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Kili: 3,000-3,840 meters

I have never been woken up so softly as on this mountain. “Good morning ladies” we would hear accompanied by the light scratching of our tents. “Good morning ladies, time to wake up”. When they heard the classic grumble of “I’m up.. good morning” they would ask “how did you sleep? Like baby elephants?” your heart would melt and you would say yes and actually get up. We had to pack up all of our things each morning, get all ready, and leave our water to be filled before breakfast which would sharply end. My tent mate and I would be the last in the food tent almost every morning. It was more difficult than I remember to pack up a tent and do all those things in a short time span.

The environment we would wander through is called the heath. It was almost whimsical as trees were dripping with pretty moss and dew, the shrubs had a hearty character and gorgeous flowers. It even is home to the “Dr. Seuss Tree” – a puffball top and all. Everywhere you looked was intriguing! You were either gazing over the canopy of the rain forest, up at the peak, or around at the ever less-familiar landscape around you.

I would not say this was a particularly difficult day. I had to accept the pace and was starting to get used to it, I would chat a little throughout the day with various women, porters and guides but I would remain, mostly, to myself. This would be the theme of my behavior on the mountain – listening to those around me, observing my surroundings, chatting when I had something to say and thinking. I was among women I could look up to and learn from so I was more than happy to listen and gain knowledge in that way. What is more, I enjoy nature and hiking in part because it helps me balance myself. At the time I had a lot going on in my life and it kept my mind very busy as we trekked. By the end however I did not feel as though I solved my problems – but a lot of growth happened as a result, which is always a good thing. I managed to figure all that stuff out in time and in that time also came to understand myself in interesting and previously unknown ways, so cheers to that!

On this night, the porters and guides had a very special dance party as we celebrated a birthday within the group. Laughing, dancing, clapping and singing filled the night, it was a genuine coming together of people in joy and I was moved. As were partying we were treated to a gorgeous sunset – the mountains turned purple, the sky steadily growing darker blue and as the sun dipped behind Mount Meru it cast a streak of orange across the sky. What an evening.

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