Mount Kilimanjaro – Track Our Progress

IMG_2758We are off to the complete our 7 day  / 84 km journey through 5 distinct climates, at the cost of an average 4 toenails each, up and over the highest mountain in Africa.

Would you like to track our progress? Or even virtually climb with us over this big rock? Well let us make that happen for you!

Team Kilimanjaro Blog:

Visit the Team Kilimanjaro Blog and you will see the updates and pictures our lead guide Leonard posts from his satellite phone on the Mountain while we are climbing. Yup, as we progress up the mountain and down again, Leonard and team will update the blog when able with the latest on our progress.

Team Kilimanjaro Blog

Team Kilimanjaro Blog

Open the link above, and once we are on the mountain our team will be featured on the home page. Our section will have the latest picture from the mountain and also have our reference HS-BRDA x 7. We may be unrecognizable after days without a shower so hang on to that reference. If you can’t see us this way, go to the right hand side and change Machame to TK Rongai and hit ‘view’.

Team Kilimanjaro – Track a Climber Google Map: 

Visit the Team Kilimanjaro – Track a Climber Google Map and you will be able to follow our little icon up and over the mountain, see which camp or major landmark we are at and more. Our guide Leonard will have a satellite device that sends in coordinators to our position so the map is updated in real time!

Track a Climber

Team Kilimanjaro Track a Climber

Open the link above, and look on the left side for HS-BRDA x 7. When you click on HS-BRDA x 7 the map will zoom in on our group and even put a little spotlight on our icon. How cool is that? I want to track us being tracked! Oh and that coffee mug is not a Starbucks, its a Ranger hut and they sometimes have Coca Cola to sell and its not on our route (sad face).

Team Kilimanjaro – Encourage the Climbers

Climbing this mountain is no easy feat and they say most climbers who attempt it can physically do the climb, feel good enough at altitude to do the climb but they just don’t have the will, heart, mind or matter strength to finish the slog.

Team Kilimanjaro Encourage The Climbers

Team Kilimanjaro Encourage The Climbers

Sending love, encouragement, motivational messages, and even heckling on who can make it up to summit would go a long way for all of us!

Visit our page on the Team Kilimanjaro Blog and scroll to the bottom below the latest update and any pictures that our guide has posted and you will find a comment box. Your comment will be posted on our page and read to us by our Guide next opportunity he has to access the site by cellular service or satellite!

A big thanks for all of your support as we planned our crazy adventure!


The Day Before the Mountain

We are officially in Africa!

We landed at the Kilimanjaro Airport  in Tanzania at 7:40pm (after an easy 8hr flight from Amsterdam) and immediately our African experiences began. Stepping off the plane onto the Tarmac the warm breeze of the “cool”evening hit us, smelling of both hot sand and green leaves, topped off with an amazing full moon with wisps of cloud cover in the distance. Complete with bats dancing under the few lights  and the outline of jacaranda trees on the horizon. Wow!

After an hourlong line to get our Tanzania Visas for $50USD, completing a retina scan and finger prints for customs, we collected our bags and were met by Freddie our super friendly transport driver arranged by Climb Mount Kilimanjaro. He crawled up on the roof of our classic African Safari like van/truck and we tossed our packs up top and he expertly tied them down. Then we waited .. and waited and waited some more while he stood in a crazy long and slow line to pay for parking before we could go. Me thinks we should get used to slow and long lines while here in Africa.

Finally on our way from the airport to Arushu and the Outpost Lodge. Freddie told us it would be about an hour and wow what an entertaining hour it was. As expected their road habits are a little different than hours. Such as: when you pass a vehicle going in the other direction you ARE supposed to flash your brights, and when you want someone to pass you I guess you just turn on your ticker as if you are going in the lane they need to tell them it’s safe to pass, and do use the shoulder to pass slow moving vehicles. At one point going up a hill we were passing a big lorry in the oncoming traffic lane and another van was passing him on the shoulder, while a motorcycle was weaving between us, and a vehicle was oncoming and all with sad road kill as a speed bump.  Welcome to Africa! So glad there are no roads on the Mountain!

Arriving at the Outpost Lodge was a treat, this place is amazing! We all have these little cabin like rooms, the landscaping is quintessential Africa plants and buildings complete with the beautiful purple Jacaranda trees! We arrived too late for any food so had a little Cliff bar party in one of the garden lounge areas before hitting the hay.

