Itinerary

Many of my friends are asking loads of questions, like “How long does it take?” “What’s the temperature on Kilimanjaro?”, so as training has come to an end, I thought I would take the opportunity to answer some of the questions being asked.

So we are taking the Lemosho route, which is on the west side. We “enter” the mountain through the Londorosi Gate, which is where I am expecting the excitement to really kick in, as we see the machine that is going to be supporting us, at work. By that, I mean the infrastructure of porters and guides, who work tirelessly, so we can reach our goal. What we have trained for years for, they do every week of the year, carrying our gear, so that we can achieve the dream. The Londorosi gate is at 2,250 metres according to our itinerary pack from 360 expeditions. We can expect the temperature to be around 17 degrees C.

Day 1: Our starting point is the Morum Picnic Site. We don’t expect to be seeing too many other people, as this is still a quieter route than others. The walk starts through lush rain forest, so waterproofs may be on, from day one. We have an ascent of just 100 metres on Day 1, plenty of opportunity to acclimatise and get used to being at over 2500 metres. A short walk between 1-2 hours. We do get the chance to do a walk high, sleep low walk as well.

Day 2: Another gentle introduction to the mountain with an ascent of 400 metres, over half a day.  Once out of the rain forest we are into moorland. The views are apparently spectacular. I am going to be so glad that I have a solar panel to charge my batteries for the camera, as I am expecting to be taking thousands of pictures over the seven days.

Day 3: We break the 4,000 level. We enter the low alpine desert section, which is supposedly surreal. Where we end up at the end of today’s walk will depend largely on the strength and health of the group. This is the second longest day of the trek, the longest by far, being the summit day. At 4,000 we can expect temperatures around 5 degrees C.

Day 4: Conquering the Great Barranco Wall, reported to be one of the great moments of the trek. It involves some scrambling. Here is where the ascents of goatfell will hopefully be good preparation. We then have a series of valleys before reaching camp. 4-5 hours today.

Scrambling Practice

Practice for the Barranco Wall

Day 5: A quiet day, preserving our energy for the BIG PUSH that is known as Summit Day! Only 3-4 hours walking today, and an early night! Hopefully time to take pictures of the beautiful starry night.

Day 6: The big one, this is what is has all been about. We set out at midnight, head torches on, and the light of a full moon (on the 14th) to go “pole, pole” up to the summit. First we reach the summit of Kibo, one of the three volcanoes which go to make up Mount Kilimanjaro. It is here we see the sunrise. Then it’s the final push to Uhuru point and the Roof of Africa! All 5895 metres up!  Today we will be walking somewhere between 12-14 hours, with an ascent of a Munro, but descending two Munros, with a drop of over 2000 metres.

It all sounds so easy, sitting in my lounge, typing this. I am excited and full of trepidation too. I hope that I have done enough to succeed in reaching the summit. My bags are ready to be packed. I am waiting for my hand warmers to arrive, and another batch of nappy liners, to make my own wet-wipes.Come back in the next day or so when I will share my method for making them and my own protein bar.

Blessings

Joy

 

3 Different Walks, Same Summit

Goatfell: 874 metres

This is my third summit of Goatfell, and possibly my last, but then I said that about the first one. It is a challenge, and one that changes each time I do it: See I’m talking myself into doing it again, just to see the change.

A brief history on my Goatfell climbs. Despite what you may be thinking from the title, this was my fourth attempt at goatfell, my third success. The first time was a dismal failure. It was a dreich, miserable day, and about half an hour into the walk I developed cramp, any excuse not to continue in the rain. I turned back. After last weekends walk on the Luss Hills, in torrential downpour, including hail and howling winds, I look back on that initial walk and realise that it was a breeze, but hey ho. Last week I was given the title “Honorary Scot” for all the summer walks I have done in rain, hail and howling winds.

I was so disappointed not to have been succesful in reaching the summit, that I set off 2 weeks later, with a friend, and we reached the summit, where the views were not great. It started to drizzle just as we reached the top. I posted on facebook that I had done it, for a charity, and someone saw it, and challenged me to climb Kilimanjaro for another charity. Now I must tell you dear reader, that after finally reaching the summit of Goatfell, and successfully made it home to a warm bath, a hot dinner, cooked by the hubby, and a G&T, I slept like the proverbial baby……in my own bed!

