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Journey to Kilimanjaro

June 23, 2010

Josephine, Julie & Mary

 Three American women arrived in Arusha, Tanzania. They spent their first African nights in this city at 4,500 ft elevation.  It was the jumping off point for the adventure to celebrate Mary Kline and her friend’s 50th birthdays.  On the third morning, Mary and her two friends began their trek to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro.  A seasoned outdoorswoman, Mary dreamed one day of climbing Mt Kilimanjaro long before the opportunity presented itself.  So, when Julie and Josephine invited her to join them on their long-planned trip, she jumped at the chance. 

Mary is the kind of woman who does the things that people simply dream about.  She and 

Good Luck (Bahati, the cook) and Mary

her husband sailed around the world with their two sons, living aboard their boat for years.  Being around Mary is like breathing that clean ocean air, you feel like busting outside and living life to it utmost possibility.  No one who knew her was surprised by her announcement that she would climb Kilimanjaro to mark her half-century of living.  With trepidation, Mary wondered if she could actually make it to the top of this 19,340 foot peak.  Would she conquer her fear and accomplish this goal that had stirred within her for years? 

Mary & Josephine, the final morning

Each day, Mary, Julie and Josephine gained elevation in the company of their guides and other climbers.  They spent three nights en route to 15,000 feet, where they spent the final night before summit day.  It was a short chance at sleep as the departure time was set at Midnight.  As they hiked up the mountain, a train of headlamps snaked above and below Mary and her friends, adding to the sense of collective spirit.  The lead guide Julius sang all the way up the mountain and as the day lightened, Mary began to sing herself.  She sang the songs from her African Inspired Dance class back in Santa Cruz.  Class songs like Mother Africa kept Mary going up the mountain.  As the women sang and climbed, Mary felt the collective spirit of her beloved class across the distance.  

Julie & Mary at the Summit

Mary focused on the community of people who were supporting her from the other side of the world and she realized how the world can at the same time be so vast, the enormity of Kilimanjaro spanning above her and behind her, yet the collective heart of people can transcend any distance.  The world we live in offers all possibilities.  From the isolation of sailing in the middle of the ocean to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro, people can fulfill the mission of their heart, yet still be folded into the love and energy of people regardless of their physical proximity. 

Debbie's African Inspired Dance Class, Santa Cruz, CA

As Mary climbed the last miles toward the summit of Kilimanjaro, she realized that her African Inspired Dance class was taking place across the world at that very moment.  Mary felt connected to everyone and everything as she fulfilled her destiny by arriving at the top.  This feeling of being connected with the earth and its people has remained with her as the true trophy of her accomplishment. 

Julie & Mary

Mary Kline at the Top of Mt Kilimanjaro

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Carolyn permalink
    June 23, 2010 2:42 pm

    I don’t know if you remember Julie, but my college friends, Marie and Stan Benson lived not far from Kilimajaro for 40 years.

  2. June 28, 2010 3:23 am

    I worked with Mary today and she is as radiant as ever, even while at the lab. She brings the sun and air into our dull clinical surroundings and makes them shine. Thank you for painting a picture of her adventure that links it so beautifully to all she is- at home and in the wilderness.

  3. June 28, 2010 11:22 pm

    Julie – I really enjoyed your telling of our trip from Mary’s perspective. I’d be glad to meet and talk with you as we seem to be kindred spirits in terms on interests and philosophy. I’ve included my hiking blog which has my experience of Kilimanjaro. Other hikes with Mary and Jo are on there as well. I look forward to reading your novel!

  4. June 30, 2010 1:35 am

    Wonderful Julie, I would love to meet you as well. I have briefly looked at the great photos on your blog and I look forward to going back and taking the time to read more. Shall we meet in August when I return from Idaho?

  5. June 30, 2010 4:35 pm

    yes, that would be great as I am gone during July as well!

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