“The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.” - Thich Nhat Hanh
over the hill
Long drives, endless mountains, beautiful lakes, snake-like roads. It's impossible to get these images out from your brains, once they've made it in there. There's something therapeutic about them.
I have now climbed Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), Mount Snowdon (Wales) and Rainbow mountains (Vinicunca, Peru).
Although 6 days of trekking above the Tanzanian clouds for Mount Kilimanjaro was an amazing experience on its own, the beauty of the Peruvian mountains was an unforgettable experience for me. It involved a 6-8 hour trek, following a 3am wake up call and hours of riding what felt like the bumpiest bus ride of my life from Cuzco. The trek itself left me, my friends, some horses and a very hungry black dog, speechless and breathless. We retreated to sniffing "oxygen" (well, that's what the local guide said it was) to get rid of our nausea from the altitude. The view from the top made it more than worth it, although the last few metres took us what felt like hours.
As for why the Rainbow Mountains are striped with seven different colours? It's because of different weather conditions and mineralogy reflecting millions of years of history. The locals consider the mountain to be holy and the deity of Cusco... and why not!
The thing with challenges like this, is that they test your mental strength as much as your physical strength and sometimes can push you to a breaking point. However, from what I experienced, these times of struggle can bring you closer to those you climb with, whether they are strangers you have just met or your friends.
As for being 'over the hill', there's no such thing. I have seen anyone from ten year olds to people with walking sticks going on treks. I don't believe there is an age limit for challenges, as it takes will power, food and water, the right equipment and clothing (especially the right shoes) and preferably some level of fitness. From my experience of the Kilimanjaro trek, training in higher altitudes is hugely advisable.
One tiny peace of advice: don't forget to take in the scenery and enjoy the journey to the top of the mountain you're attempting to climb. Because, if you don't make it to the top, you won't feel like it was all futile.