Waking up this morning, we met for a yummy breakfast of omelettes and crepes (they called them pancakes) and coffee with warm milk mmmmm. The highlight … three monkeys playing in the trees above the cafe! Seems they are always about the lodge and can actually be quite a pain in the butt if you leave your room windows open. They look to get in there and look for treats.

The sign in the reception area warning of pesky monkeys!

The sign in the reception area warning of pesky monkeys!

The pesky monkeys- so cute!

The pesky monkeys- so cute!

Mid morning, we headed into Arusha. It’s a bustling city and not a place any tourist should go alone. They have special Tourist Police even that make sure visitors have a guide, and are not getting into any bad situations. We had our guide Moses from the Outpost Lodge with us to keep the lovals selling stuff at bay and take us to the places we wanted to see and he suggested.  Moses is from a local Massai village and works in town 6 days a week. He took us to this amazing cooperative market (I could have bought every painting in there) and Tanzanite Museum which was pretty cool.

Back at the hotel, after a yummy lunch with any kind of Fanta or Coke in a ‘God’s Must Be Crazy Bottle’  we are now spending a chill afternoon either reading, blogging, napping, prepping for Kili or all of the above.

Here are some random photo highlights:

Mmm coffee in the morning in our rooms.

Mmm coffee in the morning in our rooms.

Princess bed! I want misquote nets at home so I can be a princess all the time.

Princess bed! I want misquoto nets at home so I can be a princess all the time.

All kinds of Fanta and Coca Cola in glass bottles!

All kinds of Fanta and Coca Cola in glass bottles!

This makes me happy - Kili water for Kili!

This makes me happy – Kili water for Kili!

We just finished  our prebrief with our Team Kilimanjaro / Mount Kilimanjaro Guide Leonard (Leo the Lion he tells us). Wow this is happening. Now I am really excited and a little nervous but good nervous. We are off to  have some dinner and then to our beds for the last time not in a tent.


PS  we are actually climbing the highest peak in Africa tomorrow!

Sleep walking in Amsterdam

When in Rome (Amsterdam) do as the Romans do (Dutch do) and take photos in an oversized clog!

When in Rome (Amsterdam) do as the Romans do (Dutch do) and take photos in an oversized clog!

Oh my did we underestimate how tired we would be when we arrived in Amsterdam. After a 9hr flight and a 9hr time change we may not have had as much energy as we hopped to enjoy our 24hrs in the this amazing city.

We were basically sleep walking the canals, sleep drinking from local breweries, sleep munching on Nutella waffles, sleep smelling nothing but waffles and pot as you walked the canals, and sleep eating our panoeke (pancakes/crepe things that are delicious and I total slept that wrong I am sure).

Our ‘hotel’ was in an amazing area just a 15min from the airport and right in the heart of all the good stuff! Quentin Arrive it was called and should have been called Quentin Wee Baby Room! There was maybe a foot between the beds and the wall but it was clean, beds were awesome – we had no complaints!

While we didn’t get to do as much as we maybe planned, with some of us heading to bed for 8pm and others being all rock star show off till 10pm hahaha, but it AMsterdam was AMazing!

Here are a few  of basically asleep on our feet photos!

I Amsterdam!

I Amsterdam!

Two things they take very seriously here ... Cheese and Nutella! Waffle with Nutella and vanilla ice cream? Yes please!

Two things they take very seriously here … Cheese and Nutella! Waffle with Nutella and vanilla ice cream? Yes please!

Mushroom, loads of goat cheese (they take their cheese very seriously here), tomatoes and ham pancake thing of yummy dinner; with som yummy Dutch beer.

Mushroom, loads of goat cheese (they take their cheese very seriously here), tomatoes and ham pancake thing of yummy dinner; with som yummy Dutch beer.


PS boarding our plane to Tanzania Africa in minutes!

Down to 1 Sleep

on more sleep

1 More Sleep!

We are down to one sleep and I suspect with the level of excitement in this house there will not be much sleep at all!

