Beyond Our Wildest Dreams
Are you afraid to set an ambitious New Year’s goal? If so, you might be interested in what Margo Sue Hoile learned in 2016 after she hiked Africa’s Mt. Kilimanjaro. “You’re capable of more than you think you are.
“The climb was physical, of course,” Margo began, as we hiked Chapel Gorge Trail, “but it was mostly mental.” Margo, who is health-conscious and in her 50s, had to keep pushing and telling herself she could reach her goals.
She made the decision to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro shortly after successfully completing a marathon. She was inspired by Blair Singer, a world-renowned author and speaker affiliated with the Mountain Leadership Experience group. Besides the climb, she wanted to help an African orphanage. Her group raised over $30,000 to build a kitchen so the women no longer had to cook over pots outdoors. She chose to extend her trip so she could spend several days with the children there.
Being able to travel to Tanzania, Africa, help orphans, and join a group to climb the tallest free-standing mountain in the world was beyond Margo’s wildest dreams. The morning of the first day of her climb, she gazed up at the mountain, intent on her goal. It would take seven days to reach her desired summit, Stella Point at 18,885 feet, and she would travel through four climate zones.
Several porters and guides stood in a lineup hoping to be picked for the job. These men and occasionally a woman are acclimated to the higher elevation and are in excellent physical condition. Along with carrying water and food such as bread and eggs, they carry gear like tents, sleeping bags, and even fold-up tables and chairs. There is a status among the porters, the lowest of which is to dig latrines.
Margo described how she enjoyed visiting with the porters and learning about their lives. They, in turn, delighted in teaching the climbers a few words in their language. They earn about $5,000 a year, and overall seemed content. Margo especially appreciated hearing them singing. Their uplifting Swahili songs helped raise her spirits and motivated her to keep going.
Each hiker had their own porter. Margo calculated that for the 38 climbers, there were 108 additional people who were part of the support team. After Margo’s first day of hiking, her guide worried she wouldn’t make her desired summit and advised her to let him carry her 18-pound pack. Although she’d prepared for the climb (interval training and good nutrition) she wasn’t used to the high elevation. She also hadn’t realized she was still recovering from a recent bout with pneumonia. Margo reluctantly handed her daypack over. Later, she was glad she had.
By the fourth day, her tent-mate’s oxygen level kept dropping, so she had to turn back. Margo, however, thought about her goals and kept climbing. On day five, exhausted but elated, she reached Stella Point. If, years ago, someone had told her she’d achieve the goal of climbing to this height, she wouldn’t have believed them.
Her mission work was another achievement that she’d never dreamed possible. The orphanage she helped houses African albino children who have limited sight and are fearful for their lives. Archaic stereotypes and superstitions, which include the belief that albinos are inhabited by evil spirits, cause them to be victims of brutal attacks which is why they need to be protected.
The experience was so gratifying, Margo returned two years later, in 2018. She climbed even higher and reached Ohuru Peak at 19,341 feet. Margo’s planning a third trip, this one to South America’s Machu Picchu. She’s going with the same organization as a team leader and plans to set goals, work hard, train for the hike, and continue her mission work—all great achievements for us to keep in mind in the new year.
As we ring in 2021, we, too, can ask ourselves the question. What goal, beyond our wildest dreams, can we achieve?