How does someone make the long, strenuous climb up Kilimanjaro? It takes plenty of training and stamina of course but it also helps to have a cause near and dear to your heart.
Jim Anderson not only climbed the highest mountain in Africa, he convinced family and friends to contribute towards the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to help with his $15,000 goal for research which they did in his father Jim Anderson's name. Starting out at 7,000 feet elevation on July 17, 2017, there were 10 hikers, until one female hiker became ill by the fourth day and the others carried out their plans with the guides and porters.
"It is wonderful to be home," Anderson said about his trip.
"The African people are so kind and willing to help out. They are super nice, have no attitudes and were wonderful," he stated.
The only thing Anderson jokingly said he had to lift were his legs although he admitted he did carry 18-20 lbs per day, most of that drinking water to stay hydrated.
They hiked six to seven hours a day and when they reached camp everything was already set up for them.
The porters carried the tents, mess hall, two bathrooms and set everything up for camp and would bring the hikers warm water and soap to wash up every day because the conditions were very dusty besides being as low as 30 to 35 degrees in the morning. Later on, the temperature would average around 55 but it was plenty warm for those making the treacherous hike up to Kilimanjaro.
"Each morning before leaving we would throw our bags outside the tent and the porters would put them in big duffle bags. They would pass us by on the trail like we were standing still so that they could get the bathrooms set up and mess hall for eating. Once they were set up our porters would walk backwards to meet up with us and carry our backpacks," he stated although he didn't let them carry his bag, figuring they had done enough for him.
Three female porters cooked three hot meals a day and Anderson said the food was very good.
"They woke us up with coffee, tea or hot chocolate. It was so cold out there. Come evening, after hiking all day we were at our next camp for dinner. It didn't seem like there was a lot of down time," he explained.
The menu consisted of fried chicken, pasta, baked potato, dessert and fruit. Anderson described the fruit which was displayed in a scalloped edge watermelon, something you wouldn't expect to see on such a trip. They even carved characters out of the fruit.
The group was given every kind of soup possible along with delicious salads.
The porters carry propane tanks to cook and they make just $15 a day. Some have climbed the mountain more than 300 times.
Anderson was lucky not to experience altitude sickness but he did take Diomox. He did say he was huffing and puffing because of the lack of air. The last night they reached 15,000 feet.
They only spent 30 minutes at the top enjoying the most spectacular view before heading back down the mountain.
It was so cold they wore four layers of clothing top and bottom and Anderson said he had gloves on along with a neck scarf and a beanie with a jacket hood and headlamp to see where he was going.
This sounded scary as it was so dark and they didn't know when they would be coming up on holes along the way.
"We saw little lights that we thought were stars but it was the group of hikers that left before us," he said.
There were times they had to jump and didn't know what was in front of them. The guides would grab their hand and guide them.
"That was tough," he said while admitting the trip down was equally as scary as going up.
"We spent seven days getting there and enjoyed the showers after eight days without one," he said.
It took a day and a half to get down the mountain to the summit on the last day.
They did some rock climbing to come down faster.
The group enjoyed the cool rain forest even though it was slippery and took pictures of their accomplishment when they came down and took a bus ride to a gift shop area where they had lunch .
Any time you saw one of the porters they were always happy to help, ask if they needed anything.
One of he biggest thrills for Anderson was the fact that his porter blew up his air mattress for him each night.
The importance of drinking lots of water was not lost on Anderson as it helped for oxygen.
To look at the stars was amazing and especially the Milky Way!
Anderson said he enjoyed a five day safari much more where he was able to ride in a jeep instead of hike over a treacherous mountain.