Saturday we departed bright and early at 7:30am for Mt. Kilimanjaro. Our bus was a little late but nonetheless we were all still pretty excited to go. After a two and a half hour bus ride there, we had to all check in before we started our climb. It was raining pretty hard which made for a very wet day of climbing but we did all make it up half way to the crater and back down. It took us about an hour and a half to climb half way up to our first stop. We were all pretty wet and cold by the time we got to this stop but after a ten minute rest we continued up to our lunch break stop which was at Mandara. It took us 3 hours to get to Mandara and we were relieved to get there and sit down. The last half of the climb was almost all up hill and the terrain was extremely rocky and muddy. After resting, getting a snack and staying out of the rain for a bit a group of us continued up about fifteen minutes to see the crater. It was a faster climb to the crater but very slick from all the rain. We took some pictures and saw the crater which was not what I expected it to be. It was just a crater filled with lots of grasses, trees and small bushes.
After taking in all the sights of the crater 75000 feet up, we started our trek back down the mountain. Going down the mountain was a completely different experience than going up. Our guide told us it is better to run down the mountain so you don’t fall, so we listened. We all started running down the mountain which was hilarious because there is not really a path. It is all rocks and mud that outline a path that is supposed to exist. Also, there are lots of trees, bumps and twist and turns that make it really easy to fall down (which a few of us did). However, it took us a little under two and a half hours to get down the mountain and we were all in much better spirits going down as well. The hills and climb up the mountain made for a quite hike, but on the way down there was laughter, jokes, talking and even singing.
Finally after five hours and twenty seven minutes later we could officially say we climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and were happy to be done! It was a day that I will never forget because of all the mental, emotional and physical battles I endured over the whole climb. As great as it is to say now that we did it. It was an uphill battle the whole way. Personally, being sick, the cold and rainy weather made it quite miserable. It was tough to keep pushing myself through all the physical sickness I was experiencing but this was a once in a lifetime experience that I could not turn away from. Coming down the mountain was a little better as it did not require as much physical effort, making it a more enjoyable experience. However, after we were done I was physically drained and my sickness only got worse. I will say that I am glad that it is over and under different circumstances physically and weather wise, the climbing experience may have been different but I am glad I can say I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.