Final morning, final day, and final time packing everything up. It’s hard to imagine it’s Day 8 already. The final day!! A week ago this day seemed so far away, literally an uphill battle. But there I was staring out at another incredible sunrise above the clouds thinking that later that day we’d all be crossing the ‘finish line’ of this life-changing experience. I was also really excited about the idea of taking a shower, wearing clean clothes, and sleeping in a bed once again!
Before we hit the trail for the last time we had a special ceremony to take part in. We were going to be giving thanks to the porters and guides who had been on this journey with us since day one. The porters were the guys who set up our tents, cooked us food, and carried our things that weren’t in our daypacks. Our guides really became a part of our team, hiking with us, ensuring everyone was safe, and motivating us when we needed it the most. Without this supportive and enthusiastic group of people, our team would not have been able to do this climb.
All the porters and guides had gotten together and started singing the Kilimanjaro song. It was beautiful and moving. I started getting teary-eyed thinking about what the entire group had just accomplished and that we were now saying goodbye, likely to never see each other again. Alicia and Cheryl thanked the porters and guides on behalf of our entire group, presenting each member of the support team with tips we had collected as a group. The ceremony was very touching and made we really appreciate and reflect on the entire journey.
We hugged and said our goodbyes, grabbed our hiking poles one last time, and set off for the exit gate.
We trekked and trekked for over 5 hours. We were moving at a very quick pace, propelled by the promise of warm showers and clean clothes to come. It was very hard on the body. The constant pounding as we descended down steep rocks quickly took their toll. By the 3rd hour, my knees were shot and in pain, along with my calves and achilles. My thighs were quickly turning into jello and my hands were beginning to blister between my thumbs and index fingers, rubbed raw from the hiking poles.
The further down we climbed the more the landscape changed and soon we found ourselves back in the rainforest section of the mountain. The path changed from rocky terrain to stepped-gravel but it was still hard on the body. The allure of the mountain quickly faded by the 5th hour on the trail and there was an overall consensus that we just wanted to get to the exit gate. With every bend in the trail we all (not so secretly) were hoping the exit gate would appear. Our guides keep saying “soon”, “soon”. It couldn’t come soon enough.
Finally the exit gate was in sight! We all regrouped to complete the trail together. We started as a team and we were going to finish as a team. We shouted with elation and excitement as we crossed the invisible threshold, high-fiving each other one last time. We had done it!
As the bus made the 2-hour drive back to our hotel in Arusha, I sat there trying to process the entire week. Truthfully, from the beginning of the summit night, everything was a blur and I was now trying to remember and take in the whole experience. Had I really just climbed Kilimanjaro?!
Before we all got on the bus, I interviewed each member of the team and asked them to describe their experience in one word. Yes, an impossible task but I wanted them to try. JD choose the word ‘spiritual’. He elaborated on why he picked that word and I felt it encapsulated what the journey was really all about:
“I learned a lot about myself and what I’m capable of and I think that has enlightened me to a higher sense of what is possible in life. There’s nothing that is beyond your capabilities. You can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it”.
To all the porters and guides, thank you for giving me the experience of a lifetime! Your support, kindness, and motivation propelled me to the top and I’ll never forget what you allowed me to accomplish.
To all my fellow climbers; Cheryl, Rick, JD, Alicia, TJ, Chris, Melanie, Dan, and Ellen, thank you for your encouragements, humour, and trail talks. You’ll always be the most bad-ass group of people I’ve ever travelled with.
To everyone who has been following along on this video series, I want to give you a huge thank you (and a big virtual hug!) for coming back week after week to watch the latest installment. This was a 9-week endeavor (both for me and you!) and your comments, Tweets, sharing of the posts, and notes of support mean more to me than you’ll ever know. My goal with these videos was to have you feel like you were right there on the climb with me, to give you insights on what climbing Kilimanjaro is all about, and even just a little travel inspiration. And based on all your feedback, I believe I’ve accomplished just that.
This climb was done to raise awareness and funds for World Vision Canada’s No Child For Sale campaign, a cause to remove children from dirty, dangerous, and degrading jobs. Please take a moment to visit their site to see how you can help in their efforts.
Oh, and about taking a shower after 8 days on the trail? It was the most glorious shower of my life…
Have any questions about Day 8 on Kilimanjaro’s Lemosho Route? Let me know in the comments below!
Want to read more about Kilimanjaro? Check out these posts:
- 10 Tips for Climbing Kilimanjaro
- Climbing Kilimanajro – Lemosho Route
- Video: Kilimanjaro – Lemosho Route – Day 1
- Video: Kilimanjaro – Lemosho Route – Day 2
- Video: Kilimanjaro – Lemosho Route – Day 3
- Video: Kilimanjaro – Lemosho Route – Day 4
- Video: Kilimanjaro – Lemosho Route – Day 5
- Video: Kilimanjaro – Lemosho Route – Day 6
- Video: Kilimanjaro – Lemosho Route – Day 7
- Epic Montage Kilimanjaro Video