I have decided this trip needs 3 separate posts to fully and fairly report the journey.
Click on this link for Part One that covers the mission work at the Mwerini Integrated School for the Blind, the people of Tanzania, the incredible people I met along the way and my travels through 4 countries and 3 continents to get to Tanzania.
Click on this link for Part Two about the mountain itself- the 7 day climb up Mount Kilimanjaro! The route info, the photos, and a daily diary style account of how each day was along with the wonderful teammates I gained as life friends.
This post is Part Three that covers the few days post climb, my stay in Istanbul, and the final wrap up: How I kept my gut healthy during 2 weeks in a 3rd world country and living above 13,000 feet for almost a week, gear, equipment, what worked, and what didn’t.
COMING OFF THE MOUNTAIN HIGH:
We left each other on Part Two with the incredible high I was on and after completing one of the most incredible feats of my entire life. The range of emotions, exhaustion, highs and lows were as large as the massive mountain I had just climbed and are incomparable to anything I have felt before.
Coming off that high and realizing just how delicate our bodies and minds are was my next leg of this journey.
We finished our celebration with the porters and loaded up our bus and trucks to start the 2 hour drive to our Hotel Kibo Palace in Arusha for the long awaited hot shower everyone had been dreaming about.
In all honesty by now I had gotten pretty used to being a dirty mountain girl. These experiences change you in ways you never imagine possible. You greatly appreciate things like a hot shower but also allow yourself the enjoyment of savoring the layers of dirt, sweat, and toil as you have earned every speck of dirt that covers your skin and I felt it was giant smelly badge of honor.
The bus was full of people wearing varying levels of this scent of adventure. I will admit I did have my window cracked the whole time!
With my window cracked I spent the two hours driving to Arusha listening to music and taking in all the little villages and sights along the way. It was a very personal time for me. I loved the people of Tanzania. I was totally mesmerized by them and their way of life as we drove through their country. I was feeling some very serious gratitude for all they had done for me. It was one of the purest feelings of peace I have ever experienced. I didn’t ever want that feeling to fade.
We arrived at The Kibo Palace in Arusha. I realized I wasn’t antsy, impatient, and really felt like I could have spent a little more time just soaking in that peaceful balanced feeling I had while on the bus. That was the first time it began to sink in that had really done something spectacular. This was the first of many culture shocks I experienced.
I was reunited with my old roomie Sharon who had gone on a Safari while we climbed. She wasn’t as proud of my smelly badge of adventure but she was very happy to see me as I was certainly happy to see her too.
We all got our room assignments. After waiting far too long for the elevator that was moving like molasses I noticed the power flickered on and off frequently and I remembered my claustrophobia issues. I begrudgingly used the stairs instead… OUCH!
There wasn’t much time between our arrival and dinner, less than an hour. I washed my hair 4 times before the water ran clear, I lost several shades of color from my legs in dirt and used easily 10 Q-tips cleaning out my ears- we won’t even talk about what came out of my nose. I watched it all flow down the drain, it had taken a week for me to compile all that earth on my body and it was so quickly washed away and given back to the earth it came from.
We all met back up for dinner- many of us didn’t recognize each other! It was hard to comprehend that it was still the same day that we descended from Millennium Camp at 13,500 feet to the Mweka gate, had our celebration, signed out of the mountain, and drove 2 hours across Tanzania. Now were all having dinner together in Arusha.
I was exhausted, hungry, culture shocked, I didn’t really even know what day it was. There was a part of me that wanted to know my travels home were scheduled as they were when I left for the mountain. I hadn’t had much time to think about home during this journey. I truly lived in the present, enjoying every moment at the time I was living it- and that was a grand lesson that I never want to forget. I did at least want to know that I was going to be back there soon, back to my home.
It was the morning of the 4th of July back in the USA. Something in my gut was telling me to do it- to check my emails. I did and immediately saw an email from the travel agent. There was in her words “A major change in my flight itinerary home.” I quickly realized I was delayed 28 hours and was going to be in Istanbul for 24 of those 28 hours.
