Another quarter down, couple races completed, growth and change at the office and decided to come back to Africa. This time to South Africa to visit Cape Town and run the Two Oceans ultra. Still a bit on the short side for an ultra at 56k, but still enough distance to worry that I will not finish.
Sitting in the airport in Madrid and wishing that my tickets had some more flexibility and I could have actually visited the city rather than spending my layover in the lounge. One day I will need to come to visit Spain, seems I have over looked a significant portion of Europe so will need to remedy that soon.
Having my ironman training in full swing, I have run a couple long races this year with the one coming up being the longest of my running career. Also I have decided to try and qualify for the Boston marathon in the coming years. Got to the needed pace for short distance now just need to stretch it out a bit. All the training this quarter should have me fully prepared to climb Mt. Rainer next month and then hopefully a couple other 14ers this summer in Colorado.
As the stress from work drains away it always makes me sort of reflective, seeing additional change as we grow as an organization is interesting. The challenges that present themselves continue to prove that we all just need to communicate and partner better together. The silo effect I see in business is an ever present problem and I always think that one day there will be a magic bullet but we just can’t see it. Perhaps it’s a cultural change that we need to address, or an attitude change but I am just not sure to even determine what the various actual impediments are to this question.
Below are a couple photos from the first quarter of the year and in the coming days I will be posting on my time in Cape Town. Since I am posting remotely and lazy the photos consist of a whole range, San Diego panda, elephant hanging out in Las Colinas, me running on a frozen lake in Pagosa Springs, Just Brewing growler from Drink Tanks, eyeball in Dallas, camping after bad weather, and Me learning to go all Hipster.
Best to all
After coming down off of Kilimanjaro we spent an afternoon and evening. resting in the hotel and letting our gear dry a bit before heading off on a traditional East African safari for 4 days in three different parks. We visited Lake Manyara, Ngorongro Conservation area and the Serengeti national park. Below is a pictorial version of our journey that shows the landscapes and animals we got to observe during the trip.
A few snaps from Arusha and the hotel before departing. All the rooms had mosquito netting as a malaria precaution.
Wrapping up in the Ngorongoro crater was pretty amazing end to the safari. All in all Victor too great care of us on the whole trip. Below is his contact and company information. Also he is a contact of mine on LinkedIn if anyone plans a trip to Tanzania I highly recommended shooting him am email.
In the last few hours before our return flight Libby and I had Christmas dinner in Dar Es Salaam at the Sea Cliff hotel. That place is great the staff service food everything was a really nice way to spend Christmas Day including a trip to the beach. Think Libby and I were the only Anglos on the beach that day. Last few pictures and that wraps up Tanzania, highly recommended and a wonderful introduction to Africa for a novice traveler.
Our great guides company and contact info:
Gaze Africa Safaris & Tours Ltd
Manyanga E. Victor
Cell: +255 787 145 515
After coming down from Mt. Meru we both dozed off a bit on the drive back to Arusha since traffic was bad so it took two hours rather than one it took to get there. I think our crew was pretty happy to be coming back and the mood was jovial in the mini bus all the way back.
We came back and settled in for a nice dinner at the Jacaranda before a good rest in advance of our morning drive to Kilimanjaro national park. I will not go into the details here but, the guy sitting beside us made us both uncomfortable since it seemed that an older Dutch man had found/purchased a local young Tanzanian fellow. That made for an awkward dinner to say the least.
After a good nights sleep another simple but delicious breakfast, Victor and the team arrived to cart us off to the mountain. We made our requisite stop for fresh vegetables and supplies and hit the road. While heading out we were stopped at a police checkpoint where I learned a valuable lesson, if a police officer asks for your sunglasses don’t give them to him, I almost lost a pair and everyone got a good laugh. Next time if asked, I will just offer to sell them. After our drive of a couple hours we made it too the gate and were pretty giddy about starting the climb.
There are some formalities at the gate while we got permits and the porters weigh the gear to make sure they stay under the 20kg limit. As with the first mountain between Libby and I we only had one bag of less than 20kg with porters. I wonder if next time I’m climbing I should carry my own gear, less glamorous but more realistic.
Plenty of rain that first day so not too many pictures but was an amazing day wandering through the rain forests on the slopes of Kilimanjaro.
