Training for Mt. Kilimanjaro

Los Angeles, hiking, waterfalls, Angeles Crest

May 7, 2013 • Africa, Camps and Hikes, Latest • Views: 882

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.

Big trees at Switzer

Big trees at Switzer

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

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