I can remember quite clearly that for the first two weeks after we got back it was almost as if I was still on another planet. I couldn’t really get back into the normal pace of things and I was so relaxed and laid back generally that it was really quite a nice place to be at.
I was so out of it at the airport that I even forgot to collect one of my pieces of luggage in the baggage reclaim and had to go back the next day to pick it up!
A few weeks after we got back I thought it would be a good idea to have a reunion dinner and invited everyone together with their best parts over for dinner. To make it more like we were used, to I set up a tent in our front garden together with washy washy bowls, sleeping bag and various other equipment used on the hike. It went really well and everybody had a lovely evening, although we did eat inside as normal!
Craig had his illness diagnosed and was given some quite powerful antibiotics to clear up any infection in his lungs caused by the altitude sickness. It took a few months to really clear but now is all back to normal.
The whole trip seemed to bring life as a whole into focus and was such a special time for us all.
There are so many stories so many special moments and memories from the trek, it is really impossible to not be reminded about it for more than a short period of time. Over the last year I have found that one way or another, hardly a week goes by before something happens that reminds me of the Kilimanjaro climb. Perhaps it’s because of our group e-mails that still go round every week but I really think that even if there were no e-mails then we would still remember.
As a family we are generally quite active and like doing outdoor type pursuits. That in itself helped me on my Kilimanjaro trek and after I came back when everything had settled down we discussed what we would do as a family of a similar nature. For the time being we settled on climbing the three highest peaks in the UK and whilst this can be done in 24 hours we weren’t that adventurous in our approach and decided to spread it over three summers. Last summer we went to the Lake District and climbed Scaffel Pike together with a few of the other highest peaks around. We had a fantastic time as a family as well as allowing Stephanie and Jason to lead us putting all their Duke of Edinburgh skills to good use. This summer (2012) we went to Snowdonia and climbed Snowdon. Our intention is to go to Scotland and climb Ben Nevis in 2013 to complete the set.
As for the group of guys that I went climbing with, if I haven’t thanked them individually for helping make it such a fantastic time that I would like to do so publicly. I didn’t know many of them well at all and some I hadn’t even met before we started the training but since Kilimanjaro we have all remained close and good friends and I can really seeing that carrying on for many years. We have a life-long bond because of our common experiences on Kilimanjaro and I couldn’t really have picked a better group of people to share that with.
When we got back one of the issues we were talking about was “what’s next?”.
We all agreed that if it were not for having a big physical goal setting for him several months it was the most unlikely we would do anything near the same amount of training we had done to prepare for Kilimanjaro. We all wanted to have another target to aim for so that we would keep up the training and fitness as well as keeping together the group, building on the incredible camaraderie that we have already established.
So once the dust settled we dug out all the brochures and look to what the tour company we had used “Exodus travel” could offer elsewhere in the world. We looked at doing other climbs even though some of the group didn’t want to go camping again to places such as Machu Picchu. However we soon realised that we could not replicate the trip and any other similar trek would likely to fall short of the experience we had had on Kilimanjaro.
Eventually we settled on the idea of a long bike ride. Some of the group have been “Sunday morning”cyclists for many many years. We eventually agreed the target would be a ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles a trip of some 550 miles in eight days cycling of between 45 and 85 miles per day. I think it is a lot harder physical challenge than Kilimanjaro simply because the altitude on Kilimanjaro had a massive effect on everything and this trip is likely to be just sure hard physical grind.
So what did I learn from Kilimanjaro that I can apply to everyday life. This is something that I was not really searching for as part of the experience but nevertheless something I have given a fair amount of thought.
- Keep a positive mental attitude
- Plan in detail
- Take expert advice
- Use the best equipment possible
- We can push our physical and mental limits a lot further than we may think or know
- I have an amazing, loving, beautiful family
- So much is possible if we want to just go for it
- Life is too short
- We live in a beautiful world – So many people have had so much sadness to deal with
- We live a very privileged life
- Keep a positive mental attitude