I was in NO condition to even begin to analyze and understand any of this. I was traveling home through 3 continents and 4 countries. I had literally just climbed Kilimanjaro and was at the end of a 14 hour day. I had a meltdown. Regardless of what was going on very little of it was in my control, and my mind was absolutely unavailable to comprehend any of it yet I still tried to.
I finally put myself to bed like a Mother telling a cranky over tired toddler to take a nap knowing the only few things that were certain- I was getting home at least 24 hours later than originally planned and I was going to be alone in the worlds 2nd largest city in a country I had never been to for 24 hours. Mind was BOGGLED. I had no idea when I was even suppose to be to the airport. It was definitely time to get some sleep.
I slept in taking up every inch of my queen size bed and finally embraced the comforts of civilization. It was a new day and I was rested and ready to move on to the next segment of my adventure- whatever it may be.
I spent the next 2.5 days in Arusha. I ate, I did some shopping, I ate, I hung out by the pool, I ate, I hit the gym, I ate, layed in the sun, I ate, then after I ate, I ate. I lost 8 pounds on the mountain. I ate for 2 straight days and didn’t gain one pound back.
Arusha was just that- nourishing and relaxing. During this time after several showers my brain finally cleared out the dirt and decided to start functioning again. I could now comprehend my itinerary home. Once the dust settled there were several others who had similar problems and it turned out 5 of us were going to be in Istanbul together and the airline would be paying for our accommodations. I now turned my mind into thinking about this bonus day of adventure we were gifted.
On night 3 we had a driver pick us up at 1:30am to take us to the airport for our 4:20am departure. We had an 8 hour flight to Istanbul. The travel Gods blessed me due to the personal hell I endured on this leg to Kilimanjaro. I had an entire row to myself and was able to lay down and sleep the whole way to Istanbul. Zzzzzzz….
We landed in Istanbul at 1pm. Once I wiped the drool and got the sleep lines off my face from the flight we began our adventure in Istanbul. The process to get our bags, through customs, and our Turkish Visa was a piece of baklava!
I heard many different opinions on the safety of Istanbul. It is a very culturally diverse city that does have a history of violence. It is the gateway from the Middle East to Europe and was definitely one of the most insane melting pots I have ever been to.
I felt uncomfortable at times in the airport as a woman and if I were treated that way at home I would have tossed a few elbows. I knew to pick my battles and this wasn’t one of them. As we pulled up to our gated hotel they searched the undercarriage of our shuttle for bombs. I had some hesitations but knew If I respected the culture and paid close attention to the shadows and dark places where I wasn’t welcome I would be fine.
We had about 5 hours before the sunset. When in a city like this I definitely enjoy learning about the vast history it has but if I can only choose one thing to do I would rather soak in the culture by cruising around the old town where the locals hang to see where it takes me. I had to at least check out #1 on my list- The Grand Bazaar.
Chris, my travel buddy and I took a cab to the old town Istanbul to check out the bay area and the Grand Bazaar. It is one of the world’s largest covered markets with over 58 streets and 4,000 shops.
Istanbul is the only metropolis in the world to be situated on two continents. Istanbul is a melting pot of liberal European influence and Middle Eastern Muslim traditions. The old town area reminded me of Barcelona. The people were very friendly, the streets full of shop and restaurant owners enticing you to enter their establishment by showing off their best dishes, smiles, and accoutrements.
We walked a good 7-8 miles all around the bay and bazaars. We each ate about 3lbs of shawarma meat and Chris thought it was the best thing he had eaten since he left the USA. I got fresh roasted chestnuts and purchased some traditional Turkish spices. We really got to see a tremendous amount of the Old Town flavor in a few short hours. It was exactly what we wanted to get out of the city. We took a cab back to our secured hotel in the more conservative area of the city before the sunset.
Chris my travel buddy and I had the same flight itinerary home from Istanbul. Our travel back to the states was long and thankfully uneventful. We were both happy to see some familiar comforts of the USA once in Houston. The longest leg but the shortest leg of the travel home was the 2 hour flight to Houston to Phoenix. I was elated to see my fellas- yet in such a tremendous culture shock along with some pretty brutal jetlag. I got home safely and was in a fuzzy and confused state for a few days. I spoke to few people, said few words, went on a couple hikes and kept myself in a protective bubble to preserve the feelings I had. I wanted to feel it myself before sharing it.
