I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro!

In January I booked a trip of a lifetime to Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. One of the guys I hiked the Inca trail with, Jim had it on his bucket list and he contacted me at a weak moment and I signed on. We were both happy with our Inca trail experience, so we booked this trip through G Adventures.

Jim and I met in Dubai and had a 20 hour layover. We hit a few of the main sights, the mall, aquarium, Jumeirah Mosque and the Burj Khalifa.

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After our quick tour of Dubai it was off to Tanzania. We arrived at the Stella Maris lodge late, and met our group of climbers the next morning at breakfast. We had a group of 8, Jim and I and 6 single women travelers. We headed to the park and after lunch began our hike. We were hiking the Marangu route, which is the shortest route to the top. This would be the easiest day of hiking.

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We hiked about 4 miles to the Mandara Huts. The huts were basic but clean and I preferred them to tents. Hiking day 2 was about 6.5 miles and still pretty flat. We were at 12205 elevation at the Horombo huts. The food on the mountain was basic and could have used some spices.

Hiking to Kibo huts got harder mostly due to the altitude. It was about 5.5 miles and 3000 feet of elevation gain. We ate and slept for a few hours before being woke at 11 pm for the midnight hike to the summit. It was cold, about 30 degrees. We were hiking on the volcanic sand for a while then snow. We made it to Gillman Point, 18652 ft in about 5.5 hours and saw an amazing sunrise on the way.

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From Gillman’s Point we continued up to the top of Africa ,Uhura Peak, 19229 ft. This was very hard the snow was icy, the wind was howling and it was still cold. But the sun was shining and we were on a mission. We made it to the top in about another 2 hours.

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After spending 10 minutes at the top and having a shot of Hennessy we heading down the mountain.  It was very icy we had to be very careful and use our poles. We made it back to Kibo huts about 12 hours after we started. We had lunch and a nap then had to get up and head down to Horombo Huts. This sucked. We were all exhausted and felt like we did not have a chance to enjoy what we just accomplished. We arrived at the huts about 6 pm. I got water and ate a few bites of a bar and went to sleep. Sleep was more needed than food.

The last day we hike thru the Mandara huts to the park gate and drove back to the lodge. The people at the lodge were friendly, helpful and wanted you to feel like you were home. Our group had dinner together and relived our climb before some of us had to head back to reality.

This was the hardest thing I have ever done. The cold, altitude, wind and distance was daunting at times, but I would not have had it any other way. If it was easy it would not mean as much.

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Big Sur Marathon Race Report

On Sunday, April 29th I ran the Big Sur Marathon. It was a bucket list race for me. You have to qualify or get in through the lottery. The race starts at Big Sur National Park and ends in Carmel. I stayed in Monterey and was bused to the start at 4 am. This is a medium size race with about 4500 runners. There is also a 21 miler and relay.

The bus ride was about 75 minutes and I sat with another runner from North Carolina. We chatted the whole way. The start was a bit crowded but had plenty of porta potties. They also had tables with bananas, bagels, water, coffee and hot chocolate. I started in wave 2 at about 6:50. The first few miles were great and down hill. After that the uphill starts. This course is HARD. There is no flat, you are either going up or down. I trained for the hills, but what I did not expect was the brutal headwind for 26 miles and the cambered road. But it was the most beautiful course I have run, with amazing views of the ocean. The water stops were every 2/3 miles apart so I carried a handheld, which I had never done before, but was glad to have water with me.

The volunteers were fantastic! From the expo to the finish line they were helpful, friendly and enthusiast.

I was very happy to finish. At the finish you were given a box that had apple juice, apple, chips, gummy bears. There were also tables with strawberries, cookies, chips.

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This is a one and done for me. The course is tough. My quads were angry for a few days.

 

Next up climbing Kilimanjaro! Anyone have any tips or advise?

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Machu Picchu!

The morning of our final day of hiking, heading to Machu Picchu, we got our wake up call at 3:30. Yes, it’s the middle of the night. We had coffee and a small breakfast before heading to the line. The national park does not open until 5:30, all 200 hikers were waiting for the park to open.

We had about an hour hike to the Sun Gate, which is your first look at Machu Picchu. Right before the Sun Gate there are 50 very steep stairs called the Gringo Killer. At the top it was majestic! We were lucky to have a near perfect view.

 

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We had about a 45 minute hike down to Machu Picchu. We then toured the Inca grounds. The scale is amazing and these pictures do not show how big it is.

 

After our tour we headed to Aguas Calientes for lunch, then a train and van back to Cusco.

This was an amazing trip. I highly recommend it to anyone in decent shape. The hike is no joke. Anyone interested in Kilimanjaro in June?

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Hiking the Inca Trail!!!!!

It was finally hiking day and it was raining. I think we were all prepared for some rain on the trail, so why not get it over with. We left our hotel for a 45 minute drive to km 82, the start of the Inca Trail. After going thru the check point we were off.

