I remember the first time I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro like it was yesterday. It was hard, so SO hard. I felt that the emotional baggage I brought with me on the mountain far outweighed the daypack I was carrying on my back. I didn’t belong there. I had never climbed a mountain before in my life, never finished any hiking trail I set out to do. What the hell was I thinking??
So I should have been proud of myself for reaching Stella Point, just 300 feet below the summit. And I was proud, for a while. I felt confident that my body took me as far as it could go, even if it wasn’t to Uhuru Peak. I told myself, “I’m good, now get me off this fucking mountain”. I never wanted to see it again.
But as the months went by those last 300 feet of the mountain gnawed at me. I felt like I had unfinished business on Kilimanjaro. I contemplated going back but I knew I couldn’t do the Machame Route again, at least not in the same way that WHOA Travel and other trekking companies do. I either needed more time on the mountain or a different route.
Furthermore I didn’t want this trip to be a solo hike or even a traditional group hike. I wanted to surround myself with other women like me, fat girls. Fat girls who loved being outdoors but who always hated being the last hiker in a group every.single.time. I wanted to spend a week on the mountain with plus-size women who would need to start an exercise plan well in advance like I would. Who would understand in a way that no one else could how hard it is, both physically and emotionally, to carry yourself up a mountain.
The wheels in my mind were churning. I suddenly wanted to do this with every fiber of my being. I sent out some posts in my plus-size travel communities just to see if anyone would be interested in joining me. The response was overwhelming. I had my answer. I called up WHOA and we started brainstorming on how to make this work.
In March 2019 I will be returning to Mount Kilimanjaro with a group of plus-size women to tackle the mountain via the Rongai Route. The plans are still in the works but we are going to be summiting on March 8, International Women’s Day. The hope is that our group meets the Machame group at the summit for one epic WHOA dance party.
I am SO incredibly excited for this opportunity to not only climb Kilimanjaro again but to inspire other curvy girls like me to go too. It’s going to be a week of body positive hiking in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Here’s to second chances. Here’s to….
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