This post will be broken into many, many pieces since this trip is worthy of at least an entry per day. It truly was an experience of a lifetime, and I don’t want to shortchange the experience, the people, or the mountain. Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa, rising above the plains of East Africa to an impressive 19,341 feet. It’s the world’s tallest free standing mountain, and while it’s climbable (is that a word?) to many, it’s still a force to be reckoned with.

Last summer, summer of 2014, my dear friend Anne called me one day and asked, “Want to climb Kilimanjaro with me?” Anne is always up for travel, adventures and projects, and part of me didn’t think this would actually ever happen, so I said yes. James came home and I nonchalantly asked if I could climb it with Anne.

Fast forward a year later. Our team had 9 people, each of whom had raised at least $8k for AFCA, a charity based out of Harrisburg, PA. Raising that much money was something none of us had done before, nor did we know how it would go. We all succeeded, each accomplishing the task in our own ways. It was hard and humbling, but very rewarding. The generosity of people in my life was impressive, and it was interesting to see who donated and what their response was when approached.

On August 1, my friend Donnie and I boarded a flight from Denver to Minneapolis, beginning what would be two weeks of smiles, laughter, blisters, wet wipe baths, tears, dust, and many, many hugs. We flew Denver to Minneapolis to Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro. The flight to Kilimanjaro was full of people who clearly had plans to climb the mountain. I kept eyeing them (obvious with their new packs and boots, just like me), wondering, “will SHE make it up? If THAT guy can do it, surely I can.” There was always a chance I wouldn’t make it. Altitude does crazy and unpredictable things to people, and doesn’t care what shape you’re in or how many miles you’ve logged in your boots.

Blog post by: The Heskin Family