My guide told us 50% of the hike is conquered in the mind and 50% is effort.You will meet people along the way, those who made it and those who didnt, some super excited, others down in the dump. Mentally prepare what you want your outcome to be and stick to that as much as possible. Along the way you will question your resolve(Mine was between Jamaica and Gilmans point), questions of why am I doing this, why am I suffering, why do I even like to hike, do I even like to hike? Keep focused, you have to see your mission to the end.
Positive positive positive attitude.Whatever happens, keep this intact.For me, not getting to the peak was not an option-NOT EVEN A THOUGHT. I continuously made jokes with the team that I didnt care how I got to the peak-as long as I did. UHURU Peak 5895M, the highest point in Africa and the worlds highest free standing Mountain would have to be conquered. I was willing to crawl or be dragged up if my body was to give way. Thereafter,once I succeeded and then my body got exhausted, they could even push me down the Mountain like a tyre or get me the ambulance, but UP, I had to get there by hook or by crook by myself. And yes, it took me 9hrs from Kibo Hut to Uhuru Peak where most people take 6 hours, but hey, it wasnt a race and mission was compeleted.
I know most of us hate medication.The others just avoid it at all costs.Well, that was my previous mantra-I only take medication when I am really sick. However, when I hiked Mount Kenya https://wangechigitahi.wordpress.com/2014/04/12/kenya-hiking-mount-kenya/ , I got altitude sickness and trust me, you wouldn’t wish this even on your worst enemy. Your head feels like there is wrestling match going on, you feel nauseous but you won’t throw up, your muscles feel like they have been running non-stop for a marathon, exhaustion, disillusionment among others. Drinking water helps but not totally.You just feel YUCK and it almsot mademe almost not compelete my climb like part of the team. I thus told myself I would not hike without medication but somehow our local chemists seemed to lack altitude sickness medication.haha I think they may actually not have understood what I meant. I was given various medication for nausea, diarrhoea and headaches. Once in Tanzania, my guide got me Diamox (yes ,there is medication specifically to prevent altitude sickness) and lets just say,I saw people suffer while I was A OK.Make sure you get some before the hike.
CUT YOUR NAILS:
I know you must be wondering, is this the best you can do? Trust me, it may sound mundane but is very important-I learnt the hard way. I hit my big toe foot on a stone as we descended from Kibo hutand had to suffer the after effects for over three months. I had on my hiking boots and my socks but still my nail bed got injured, it swelled, it bled and eventually the nail came off.This hampered my descent(good thing I had already summited). For three months I spoke to my toe, urging it to grow and assuring it that I would never hike without cutting my nails-both hands and feet.
I know, they always say this but somehow we never listen but I insist, travel light. I know the porters will carry your luggage, so no stress on your end but be humane. Only carry what you need. Yes,no need to carry an extra pair of pants in case you wake up and feel like blue is better than pink.No need to carry an extra pair of boots so that they will match the top you will wear. No need to carry several sun hats, one is enough. Trust me as you head home and you have to carry your own luggage to the the car, you will remember me. It also doesn’t help that you realize you didnt even wear half of them, yet you will have to launder all of them..Ok in Kenya ,we hand wash most of our stuff,laundry and washing machines aint for everyone.
ASK FOR HELP
ASKING FOR HELP IS NOT A SIGN OF WEAKNESS BUT A SIGN OF STRENGTH. Listen to your body, be motherly with it and seek help if need be.While descending to Horombo after the summit and I had my toe escapade(as above), I had a whole new walking style. My muscles ached, my foot hurt, my face was frozen from being snowed on but I had an award winning smile. At Horombo I told my team that there was no way I would hike to the gate,my body was bust, mission was compelete-the rest were details.I thus took a ride in the security/medical vehicle for the descent. This facility is free so please if your body asks for it, just accept.
Enjoy the whole experience, the highs, the lows, the joys, the stories and the silent moments. Make friends with as many people as you can.Your tales will be different, your backgrounds different but your goal will be the same.You never know, these people may eventually be your hosts later in life or your lifelong friends.