I took my time getting back to life. I didn’t want it to wash off and go down the drain so quickly like the earth from Kilimanjaro did. I resolve to never allow this experience and all its teachings to wash off- it is permanently etched on my soul as these words have been permanently etched down for all to see. This light will shine through me forever as I promised it would. It is my commitment to always shine it brightly.
THE FINAL WRAP UP:
THE FOOD: MY GUT: STAYING HEALTHY:
There were a million reason why my gut with my history didn’t have any logical business going anywhere near a trip of this magnitude. I had basic 3rd world concerns, altitude concerns, world traveler concerns, concerns about what kind of food was available, you name it it was a concern.
I have been to 3rd world countries many times and have always picked up some kind of funky stomach issue either while there or upon my return- In all fairness I could blame one or two on too much tequila….
This was as true of a test for my current state of health as there could ever be. I am so pleased to say it was an overwhelming victory for both my mental and physical being- and my gut is the center of this universe.
I prepared for many months by training, eating CLEAN Paleo, taking my Omega 3s and probiotics religiously, doing my research to get the right snacks and other helpful items, and finding out what would be available while I was there.
I enlisted the help of Paleo Guru Robb Wolf. He featured my inquiry on a recent podcast. You can listen to what he suggested by clicking here to download the episode where he features my question: Climbing Kilimanjaro With a Sensitive Gut.
Prescriptions, Vaccines, Supplements:
3 months before departing I began to visit my family MD and scheduled a full physical and in depth bloodwork panel. It all looked perfect, including my white blood cell count. I got the white blood cell count as a final test just one week before I left to be sure I didn’t have any minor infections that I was unaware of.
I got Hepatitis A and B vaccines. I decided against taking malaria medication because it is a mild form of antibiotic. Taking an antibiotic is a last resort in my book. I was willing to take the small risk by not taking the medication. I have been so diligently restoring my gut flora the thought of tearing it down ‘just in case’ was a big no for me.
I got prescriptions for Cipro and Flagyl to take in case of an emergency. I got a prescription for Diamoxx to help with the altitude and researched the side effects to be sure there wasn’t anything that would interfere with my gut and digestion. I got a prescription for 3 Ambien’s to help me sleep on the flights. Sleep is just as important if not one of the single most important thing to get. I only used one Ambien on the way there but was glad to have them in case I got in a bad insomia situation.
I took Omega 3’s and Vitamin D every night on and off the mountain. I doubled up my normal probiotic dose and brought along Aloe Vera juice to take a shot of each morning. I brought Curcumin for a natural inflammatory and some aspirin just in case. I never used the Aspirin, Flagyl, Curcumin or Cipro! That is worth a celebration!!!
This is a HUGE one. I used hand sanitizer like a surgeon gloving up every 15 minutes. I used a million wet ones and wiped down everything ALL THE TIME. You have to constantly be on top of what your hands touched and where they are headed after.
Snacks for the mountain and travel:
I had a consultative meeting prior to my trip with Marc Sweet from Sly Fox Nutrition. I have worked with him several times for my bigger events to get all my trail snacks and fuel dialed in. We had some experimental items for this trip as shown in the left photo. All of his performance snacks are gluten free, grain free, dairy free, and only use honey or dates for sweeteners. We needed some extra special creations for this trek.
The Nitty Gritty:
- The sport drink concentrates were lifesavers! They are sea salt, lemon, lime, and honey. I used a half of a concentrate each day in one of my liters of water. I squirted it directly into my Nalgene bottle. This had my daily electrolytes, honey for energy, and a great flavor with the lemon and lime. I would use these over my normal go to of coconut water anytime I am on a longer event. They were lightweight, small, and perfectly measured per liter of water. BRAVO!!!
- The brownies were gone before I landed in Istanbul. It is what it is. I couldn’t help myself.
