8.10.2010 | 9 Comments

I’m getting lots of emails and messages as Aug 12th comes ever nearer. It’s so frigging cool. People I know and love, people I’ve never met, people wishing me well, people asking me for advice, people telling me that I’m their “hero”. I never thought that this would happen.

I started this blog on January 1st as a way to invite people into my journey, and it has turned out far better than I could have thought. I get messages from all over the world! No kidding! I love it. LOVE IT! So, if you’re reading this, and haven’t ever written to me, please feel free to do so today. I’ve got a couple days on Canadian soil, and would love to have your messages in my heart when I trip the blue fantastic.

I’ve been getting requests about my itinerary, and so thought I’d repost it here today.

My climb starts on Aug 23rd, and we will be taking the Lemosho/Shira route that will take us eight days. I will summit on the 7th day (that’s right, I WILL SUMMIT), and then be back at the hotel for a final night on the 30th of August. It kinda’ goes like this…

Aug 23: Drive to Lemosho Glades and hike to Mti Mkubwa forest camp.
Aug 24: Hike to Shira One camp.
Aug 25: Hike to Shira Two camp.
Aug 26: Hike to Barranco camp.
Aug 27: Hike to Karanga Valley camp.
Aug 28: Hike to Barafu camp.
Aug 29: Hike to the summit and descend to Mweka or Millennium camp.
Aug 30: Complete the descent to Mweka gate and drive back to Marangu.

Shira 2 camp

So, please feel free to follow along. The time change is pretty big, so be prepared to do a little math if you want to know exactly where I am at what time. Ok, so it’s 10:03am on Tuesday, Aug 10th right now, and so that means that it’s 8:03pm on Tuesday, Aug 10th in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.  Got it? I’ll be 10 hours ahead of you all in Ladner. On Summit Day, we are woken up at about midnight, then climb, climb, climb until we reach the peak at about 6am Tanzania time – that would be about 8pm Ladner time on the 28th.  So send your good vibes our way, ok? Thanks!

Now… onto my last To-Do list before I go…

Two more sleeps.




7.25.2010 | 0 Comments

I just took my first dose of Dukoral.

It’s a liquid oral vaccine that ‘tastes like raspberries’.

This does not taste like raspberries.

What does it taste like?

Hmmm… let me think…

Ahhhhh, yep, I’ve got it.

It tastes like Cholera.


It’s Official…

7.11.2010 | 2 Comments

We’ve got the dates booked, the hotel booked, and the actual climb route (Lemosho) planned out. Now you can follow along from the comfort of your own home, while Ali, Amanda, Christopher and I trudge our way up the World’s Tallest Free-Standing, Equatorial Mountain.

Day 1 will be August 23rd…

Day 1:  Drive to Lemosho Glades and hike to Mti Mkubwa forest camp.

Day 2:  Hike to Shira One camp.

Day 3:  Hike to Shira Two camp.

Day 4:  Hike to Barranco camp.

Day 5:  Hike to Karanga Valley camp.

Day 6:  Hike to Barafu camp.

Day 7:  Hike to the summit and descend to Mweka or Millennium camp.

Day 8:  Complete the descent to Mweka gate and drive back to Marangu.

Countdown to Day 1:   43 days…



A Hitch in Time

7.01.2010 | 1 Comment

One of my favourite authors is Christopher Hitchens. He’s just put out his memoir Hitch 22, and I’m really looking forward to reading it.  He’s doing a book tour right now, and I went to his website to see if his tour swings my way at all. Sadly, I came across this… *sigh*

I first read Hitch’s work in Vanity Fair magazine. I loved him immediately. He is SUCH an asshole. No holds barred, straight up, in your face, jerk. I appreciated his candor and wit-wrapped intelligence. His barbed honesty being at once refreshing and shocking.

In December 2009, I had a small Letter to The Editor published in Vanity Fair, and when the magazine arrived in my mailbox, the first thing I did was to see if Hitch had an article in that particular edition (he didn’t), because the thought of being “published” in the same periodical as Hitch was just mind-blowing to me. I mean, they like Hitch! That means that if they like ME, then my writing is in the same league as Hitch’s, right? RIGHT??

…yah, I know. I just had a nice delusional moment there.

Anyway, on this rainy Canada Day I’d like to wish you well, Mr. Hitchens.  To my favourite water boarded, made-over, bravely incendiary, unapologetic Atheist author and realist… speedy recovery, sir.