We picked up Lana from the airport today (she flew in from Edmonton) for our adventure to start tomorrow! 5 of us fly out of Vancouver (me, my hubby, Lana, Matt and Scott) to meet our other 2 hikers (my sister Hailey and her hubby Paul who are coming from Edmonton) in Amsterdam for 24hrs then onto Africa …

I have to admit today when at the airport picking up Lana it hit me. Hit me big time. I was walking through the Departures section and all of a sudden it was like a smack across my whole body, ice cold feeling from head toe and then a heat wave – I am going to Africa!

Lana coming was in my mind the start of this adventure and holy heck she is here and this is happening! I am climbing Mount Kilimanjaro! I am going to see hyenas! I feel so blessed, so honoured and really so humbled by this opportunity and by all the excitement our friends and family have for us. Wow!

So with this amazing feeling, we are doing our final prep! Here in Vancouver – Lana is going through her stuff to make sure she didn’t leave anything at home, Matty is actually packing (boys!), I am well writing this blog post and charging phones and charger packs, and Lance is loading up his iPod with tunes to get him through the tough bits on the mountain. I bet our other Vancouver climber Scott is also packing; and in Edmonton Hailey I would guess is packing and Paul is chilling (boys again!).

All in all, I think we are all just chomping at the bit to get this party started!


PS: one little baby, itty bitty, wee sleep until our adventure

Hardly 2 Sleeps (Leaving it Behind)

I am ready to go BUT am I ready to leave?!

When planning for a vacation I am all about what can we do abroad, how much can we see, what can we fit into this adventure in, what can we afford, where can we hike, what do I have to pack, etc. This is all the exciting ‘looking ahead’ stuff but there is also some basic bits to think about related to what you are ‘leaving behind’!

From my brain to yours, here is a list of some of the things to consider and put in motion at home before you leave for your epic adventure.

  1. Mobile Phone: are you planning on using your current provider from home while you are abroad? Probably not. Consider suspending your mobile plan for the time you are gone, most providers are willing to do this without any fee or just a small fee. You can still take your phone and use it on Wi-Fi without the added concern that you might accidentally turn on your back home cellular service and pay a king’s ransom when all the texts you missed start flooding in!
  2. Car Insurance: are you just parking your car at home while you are gone? Consider reverting your insurance to just storage for the time you are gone. There is a small fee to do so but depending on how long you are gone and your insurance rates this can save you quite a few bucks!
  3. Utilities: will you house be all by itself while you are gone? Consider putting your home into power saving mode (home hibernation). Turn off the heater or furnace (for those in cold climates you may need to leave a little heat on), close and lock all windows, unplug all appliances (unused but plugged in appliances still draw power), make sure no taps are dripping, etc.
  4. Stuff Safety: is your home going to be safe without you? Consider asking a neighbour to swing by and pick up the paper or mail, have a light or the TV on a timer to turn on and off at different times to give the illusion someone is home, lock those windows (consider putting a bar or stick in the inside window seal as another extra way to prevent it from opening from the outside. Ask a someone to keep an eye on the place, and set your alarm before you go.
  5. Fuzzy loved ones: if you are leaving a pet(s) behind with a family member or friend make sure they know your fur baby’s routine. Pets can get pretty anxious when their fur mama or papa is away for a long time and just like skin babies, fur babies handle anxiety better when there is routine. Ask your fur sitter to feed, cuddle and walk your pet at the same times as you would. Make sure you leave enough food, treats (ok a few extra treats!), toys and the Veterinarian contact details behind. Might also be worth having a discussion on vet bills. If your friend took your pet to the vet while you are away are your worried about how much it might cost. Let them know how you feel and how they can reach you if this happens.
  6. Non-fuzzy loved ones: family and friends can be a bit worried for you when you are leaving on a lengthy vacation. Let the folks you know that will worry or would expect to hear from you during the trip an idea of what you are up to (sharing a quick itinerary and contact information for where they can reach you goes a long way to put their worry to rest). Even if you can’t name the hotel or hostel, just having an idea of the city you will be in helps – especially if your family watches the news!
  7. Your Safety: you are so excited to go and would hate to think that anything will happen to you while you are gone … but travel is full of surprises so you need to plan for awesome and be prepared for hiccups. Leave a copy of your passport, birth certificate, travel insurance, and itinerary with a key family or friend who you could reach anytime if needed from abroad. If you lose your passport, are in an accident, or some other not-fun thing; this person has the info needed to help you get back on track or speak on your behalf to a medical facility or Embassy.
  8. House Sitter: if you are lucky enough to have a house sitter, you can basically disregard the Stuff Safety section above! A few tips though for if you do have a house sitter: make sure they are trustworthy, let them know how all of the 5 remotes on the coffee table work, speaking of coffee … make sure they know how to use your coffee maker, tell them when garbage and recycle is picked up, give them insight on any weird tricks around the house (i.e. if you have to hip check the washing machine for it to go from rinse to spin cycle). Oh and if possible introduce them to or at least tell your neighbours someone is staying at your place! Leave them a welcome to your new-temporary-home present. We are leaving our house sitter and fuzzy, cute, lovable, moderately annoying Jack Russell named Lady Jane as her present!
  9. Clean it: nothing better than coming home after a trip abroad and just dropping your bags at the door, kicking off those dusty boots and get right down to chilling out in your own space. This feels much better when you come home to a clean house, clean sheets, happy bathroom (that means clean in our family), etc. No mess, no worries!