This was the first night in our tent together and we were still trying to get things dry from the first mountain so it did feel a bit damp in the tent but as my mother has always said, Champions adjust, so we just dealt with it without complaint. The first camp was at Macheme Hut and that morning was beautiful but cold. We got some much needed sunshine and views of the mountain.
Day two was the toughest day for me, straight out of camp was a steep climb along a muddy route for few hours. We did well and made good time but I could really feel the Meru summit day in my still recovering legs.
Victor kept our spirits high and told us stories of other climbs and all about the mountain and Tanzania.
One high point of climbing Kilimanjaro during the rainy season is certainly that everything is so lush and green and that there are waterfalls and streams running everywhere. Granted this is at the expense of being in a poncho most of the time while trying to stay dry.
The weather was only clear in the morning before the rain began so each morning despite it being cold it was beautiful with the sun shining. The camps were busy but not crowded and on mornings where we got a slow start you could see how transient the camps were being that they would be totally empty by 10am.
On our way up to the lava tower the rain turned to snow which was actually quite pleasant until realizing how hard it was blowing in a place we had to stop for acclimatization. I believe the cave we huddled in for lunch was at about 15,500 feet.
After coming down off the tower the snow subsided the the rest of the day was quite nice and only a touch damp. Making camp at that night we slept well knowing we were getting close to summit day, which was reaffirmed the next morning with beautiful views of the snow wrapped massif.
That morning we would climb the Baranco wall which was daunting until we got up to it after which time the path became clear and very doable. The views while the weather was clear were pretty spectacular.
Once we got past Gilmans point we knew we made it, all snow for the last few hours before dawn but so amazing to watch the sunrise from the roof of Africa, Uhuru point on top of Kilimanjaro is indeed one if the top picks on my spectacular sunrise list. We got our sign and flag and posed while enjoying the coldest Heineken I have ever had, and certainly the only custom one emblazoned with the family name.
It was cold on the summit and we wanted our pictures more than others but it is pretty cool to mention that one of the climbers in another group brought his trumpet and as he played much to our delight, out guide Victor immediately whipped out his harmonica and join in the festivities. I unfortunately didn’t get photos but this was indeed pretty special way to celebrate our success.
On the way down to camp for a well deserved nap there was more great views and I think Libby and I may have both gotten a bit of a sunburn with the reflection off the snow but was such a great morning we barely noticed.
Once we got to camp Libby dozed for a bit while I laid down and tried to shut my eyes but I think the mountain had me, I was still sort of stunned to have just that morning set foot ok my first peak above 19,000 ft. Was amazing to say the least. After a brief rest we headed down to the low camp for out over night before the last morning on the mountain, which I will say was just as cool as the first morning just in a different way.
Once back down on the forest we knew we were there, the crew was happy to soon be getting back to their family’s and Libby and I were ready to have the comfort of hot water and a night not sleeping in a tent.
We got a great song from the guys thanks in no small part to Victor’s nephew Jackson one of the coolest porters ever, he actually came to the summit for his first time with Libby, Victor, Dominick, and I.
A very special thanks goes to Victor and his team. I would highly recommend his guide service throughout Tanzania.
Below is my goal list from 2013 and the outcomes as of December 31st. This was my first attempt at writing resolutions and having tried it once should make my 2014 list much better.
