When I decided to launch this personal initiative in my mother’s memory, the goal – to climb Kilimanjaro – seemed as distant as Kilimanjaro itself. However, that distance is rapidly shrinking and I am reminded each time I look at the calendar. When I started planning for Kili, my trusty iPhone indicated that the adventure was over 300 days away. Loads of time!!! Now as I begin to schedule a time to visit the Tanzania High Commission in Ottawa to obtain my visitor’s VISA and set a date for yellow fever and other vaccinations, I realize time is indeed marching on quickly. Yikes. Fortunately, I had the good insight to get started with a personal trainer almost a year ago. I have been working diligently on my physical conditioning and nutrition — thanks to “Team Gilks” in Nanaimo. I am healthier now than I have been in many years and starting to see – or at least feel – those long-forgotten muscles. It has taken consistent effort in the face of different time zones, different gym layouts, food limitations while traveling east, west and north for work and graduate studies. At the same time, having this overriding goal with Kili literally looming in the distance, I’ve managed to keep on track. This tale would not be complete, though, without mentioning the tremendous support from home – endless thanks to Jim, Sakku and Atii – my “base camp” team — who have carried this vision with me.
So, six months from now, one of the hardest parts of this journey will be to leave those who mean the very most to me on Christmas Day – a day meant for celebrating and sharing with family, not leaving. This was not the original plan but logistics have prevailed and it is what it is. As I look ahead to the physical and mental challenges that lay ahead, I know that the departure from the Vancouver airport on December 25th will be the very first – and the hardest – step of all in this journey.