Well with all the above in mind, I am currently working on number 9 (my bathroom is still not completely happy, joyful but not quite happy rating) and also working on number 8 too for when our friend comes on Saturday to take over the place and love up our pooch for the 6 weeks we are gallivanting in Africa.

Speaking of fuzzing loved ones …

jack russell

Our furry loved one, Lady Jane! #jackrusselllove


PS: You read that right, just 2 sleeps left!

PSS: I was looking forward to a nice quiet sleep tonight now that I am so prepared to go .. and then I got on the phone with my sister Shar and then my sister Hailey and now I am all beyond excited again! Thanks sisters! I think that bathroom is going to get extra happy clean with all this energy I have!

Merely 3 Sleeps (Packing List)

Wow, wow, wow! Someone pinch me I cannot believe that this epic African adventure begins in just 3 sleeps. There is no way I am sleeping tonight. The excitement is crazy in this house and I am way to energetic to sleep.

I wonder though if it works like Christmas? You know when your parents told you the faster you go to bed the faster Santa will come! I think I will test this theory tonight and hope that my usual dreams of Kilimanjaro do not wake me from a dead sleep wondering if I remembered to pack socks, undies or my water bottle!  But then if I go to sleep and it does come fast, then the faster it comes the faster it will be over and then … STOP Brande! Enjoy, embrace, breathe and take it all in!

Ok well enough with that spiral of excitement with a side of worry, here is what I accomplished today in prep for departure … I packed for the tourist part of the African adventure (the other 4 weeks we are away).

packing for Africa

Everything you need for 4 weeks in a 65 litre pack? No problem!

For anyone doing a 2+ week trip in a warm weather climate, here is the packing list that has treated me so well for so many vacations to date and is exactly what I used for this African vacation as well!


Rules: everything should be plain, solid coloured or an easy print. Think about bringing stuff that you could toss your 1 scarf on with (see below) to change the look technically getting you another outfit without actually changing. Also, everything on top must match everything you bring for bottoms so really think about the fabrics you bring and the colours. BUT DON’T OVER THINK!  Oh and keep the cleavage and the spaghetti straps to a minimum, we don’t want to draw too much attention to the goods.

  • 3 T-Shirts
  • 1 Long Sleeve T-Shirt
  • 1 Sweater
  • 4 Tank tops
  • 1-2 technical shirts (tank, tee or long sleeve – these are good for when you are working out, hiking, jogging, or even to wear under a wet suit)


Rules: everything again should be solid coloured, this is not the time to bring out those stripped crazy pants! Also don’t go too short on the shorts, tourists should dress modestly. We want to see the sights not be the sight to see! 

