In 2006 I had the privilege of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
It was one of the most fun experiences I have ever had.
Kilimanjaro climbs are done with the support of a huge array of porters, cooks and guides. In 2006, a team of 32 support staff, many of whom come from the same communities where Plant With Purpose works, accompanied our group of 8 people. There was something about the grandeur of the mountain, the camaraderie, the epic scale of the expedition and just a touch of real adventure that made it a very special time.
I remember the mounting sense of anticipation as day after day the mountain landscape got wilder and as I wondered whether I would have what it took to make it that final day, beyond nineteen thousand feet to the legendary Roof of Africa. Then came the growing feeling of accomplishment as it became clear I would in fact make it. Finally we came out on the rim of the crater into the midst of a storm and blowing frost that turned our windward sides white.
I have spent a lot of time over the past 12 years telling my children just how amazing it was. The climb up Kilimanjaro has been the subject of numerous dinner-time tales on backpacking trips through the years. At the same time, they have been begging me to visit Tanzania and see the work that Plant With Purpose is doing.
This summer it all came together, so this afternoon I find myself in Moshi, with my daughter, Amanda, 17, and my son, Danny, 14, preparing to start up Kilimanjaro in the morning.
Danny & Amanda on an earlier expedition.
A substantial group joins us, including eight Tanzanian primary and high school students and their chaperones, and Cindy Outlaw, the chair of the Plant With Purpose board, who will be making her 13th trip to the summit. If all goes well we should summit on the 23rd and sometime after the 26th I will be able to give an update as to whether or not one can actually go back.