Kilimanjaro is a full weeks adventure, camping on on the mountainside for 6 nights! Not my idea of fun. But after 6 months of not giving it a single thought, I thought “why not?” It was Christmas/New Year 2017/18 and everybody was setting New Years’ Resolutions, so I set myself one. To reach the summit of Kiliamanjaro in September 2019.

So my next two summits of Goatfell were training for this very feat. The weather was fair yesterday, although rain was forecast. The weather for the whole of August has been abysmal, rain, rain and more rain. August normally holds the promise of heather clad hillsides, but the weather had kept me off the hills where the heather is to be found, until yesterday.

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As we approached the summit, the cloud that had been tiny wisps covering the peak, became thicker until at one point it was probably less than 20 metres visibilty.

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My companion on this ascent was Graham. Graham is 78 years old, and had a stroke 6 years ago. His doctor and family don’t like him walking on his own, and he doesn’t like to feel that he is holding people back, if he walks in a big group. So I offered to take him up some of the bigger walks and climbs that the mutual group does. That’s him in the picture, with his head down, advancing towards the bridge.

August on Goatfell

Heather clad hills of Goatfell

We made good time up, around 3 hours 15 minutes or so. I slowed us down going up, as my toe is still a nuisance. I have learnt how to manage it……I have to keep taking my boot off and doing a McTimoney wiggle on it. That seems to settle it down until the next time I lean on the outer edge of my right foot. My toes doesn’t seem to like that, and I need to reset the toe manually. Graham responded by developing a painful knee on the way down. What a pair we are. Graham hobbled back from the bottom of Goatfell, all the way back to the ferry terminal. We missed the ferry by about 30 seconds, so we retreated to the nearest cafe for a coffee and a snooze. Well we had been up since 5 am in my instance, and 4 am in Graham’s.

There are 2 weeks left! A month ago I was asking myself what I had signed up for? Was I mad? Could I really do it? Now it’s just a fortnight away, and I want it to be here. 10 days of work, a few days for the chance of getting a walk or two in. A fortnight to get the last minute bits and pieces like gloves and sunglasses, oh and a fortnight to perfect the energy bar recipe.

Come back soon for Visa’s Dollars and Packing!

Blessings

Joy

 

Dreicher and Dreicher

Beinn Dubh 725 metres                                          7.25 miles                    4 1/2 hours

August has been a terrible month for poor weather, and I haven’t been out on the hills since my last trip to Luss 3 weekends ago. Yesterday, 4 of us headed for the hills around Luss, and I can only describe the rain as being of Biblical proportions, made all the more miserable by the howling winds that almost blew me over. I will be honest with you, if I had been on my own, I would have returned to the car by retracing my steps after half an hour, however I was with 2 guys who are part of the party who are going up Kilimanjaro, and 1 guy who has already done it.  Walking highlands website describes this walk with a delightful ascent up a grassy ridge rising from Luss with views over Loch Lomond and towards the Arrochar Alps. Photographs are few and far between on this walk.

Rising up from Luss

How Could I have Missed the Black Clouds?

Well I will be honest, for the first hundred metres or so, the views were beginning to look promising, but oh how short lived they were, because the rain started, quite heavy at first, and then it got heavier and heavier, and the wind started to blow, and then the wind picked up, and then it became so strong that I needed my walking poles to steady myself against the wind, and then it became even stronger that I had to lean into it, or else it would have blown me over. I discovered that my backpack had an incorporated whistle in the chest strap when it started to emit a high piercing call from itself.