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This was the easiest day of hiking. The rain stopped about mid morning and we had our first taste of the amazing food we would have on the trail. The views were breathtaking!

I spent my first night ever in a tent. It was okay. I should have had a few swigs of beer before bed. I’m not a camper, this was so far out of my comfort zone. I knew the no cell coverage, no shower, no real toilet, no bed, would be tough, but I wanted this experience more than those comforts. And I have NO regrets about being a stinky mess for 4 days!

The second day was the hardest hiking. We would go over 2 mountain passes to a high of 13,769 feet elevation at Dead Women’s Pass. I have never been that high. This was a very hard day. I would put it on par with running a marathon. Rob, Jordan, Jim and Jonathan went ahead of the group to the summit. When I could hear them I tried to pick up the pace but it was not happening. There was no air up there. Even when I could see them it was 5 steps then stop. I finally made it to the top and was super happy.

The rest of the way to camp was all down. We were walking on large stones for most of the trail, which is harder than hiking on dirt. At camp it was nap time then another great dinner. I’m not sure which meal these are from, most of my food pics were too dark.

On the third hiking day we had a lot of ground to cover and 2 more mountain passes between 12,100 and 13,100 feet elevation. I did not notice the lack of air as much on this day of hiking. It was long put the views were amazing along the way.

Tomorrow we hike to Machu Picchu!!!!

 

 

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Lima, Cusco and Ollantaytambo

Last month I hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This has been on my bucket list since I saw Matt Lauer ( yes, creep now) there in 2001. I found a cheap flight to Lima and booked the trip about a month before leaving.

We, I went with a friend, Laine, landed in Lima at midnight and went straight to the hotel in Miraflores. The next day we explored Lima and then had a meeting with G Adventures, the tour group we booked for this trip. We meet most of the group we would be spent the week with and had a great dinner with Jim from NYC, and Jordan and Jane from the UK.

The next morning we met in the lobby at 6 am for a van to the airport. Our flight was delayed hours. By the time we arrived in Cusco we all needed food. The Plaza De Armas is beautiful! Cusco is at 11,000 feet of elevation and I was short of breath walking up the hills in the city.

After eating we went to the G Adventures office for a meeting about what to expect the next few days and to rent our sleeping bag, mats and poles. The porters are allowed to carry 6 kilos or our personal items. The sleeping bag and mat are about 2.5 kilos. We were given a duffel bag for our stuff. I had to down size much of what I thought I could bring. We would be leaving all our luggage in Cusco and not returning there until after the hike. This was a day longer than I had anticipated. You need 5 days of trail clothes, not 4.

The next morning we drove by van to The Inca Sacred Valley. We spent the drive getting to know each other. The valley is breath-taking.

We also stopped at a women’s weaving community that is supported by G Adventures. I purchased a beautiful scarf here.

We then traveled to the Inca Pisac ruins. These ruins were amazing.

We stopped for lunch at another G Adventure supported restaurant and the food was excellent.

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We then made our way to Ollantaytambo, where we would spent our last night in a bed. Sorry for the long post. Tomorrow we start the TRAIL!

 

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Hong Kong, Siem Reap, Chiang Mai

A few weeks ago I went to three amazing places. We started in Hong Kong. The weather was perfect sunny and about 80. Hong Kong is a big city and we had a few must sees in 2 days. We took a ferry, whet to the Museum of Natural History, which had a great toy exhibit. And the highlight was the Big Buddha.

 

Next stop was Siem Reap, Cambodia. We headed here to see the largest complex of temples in the world, Angkor Wat. This place was beautiful. Cambodia was hot! 95/100 with 100% humidity. We had some great food here in small local restaurants.

Last stop was Chiang Mai, Thailand. We saw many beautiful temples here.

But the highlight was the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. This was one of the top ten days of my life. We got to feed, bathe and play with ELEPHANTS! They were not smelly and were gentle and fun.

 

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My trip to Japan!

I had an amazing week in Japan. Here are my highlights including the food.

I saw Mount Fuji! My first day I took a bus tour to Hakone and Mount Fuji. It was in the 40’s and clear blue sky. Mount Fuji was amazing. I made a promise to myself that I will be back to climb it one day.

On day two I went back to my favorite temple, Senso-Ji. It was early morning and it was pretty empty.

I also went to Meiji Shrine. The tori gates at this shrine are huge.

I had some amazing food. I went by yelp and if there was a line outside the restaurant I got in line.

On Saturday I went to a onsen, which is a Japanese hot springs bath house. This experience will get it own post, but it was very relaxing. It helped that I did not know anyone,  nor will I see these people again.

Tokyo, you did not disappoint! This was a top ten week for me. Can’t wait to go back and climb Fuji-san.

 

 

 

 

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