot of back problems, you may want to invest in an air mattress, or if you have neck issues, pack extra pillows [...]

Read More »


Patagonia: El Fin del Mundo

Earlier this month a group of 4 friends and I crossed off an item high on our bucket list: Patagonia! Our plan was to see and do as much as we could during our 10 days in Argentina.We started our trip with two quick days in Buenos Aires where we bounced around the city touring the Recoleta Cemetery [...]

Read More »


Studying Shinto in Hawaii

Shinto, or “The Way of the Kami,” is a difficult religion for Westerners to understand. It is not organized with an authority at the top, it has no central text or doctrine, and in many cases, both scholars from the East and West do not even consider it a religion.  It began at least 5,000 years ago, but it was [...]

Read More »


Traveling with Medication (Part 2) [Infographic]

Make it easy to continue your medication regimen with a variety of products designed to accommodate your individual needs. Take a look at how to make traveling with medication easier as well!

Read More »


El Dia de Campo: A Day in the Life of a Gaucho

During my study abroad program, one of our outings was "El Dia de Campo" (Countryside Day), where we traveled to a local farm to experience the life of a gaucho. In essence, they’re sort of like rustic ranchers who played an important part in forming Argentina into what it is today. It was nice to see life in the countryside, which [...]

Read More »


Asheville: Home of Microbreweries, Modern Hippies, and Mountains

Asheville, North Carolina is a growing community known for its open-mindedness and holistic way of living that has seemingly become a haven for modern hippies of the 21st century. This is strange given its location in the South, but perhaps its temperate weather attracts a more free-spirited crowd. As a side note, Asheville boasts one of the higher homeless [...]

Read More »


​Sightseeing in Santiago, Viña del Mar, and Valparaiso, Chile

Santiago Downtown Santiago boasts some beautiful architecture. You should definitely see the  Palacio de la Moneda, which is the equivalent of the White House. Originally built in the late 1700s, it’s changed several times over the years (a bunker was built during the dictatorship for example) and presidents no longer actually live the palace. However, you can still see a changing of [...]

Read More »


Tips for Camp Cooking

When you’re out in nature, activities are often reduced to simple things like arranging the campsite, getting the fire started, and cooking. Make sure you’re prepared by considering these tips. Plan out your meals ahead of time. While hot dogs and s’mores are camping staples, it’s good to prepare healthy snacks to munch on like grapes or carrots. If you’re not [...]

Read More »