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Wind in the Jacket

As I write this I am flipping back and forth over to the Walking Highlands site, and the walk sounds delightful, with views of The Cobbler, Ben Lomond and the Arrochar Alps, as well as Doune Hill which I was up 3 weeks ago. I thought that was a miserable walk, but this one surpassed even that. At one point the wind was blowing my hood on my waterproof jacket across half of my face, obscuring the vision out of my left eye, and then my glasses got steamed up on the right. Did I say that I didn’t enjoy this walk? At one point I was thoroughly miserable and questioned myself severely as to what I thought I was doing, even starting to sob at one point. The only thing that kept me going was the thought that my step-daughter had ridden for 2 whole solid days with rain of Biblical proportions across the Mongolian steppe. My walk was going to be about 5 hours, her days were 14 hours long.

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Holly, Soaked to the Skin

I wonder if her visiblity ever got as bad as 20 metres?

I think I will be safe in saying that it is highly unlikely that we will get weather conditions remotely like this up on Kilimanjaro. I truly hope not.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post more than I did researching the hills for it.

Blessings    Joy

This One’s for Sam

Altitude: 974 Metres                                                                             1st Munro

Out of 282 Munros, Ben Lomond is the 181st highest.

On Sun 13th May 2018, my husband and I set out from home to climb up Ben Lomond. We were almost at the base, when he received a phone call to say that his cousin’s daughter had taken her own life, that weekend. We continued on our journey, but neither of us felt like really doing much walking after that. We climbed about 100 metres up, and sat looking out over Loch Lomond, contemplating life, and what makes a 15 year old girl decide, that life is not worth living.

This week I set out again to reach the summit of Ben Lomond, my very first Munro bagged, and dedicate my walk to Sam.

It was a perfect day. So often in Scotland, the clouds comes down low, shrouding the awesome views, with an eerie mist. On Tuesday there was barely a cloud in the sky.

Ben Lomond is the most southerly of the Munros, and is found on the east side of Loch Lomond. Being the closest one to Glasgow, it competes with Ben Nevis as being the most visited. The easier route of the 2, climbs quite steeply from the start. From then on, it challenges very little for the experienced hill walker.  It took me 3 and a half hours to reach the summit at 974 metres.I took the yellow wrap I had brought with me, out of my backpack and placed it round my shoulders before having some pictures taken by 2 walkers who had reached the summit a few steps ahead of me. I told them the reason for the wrap, and found that tears were leaking out the corner of my eyes. Bless you Sam, wherever you are.DSC_0624

Along the way I met a couple from New Zealand who were walking with their 9 month old son, in a back-pack. We criss-crossed along the way, them going on ahead at times, only to stop to and tend to baby’s needs, and so I would overtake them again. We met up at the summit, after lunch, when they were ready to go begin their descent. I took a couple of pictures for them, as a family, and then asked them which way they were going. The Ptarmigan Ridge was the answer. Right-O! if they can do it with a baby strapped to their back, then I can do it with my 58 year old body!

The views were fantastic. I took nearly as long to get down as I did to get up, as the views were stunning, and I just soaked them up with my eyes, allowing the noisy walkers to overtake me, so I could enjoy them in peace.

Fly High Sam xx

Watching the Clouds Go By

Beinn Eich 703 metres and Doune Hill 734 metres, Luss Hills

 

I have to be honest, today’s walk was one of the most miserable experiences I have ever had on the hills. It was wet and dreich. When the weather forecast says there is a 80% chance of rain, then the chances are, it will rain. Today the rain was warm, which was an advantage, and there was no wind to speak of. It gave rise to an eerie, atmospheric feeling, the air charged with spookiness. To add to the tension, I was walking with an animal which is one-twelfth wolf.

As walk’s go, it is probably a good one, in nicer weather, the views would have been amazing, but when walking highlands tells you thee is a boggy section and a rough path, you should read that as a river, because that is what the path had become after all the rain. We stoppped trying to avoid the puddles, as basically there weren’t any, just a constant flow of water on the last stretch of the path. My husband’s comment when I got home “You boots are nice and clean!”

This walk was completed as part of my training for Kilimanjaro. WordPress has told me it is 42 days away! If you have enjoyed reading my posts, please consider sponsoring me. I am raising money for a local holiday home for children and families with a family member with a life threatening illness, called Whiteleys Retreat.