- The bars he sells on a regular basis were perfect for the times we stopped and had a 20 minute break to grab a snack. Those are also easy to transport and full of good real food for performance. I generally ate those in the afternoon after lunch.
- The big tube of goo (dates, cocoa, honey and sea salt) was spectacular and I kept it in my side pouch of my pack for easy access. This was great during longer segments when I needed an immediate boost of energy but we were not taking a break. I used almost all the goo.
- The cinnamon bars were perfect for the first snack of the day. I called it brunch. It was generally an hour into the trail and was a tasty snack that fueled me until we stopped for lunch.
- The nut butters with the banana chips were great until we hit camp 3. Up above 13,500 they started to get too cold to use. By the time we were at 16,000 feet they were almost frozen. I had enough snacks so this wasn’t detrimental- it just gave me some delicious and well preserved snacks for my travels home!
WHAT I WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY:
Overall they worked incredibly well- almost perfectly!! I wouldn’t change anything other than deciding when I ate what bars. I found out the night before we summited eating chocolate above 15,000 feet for some reason causes nausea in most people. Of course I only had the cocoa berry bar left as I was saving it because it’s my favorite for summit day. That and the goo that has cocoa in it were off limits.
Anything that you would think about freezing will at that altitude. Hence my nut butter issue. Next time I would eat them in the first few days so they wouldn’t freeze and save the bars for the higher camps- but eat the chocolate ASAP!
This was the rest of what I brought along. I have spent many Saturdays scouring the Farmers Market’s and Whole Foods to find all these items.
The Nitty Gritty:
- The grassfed beef crisps were gone by day 2. I needed at least 12 bags of those. They are insanely delicious.
- I never opened the tuna. I didn’t bring it on the mountain. It was heavy and when I was packing my final mountain bag I felt like I had enough snacks. I should have put at least 2 cans in my bag. I could have totally used them.
- The digestive delight tea was a LIFESAVER. This is a mixture of all the herbs that aid in digestion and help an upset stomach. I had at least 6 cups of this tea during tea time on the mountain and every night during travel. It helped keep me regular even through the jetlag and time zone craziness. I used the whole bag. The tea they had was caffeinated and I am very sensitive to caffeine so having tea at night it was so great to have my own herbal option.
- The small local honey bears were also great. They are small enough to take on the plane and worked perfectly for my tea. I used them all.
- The coconut oil packs were nice to have too- I do coconut oil pulling and it helps with sensitivity on my gums and to clear my sinuses. I was debating how and if to take some with me, these packs made that decision easy.
WHAT I WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY:
Everything was used in both photos by the end of the trip except the tuna, shame on me for not bringing the tuna on the mountain!
The Food in Africa and on the Mountain:
The abundance of locally grown chicken, beef, goat, fruit and vegetables was a real treat. I felt the same way when I visited Nicaragua last summer.
The water is always an issue and you must drink filtered or bottled- even to brush your teeth. The diligence here is 100% compliance. We are not able to process their water as Americans- even in the smallest droplet.
We support the cause here in the USA to stop with the genetically modified foods and start supporting organic local farms. In Africa this is a way of life for them. Every village had at least 10 stands with local produce, free range chickens, free range goats, and beef. Want to know where your food comes from? It is visible all around- eating the grass in every field along the way.
The middle left photo is the trade market. We would see farmers bringing their chickens, walking their goats, and hauling their crops to market for trade.
They don’t use hormones or modify their crops so I felt if I absolutely had to eat some potato, corn or rice I wouldn’t be in too much trouble.
Robb Wolf talks about that during the podcast episode about the climb. In reality it is probably one of the best places to get organic food!
The Nitty Gritty:
- On the mountain and at the hotels much of what we ate was very similar to what I eat normally. Watermelon, pineapple, mangoes, avocado, eggs, vegetables, meat, soups, and of course they served lots of rice, pasta, potato and corn. I stayed away from the grains and potatoes and they were very accommodating of my requests.
- The chef heard on night one that I didn’t eat the soup because it had dairy. I said I was totally fine and would be ok without it. He insisted and from that night forward there were 2 soups, one was dairy free.
