One Does Not Simply CLIMB Kilimanjaro!!!

Last updated on April 17th, 2021 at 02:27 am

It had all started so optimistically.

We settled our bill at Imani, which included a free ride to the Zanzibar airport (which was amazing after all the taxi-related debacles). After getting through customs (where the customs officer gave me quite the strange look when she saw my tripod—I think she thought it was something else), we’d take a 20-minute flight, where we’d reunite with Trevor and Sakshi!!!

It’s funny how you can be so happy to see someone one day and so bewildered with them another—but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Another couple of hours in our 12-seater bush plane and we were picked up by our driver (and new best friend), Muba from Maasai Wanderings, who would take us to Ahadi Lodge in Arusha to rest and prepare for what could very well have been the most challenging week of our lives.

My mission, should I choose to accept it (and my friends didn’t give me much choice in the matter, here), was the following:


Hike: 8.2 km
5-6 hours

“We depart after breakfast for the transfer to the National Park Gate at Machame where we fulfil [sic] the registration formalities before entering the Park. We make our way through the heavily rooted forest area parallel to a flowing stream. We eat lunch along the way and by mid-afternoon we are able to recognise our first camp.”


Sounds simple enough, but from the first day of climbing, we realised that reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro would be far more of a challenge that we’d thought. Between Sarah and I, anyway, she’d idealised what kind of adventure it’d be, realised how much of a life-changing experience it’d be, but not factoring in how hard it would be to do it. Me on the other hand—I chose not to think about it very much beforehand—bad move since the Kili climb is as much mental as it is physical, if not more so.

But I digress—let me tell you about the madness that was 7 Days of Kili!!!

So like I said, the first day would already set the tone for a week that none of us would ever forget.

After the belated arrival of our guide on the first day (both ironic and an omen, since he gave us flack for being “late” the night before—when in fact, our flight time had been given to him incorrectly), we packed our gear into Muba’s Toyota Land Cruiser and started the 2-hour drive to the mountain!

But not before stopping at the Shop-Rite supermarket! Did you know that they don’t sell dental floss in Tanzania?! Seriously, it’s the little things you miss the most. But moving on…

Some of the sights we’d see on the way there included:

The Clock Tower—in the Central Business district of Arusha, they call this “the centre of Africa” as it’s allegedly halfway between Cape Town, South Africa and Egypt

The Arushan International Conference Centre—where they were holding tribunals for criminal involved in 1994’s Rwandan Genocide

Tanzanite Mines—where we learned about Tanzanite, the stone said to be a thousand times rarer than diamonds (back in 1967, you could find Tanzanite 6 or 7 feet into the ground, but now they’re searching 400-600m deep and coming up with squat) and accordingly ridiculously expensive

The sightseeing tour would be brief, though—through the clouds and on the horizon loomed the beast that we (read: I) were sure was out to destroy us—Mt. Kilimanjaro!

Theoretically, we should have been more than prepared to deal with this:

  • for our group of 4, we were given a team of 17 to get us up, including guides, a chef, waiters, a tent-master, and an army of porters to carry everything (our bags, our tents, the food, everyone else’s crap, and so on)
  • our guide, Julius, was made out to be a legendary figure:
    • one tale had him carrying a woman (who’d given up) on his back up the last leg of the climb to make sure that she saw the summit
    • in 17 years, he’d climbed the mountain over 500 times
  • we’d brought all the right gear, got in shape and were young and positive enough to get this done!

This video should help to give you an idea of our initial attitude toward the mountain:

Kili had plans for us, though—plans indeed.

We would enter Machame Gate at 1800m, and while we waited for Julius to get our registration complete, men descended upon us to rent us gear (of which Trevor and Sakshi wisely partook for that which they lacked); we were provided with nicely gift-wrapped lunch boxes for the day (more on that later); we would watch as Muba drove off into the distance, marking that as the point of no return; and 45 minutes later, we were on our way!