Star Wars Day Walk

Queensberry; Lowther Hills                                              697 metres

Earn Craig Hill                                                                      611 metres

9 miles

I pulled back the curtains this morning, and saw a blue blue sky, a hint of a glorious day for walking, but the grass had a hint of frost. It should have meant something to me, but it was lost on me, and so I set off with no head covering on my person, other than a hood on a jacket.

18 or so of us drove down to the most southerly of the Lowther Hills, Queensberry, in Dumfries and Galloway. On getting out of the car, I realised how grateful I was that I had packed as many layers as I had. At one point I had everything that I brought with me on, and wished that I had brought a hat, or even a buf, to keep my hair from blowing in my face.

It was almost 2 weeks since I was last out for a good long uphill walk, on Easter Monday. It was good to be out walking again, but I have to be honest, I do prefer to walk on my own. I am just being honest here. Most of the crowd were extremely supportive and encouraging, but just 2 people were so discouraging, I call them energy vampires.

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I tried to not let these 2 people, out of 17, spoil the walk for me. I like to think of them as “pearl people” or “diamond makers” Pearls are created by a tiny irritation getting into the shell, and diamonds are created under huge pressure.

I got to see inside my very first bothy today. They might not be the cleanest of places, but it was a relief just to get out of the wind today, and I am sure if the mist was closing in, then I would be grateful to see a Bothy where I could hole up and wait for the mist to lift.

Kilimanjaro is creeping ever closer. 4 days and 4 months, the team will be heading off to Tanzania. I hope you are enjoying reading my training posts. I am trekking up Kilimanjaro for a local charity, Whiteleys Retreat, which offers free holidays for the families of children who have a life threatening illness. The retreat is just 5 miles down the road from my home, and I have been involved since the beginning.

If you would like to donate to my fundraising, then please do so via this Just Giving page or click on the logo, to be taken to my page.
JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Thank you, Blessings Joy

First Cuckoo’s Calling

When I was growing up, the first sound of the cuckoo was considered to be the heralding of summer. Today is Easter Monday, but I heard the cuckoo calling whilst I was out on my walk today, so I am officially calling it summer, after all the temperature was in the 20’s, rare even in summer, in Scotland.

My walk today was a walk with God. God is always present with me on my walks, but I seldom talk to God on them, but today was different. Today I decided that I was going to walk up Goatfell, which is a 874 metres ascent, and that I was going to do with God, as i was doing it alone. As you can see from this picture, it is a phenomenal place, but scary, at times very scary. But that is not how I knew that God was walking with me today.DSC_0504

My alarm was set for 5.15 am, and I woke to a near full moon size moon shining in the bedroom window, a glorious start to the day. I love the peace and quiet of early mornings, it is a special time of the day for me. After a cup of coffee made by my lovely husband, I packed my bag and set off. The air was cool, but full of promise for the day ahead. Within an hour, I had driven to the ferry terminal, swopped my driving boots for hiking ones, and was on the ferry over to the Isle of Arran. Within 3 hours of my alarm going off, I was getting off the bus and heading up Goatfell.

The track starts off climbing gently, through a tree covered path, but the trees soon come to an end, and you are out in clear country, with the sun streaming down. At 8.30 am it was very pleasant to walk, but as the day wore on, it got hotter. It was not long before I heard the sound of the cuckoo, and was happy to call it summer, as the sun poured down all day.

 

I was happy at this stage, to be out there on my own. Several people had passed me on the way up so far, but I was more than happy to walk at my own pace, with my own thoughts. When the path started to get tougher, I was reminded that a walk with God, is like a walk through life. There are some very pleasant parts to life, but then there are the not so pleasant parts in life, when the going gets a bit tougher. It is generally at times like this that we remember God, and call on God for help, but even before I got into trouble I asked God to be with me, beside me, walking alongside me.