- I had no issue with digestion outside of the sausage debacle and never had an upset stomach or appetite issues the entire time. I will say I did not get enough to eat- not even close. It was impossible. We were burning thousands of calories each day. Just breathing at altitude increases your caloric burn.
WHAT I WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY:
I will bring the dang tuna and am thinking I may need a big jar of some kind of lard. I am not kidding. I needed some good fats- bigtime. It would have helped me tremendously to have the fats like duck oil, or just plain old lard. It isn’t about flavor for me in these scenario’s, it is about fuel. I will be looking into some alternatives to get this kind of fat for my longer treks.
Left Side Photos:
I used the Liquid Image Ego Action Camera for this trip. I purchased the camera at the pro price and was gifted the body harness and waterproof mount from Liquid Image to try out on this trip.
The Nitty Gritty:
- The camera requires an application download for your phone to see what you are filming or taking photos of. You can take photos without that however you don’t know what you are looking at.
- It is very easy to use and the colors that signify the settings are also very easy to decipher.
- The body mount worked well but considering how many times I had to change clothes in any given day it was a bit difficult to know what layer to put the mount over.
- From my chest at 5’7″ and some change when I was filming it would cut off others heads. A head mount would be better but we don’t wear helmets for this climb.
- To keep the camera, and my phone charged on this kind of trek is a challenge- even with a charger like the Guide 10 that I used. The phone staying charged was my priority and it would certainly quickly drain my phone battery when I would connect the two.
- They phone and camera were very easy to connect via the WiFi setting.
- I had the camera fully charged when I left and it stayed charged until day 5 while taking photos and about 45 minutes worth of videos.
- The photos were fish eye and since I didn’t want to drain my phone battery I would guess when I took a shot. The videos came out way better than the photos.
- I am interested to see what else I can do with this camera. I was happy I had it but it was not a must have. It was great for those climbs where I could not hold my phone to record what we were traversing.
- I would love to practice more with this camera and will use it for Havasupai Falls to jump into some pools.
WHAT I WOULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY:
I didn’t have a tremendous amount of time to practice with this camera. We had a snafu with the shipping so it got to me last minute. I would rely on it for video- but not for photos.
Right Side Photos:
I did quite a bit of research for this item. I purchased the Goal Zero Guide 10 plus at REI for $110.00. I was debating on even getting a solar charger. I needed it by day 2. There are several smaller versions but I you never know what kind of sun you will get so I picked this one for that reason.
The Nitty Gritty:
- It was lightweight and durable
- It was very easy to mount it with all the loops around the solar panels to just about anything. I would use gear ties to tie it to my pack and it would charge while I hiked.
- It charged the battery pack quickly- generally in 2 hours. The battery pack would charge my iPod and iPhone from almost dead to full within an hour.
- It was easy to use and has a pocket built in to store all the accessories.
- It has every option for charging. Directly, USB, and the battery pack even has a light built in.
WHAT I WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY:
Nothing. This was an excellent addition to my gear.
I have a sponsorship from the lovely company that hosts a little thing called #HikerChat. One of my favorite companies in the outdoor industry Teton Sports gifted me the Ultralight Tracker +5 mummy sleeping bag, the ComfortLite Sleeping Pad and the ComfortLite Pillow to test out for this trip. I was the first person to ever use this sleeping bag and also have tested it at the highest altitude it has been so far at 16,000 feet.
I purchased the Mummy silk Liner for the sleeping bag.
The Nitty Gritty:
- The UltraLite Tracker +5 sleeping bag is ultralight. It weighs in at 4.1lbs.
- PolarLite insulation is the synthetic material used and is ultralight but also very warm. I never had an issue with warmth while in my bag and liner.
- It shapes to body lines and has a vaulted foot–box with body mapping to keep feet toasty, even in freezing weather. I am 5’7″ and sleep on my side. The bag was a little long if I were to lay on my back but considering I don’t I loved that I could pull it up so my feet would be toasty in the foot-box but had extra bag to put between my knees. I always have to have something between my knees so they don’t touch. If the bag were any smaller I would not be able to do this. It was close to zero degrees at our high camp of 16,000 feet. I had plenty of room in the bag to put my summit clothes in there and it kept me snug as a bug in a rug.
