Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Still learning...

How to make good decisions.

Several months ago, a few friends and I decided we were going to climb Oldoinyo Lengai. (also called the Mountain of God) Lengai is an active volcano in northern Tanzania, that is known for its "day" climbing trps, spectacular views and hiking adventures...not to mention that some of it has a 45-50 degree climb. Nadine, had climbed it before, and I loved the idea of it, so we grabbed a few others to come along. A few months ago it sounded like a splendid idea. Doesn't the volcano below just call your name?

I should toss in a vital detail, that would explain why this was such a lesson in decision making. We were set to take off on Saturday morning. Thursday morning I woke up with a sore throat, cough, and congestion. Friday it was going away, but I put myself on hold for the trip. Saturday I felt great. and went. This was the poor decision. I didn't take into account that my body was not really well, I mostly took into account that I wanted to go hiking, explore with some friends, new and old, and get to the top of this amazing volcano I had been hearing about. I ignored the website comments, "it is a very demanding and sometimes dangerously steep walk and scramble. You should be fit, strong and above all VERY determined." I don't doubt if I am fit, but I know, that I was not strong, I was recovering from traveling earlier in the week and being sick late in the week.

So around 9 am saturday morning we all load up (me, nadine, johannes, sina, holgier, janska and scott.) We drive all day to our campsite, arriving around 4pm and set up camp. Eat dinner and to bed by 7:30. Why so early? We have to wake up at 12am to start our trek!

You see, it takes 4-6 hours to climb/hike to the 2962 meter peak, and they suggest you start around midnight or 1am so that you aren't climbing in the heat of the day. We get a late start, arrving at the base of the volcano around 1:30, and start our hike at 1:45. We hike, and we groan, and to be honest I got scared at parts, as the slope was so incredibly steap. (the pictures don't quite do it justice, but trust me 45-50 degree slopes are really intense, especially when they are near the top!) About halfway I start feeling sick, my cold symptoms returning, exhaustion setting in, and well, I am halfway, so I can't turn back!

We arrive just after sunrise at 7am.

The Crater top. Spectacular!From the top of Lengai, you can see the top of Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru!

So we hang out, eat, explore this great natural wonder, and around 10 start heading down the mountain. This time the climb is different, the sun is out. And I am shocked that I made it to the top. Honestly, if the sun was out when we climbed up I would not have made it. My fears of falling would have gotten in the way. About half way down it hits me. I am getting sick. I start to struggle catching my breath, and I am exhausted. I take it slow, the rest of the group takes it slow as well, they too are tired, but not as foolish as I am in taking on this climb on an exhausted body. The sore throat, the headache, the cough from the week before come back as if in full force. I am miserable. I feel like a fool, why did I do this to myself. Oh yeah, the adventure. Getting away and going hiking.

So humbly, I must admit, at as we get closer and closer to the bottom I get sicker and sicker, and about 1 kilometer from the car require help getting to the car from the three guys. Heat Exhaustion sets in. How? I don't know, I did everything right, drank water, took it slow, wore appropriate clothing. Again, i think it was the weak system to start with.

So here are so many lessons learned:

  • The obvious. Don't climg unless you are healthy.

  • Accept the help from your friends. (they wanted to help sooner, but I was stubborn)

  • Make wise decisions ahead of time to prevent chaos later.

As I hiked, I couldn't help but parallel this with my spiritual walk as well. Sometimes I am convinced that I am healthy, but really, need to rest and regroup spiritual as well. When I don't, I get into trouble, I get discouraged, I refuse help from others. I also thought about how much this relates with maintaining your relationship with God. I needed to listen as I climbed and as I decended. I didn't. I ignored. I kept thinking about how we often try to climb mountains of faith, yet we are ready, we are tired, we are weary, we haven't spent time with the Lord...the list goes on. I do this to, and well, this physical example has reminded me how it all affects each other.

So, I survived. and the trip, even though it was miserable, I learned so much, and I learned so much about my friends, and well, the view was incredible, but no worries, next time, if there is a next time for Lengai, I will be rested, I will be trained, and I will listen.

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