Lessons from Kilimanjaro Hike
1. Be Grateful
It is rare opportunity to go on such a trip with great friends. We flew from US, Europe & Asia to meet in Africa. I am keenly aware of the Impermanence of Life. This might be the last time.
I chose to be grateful.
Grateful to have the ability & opportunity to travel the world.
Grateful to have wonderful friends.
Grateful that everyone is safe.
Grateful to be alive.
2. Enjoy the Journey
The journey to the summit is a few days, but the time spent at the summit is less than 1 hour.
Past experience has proven to me that I might not reach the summit (ie. the goal).
It would be foolish not to enjoy the journey.
On the 5th day of the trek, I was on the roof of Africa, looking its great plain.
It was surreal. It was beautiful.
I told myself "even if I do not make it to the summit, this view has made all the time/money/effort worthwhile."
3. Do your best and be at peace
There are certain things in life that are within my control (ie. my fitness level)
But there are certain things beyond me (ie. Susceptibility to Acute Mountain Sickness).
Ivan was suffering badly from AMS on day 4 and was contemplating of evacuation plan.
Fortunately, he recovered and managed to summit Kilimanjaro in good shape.
I knew that Ivan had trained well and put in a lot of effort for this trip.
Even if he did not make it to the summit, his regret would be reduced by the fact that he was pulled down by factors not within his control.
Practice empathy, as you do not know what are the challenges that person is facing.
Everyone has their own challenges to overcome.
Everyone is fighting their own battles.
When Jon was struggling with AMS and was moving very slowly, I remembered my marathon experience with Jon a few years ago. I was down with flu the week prior to the marathon, I was on medication that morning, I hit my physical limit (ie. despite going to washroom, I could hardly control my bladder in the last 5km, urine would leak out whenever I tried to run). My finishing time was a disappointment. After the race, Jon remarked that I did not push myself hard enough physically. I was upset with that remarks.
This time when Jon was struggling, I told myself to empathize. To remember the time I felt weak and helpless.
5. Support each other
Interdependence of Life.
We are all dependent on each other and need to support each other.
I don't think I could do this trek alone.
I need the support of my friends and the porters.
Overcoming challenges together is definitely more satisfying than doing it alone.
On the last stretch to the summit, I was in good shape physically (no AMS) and I am confident of reaching the summit, but some of my friends were struggling. As I knew my friends were well taken care by the guides and I was excited to reach the summit, I decided to went ahead alone.
On the hindsight, I would slow down and wait for them, and give support in any small ways.
This would complete the trip.