Read 3 major world religious texts(Torah, Koran, Bible) – Failed aside from specific portions of the Bible and Koran
50 books (10 history, 10 brewing or entrepreneurial, 20 classics, 10 misc) – Partial, 40% finished 20 books
Read The Economist cover to cover every week – Partial 80% of issues but listened to audio versions mostly
Chinese study (2 hours per week, including at least one blog post published in Mandarin) – Failed
English grammar (1 hour per week) – Partial 50%, did well January through June
DSVP and charity work (2+ hours per week) – Partial 25%
Refine and expand on this blog and adhere to minimum bi-weekly posting schedule – Partial 50%
Visit at least 3 new countries – Partial 33% just Tanzania was added to the list in 2013
Finish visiting all 50 states (Only Washington and Hawaii remain) – Completed
Hike in at least 5 states – Completed
Complete one significant event per month (significant is at least a half marathon, 50 mile bike, Mountain 3500 m, etc.) – Completed
Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro - Completed
Complete the Go Ruck Challenge - Completed
Complete 3 triathlons one being a Half Iron – Completed
Finish the car – Completed
Learn to ride my unicycle with a stretch goal of juggling while on the unicycle (clown fall back career) – Failed
Video editing to begin posting some of my GoPro videos – Failed
Backwoods navigation by compass and GPS and outdoor survival skills – Completed
2 new knots a month – Completed
Explore new music (10+ concerts, 5 new favorite albums) -Completed
Spend more time with family – Not sure how I need to measure this but I could have done better
Visit 5 new breweries – Completed
Do more dancing – Failed
Paint a Self Portrait – Completed
I have been thinking about my goals for 2014 in the first week of the year and hope to publish my list by this weekend so I can get started.
Anyone reading this knows I have recently visited Tanzania for a couple weeks and now that I am back in the US I have a better connection and will post about both mountains and the Safari we took while visiting.
I visited Tanzania with my sister Libby and it was actually our first trip abroad together, well really abroad, since we did visit Canada earlier this year but that is far more familiar territory than East Africa. We were delayed By an ice storm which pushed our arrival by a couple days which we ended up spending in Austin and Amsterdam, so I guess our photographic journey should start there before landing at Kilimanjaro airport.
The ice shut much of North Texas and caused havoc at the airport.
After driving down to Austin we went to the capital and got a flag so we would have something to carry up and display on top of the mountains.
We arrived at Kilimanjaro airport in the evening and were met by our guide Victor to our hotel where would we rest and shower for early departure to Mt. Meru.
Le jacaranda wasn’t the fanciest hotel but the morning coffee was great. We would spend a total of 4 nights there out of the 16 that we spent in Tanzania.
In the morning the mini bus came for is with Victor ad the crew and we started the drive to Mt. Meru which is inside of Arusha national park. We made a brief stop for supplies and Libby and I learned what a Tanzanian nursery looks like, plants all in bags lining the streets.
On Meru we needed to hike with a ranger who carries a rifle to protect us from the animals. His name was Bonaface and he didn’t walk that fast but didn’t take any breaks so we made great time all there days of the hike. Meru was beautiful despite our being rained on each day. We were going to do small Meru on the second day then only sleep for hour or two before leaving for the summit but decided the extra rest would do us more good considering that we were climbing Kilimanjaro the day after we came down from Meru. The views when the clouds parted are of the valley the separates Meru from Kilimanjaro.
Our second night on Mt. Meru was spent at 3500m above sea level and we could tell we had risen quite a but and knew we would have a tough night in front of us for the last 1000 meters up the hill so after dinner we crashed early to be ready for our 11pm wake up. Summit night was amazing cold and pitch black but as we rose the clouds cleared for a bit and we had an amazing view of Mt. Kilimanjaro which unfortunately I could not get a good photo of. The rain began as we were somewhere above the tree line but before we scrabbling across the rock faces to the volcano ridge.
As dawn finally arrived after the rock face and the scree fields we had just a couple hundred meters to go, granted was straight up but we were beginning to be reenergized since we did not have to rely on our head lamps and could see the top of Meru. The rain had turned to snow and then had abated just as the sun came up so we were in for a beautiful sunrise.
We were certainly hurting at this point especially with the understanding that we would be hiking for another 12 hours to get all the way down before dark but it was pretty magical to get to the tops and see Kilimanjaro from this perspective just as the sun was rising.
Since we had not brought enough warm gear we did not stay at the top for too long but getting to see the sun above the clouds for the 15 minutes we were up was a certainly gratifying after the hard days hiking. Below are a few more pictures from our decent which was pretty arduous.
Made it away from Arusha after a great trip between the mountains and the plains. We are just enjoying a beautiful Christmas dinner over the ocean.
Justin and Libby after a pretty amazing brother and sister vacation.
Love you all
We just came back from safari in three parks in northern Tanzania, quite touristy but definitely worth seeing. Below are a few of the shots we got over the last couple days. Still with slow internet so keeping the resolution low.
All from the first safari day at Lake Manyara National Park
More to come