The team, influenced mainly by the American members, sadly headed up Mount Meru knowing they would miss Obama’s inauguration, but left with an empowering thought in mind regarding the climb ahead, “Yes We Can!”.
After spending time at the School of St. Jude with founder, Gemma Sisia, the team headed to Mount Meru full of inspiration and excitement. The School of St. Jude provides free education and boarding for the poorest of the poor in Tanzania. Each student receives uniforms, books, and a hot lunch…along with the best education in East Africa.
Mount Meru is visible from both St. Jude campuses and boarding houses, however, it is rare to find any student who has been to the base or had a chance to hike its trails. 3 Peaks 3 Weeks worked closely with the school to choose 12 girls from standard 6 (ages 11-12 typically) who were excelling in their studies to join the team for the first day up the mountain. It is an incredible privilege for these girls to have the opportunity to join the team for a day on the mountain and a privilege for the team to be with such an incredible group of young women. Perhaps one day a graduate of St Jude will join a future 3 Peaks team!
Though the days in between the climb are meant for rest, the team is very active in visiting the projects that 3 Peaks supports. Unfortunately, after a visit to the hospital in Nairobi, and a brief meeting with the massage therapist in Arusha, Yvette’s status was not sufficient enough to allow her to continue the climb with the team. She joined the team on day one, but descended to the bottom with the girls from St. Judes while the team pushed on for the summit, Socialist Peak. Yvette is suffering from leg and foot injuries and continuing physiotherapy in hopes to join the team for Kilimanjaro.
A report from the team was received late in the evening stating they had made it to the first hut, Miriakamba (elevation 2,514 m/8,250 ft). While hiking they came in very close proximity to giraffes, buffalo, baboons, and monkeys. The team also came a bit too close to stinging nettle, a plant that causes severe burning and itchiness, during breaks along the trail. They have said they learned quickly to look for it and not make that mistake again!
The climb up Meru is very steep compared to Kenya and the team has termed it “relentless” though they are enjoying the workout, stunning views of Kilimanjaro and the lush vegetation. After sleeping in tents on Kenya, they have found that the Austrian chalet-style huts on Meru are quite luxurious. Those who have been to the huts would agree that “luxurious” is a bit of an overstatement, however, the flushing toilets, electricity, and hand soap have the team in good spirits. “We are basking in the illusion that we are on vacation”, read yesterday’s report. Perhaps altitude is already affecting some of them!
Again, the team is very disappointed by their missing link but are looking forward to her fit and healthy sound return. Fiona Macleod, the 3 Peaks 3 Weeks event manager from Save the Rhino, has joined the team for the next two climbs and made a wonderful addition…though she was nervous, we think she will do fine!