  • 1-2 Shorts
  • 1 Jean
  • 1 Comfy / Travel Pant
  • 1-2 Sporty Pant or Capri (think of what you want to wear driving for hours, and also good for the plane, and for sight-seeing)

Full Body:

  • 1-2 Summer, Simple Dress (apply the same rules you would for the Upper above – plain, solid coloured or easy print and must match your scarf and your sweater)


  • 1 Bathing suit you like that you could hang out in all day (for any of you who groaned when you read the fact that you need a bathing suite, email me and I will remind you that you are beautiful and amazing!)
  • 1 bathing suit that could work under a wet suit or active water activities (not necessary if you can do it all in the 1 bathing suit you are bringing but I tend to bring a a robust bikini top and little shorts plus my nice bathing suite for just pool and beach time)
  • 1 Bathing suit cover up


  • Scarf or Pashmina (think simple, solid or easy print again – you should be able to put this on with ANYTHING you have brought with you in the Upper, Lower and Full Body sections above)
  • Wind stopper / Water resistant jacket
  • Flip flips or sandals or flat closed toe shoe like Tom’s that can be worn with everything above, get wet, and worn out (no crazy bling, they had better not cause you blisters, and break them in before you go!)
  • Runners or light hikers for when you need to get your sweat on
  • Pajamas (top, bottom, comfy sleep bra)


  • 2 sports bras (hopefully some of your Uppers above allow for this comfort, and for around the hotel in pajamas, etc)
  • 1 nice light coloured bra
  • 1 nice dark coloured bra
  • 10-12 undies (if you have light coloured Lower stuff be sure to bring a mix of light and dark colours)
  • 1 slip if needed for your dresses OR 1 slip shorts (little slim fitting shorts made of slip material so you get the slip and avoid thigh chafe)
  • Socks for those shoes you brought


  • Keep this simple – before you go, one day put everything you use to get ready, in the morning, every medication you take, and what you use to get ready for bed at night in a basket – put all that stuff in a cosmetic bag and voila! (Do NOT even think about packing that face mask or night cream you have been dying to try with you – you will not use it, it will be a waste of room and weight in your bag.)
  • Sunscreen … I should not have to specifically mention this because you should be wearing this everyday but if you do not … start and pack some!
  • Extra, travel specific meds (Think about any possible issues you would like to be able to deal with quickly without the hassle of foreign medical services. Bladder infection, traveler’s tummy, etc)

Might be worth thinking about:

  • Some laundry soap so you can hand wash and dry anything on the list until or in absence of a Laundromat
  • Some little and big zip locks, just a few and just in case
  • A thin bag for your dirty clothes to keep it separate from your clean stuff
  • Hat (something that goes with the Upper and Lower above)
  • Travel towel (for your water activities)
  • Toe nail polish
  • Book(s) to read
  • Journal and pen to document your adventure
  • Handbag / courier bag – small but big enough for camera, snacks, water, etc. but not so big that your hips or shoulder aches from carrying it!
  • Camera, more camera cards than you think, charger
  • Sunglasses

From my backpack to yours!


PS: Did you know 3 sleeps is only 72 hours? eeeeeeek so excited!

Only 4 Sleeps (Packing Rules)

Ok this is getting really real!

This time next week we will already on our 2nd day of our 7 day trek up and over Mount Kilimanjaro… and I just did a little scream of excitement.  Well to be honest there is also a simmering scream of some nervous butterflies working their queasy magic on my tummy too. Every day up till now I have been super excited. Today I started to get nervous. Yes the nerves could be because of the snow on the Mountain, could be because there are some inherent risks with such a climb, but it is more than likely just because I want everything to go as well as it can for all of us travelling and I tend to worry about this more and for everyone.

Getting nervous – needed a distraction – stop thinking about it – finish packing!

I am lucky, the art of packing is pretty easy for me. I have adopted a few rules from people much smarter than me over the years and made up a few of my own. They may work for you as well in future, take a peek:

