To The Roof of Africa!

8.12.2010 | 3 Comments

On January 1st, 2010 I started my journey with this blog entry:

I am going to climb a mountain. Well, I’m going to walk up one, anyway.

I haven’t done anything like this before. In fact, I can probably count the number of times I’ve gone hiking, and I know I haven’t been camping more than half a dozen times. Don’t get me wrong, I know what I’m getting into. I’ve watched videos about climbing this mountain. I’ve submitted questions about the climbing of this mountain to semi-popular websites. I have bought (although not yet read) books about this mountain. I feel about as prepared as someone who listens to a song on the radio and then starts hiring roadies to prepare for a world tour.

In August of 2010, I am going to fly to Tanzania, Africa and climb Mount Kilimanjaro as a way to raise money for the Delta Hospice. The Hospice holds a very special place in my heart, and it is my absolute honour to take on this journey to fund raise on their behalf. But this will be no simple journey. Oh no, this will be a flat-out epic.

Aside from the parent-induced membership in Brownies and Girl Guides, I have managed to avoid the outdoors quite sufficiently for about 30 years. I am the anti-camper. I do not like being cold. The sound of rain drops falling on a tent is nearly trauma-inducing. I would rather be in prison than a sleeping bag. (Some of you more astute readers may be able to pick up the subtle hints I am dropping in regards to my views on outdoor life). To climb Mount Kilimanjaro means that I will need to… oh, man… camp for 10 days.

And so, purely for your entertainment, I am going to allow you into my world as I train for this adventure. For the next seven months, I will allow parts of my life to become an open book, and permit you to laugh, cry and shake your head in total disbelief as I attempt to turn myself from Robyn the Indoor Princess, into Robyn the Sobbing Mess of Outdoorsy Semi-Competence.

And so it begins…

Bring it on, Kilimanjaro!

And today, on August 12th, 2010, I am boarding that flight to Tanzania, Africa knowing that $10,000 $11, 850 has been raised (so far!) for the Delta Hospice Society.

I hiked once, twice, three times and four, five times, six times, and seven

I trained

I attempted to camp

I ate, ate, ate, and ate, and ate, ate, and happily ate, and ate, and ate, shamefully ate, ate, ate and attempted to explain sarcasm, ate, and ate, and ate, and tried to avoid eating, and thought about what to eat, and ate.

I fundraised, and had help with fundraising

I was sponsored and sponsored again

I was humbled

I remembered.

This has been an incredible journey on the way to having an incredible journey. I learned a lot about myself in these past eight months, and I learned a great deal about the power of human nature and the strength of community kindness. This whole experience has left me awed. And I am grateful for it. Thank you for letting me share it all with you. This became such a personal blog, and I’ve met some very wonderful people because of it.

And so today, I leave this blog in the capable hands of Chris, who will update it as often as he hears from me. I’m not sure how or when I’ll be able to make contact, but please know that it’s a priority for me to be able to keep you posted.

I want to thank you all so very, very much for following me and for reading this blog. It means more to me than I could ever express to know that I’m carrying your support and kindness in my heart as I scale that mountain.

And guess what?

I’m crying.

And so it begins…

Bring it on, Kilimanjaro!




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.



Soccer Mom

8.08.2010 | 4 Comments

You’re so stupid sometimes, Robyn”

Gee, thanks mom.

Perhaps I should back up a bit…

My mom and I were sitting around chatting yesterday, and in the valley between two conversations she pipes up and, completely out of context, says to me, “You’re so stupid sometimes, Robyn!

To which I understandably say, “Gee, thanks mom”

She continued…

All this complaining you’re doing about this mountain… if only you would see yourself as other people see you, you wouldn’t even question your ability to summit.

“You’re the most determined person I know, and if you want something to happen, then for god’s sake, it’ll happen. There’s no keeping you from doing what you damn well want to do. You’ve always been like that“.


Don’t you remember when you played soccer? How old were you?

“Um, I dunno’, eight?”

