The September evening when I decided after a glass of wine (or few) to sign up to climb Kilimanjaro seems ages ago. So much has happened since then, and now I find myself in the position of being 1 week away from the biggest challenge of my life.
I had planned to blog my way through my training, and keep everyone up to date with how it was going. However life, training, and fundraising just got in the way, and before I knew it I was almost ready to set off! So I have just tired to summarise my journey so far, and what a whirlwind journey it has been!
If you had told me a year ago that I would be spending four nights a week in the gym and actually enjoying it I would have laughed at you, and then poured a glass of wine! But it is the truth. Gone is the girl that used to be the thorn in the side of PE teachers for coming up with any excuse to avoid exercise. Instead she has morphed into someone who lifts weights, takes on the cardio machines with a vengeance, and can do more than 5 sit ups with moaning. Of course there have been problems along the way, with me who would expect anything else? Things that spring to mind are falling off the treadmill, and dropping some weights on the foot of a scarily strong looking man. But I seem to have gotten the hang of it now, and even spent 6 hours on a treadmill raising money.
I have been getting into hiking, even purchasing some hiking boots on a trip to the Lake District a year ago. I like the rugged landscapes, exploring new areas, and the peacefulness. However as Kilimanjaro is a very (very, very, very) big mountain I thought I should get some more practice in. I have some lovely friends who took me under their wing, and I think have made it their mission to get me to the summit!So over the last few months I have been spending my weekends not sat inside with the heating on full and my book, but out walking with big hills in all weathers. And shall I tell you a secret? I’ve loved it.
Old Laura: “I love shoes, and sparkly clothes! I’m going to spend all my money on pretty things from Oasis, River Island and Office. Hello high heels!”
New Laura: “Look, a Mountain Warehouse! Lets go in, and I can spend hours looking at hiking trousers, socks that will support my feet, and debate the level of thickness of the fleeces!”
So there has been a big difference in my shopping habits recently! I’m getting a bit worried about my new found addiction to Mountain Warehouse, Trespass and Cotswold Outdoors. I now own not one, but two pairs of hiking trousers (FYI, they have so many pockets – so handy!), a thick sleeping bag, multiple t-shirts and base layers, and hiking poles. As Kilimanjaro has such varied weather you need to buy clothes for all eventualities. That means t-shirts and shorts for the bottom where it is hot, raincoats and waterproof trousers for the rain forest, and lots of warm clothes for the summit, where temperatures can drop to -20. I have made it my mission to get clothes in all sorts of colours, so I resemble a rainbow. This way I will be easy to spot should I need to be airlifted to safety!
A well stocked first aid kit is very important for me. I am a very accident prone person. And accident prone people and big mountains = the need for all eventualities to be covered. That said I think the lady on the till in Tesco was slightly worried when I emptied half the medical aisle on the conveyor belt. I could almost see the confusion on her face as she tried to work out why someone would need imodium, paracetamol, ibuprofen, bandages, deep heat and deep freeze, antiseptic cream, sore throat sweets, and plasters. While scanning my stuff she almost seemed to be trying not to breathe incase she caught the terrible disease I had. That, or she thought I was a complete hypochondriac, who sneezes once and thinks they are dying.
The same crazy look returned when I went back to Tesco the next day, to the same cashier, and filled the conveyor belt with Haribo and chocolate. During the Balloon Fiesta last year, when lack of sleep set in, I cracked open the Haribo. I ate so much of the stuff that I should have been sponsored by them! So my plan for Kilimanjaro is that when the going gets tough, the Haribo will get me there! And hey, if I take a photo of me with a bag at the summit, maybe I can get some freebies from them?! That’s if they last until the top. I’m just not going to think about the sugar comedown…….
I have been really overwhelmed by all the support I have received. From friends and family, to friends I haven’t seen for a while and complete strangers, people have been so generous. Thank you all so much for the donations.
And finally…….the reason why I am doing all this. Great Western Air Ambulance Charity saves lives. The crew attend serious incidents where people’s lives are at risk. They can give blood transfusions at the side of the road, can do amputations, treat cardiac arrests, and administer specialist drugs. The simple fact is that people are alive today because of the team. But this is all funded by donations. I live in the area covered by GWAAC, and it is a huge comfort to me that if something should happen to my friends or family then they will stand a much better chance of survival because of the GWAAC critical care team. I want to raise as much money as I can to help keep them flying!
So that’s it, and it is now 1 week to go! I will keep a diary during the trek, and share the experience with you when I return. Wish me luck!
Oh, and if anyone wants to sponsor me then you can do so here: https://kilimanjaro2017.everydayhero.com/uk/laura
Thank you! xx