About two thirds of the way up, my troublesome toe started to let me know, that it meant business today. Once it had kicked in, then it truly kicked in, and I was beginning to doubt if I would make it to the top at all. One issue with going to an island to walk, is that you are very much ruled by the ferry times, and I had thought that I could get up and back down again in 4 1/2 hours, and be in with a chance of catching a ferry back, just after lunchtime. My toe told me very firmly that that goal was not one that was going to be achieved today. I had taken the wise decision to pack some painkillers in my bag, and so I sat down, took my boot off, twiddled the offending toe, and replaced the boot, before taking a couple of tablets. After 5 or 10 minutes, all seemed well, and it was much more comfortable, but my happiness was to be shortlived. Before too long, my toe was extremely painful again, and I was beginning to worry. Worry about whether or not I was going to make it to the top, but worrying even more that the pain would be even worse on the way down. You can see from this photo that we are not talking a normal walk in the country. The terrain is now climbing in places over granite rocks and boulders, some of them needing a real “kick-off” from the back foot, which is what I was finding most painful.

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Granite Rocks to Scramble Over to reach Goatfell’s Summit

Another dose of painkillers wasn’t really an option, so soon after the first dose, if I valued my liver. A mild panic began to set in, this was not only this trek that I might not manage to the goal, but it may also jeopardise the whole Kilimanjaro one. If my toe stopped me keeping up a good pace, then I was risking holding up the whole team. My leg muscles started to feel a tad weak, and I wondered what I was doing on the side of this mountain on my own, only I wasn’t on my own, I was with God. (I still swore that this was my last time climbing Goatfell though. Well at least until the next time.)

And so I prayed and asked for healing of my toe, in Jesus name, and repeated my simple mantra that I tell everyone to do when they feel overwhelmed. It goes like this:

I am happy, healthy and wealthy

only in this instance I said

My toe is happy and healthy

I repeated it about 5 times, and with each step my toe hurt less and less. It was almost instant, but just to be on the safe side, I repeated the affirmation a few more times. Now for those of you who are reading this, and don’t believe in God because you can’t prove he/she exists (I want to thank you for reading this far) I would say that this was proof enough for me. I was so grateful that I could reach my end goal knowing that God had my back, or in this instance, toe?

I continued to almost hop skip and jump up to the summit of Goatfell. I had hoped to climb up in three hours, but was a little over that, but was quite happy given the circumstances.DSC_0500

It was so beautiful up there, that I took my time relishing the view, and the sensation of achievement. After reaching the summit, I wanted to spend some time enjoying the moment. I took my boots off and gave my feet some space to wriggle without the confines of my walking boots. I sent a text to my husband and ate my delicious sandwich made by him. I really value the support he is giving me in this endeavor, to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro.

The route down was hot and dusty. Many people were out on Goatfell coming up as I was heading down. The early morning uppers were dressed appropriately, in hiking boots with back packs, hats and water bottles. As I came down. I was met by a constant stream of tourists, kitted out in trainers, bared shoulders and not a kit bag, however small in sight. My thoughts were with them, and how they would feel that evening. Would there elation turn to pain, as the effects of the sun took it’s toll on their bodies?

My last meeting with God on Goatfell was in the last couple of hundred yards or so. Several people had overtaken me, I was in no hurry, I had a couple of hours or so until the next ferry, to take me back to the mainland. This elderly gentleman fell into step with me. He had also come over for the day, to walk Goatfell. He informed me that because it was Easter weekend, the ferries were running a summer service, which included a mid-afternoon ferry, which if I kept on walking back to Brodick without stopping for a drink, or an ice-cream, I should be able to make. I thanked him for his piece of knowledge and gave the long- awaited ice cold drink a miss, and carried straight on to the ferry terminal. I could see the CalMac ferry approaching Arran, so I knew that, true to his word, a summer scheduled ferry was running.

Within 7 hours of taking my first step off the bus and up Goatfell, I was sat on the return ferry heading for home. After a long bath to wash the dust off me, I lay on my bed, which is where I stayed for the rest of the evening, savouring my achievement, knowing that on my Kilimanjaro trek, although I may do a similar ascent one day, I won’t have to do the descent on the same day.

Thank you for reading to the end. tell me, how do you know that God is with you?