That sounds about right. Anyway, you had these new soccer boots and they were horrible. You had blisters the size of fifty-cent pieces all over your poor feet. The problem was, there weren’t enough girls on the team that day, so if you didn’t play, your team would have to forfeit the game and take a loss. Your feet were in terrible shape. But would you give up? Nope. Would you quit? Nope. You knew that if you stopped playing, your team would lose, and you didn’t want that. So you ran up and down that field with your mangled, hurting feet in those terrible new boots

“…I did?”

Yes, you did. In fact, your coach wanted you to stop playing, but you refused. You convinced him to let you play! He was ready to give the game up, but you weren’t. I didn’t even have any bandaids for you. No one did. So you played with these big open blisters. It must have been awful“.

“Whoa. Really? Did we win the game?”

Oh god, no. You had no chance, and you all knew it. But you still played it“.

“Well, guess I was pretty stubborn, eh mom?”

No, I wouldn’t say stubborn. Determined.”

“But I’m stubborn now

Oh totally. You’re a pain in the ass now. But back then, I’d say you were determined. So anyway, to make a long story short, I really don’t think you’ll have a problem making it up that mountain. You’re determined, so I know you’ll do it. There’s no way you won’t.”

Gee, thanks mom.



I’m Totally Crying…

7.30.2010 | 1 Comment

How does one write with shaking fingers?

How does one sit still to compose a simple blog, while simultaneously wiping the cold sweat from her brow and the tears from her eyes?

How does one ever, EVER get across to the world just how grateful and humbled one has become, by the simple act of reading one tiny, emotion-packed, joy-laden, intensely exciting and endlessly moving email?

I have been truly honoured by the kindness and generosity of the most kind and generous souls.  But this… THIS goes beyond all that one could ever expect.

Ladies and gentlemen, it has finally happened:




It is my pleasure to relay this email to you, to pass on to you the exact feeling of elation that exploded -EXPLODED!- into my heart mere moments ago…

Well done, Robyn.

I have admired you intensely since you came up with the idea and enjoyed your blog for a while, so decided yesterday that I was going to match the Kili donations that you have received to this point.

So, your $5,784.40 just screamed through the $10K mark and is now sitting at – what? – $11,568.80.

Train your ass off!

Go, girl.

I will, kind sir, I will.
I will go, GO, GO!

This is it. This was my mountain. Raising that $10,000 was the ultimate goal for me, and now that I have been fortunate enough to stand showered with the shared generosity of all of you who gave to support the Delta Hospice Society, I feel as though Mt. Kilimanjaro is now on my side. No longer do I see it as something that is trying to defeat me. Now I see it as something that wants me to succeed.
And I will.
I will.
Thank you.   THANK YOU.
Thank you.



7.26.2010 | 0 Comments

The house is in shambles, there are always dishes to be done, the laundry is piling up, the floors need to be swept, I have no bathroom ceiling, it smells like dog in here, my office looks like a literary crime scene, the recycling is threatening to create it’s own nation, there are boxes to take to the Thrift Store, and I desperately need to wash the car.

I have to get a money order for the climb, traveler’s cheques for the trip, book my post-trip excursion, photocopy my travel documents, arrange transport through the various places in Tanzania that I need to get to, learn to sing ‘Climb Every Mountain’ at high altitude, and fund raise a little over $4300.

I’m on-edge, grumpy, feeling overwhelmed, overtaxed, underemployed, and underfunded. I’m frustrated, snarky, impatient, bitchy, exhausted and disappointed.

I have just enough time to want more time.

I’m not having fun anymore.

Tomorrow, I practice packing my bags and, just for you, I will record it here for posterity.

There’s a good chance that my brain will finally explode and leak out through my ear canals.

It could get messy.

It’s a good thing I’ll have a camera at the ready.


Video Killed the ‘Manjaro Star

7.24.2010 | 0 Comments

Ali stumbled across this great video series that gives a day-by-day account of the Lemosho Route – the exact route that we’ll be taking up Mt. Kilimanjaro. Now you can REALLY follow along!

Up, up, and away!


Malaria, Zanzibar, and Chris hates me…

7.15.2010 | 0 Comments

You know what’s great?   Not getting Malaria.

You know what’s not so great?   Spending $150 to not get Malaria.

I went and picked up my wee traveling pharmacy yesterday and it included my Malarone, which I was hesitant to pick up because I knew it was going to be expensive. But hey, I guess it’s worth it, right? Malaria doesn’t sound like it would be all that fun, so I’m content with skipping the experience altogether.

