I am heading to the airport in ONE HOUR! Why am I climbing Kilimanjaro one of the Seven Summits? Jack asked me that and it’s taken me awhile to answer. Here goes .. a big part of it is that next year in 2024 I turn Sixty! I’m planning some trips and I couldn’t figure out how to make this work in 2024. …so I’m going in July 2023.
Why go? The reality is growing older is a miracle for me. My dad died at 5o. Mom died in her 60s and the world that I came out in as a young gay man has none of the people left, they’ve all died. Two partners, one that I spent seven years with that were my best friends – all left this earth far too soon. So, I’m hiking for me to celebrate life and perhaps more than that I’m hiking for all the people that I’ve loved and are no longer here.
To be clear, I don’t fear death and I don’t obsess about dying young, I think and hope I will have a long active meaningful life .. but I do understand that life’s fleeting and can end in the blink of an eye.
Kilimanjaro at 19,350 feet is one of the world’s greatest natural wonders: a snow-covered mountain on the equator, an ocean of green forest surrounded by dry savannah. Climbing Kilimanjaro is like walking from the equator to the North Pole in a week, providing dramatic changes in vegetation and animal life day by day. It’s one of the Seven Summits (the 4th highest) and the only one besides perhaps Mt Elbrus and Aconcagua I think I can do. Kilimanjaro is also a sky island. Its high altitudes have created habitat for strange and unique life forms found only on a few other peaks on the planet, such as the delicate elephant flower and the bizarre Kilimanjaro tree.
For people who have done it, Kilimanjaro inspires transformation. When you climb Kilimanjaro and stand on the roof of Africa, they say you see the world a different way. What seemed impossible in your life might just be doable. The mountain top is a place for vision, inspiration, and a new beginning. As the famous song by Juluka goes: “I’m sittin’ on top of Kilimanjaro, I can see a new tomorrow. I’m sittin’ on top of Kilimanjaro. I cast away all my sorrows.”