Here’s what we looked like right then:

And on we would go. The first temperate zone of Kili is farmland (800m-1800m). Not much of a climb, so they skip you forward right to the second zone: rainforest (1800m-2800m)! With majestic trees and rugged paths, it made for quite the hike!

But as long as we took it pole pole (remember, Swahili for “slowly, slowly”), we could do it!


Rainforests also bring something else—TORRENTIAL TROPICAL RAIN! We should’ve known we were in for trouble when our guides started suiting up in rain jackets, waterproof pants and gaiters for their boots and we only had our raincoats with us, but it was a lesson that wouldn’t soon be forgotten after TWO HOURS OF RAIN and pants that were SOAKED THROUGH. (I, for one, also learned that Canadian passports AREN’T WATERPROOF.)

So LESSON #1: Carry ALL of your rain gear with you! Not just your rain coat—your bottom half will thank you.

After this, we were obviously miserable, and still had far to go. Trevor—who I was none too impressed with at this point, as I unfairly blamed the entire idea of the trip on his adventurous self—decided to look at the situation optimistically with a dose of “Trevor Zen”:

Trevor: I look at it with Trevor Zen.

Casey: Whaddya mean?

T: Well, each step we take is one that we’ll never need to take again!

C: …Trevor Zen sucks.

But he was right—if we kept moving forward, we’d eventually get thee. This is something we’d need to constantly remind ourselves over and over with each passing day!

Plus, part of my misery was my own damn fault—I hadn’t thought to unpack the unnecessary junk out of my day pack before climbing, so I walked 6 hours like I was carrying my bag to work in Toronto, including:

  • my iPad
  • the Joby Gorillapod Ballhead X tripod I’d brought
  • our entire supply of snacks
  • two camera lenses

on top of the stuff I was going to need:

  • my digital SLR camera (yes, with a third lens)
  • 3 litres of water
  • raincoat

So, LESSON #2: Only carry what you need! This applies from the morning before you drive out to the afternoon when you get back—make sure your bag is light and filled with things you’ll actually use while constantly on the move. (And trust me, you won’t need snacks!)

Climb time: 12:35 pm—6:15 pm (5h 40m)

We’d eventually make it to Machame camp, where we would strip the wet stuff off, rest our weary bodies, and dine on a voluminous dinner! (Note: between the amounts of food for every meal plus the lunch boxes they have you carry per day, there is no way humanly possible to finish all of the food they give you, ergo snacks are useless. Don’t pack too many!) We felt terrible that first night as we didn’t want to be wasteful, but our stomachs weren’t big enough to handle it all! This feeling, too, would eventually wane….

With one day down and six to go, we’d already learned a few lessons, and surely we could make the next day better than the first—right?

Next time in the Tanzania Chronicles—it’s called “uphill” for a reason!

The second logo for Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad

The Dilemma of Daily Dedication

Last updated on April 4th, 2021 at 06:09 pm

Sticking to something daily is a huge challenge. Some people try to hit the gym every day. Sometimes it’s making sure to make time for a significant other. My daily thing—obviously—is blogging. I can’t lie, it takes up a lot of my time. I’ll often think that I’ve wrapped up for the night, only to remember that I have a blog post to get up for the next day. It’s those moments that I groan, I gripe, but I write. It’s important to me that I keep up with the daily posts—it’s the first time where I’ve made a public commitment and have been pretty good at sticking to it, so I can’t be my source of sabotage at this point; things need to get done.

How about you? Is there something that you want to do every day, but you feel that something’s holding you back? Do you try to schedule things into your life but often get sidetracked?

It’s mind over matter, and your mind is more powerful than you think. The first step is convincing yourself that you have the ability to achieve whatever it is that you’re seeking out of life, and then just go for it. My list isn’t getting any shorter, and I’m not getting any younger, but I’m still hustling hard, day after day since I’ve yet to give up on the dreams that’re floating in my head.

