I’ve had a few different ideas about how to train for Kilimanjaro. There’s the running, which I could do by running laps around the reservoir, or there’s the running I could do by running around the reservoir with a 20-30lb pack to my back, or there’s the running I can do on a hike, where the risk of turning an ankle or missing a step and tumbling over a ravine into a ditch seems more likely. These are all activities which would probably increase my fitness by a few degrees and perhaps make me that much more fetching to the ladies–not a bad trade off.
But no, that isn’t exactly the training I’m thinking about right now. I’m thinking more about the mental training. The Kilimanjaro trip is 9 days. 6-7 days up and two days down. The final summit push begins at midnight and ends at around sunset the next day. That’s a long time hiking. It’s also a long time hiking at elevations around 19,000 feet, where there’s probably going to be wind and snow and glaciers and periodic times where I have a lot of trouble breathing. Just saying.
Initially this Monday I wanted to hike Mt. Baldy. A few things held me back. For one I had plans at around 7:00 o’clock and it seemed a bad idea to try and fit in a 10 hour hike before that time. There’s a lot of variables and knowing me I’d probably fuck up somehow and end up not being able to make the 7:00 o’clock plans. Secondly, Sunday was the next episode of Game of Thrones which effectively ended my plan on going to bed at a reasonable hour after I was off work. So I scrapped the Baldy plans and figured I could do one of the other hikes in the Angeles Forest high country. I settled on Mt. Islip, which runs by Little Jimmy Campground which I’m fairly certain is the campground I visited as a boyscout back in 4th Grade. A little nostalgia never hurt.
It rained yesterday and when I woke up this morning it was raining again. Perfect, I thought, a chance for some real training. To hike in the cold and the rain. So I drove up into the Angeles eager and ready to hike in a little rain. The weather was good. Not too cold, not too rainy, just the perfect level of clouds running in over the mountain tops. But that ended shortly.
Somewhere after I hit 6,000 feet the weather changed. The good weather became windy. The rain became snow. I stepped out of my car and the wind blew my wool beanie clean off my head. My attempts to put on a rain fly ended with the rain fly flying into the air and me chasing after it before it headed over the ridge. Within five minutes my pants were soaked and a chill ran through me. Training? No. Not today. I headed back, satisfied at least that my new waterproof boots remained dry as a bone.
© 2013 Christopher Dart