- The duel zippers made it very easy to get in and out of the bag for those moments of sheer panic when I had to get out of it quickly.
- The ComfortLite sleeping pad is self inflatable and has insulating core foam- way better than a standard foam mat because you also get the inflatable benefit to keep off the cold ground and for extra comfort. It was super easy to pack up day after day.
- The ComfortLite Pillow also has the same technology as the pad with the core foam and only weighs 12oz. It is self inflatable and I used this not only on the mountain but on all 48 hours of my flights. It was easy to mold it into whatever space you had and allow it to inflate itself until it fit perfectly.
- The Silk Cocoon Mummy Liner was also a great addition. It was a bit like a Chinese finger trap if you can remember from Part Two because I am a side sleeper and I roll around. I still needed it and was happy I had it. You would never think that something so thin would help but it was necessary!
WHAT I WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY:
This is another scenario where I really was set up for success. My sleeping conditions were excellent and while in my bag I was quite toasty. The moment I got out of that bag I would immediately remember where I was and how incredibly cold it was.
The majority of what I brought I used. I wore everything I brought at least 3 times. There were a few items that I used everyday that I didn’t think I would use at all. I was totally freezing on summit day even though I was wearing the warmest clothes I own. Compression sacks are magic… that is all I will say about them.
The Nitty Gritty:
- Merino Wool is seriously the best material ever for performance, temperature regulation warm and cool, moisture wicking and odor control. Smartwool, Darn Tough and Ibex were the brands I used. All my socks were wool. I had 2 wool shirts, a short sleeve light micron and a long sleeve medium micron. I wore the long sleeve medium micron everyday. Every night. I wore it more than anything else I brought. It is my favorite material ever made for all my outdoor activities.
- I hate wearing pants. I will avoid if at all possible. I only brought 2 pairs, one traditional pair of zip off hiking pants/shorts and one insulated waterproof and windproof pair of Nils for summit day. If I didn’t wear pants I wore shorts with long socks.
- Gaiters are my new favorite hiking pal. Gaiters were new additions to my line up. The gaiters were great because not only did the keep rain, sand, rocks and debris out of my shoes but they provided warmth. I wore them everyday.
- I used the Microspikes on the final day when we had 7,000 feet to descend out of the rainforest. It was muddy, slippery and wet – I didn’t have a single moment of slipping or sliding the entire descent. My knees were happy too!
- I used the crocks at the end of the climb when I took my hiking shoes off and donated them. I was glad to have them but never used them on the mountain unless it was to go out of my tent in the middle of the night. They were very lightweight and easy to bring.
- Two pairs of gloves were necessary. The lighter gloves I wore almost daily. My hands got burned badly the one day I didn’t wear them. They were lightweight enough that even if it was slightly warm they were still comfortable. I used the heavy down gloves only on summit day.
- I brought an older pair of hiking boots for the muddy rainforest section and a newer pair for the higher camps. This way if one got trashed I had another pair. I donated a pair of them after the climb.
- I wore my Goretex raincoat everyday. That was another item that was worn to death.
WHAT I WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY:
I would have brought 2 more wool shirts and some wool baselayer pants. I would have left all the other base layers at home. I would get a different jacket for summit day. Mine is my huge down filled snowboarding jacket and it was way too big to haul. You cut corners where you think you can to save some cash- next time I would purchase the smaller jackets with the newer technology that NorthFace and Patagonia make to save room. That thing was too big to try and fit in my pack after I shed on the way down from the summit. Everything else was great.
Day pack items and mountain bag:
Left side is what I traditionally carried in my day pack along with the different clothes I needed for the day. Right side is my mountain bag, Seal Line wet bag and my day pack with everything in it.
The Nitty Gritty:
- The Seal Line wet bag was awesome after about day 3. It was brand new when I got it so didn’t have much give. I pulled a back muscle trying to get everything in it! It was rugged, easy to carry myself, durable and completely waterproof.
