Fat Girls Go on Adventures Too
For the past 3 months I’ve been contemplating a solo adventure. With my 35th birthday coming up next year I’ve had this fierce desire to accomplish something great, to scale a mountain or run a marathon or just do something that required strength, perseverance and no small amount of courage. Something that I had to do all on my own, without the help of anyone.
Looking back on my life I’ve realized that all my major accomplishments couldn’t be accredited to me alone. I never graduated college, walking across a stage to receive a diploma as my family cheered me on. My marriage is a partnership in the same way that parenting Stink is. Heck, I didn’t even give birth to her, someone else did all the hard work for me! I think that’s why I’ve held onto this adventure idea for the past few months. This is an opportunity for me to do something I can be proud of, to finally overcome my weight issue and prove to myself that I have the dedication to get fit again and actually finish something without giving up when the going gets tough.
In March I announced that I would be running the Disney half-marathon with my sister. Recently those plans have fallen through. Life happens and I’m not too disappointed because running was never really my thing. Besides, I had always wanted to do something so much bigger than jogging for a few hours in a theme park. I tried to talk my sister into joining me on this much bigger adventure but was unsuccessful and the half-marathon was the only thing we could agree on. Now that I’m flying solo I’ve decided to reach for my dream, come hell or high water.
You see, ever since March I’ve been seriously considering climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. It’s the highest peak in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. Many of those who climbed the mountain said that success has less to do with physical endurance and more to do with mental perseverance. “Mind over matter” they all say. A 6 or 7-day hike would give me the greatest chance of summiting but even then only about 70% of hikers reach the top.
And that’s where my courage fails me. For some reason I can’t help but think that I would be one of those hikers in the 30%. To train for months and travel such a long way only to never summit the mountain. I know me, my resolve is weak and I give up too easily. In 2008 I hiked with Brandon up Machu Picchu mountain only to turn around 1/3 of the way up. Brandon continued on and later told me that the mountain gets much more difficult towards the top but I still very much regret not scaling that mountain with him.
Which brings to me another option: the Inca Trail in Peru. This is an option I’ve only begun to consider within the past week so I don’t have as much information about this trip as I do with the other. Compared to Mount Kilimanjaro this trek is shorter (43 km vs. 62 km) and only takes 4 days. Hiking the Inca Trail would mean returning to Cusco and Machu Picchu, two destinations I would love to visit again, but it would also mean not seeing anything new and I love new destinations. So I’ve decided to create a pro’s & con’s list to compare these two very different adventures.
|Inca Trail Pro’s||Mount Kilimanjaro Pro’s|
|Cheapest option (~$600 vs. $2,000)||More challenging, higher sense of accomplishment if I succeed|
|Allows me to go when I want, could get to Machu Picchu on Dad’s birthday||Chance to go with an all-women’s group (but that’s a $3K cost vs. $2K average cost)|
|Higher chance of successfully completing||Chance to go to a new destination and continent|
|Chance to see Machu Picchu again (and climb that f’ing mountain)||Chance to go on a 2-3 day safari afterward|
|Less language barrier as I know some Spanish||Can choose between 6 routes which may increase chance of success|
|Shortest journey (4 days vs. 6/7 days)|
I’ve highlighted the most important pro and con of each adventure. Overall it looks like the Inca Trail is the clear winner when it comes to pro’s, though Mount Kilimanjaro does have its draw with the higher sense of accomplishment. Just the thought of reaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro has brought me to tears. While I’m sure I would find a great sense of accomplishment by finishing the Inca Trail I just don’t know if it would compare to summiting a mountain. Now let’s look at the con’s.
|Inca Trail Con’s||Mount Kilimanjaro Con’s|
|It leads to a destination I’ve already seen||70% chance of success|
|Wouldn’t be traveling with an all-women group||Much tougher climb, I would need to practice hiking in boots|
|No opportunities to see anything I haven’t already seen in Peru (except the Inca trail)||All-women’s group travels outside Brandon’s spring break; we would have to consider the cost of daycare|
|March is the rainy season and is the month I would like to travel||Cost of equipment is much higher (good clothing, etc)|
|Bathrooms on the trail are gross; must bring own TP!||Big fear of heights, climbing along exposed trail (could apply to Inca trail too)|
|All-women’s group is much larger than most groups (up to 30 hikers)|
|Fear of altitude sickness|
Hiking Kili is obviously more risky. I have a real fear of actually dying on that mountain, not so much with the Inca Trail. But I also don’t want to be miserable hiking the Inca Trail in a torrential downpour either. But perhaps that can be part of the challenge of that journey. June is another possible month but not ideal. If we plan to move to Germany in August then we’ll be busy that summer getting ready and packing up our belongings. March is still the better option as it allows me to travel during Brandon’s spring break and we won’t have a need to put Stink in full-time daycare during my absence.
Some of the pro’s and con’s on Mount Kilimanjaro have to do with the all-women tour I’ve been researching and it’s not set in stone whether I would choose them or not. They seem to be one of the most expensive tour groups I’ve researched so choosing the Inca Trail over budget or scheduling alone shouldn’t be considered. I want to weight ALL of the factors involved.
This is a big decision for me and one that I hope to make over the next 4-6 weeks. I’ve already begun training at the gym by focusing on the stair climber to build leg muscle and the elliptical trainer to increase my lung capacity and endurance. My diet is going great but unfortunately I haven’t seen the scale budge at all this week. Perhaps my muscle and fat are just balancing out and I’ll see some results in the next few weeks.
If anyone has any experience with hiking the Inca Trail or climbing Kilimanjaro I would love your feedback and suggestions!