Blessings Joy

 

Easter Sunday Toe Trial

Yesterday I experienced pain in one of my toes that was a totally new (read painful) experience. I had to stop walking and twiddle my toe for a bit, and then carry on, with it forever in my mind for the rest of the walk. So today I had some trepidation going for  walk, to see if the pain was going to be an ongoing thing, or just a one-off.

I did my favourite walk, right out of my back door. I took the opportunity to apply some photographic creativity, to take 3 pictures of the same thing. This is a tree not 100 yards from my door.

 

This totem pole is in Belleisle Park. So many people look at the front, how many go round the back and observe the patterns of the original tree bark?

It was  a beautiful day, warm in the sunshine, but cooler in the shade. The path takes me through 2 parks, before heading down the side of the River Doon, and then out onto the beach, via sandy boggy ground, where the bullrushes were in full “fluff”

My toe was not completely happy, especially when it came to walking over the rocks. It seems to be that when I need to use my toes for balancing. It was when I was walking on a camber that my toe started to flare up, and today was similar.

Tomorrow will be a real challenge when I take on a much longer hillier walk. I have not made up my mind completely where it is going to be. It could be Goatfell, over on the Isle of Arran, or a Munro if I can get my friend to take me.

1 more day of the 4 day Easter break. We have been blessed with super weather for walking.

Easter Blessings Joy

2 Down, 2 to Go

The weather this morning was hazy, which was such a shame as the walk planned today with Ayr & District Rambling Club would have had fantastic views of the Clyde Firth. 20 or so people, met on Easter Saturday to do this walk.DSCF7558

We started at Haylie Brae, which after a short meander up to a vantage point, we could look out across the Clyde Firth. We could hardly pick out the closest island of Great Cumrae, if you look closely to the left of the island, you can see Little Cumrae in the haze. Arran or the Isle of Bute were nowhere to be seen.

The start of this walk was steep, and seemed to go on for ages. With just over 4 months to go until the Big Climb, I am very aware of how much more stamina I am going to need to do it. The route was sent before we set out, and I was promised a loch on this walk, called Cockle Loch. Well I don’t know about you, but this looks more like a large puddle to me, than a loch.

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We continued up the hills and down the dales. I hate to admit, but I found it tough going. The weather was warm, well warm for Scotland, and I struggled with the heat on such a physically challenging walk.

 

We found a cool spot down by Gogo Burn, (which is a Scottish name for a stream) for lunch. It was so tempting to take the boots off and cool down in the water. One person did, I should have asked her how cold it was.

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After lunch was a slow descent down, before a few more challenging ups. My legs were struggling by this point, almost going jellylike with no more “up” in them. I took a few finger licks of Green Magic, and within 2 minutes I had a spring in my step for the last 1/2 a mile.

Tomorrow is another day, number 3 of this Easter holiday weekend. It will be a local walk, right out of my back door.

Easter Blessings, here’s hoping you are having a good one.

Joy

 

 

 

Good Friday Kildoon Hill

Today, being Good Friday, is the start of a 4 day holiday weekend, and I am commited to walk each day, to try and get my stamina up, ahead of the Kilimanjaro trek, which is edging closer and closer.

Last weekend I went out with Ayr & District Rambling Club on a 9.5 miles walk, on part of the Carrick Way. Today I wanted to take my husband on the same walk, but I should have paid more attention on my last jaunt. I recognised the first few of miles, but when it came to deciding whether to take a left or right turn, at one point, I was flummoxed. After going a couple of hundred yards in each direction, we decided to continue following the signposts back to Maybole, and complete a seven mile walk.

The sun was shining, making it a summer’s day here in Scotland. On returning to the car, it said 22.5 degrees Celsius on the dashboard. That truly is a summer’s day in Ayr.

The plus side of it is, we did get out to the monument on Kildoon Hill, and also found clumps of bluebells in the hedgerows, which I didn’t see last week.

The warmth brought the smell of the gorse out, gentle wafts of a mild coconut scent on the wind, greet the nostrils.

Tomorrow is another walk with Ayr & District. I hope to ask the leader, where I went wrong, so that I can do the full walk again on Sunday afternoon.

I hope that you are enjoying your Easter weekend, whatever your beliefs.

Blessings

Joy