- The Osprey day pack was a little small but worked great. I could have used a size bigger but it was fine without it.
- The Gear Tie’s were so great to have. Very useful for many scenario’s including tying my solar charger to my pack.
- Nalgene bottles worked perfectly. Do NOT use a bladder for your pack, they are too hard to clean and fill.
- Footwarmers- I didn’t use them.
- I carried all my medications and sunscreen/bug sprays with me in my day pack.
- Headlamp was used every night when the sun went down and on summit day.
- I got the case for my iPod at target, I attached a carabiner to it and it would clip anywhere I wanted it to. Music was a lifesaver to have and worth bringing the solar charger to keep it going.
- The Action Wipes were great and smelled so good with the eucalyptus and tea tree oils. They were large wipes that replaced my showers and didn’t contain parabins and other harsh chemicals. They said 1-2 a day, I used 3-4.
- The trekking poles…. I borrowed a pair of Black Diamond’s from a friend and they worked great as far as I know since this was my first time ever using them. I used them everyday during rest stepping and ascending. I rarely used them when descending. I was glad to have them to keep up a rhythm, use them as props, and really they break up the monotony. They are a good moral and body booster for really long days of multiple hikes.
WHAT I WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY:
Bring more wipes. Like 3 times more than I brought. I never wrote in journals on the mountain, it was too cold or I was too tired, I hauled them around every day and never used them.
SOME FINAL LITTLE HELPFUL TIPS THAT I LEARNED:
Nothing on this list kept me from making the summit or sacrificed my health. They would have just made me suffer a little less in some situations. They are things I would remember no matter what on my next big mountain.
- Bring more wipes than you could possibly imagine needing
- Nature is always the best place to do your bathroom business. Even if you have to dig a hole. Most of the people who used the portable toilets did so because they had to- they were experiencing a sickness. You would have to sterilize the toilet every time you used it so you don’t risk catching a bug. NATURE…
- Don’t wear much more than a shirt and underwear in your sleeping bag. You will get too warm and sweat then shiver. Shivering is not a good use of your energy.
- Put your socks, gloves, phone, batteries and water bottles in your sleeping bag with you. I made the mistake of leaving my bottled water in my pack on summit night and they had icicles in them. They were too cold for me to drink because I was already too cold. My body could not warm up. I also put all my clothes for summit day in my sleeping bag with me.
- Keep the socks and gloves you plan to wear the next day in your sleeping bag. It will keep them warm and your feet too.
- Ziplock bags, lots of them. As a woman I had all kind of devices to consider. A large ziplock bag worked perfectly. You DON’T want to get out of your tent at night to use the bathroom. I used the bags for many things along the way!
- My hair was a difficult one to manage. The air is so dry and you must put it in braids to keep it from getting dreadlocked. I used coconut oil everyday on my braids to keep my hair protected and tangle free. That all worked well but I would sweat during the day and my hair would be wet. At night it would never dry so I had wet hair the whole time. That made me extremely cold. There wasn’t time during the hikes to mess with it so I just had to live with it, either risk my hair breaking off or freeze to death. Vanity won but the coconut oil helped tremendously. I would take it out of the braids in the morning and slowly brush it out, put oil on it, then braid it. It stayed in pretty good shape that way.
- Get a hand sanitizer that clips or connects to belt loops or your pack. I wore it everyday and clipped it to my front belt loop for easy access.
- Stretch, in the morning right after you get out of you sleeping bag while in your tent when you are still warm and try to resist the urge to nap after your day of hiking and stretch instead when you are still warm.
- Bring a type of neck gaiter, turtle neck fleece or something similar to cover your mouth and keep all the dust out when descending on summit day. It is a MUST.
- I wore regular sunglasses, would have absolutely benefited from goggles on summit day to keep the moon dust and scree out of my eyes.
If there is anything more that you would like to know, if I didn’t cover a question you have please feel free to leave a comment and I will do my best to answer your question.
I thank each and every one of you for your support, love, encouragement, positivity, and interest. I share this with you all- and I can’t wait for the next adventure.
Happy trails, good health, peace in your hearts and much love to you.
– Jes the CCC