Syrious Business | Advice from a Syrian Coworker

Last updated on April 4th, 2021 at 12:24 pm

I had a Syrian coworker once who was quite the comedian! In the eight months of planning my wedding, he was rife with hilarious advice and wisdom to keep me going.

But what I would soon realize is that not only were these pieces of advice for how to run a successful wedding—they could be applied to just about ANY social gathering you come across! Here’s a couple of the gems of Syrious (yes, I went there) advice he’s sent my way:

T is for Temptation

Last updated on April 5th, 2021 at 01:55 am

“Don’t mess with Mr. T
Don’t mess with Mr. T
T (he’ll get ya)
T (he’ll get ya)
T (he’ll get ya)
T (temptation…)”

— Big Sean, “Mr. T”

If I were to write a list of the things in life that can be a pain in the ass, temptation would be way up there on the list. All too often, our ids take us down paths we probably shouldn’t be taking, mostly due to the Mr. T mentioned above. Whether it’s a minor temptation (e.g. “Just one more piece”, “It can wait ’til tomorrow” or “Just let me sleep another 10 minutes”) or a major one (e.g. “S/he never has to find out”, “Just this once” or “What harm could it do?”), they’re always there, just waiting to wrench us from our paths. I’m not even talking about this from a religious standpoint (though, admittedly, it’d be way easier to do so since there’s a standard set of rules one must abide by, more or less)—even if you don’t believe in a creator, there are temptations you’ll come across in life that you might take and REALLY come to regret later.

You’ve seen some themes repeat themselves in my posts a few times since the beginning of the year—this is because I think that they’re important and just good, solid advice that can help YOU through the challenges you’re SURE to face in life.

Let me focus on a few of these principles now so we can discuss how you can better manage temptations when they come your way:

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Be Da Bomb

Last updated on March 30th, 2021 at 11:52 pm

Worrying is so 2010. It’s human to worry—we did it pretty well from 2007-2010, with the recession heralded by the subprime mortgage crisis and all. The news says that we show signs of recovery, and yet we worry. Centuries ago, the Mayans developed a calendar that predicted the end of the world (as we know it) in 2012. We’ve had Nostradamus make several predictions, many of which we’ve interpreted to the true, which seems to add weight to this argument. Add the Christian Second Coming, the Norse idea of Ragnarok, Armageddon, etc.., and you get an event that may or may not happen anytime soon, and for the most part, is outside of our control. And yet we worry.

Worrying is a fruitless endeavour. I tell this to Sarah all the time. Then she hits me. (Kidding.) But seriously, what does worrying gain you?

  • grey hairs
  • wrinkles
  • deteriorated health

Yeah, oh man—I really want to worry now.

But to be concerned; to be proactive; to plan—none of these are bad things. Feel free to prepare for things that may happen so that you’re not caught unaware. But when things start to usurp your thoughts and cause you to stress—it’s time to rework your mental processes. The future you worry about is like trying to get a date with a supermodel—you can think about it all you want, but it doesn’t mean it’s actually going to happen. Worrying is like an earworm that makes it way deep into your conscious, shifting your thoughts away from anything productive.

So I say don’t worry. Worrying will only hold you back. The more you worry, the less you get anywhere. Spend that time thinking on happier thoughts—things you’d like to be; places you’d like to go; your dreams; your aspirations. The worries—take care of what you can, and leave the rest to time, patience, and hard work. You’ll get where you need to be if it’s important to you!

Worrying has been a waste of time since the beginning of it. The Bible can tell you all about it:

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” — Matthew 6:24, Holy Bible, NIV Edition

Or perhaps if that’s not your cup of tea, how about a word from Mad Magazine?

“What, me worry?” — Alfred E. Neuman, Mad Magazine

So when those thoughts creep up on you out of the dark and you feel overwhelmed? When your world is crumbling around you? When your mind feels like it’s going to break apart?

You know what? Don’t worry about it.

The second logo for Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad


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