Kilimanjaro 2013: First Hike

Sam at the top of Indian Trail

I’ve camped and hiked most of my life, and 21 years in the Army as a reservist always reminds me of the best methods for not being miserable while hiking (and the Army being the Army, how to be miserable while doing it as well) and the need for being in shape if you’re going to be walking up and down roads and hills. I’ve also tried to bring up my kids to be as active as possible, and my three sons are pretty fit and used to the deal as well. This time, however, we’re striking out on new territory.

Mt. Kilimanjaro is the tallest hikable mountain in the world, with an altitude of over 19,000 feet; 19,330, according to the 2008 Precise Height Measurement Expedition. This is about 5,000 feet higher than the next highest mountain I’ve hiked, Pike’s Peak in Colorado. As I’ve read on the subject, acclimatization to the altitude seems to be the biggest worry, but the trip guides make sure you take your time as you gain altitude, so I’ll leave that to them with the following two exceptions. First, it’s still a long hike, even if we’re taking six days to do about 30 miles, and second, I have a feeling it’s going to be cold up there. Once again, in the wisdom of my advancing age, I hate being miserable if I can avoid it, so practice in hiking, layering, drinking, eating, sleeping and doing all of these in the amounts prescribed to make this enjoyable (or at least not too uncomfortable), are important. Sam and I did a 20 mile hike along the Jordan River last summer in 7 or 8 hours, and that cured us of wanting to do that again from then until now. Sooo, time to get going again.

pyle dietcokeWe chose as our first hike the Indian Trail starting in Ogden and winding for about 4.3 miles into Ogden Canyon. It’s perfect for some ramping up hike training, a bunch of up and down, dirt trail, loose rock in other places, lots of variation for getting going. We wanted about a 5 mile hike, and since we took a wrong turn off the trail for about 20 minutes… got it! I knew something wasn’t right when we were rock climbing at a highly steep angle, especially as I was having trouble hanging on to my Diet Coke from McDonald’s and maintaining three points of contact. This didn’t seem like, and definitely turned out not to be a normal Park Service trail. So if you’re doing this trail from the Ogden side, and around the two mile mark you come upon what looks like a junction in the trail with lower, middle and ascending branches, don’t be fooled by the middle branch. It’s wrong. 10 steps to the left will also show you that there really is no lower branch, so the upper branch it is! As soon as you have run a couple of switchbacks, you’ll know you’re on the right path. So we made it with no problems, training underway. Sam meantime, is taking a nap. Next week we’re thinking Lewis Peak from the North Ogden Divide, about a 10 mile hike.

Editor's Note: Wayne has graciously offered to share his experiences and adventures as he and his son get ready to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. If you have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro please share any comments or suggestions that might be of help. ~ Jeremiah Breeze