Climbing Kilimanjaro with Justin Caplan – Part 1

Many of you have been following my posts on preparing for our Kilimanjaro trip.

We successfully summited Mount Kilimanjaro on June 16th, 2021, at 7:26 AM.

The summit night was one of the most challenging but most rewarding things I have ever done.

The guides woke us up at 10:30 PM after eating dinner around 6 PM. They advised us to get some rest before the big climb, but of course, most of us were too restless to get any sleep. To further compound the situation, we were at an elevation of 15,500 feet. 

The goal was to hike through the night to the summit, an additional elevation of 4000 feet.

An additional challenge was we were walking at 30-40 degree inclines for most of the evening and into the early morning.

It was one foot in front of the other. The fatigue increased as we entered even higher altitudes in the early morning hours. The lack of oxygen due to the elevation became more and more evident as we made our way up the mountain.

Our wonderful guides led us every step of the way. There was a guide at the back of our group and another guide at the front of our group. At one point in the evening, I found myself behind the lead guy. 

I decided to place my foot everywhere he put his foot. A beautiful picture of leadership played out before my eyes. Good leaders know how to guide others and pave the way so that everyone on the team can achieve success!

For hours we plodded through the night. Just when we thought we couldn’t take one more step, the guides would tell us we could stop for a rest. Finally, around 6 AM, the sun came up – slowly at first and then in its full splendor.

Exhausted and overwhelmed with emotion, we saw the sign of Stella Point, the highest point in Africa – or so we thought! After taking in our surroundings and beginning to grasp what we had accomplished, the guides told us, “Congratulations! Now, you have to go to the second summit.”

Fortunately, I had read that there was a second summit. Uhuru point was 45 minutes from Stella Point. What I had NOT read – it was all uphill!

So we set out for the actual most elevated point on the African continent as the temperatures became lower and the altitude got even higher.

Due to the lack of oxygen, we walked about as slowly as a human could go. One of the porters saw me walking ever so slowly and grabbed my elbow. He then walked with me the rest of the way. Once again, the crew illustrated the impact a leader can have who is willing to walk alongside you.

Many times when I was struggling, I reminded myself of my goals. 

My mission was simple:

  1. To bring attention to our non-profit FAD.
  2. To see how far out of my comfort zone I would be able to go.
  3. To let my full-throttle sons-in-law know that I am still in the game!

The hearts of the people we met were amazing. The joy they exuded and shared with us will be with us for the rest of our lives.

#AtlanticBayCares #GivingBack #KilimanjaroSeries

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