Believe it or not, I still find it hard to imagine that in eleven days the Parker’s Climb Team will start our Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb. I guess until I lace up my hiking boots on July 4th, it will not seem real. The Fourth of July has long been Geoff’s favorite holiday and this year will certainly be celebrated a little differently.
For many years, we have started off our week long holiday during the 4th of July, followed by our wedding anniversary on July 7th. We always finish our holiday week with Geoffrey’s birthday on July 10th. This year, we will spend all three of our special days climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro! Can you say “Pam, you are an awesome planner?” Ha! The real truth is, that next year, I will have yet another challenge topping this years July holiday! Oh well, I have a year to get on that one, now don’t I.
On the first day of our journey, Team Parker will load up in Moshi, Tanzania and drive into Kilimanjaro National Park to the Londorossi Gate, located on the western side of Mt. Kilimanjaro. The drive from Moshi will take two to three hours and from what I have read, the roads are pretty tough to travel. The first day of our trek will be along a little used trail through the montane forest. They say that there are places that the vegetation is so untouched that it grows right across the trail. Can you just imagine?
The Lemosho Route is one of the longer routes of six to choose from, all leading to the summit, and it is known for providing the best scenery, improved acclimatization and a higher summit success rate. This route takes you on a trek 180 degrees around Kilimanjaro’s south facing glaciers. The difficulty rating for this route is high (on a scale of medium, high, very high). The scenery is an excellent rating (on a scale of good, very good, excellent) and the traffic is medium (on a scale of very low, low, medium high).
In total, our ascent to the summit is seven days, followed by two days for the descent. Many attempt to do the climb in less days, on shorter routes – but we are in no hurry – we hope to enjoy the view along the way, and we plan to savor this mountain – every step of the way!
Hiking through the montane forest on day one offers a much richer view of the flora and fauna than starting our trek on other more popular routes through the rain forest. I think this will be a treat that we would not want to miss. This route also allows us the opportunity to sleep in the rain forest at Mti Mkuba, which means the Big Tree. On the first day, Team Parker will cover 2.5 miles which should take approximately three to four hours with an approximate elevation change of just over 2,000 feet.
The seasons on the continent of Africa are opposite to the seasons in the western continents. So while our season during July is mid-summer, the season in Tanzania will be winter. Due to the higher altitude, the climate is relatively temperate and seasonal, with temperatures falling below 10° Celsius (°C) – (50 degrees Fahrenheit) in the cold season (coldest in July and August) and rising to above 30 °C – (86 degrees Fahrenheit) in the warm season. At higher altitudes, even in the forest, nightly frost are possible.
Rainfall varies between 1,200 and 2,000 millimeters (mm) per year, with a distinct wet (October-December and March – June) and dry season (January and February and July to October). The climate of these mountains is much wetter than the surrounding lowlands, and seasons are less clearly defined. Climatic conditions and temperatures vary by region and elevation throughout the ecoregion, and local conditions can modify this general pattern. A friend who just climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in May experienced rain for the first three days of her climb. It is doubtful that this will occur during our climb.
Two main types of closed-forest trees—low-level hardwoods and mountain softwoods—are found in high-rainfall areas on the main mountain masses. The forest appears so dense but I believe it will be an amazing starting point – it is likely we will not even have a view of Mt. Kilimanjaro on this day!
The Tanzanian continent is home to more than 4 million wild mammals including representatives of 316 species and subspecies, notably antelope, zebra, elephant, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, giraffe, and lion. Various types of monkeys are plentiful.
There are about 827 species of breeding birds, ranging in size from ostrich to warbler. Insect life, consisting of more than 60,000 species, includes injurious species and disease carriers. There are at least 25 species of reptiles and amphibians and 25 poisonous varieties among the 100 species of snakes.
Even though our starting point is said to be richer in flora and fauna, many of the larger mammals and most bird species will not be present at 9,170 Unfortunately the deep cover offered by the cloud forest means that one usually only see signs of the forest dwellers and not the animals themselves. These include leopards, civets, genet, servals, porcupines, tree-hyrax, aardvark (a nocturnal, termite eating creature resembling, but not related to a pig) and the common but highly secretive bush pig. Known to exist in stream beds and water courses is the African Clawless Otter.
I am certainly hoping that the same is true for the numerous reptiles that traditionally inhabit the low lands. George IV is the only one our team whose travel clinic included vaccines for snakes, therefore Lulu and I have designated young George as the point man for any areas that our could include snakes. Sorry George – we did not ask your position on this mission, but we trust you are up for this designation! 🙂
In the 1980’s, more than 1,000 species of flora was identified throughout Tanzania, and today it is thought that more than 800 have survived. In the eastern mountains, plants and plant parts are the primary, if not the only source of medicine for those who live here. In the 1980’s, it was thought that there were as many as 30,000 to 40,000 medicine men or healers amongst the Tanzanian people in comparison to approximately 600 who were practicing in the western cultures. it was estimated that different regions within the country of Tanzania used from 80 to 185 different species of plants, depending on their region for medicinal value.
In our corner of the world we have advanced so far beyond the medicine men who still depend on natural resources to cure what ever ailments arise in the villages throughout Tanzani and other countries within the African continent. It is almost impossible to imagine that cultures like this still exist.
We are climbing a mountain to help fund a cure for a complex brain disorder and heaven knows how badly our country needs to find cures for this and other neurological disorders. The irony is so profound; we will walk in the same places where herbs and plants are the most important things for the survival of the tribal nations that have graced this land for centuries. I am just without the words to describe the contrast.
Our journey begins in eleven days. Parker’s Climb Expedition For Parkinson’s Research is about to take flight! I hope you will join us on our journey by supporting our cause. pkp