I’m off to hike a mountain…



6.22.2010 | 1 Comment

Mt. Kilimanjaro was created when two warring factions of African squirrels made the decision to bring an end to their decades-long tribal dispute. Knowing that both tribes were facing extinction, they made a pact to work together and simply erect a barrier between their territories. This allowed both sides to live in peace, and to protect their significant cultural differences for years to come.

For over 30 years, squirrels who were once the bitterest of foes worked side-by-side to build Mt. Kilimanjaro. Skirmishes were few and far between, as each worker understood the importance of the work they were undertaking. Generations of squirrels toiled as family, and each tiny paw had a massive impact. They built the mountain together.

Many squirrels died in the process, but today Mt. Kilimanjaro stands as a testament of their dedication to peace.

Sadly, the African Squirrel has long since vanished from the veldt, but I think we can learn great lessons from these selfless creatures who put aside their hatred, and took full advantage of their opposable thumbs to erect a monument to brotherhood, fully worthy of respect.

Thank you, African squirrels. I promise you that I will do my best to make you proud as I stand atop the powdered bones of your long-dead squirrelly ancestors.


Laugh it up, Fuzzball

6.13.2010 | 1 Comment

I’m really glad that I’m writing a blog at this time in my life. It gives me the chance to express my strange brand of humour in a new, more mature way.

Because when I was a kid, I used to tear open tea bags and snort the contents up my nose just to make my brother Todd laugh.

I truly appreciate that I don’t have to resort to such lowbrow tactics anymore.

…Well, until I get Writer’s Block anyway.

*tears open teabag*


I was told there would be no Math!

6.10.2010 | 3 Comments

I leave for Africa in 64 days.

I have 9 weekends left in which to hike and camp my soul away.

I have $4736.60 to raise, 2 prescriptions to buy (Malarone and something for Typhoid), 23 days worth of travel insurance to purchase, 1 Royal Bank Visa to activate, 1 Tanzanian Visa to apply for,  5 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of pants and 1 pair of sandals to buy.

I need clothing, footwear and toiletries for 6 beach days, 4 desert days, 2 rainforest days, 3 alpine days, 1 snow day, 3 safari days, and 2 air travel days.

My bag cannot weigh more than 33lbs.

I need more than a 16gig memory card.

I have to practice consuming 4 litres of water per day.

I need to find 13 days worth of lodging in east Africa,13 days worth of 3 meals a day in east Africa, and have 13 days worth of spending money for east Africa.

I need to have 4 different types of currency.

All of this to travel 15, 028 kms to climb 19,340 feet (while being 10hrs ahead of Vancouver time), in an attempt to raise $10,000.

I am a Grade-A, First Class,  #1 nutbar.


Video Proof

6.03.2010 | 2 Comments

As I prepare for the upcoming Kili Gala this Saturday, I am reading up on all things East Africa so as to awe all my guests with my superior knowledge. In fact, with all the incredible amount of important information stored in my brains at this time, I fully expect a phone call from the U.N. at any moment.


*taps foot*

…they must be busy or something.I’m sure they’ll get around to it.

So, what fascinating, scintillating, impressive, important information have I gleaned from my wander through cyber-space and beyond? Well, how about…

Hippos lick crocodiles.

Lions remember. (scroll down for the greatest video EVAR.)

I totally want a baby giraffe.

Elephants sneeze… then freak out.

Warthogs like rhinos.

Cheetahs have no class. (warning: funny but semi-gross)

I have also learned something very, VERY important: for the love of all that is holy, I am hoping that while on my safari, all the animals are either sleeping or playing, because if I see an animal chase down and disembowel another animal, I will completely lose my mind.




6.01.2010 | 4 Comments

Yesterday I was looking into obtaining travel Visas, given that I am traveling in two different African countries: Rwanda and Tanzania. I know that I need a Visa for Tanzania, but wasn’t sure if I needed one for when I land in Kigali, Rwanda. Wanted to make sure I had all that in place before my trip snuck up on me – it’s amazing how fast the time is whipping by!

So, I go onto the government Travel Information site, and pull up Rwanda’s info. This is what I see:

The level of Travel Warning in this report has not changed.  Sections 2 (grenade attacks in Kigali on May 15) has been updated. Exercise High Degree of Caution.


Travellers should be vigilant at all times. Although uncommon, attacks by rebel groups and incidents of violence occur from time to time. Grenade attacks have occurred in a number of areas in the country, including in the Southern Province and Kigali in 2009. A number of similar attacks have been occurring in Kigali since February 2010. The attacks usually occur at nightfall. A main central roundabout, a busy bus station and a restaurant at the center of Kigali were targeted in previous attacks, with the most recent one occuring on May 15, 2010. Casualties have been reported as a result of these attacks.

