Friday, January 29, 2010
Mt. Kilimanjaro - Final Note from Paulie
I'm writing this ten days after reaching the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. It has given me a little time to reflect on this incredible experience, as well as to heal my body and mind after the punishing exertion of the climb itself. First and foremost, I wish to give a heartfelt thanks to my loving wife, Vikki, who diligently kept a blog of my progress, even after we lost radio contact just two days out. This meant that Vikki had to do research to determine where I might be in the climb and estimate my progress. It all culminated with a phone call to her from the summit of the mountain letting her know I had succeeded and that I was OK. The truth was, I was far from OK and I still had to descend over 9,000 feet just to get to the lower camp, followed by another 5,000 foot descent the following day. I'm sure she continued to worry and wasn't fully relieved until I called her from my hotel in Arusha telling her that I was safe. She also kept in touch with family and friends the whole time. This is in addition to working full time, commuting 200 miles per day to work and caring for our beloved dogs at home. Just remarkable!
The expedition spanned nearly seven days in the most beautiful works of nature I had ever seen. We travelled through five distinct climate zones, not found anywhere else on Earth. It was a privilege to be there. I was pushed to my limits physically and mentally and then went beyond that which I thought I was capable. There were many times that I truly believed I would not reach the summit. That's when I would have to focus on one step at a time. Breathing became difficult and it was important to climb slowly, but continuously. It is amazing what the human body and spirit can endure when there is a powerful desire to reach a goal. Through perseverance, as well as the tremendous support from my mountain guide, Herment, I was rewarded with the greatest experience a mountain climber can achieve. Standing on the summit of the highest mountain in Africa. It was the greatest adventure of my life, so far.
As tremendous an experience that this was, there were amazing human connections which resulted from our journey. We were made aware of 'A Chance For Bliss Animal Sanctuary' through our friend, Christina, and that is how the climb became a fund raiser and awareness event. We feel blessed to have met Woody and Deanna, owners of the sanctuary and to have seen first hand the loving care that their animal companions receive in the autumn of their lives. Then we were introduced to Lary Bucher and his fifth grade class, the Brainiacs, who created the most beautiful banner which I was fortunate enough to carry with me half way around the world and unfurl at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. In addition, on the personal side of things, Vikki and I have made a closer connection to family and friends throughout this whole process which we hope to carry on into the future.
Many thanks to all of you for your support, kind words and especially for letting us be a part of your lives. We are proud to be new friends of 'A Chance for Bliss".