Oh hey! While we’re on the subject of things being great, Amanda was looking at us staying here while we’re in pre-climb Zanzibar.   Not too shabby, eh?  Hopefully we can book a room there and spend some time lolling about and being all drunk and fat.

…Ummm, I mean, spend some time swimming in the ocean, doing yoga on the beach every morning, and running in the sand for 4 hours a day to prepare for our climb.  Yes. That’s what’s I meant.

Not a whole lot new to report today, aside from the fact that I’ve doubled-up on my training with Cara. I do one group class a week and I’ve  suckered convinced Chris to do a private training class with Cara and I. Our first class with her was yesterday afternoon, and it was not easy. Cara was working Chris and I very hard in the sun, and we were both putting all we had into it.  Funny thing, I could have sworn that as Chris ran past me during sprints, he said something along the lines of wanting to leave me… but it could have been the dehydration effecting my hearing. I’m sure that was it.

Things are getting very exciting as the date of my departure approaches. Exciting/scary… same thing, right?



It’s all Good.

7.13.2010 | 2 Comments

Slowly but surely the plans are coming together. Amanda and I sat down last night and started to plan our pre-climb itinerary. We’re going to head to Zanzibar for about 5 days or so, and then trek on off for our trek on up. That should be pretty cool, eh?

After the climb I have a couple of options for my remaining 5 days on African soil. My initial idea was to do a safari, and as much as that’s still on the table, another idea was brought to mind recently. Chris was speaking with me about my trip, and suggested that I look into some volunteer work while I’m there. This had been in the cards when Ali and I were first putting this adventure together, but it fell by the wayside for a variety of pathetic reasons that I no longer can recall.

Chris’ suggestion made me think of El Camino Voluntours, and how excited I am about the prospect of traveling somewhere to help do some good instead of just traveling somewhere and sitting pool-side on my expanding arse while some poorly paid waiter in an ill-fitting white coat serves me a fluffy drink with an umbrella in it.

So, why am I waiting for next year when I can afford to connect with El Camino? Do I need a special reason to make a special trip? I mean, I’m already going somewhere, so why not take advantage of an opportunity there? Makes sense, right?

So, I emailed a couple of people about volunteering over in Tanzania, and hopefully I’ll hear back soon. I’ll let you know.



A Little Awesome

7.07.2010 | 0 Comments

There’s this mountain, see? And it’s big. I mean, BIG. And I’m going to grab a couple of friends and, you know, walk on up to the top of it. I’m going to try and raise $10,000 while doing this extendo-jaunt, and I plan on making the most of the multi-day adventure by sandwiching it between two other multi-day adventures. And guess what… I’m going to freaking AFRICA to do it. This trip is big.




This is not a small thing. This is a very massive trip created from very massive ideas, and will have a very massive result.

…but is life really all about the very massive?

Last night I was woken up from a gentle sleep, and was presented with… well, a present! Chris had gone out and bought me The Book of Awesome. Have you heard of this? No? Well, now you have. And now you won’t be able to live without it. It’s a great story… in fact, I’d go so far as to say that it’s awesome.

What started out as a regular guy looking to find the good in each regular day has spawned a Movement of Happy and Gratitude. This guy was having a bit of a rough go in life, and decided to start a website to chronicle all the wee things in life that are, y’now, totally awesome.

Chris saw that I had my own sort of Awesome Recognition thing going on in my Gratitude Journals (Every night since July 27th, 1999 I have written down three things that I was grateful during the day) , and he thought I would appreciate The Book of Awesome. And I totally, totally do.

It’s not the BIGMONDOHUGELARGEMASSIVEGARGANTUANIMMENSE things in life that make the BIGMONDOHUGELARGEMASSIVEGARGANTUANIMMENSE impacts, it’s the weetinysmallteensytinyittybittylittle things that do.

So maybe THE CLIMB (insert ogre-esque ‘RAWR’ here) isn’t the thing.

Maybe it’s the single step that gets me closer.

And that’s awesome.


You GO, Girl!

7.05.2010 | 0 Comments

…and then there’s THIS.


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…