I send the info to Ali. She reads it and responds that upon speaking with a friend of hers in the area, she learns that there is actually an election taking place (only the 2nd election since the Genocide) in Rwanda on August 9th. That’s 5 days before I land in Kigali.

Now, I’m  not the most experienced nor the most confident traveler, and as you may recall, I tend to be a rather adept Disaster Magnet. I don’t think these are fantastic qualities to be in possession of when traveling to a place where there are grenade attacks happening at random.

I have a decision to make.

I go back to Marlin Travel, and ask to change my flight. I will not be going to Rwanda.

I must admit, I do feel like a bit of a wuss for this. Like I’m quitting, or giving up, or backing out… but I’m just not comfortable going to Rwanda. I haven’t ever been 100% sold on the idea, but I wanted to experience something totally out of my comfort zone. However, sitting in a Rwandan hospital with limbs missing is just a tad beyond my comfort zone, really, so hey… that’s that.

Sure. I know I have an over-active imagination. I fully realize that, and take total responsibility for my occasional freak-outs of gargantuan magnitude. And yes, maybe I’m totally blowing this whole “grenade attacks” thing out of proportion. But I’m willing to look foolish over this. I’d much rather be proven wrong than have my parents pick up a pine box at the airport back home.

So, I am now flying from Vancouver to Dar es Salaam. This will then give me the opportunity I have been looking for to spend some time exploring Zanzibar. Yes, I’ll miss seeing the mountain gorillas in Rwanda this time, and yes, I’ll miss out on doing so with Alison, whose dream is to see those mountain gorillas.

And yes, that does hurt my heart.

I feel like I’m making the right decision, but that doesn’t make it any less sad that I’ll miss out on witnessing  a good friend achieve her dream.

Guess I’ll just have to give her an extra hug when we’re standing on the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro.


(No) Bag Lady

5.30.2010 | 2 Comments

So, I was reading my Lonely Planet East Africa guide last night, and I came across something very… um… interesting:

In an effort to preserve the natural beauty of Rwanda, the government enforces a strict ban on plastic bags throughout the country. Police are particularly vigilant at border crossings, and you will be searched, and possibly fined, if contraband is found…”

Now that would make for an awkward phone call home:

“Hey mom? Hey, yah it’s me. Oh great, great… really beautiful. Yeah… oh, yeah for sure. What’s that? No, I haven’t seen any rhinos yet. Of course I’ll take a picture for you! Mmmm, hmmm… oh really? That’s good. Say, funny thing… ummm, do you happen to know where the nearest Western Union is? Ok, good. I need you to go there as soon as possible. No, no everything is totally fine! Yah, ummm, could you please just run there and and wire some money to the Kigali Police Department. No, no! I’s all good. But, uh, really, the sooner the better for that wire transfer, mkay?  Yes, I’ll be at the Police Department waiting. In fact, I’m here now. I’m safe, though – the jail cells they have here are far more roomy than I was expecting…”

I think I’m going to go out and buy some water-proof stuff sacks today.


Shut up, Matt!

5.25.2010 | 3 Comments

My friend Matt takes great pleasure in trying to freak me out. Case in point:

I recently posted a wee blog about swimming and math (now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d say), wherein I attempt to calculate how long I would need to swim in order to replicate the physical exertion I will be expending as I climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Matt responds thus:

Swimming horizontally equals climbing vertically? That is most definitely some odd reasoning, Byn 🙂 More like: 19,340 ft divided by an average building storey at 12ft equals climbing 1612 sets of stairs.
Or going up the Empire State Building’s stairs about 15 times.


His recent response is reminiscent to my first Got Math post regarding the fact that the height of Kilimanjaro is approximately 6kms, to which Matt responded:
Six kilometres straight up?! It’s like doing The Chief 8½ times. Without a break!


I’m trying to fake myself out of how difficult this is going to be, but that pesky bugger keeps trying to bring me back to reality with all his fancy-schmancy math mumbo-jumbo! I mean really, it’s like he’s trying to prepare me or something. Trying to make sure that I know what I’m getting myself into. Trying to show me that it’ll be really, really difficult when all I want to do is trick myself into believing that this is going to be a relative stroll in a warm country. He’s trying to be all caring and friend-like!  What a total jerk.