It’s difficult to summarize the week long trek that I went on with WHOA travel in Tanzania. The tallest free standing mountain in the world towers at 5,853 meters, or 19,341 feet. There were so many highs and lows, feelings of utter defeat and pure bliss. The landscape made me feel like I was on another planet with views that literally took my breath away. There was the breath itself - something I rarely think about on a day to day basis, and what turned into hours and days of meditation as I concentrated on the simple act of breathing. There were the guides and porters who were the most encouraging and selfless humans, carrying unfathomable weight on their heads, and who scrambled around and ahead of us daily to have everything set up by the time we stumbled into camp. The stars seemed closer and brighter the higher and higher we got. There were the 21 women, all coming to this mountain for different reasons, supporting and helping each other, making it that much easier to keep going. My mom, who at 52, and battling altitude sickness for the majority of the time, kicked the mountain’s ass and beat me to the top! There was Uhuru Peak, hovering above us for days, taunting us with it's height, which now feels like a blurry memory. It was understanding what pure exhaustion actually meant. Getting a glimpse into why people push themselves to extremes, experiencing the addicting high you get when accomplishing something that feels like it nearly fell out of your grasp.
A few hours before we began our summit bid, I sat in our dining tent, trying hard to not let fear get the best of me. Everyone had a quote in front of them, and mine, by the great Maya Angelou read, "You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it."
The gratitude and respect I feel to this mountain, is hard to describe, but I know I will be trying to find those words for the rest of my life.