Gratitude, Leadership, Morning Motivators, Motivation, Success, Travel
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How pole pole got me to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro

Many people ask where the adventure bug came from. Maybe it started with trudging through the back bush with my dad when I was younger or climbing a 9.5K foot mountain in Grade 6 in Glacier National Park Montana (Blackfoot Mountain) on a school trip. That one actually sucked pretty bad as I got short of breath and suffered all the way down…but the view was awesome. Nothing a doctor pepper couldn’t cure on the bus ride back to camp. 

It was really cultivated in 2009 when I joined a climbing company and hiked up Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa. Definitely the hardest adventure I had taken on up to that time. 

One of the things the guide tells you in preparation was to move slowly. “Pole, pole”. Swahili for “slowly, slowly.”

As you rise up the mountain the amount of oxygen decreases until near 19,500 feet when it’s let’s than 50 percent!

The whole trip was 65 miles and hiking on average 10-12 hours per day. The higher you get the less oxygen gets into your blood, heart rate goes up and the body slows down.

You feel like you are moving quite slow and in fact you are, and you burn through a ton of energy and fluids. My heart rate was 145 beats per minute from 16K feet to 19K feet moving very slowly over 6 hours!

On the third day I caught a bug from the water or fruit even though we purified it. Catching a fever and having fluids run through you all day in 90 F heat was terrible. 

“Pole, pole” for me turned into just focusing left foot, right foot, one step at a time.  I literally remember saying left foot, right foot…for hours!  It was mind numbing and I was green all day long. With some Cipro (strong drugs) I started to recover over the next 24 hours. 

I definitely gained some resilience and I would need that experience on the summit push three days later. 

Stretching my capabilities far beyond where I had ever been before grew the muscle fiber of new gears that I would leverage in the future. 

The journey was the reward and it’s still paying off. 

I reminisce about this trip as a couple days later I was off on Safari for another amazing adventure. My wife and I are leaving today for South Africa and I can’t wait to have another lifetime experience.


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