  1. Never pack a top (shirt, tank, long sleeve) that does not match EVERY one of your bottoms (pants, skirt, shorts). If it does not get along with everyone, it does not get invited to the backpack party!
  2. Never pack that one item you have never worn but you are certain it would be perfect for this trip. Nope, its not. Even if you pack it, you will never actually wear it. Well you might try it on but it will never leave your hostel, hotel, B&B, tent, etc. Trust me. Leave it at home or better yet pass that thing on to someone deserving feel the relief.
  3. If you do not love how something makes you feel at home you will hate it even more abroad. Travelling is about absorbing all around you and is not about adjusting and worrying about wardrobe. It is not the time to try and suffer through those skinny jeans that really don’t make you happy, or the bra strap that never stays up.
  4. Do always bring a very basic scarf that can go with anything you bring as a fashion accessory, to keep the neck warm when you get that weird sore throat that seems to always happen on planes, and to cover those shoulders and any cleavage if you are visiting any churches or the such. Also a scarf is great to put on the seat when you are wearing shorts or skirt so your bare skin is not on that well used train cushion.
  5. Do always toss in a couple of Ziploc style bags of different sizes and a couple of those bag closure clips in your backpack. Nothing worse than buying that awesome peanut snack mixture and having no way to close it securely before you put it in your pack to roll about with your nice clean clothes that need to stay that way!
  6. Of course, roll all clothes – do not fold!
  7. Put the big stuff in first and fill in the open gaps in the bag with the little rolled clothing. Put the heavy stuff at the bottom of the bag.
  8. Never leave anything to memory. We have all said to ourselves “I will toss in my ___ the morning before I go” and then you get on the plane and you have that sinking, awful feeling cause you know you forgot! If you need to put something into your bag at the last minute or when the laundry is done or whatever, write it on a post it and put that on or by your bag. Replace the post it with the actual item before you leave and voila.
  9. Charge it all before you go to the max. Camera, phone, Kobo, Kindle, iPod or whatever get it to 100% so you are not worried about getting a place where you can charge it more than you are about soaking in the amazing place you have traveled to.
  10. If you absolutely cannot imagine the trip without an item – do not leave it to chance in your checked bags. Carry that thing or those things on to the plane. I am carrying all my Mount Kilimanjaro essentials with me on the plane, and wearing my boots as well.
  11. Final trick, if you forgot it – it wasn’t mean to come! Ok this does not apply to important medications and deodorant but I mean that shirt, or those blingy flip flops, etc. Don’t sweat it. Embrace it!
  12. Absolute, final trick, If you are that heart broken that you forgot it… its a sign you are meant to buy it when you get there! Come on it could be your souvenir! Ha ha ha 🙂
Osprey packing

My day pack for Mount Kilimanjaro with everything I need for the Mountain (carrying this guy on the plane) .. with post it notes for items I still need to add.

Ok back to packing and being mindful of my own “rules”!


PS: only, for real, no joke, can you believe it, 4 sleeps left!

Just 5 Sleeps

What would you be doing just 5 sleeps from your departure for a crazy, amazing 6 weeks in Africa that includes a week on a mountain?

Well if you are me  – you are doing everything BUT thinking about the fact that it in my mind is basically a blizzard on top of Mount Kilimanjaro right now, Yes I am for real. It is snowing in Africa! Everything above what will be our 4th camp is snow, snow, snow. Check it out if you don’t believe me: Mountain Forecast

The upside is the scree on the summit will be frozen so that will make it better for traction on our 20 hour summit – but if scree can freeze so can we! Good thing for fleece, merino wool and our thick cozy Canadian blood! Mr. Hemingway was not kidding with his Snows of Africa prose. Well played Ernest, well played.

So here is how I am distracting myself from the snow with 5 sleeps to go:

Toiletries and Med kit for Africa

Sorting out the toiletries for Africa tourist time, for Kilimanjaro climbing and our medical kits for the mountain and in general.

water bladders

Washing our water bladders to make sure they are fresh and clean for Kilimanjaro. We will have a hard enough time finding good drinking water; we don’t need to bring germs from home.

Kilimanjaro Gear

Packing for Kilimanjaro – what fits in this laundry basket can be compressed and fit into my 35L Osprey Backpack of awesome. Carrying that bad boy on the plane so I have what I need for the mountain – just in case my bag is lost!

travel file

Preparing the travel file. Making sure we have copies of all our itineraries, e-tickets, flights, confirmations, vouchers, copies of passport, insurance and more. The bible of our trip really.

Over and above all this, about a b-zillion texts back and forth with Lana to find accommodations along the Garden Route, in Cape Town, and in Durban, South Africa. We were successful booking Durban (our rental home has a beautiful deck on the ocean and there are dolphins and whales in the bay every morning, squeeeek excited).

We are so far unsuccessful in booking Garden Route and Cape Town but there are a whopping 4 sleeps left to book this stuff. So I am sure I will not lose any sleep over it …. (said no one in my family ever!)


PS: Five, 5, Cinc, Pet, Fem, Vijf, Quinque, Cinco, Tano .. sleeps!

Yup Nope Maybe Whatever

With just 2 training weekends left before we depart for Mount Kilimanjaro, us Vancouver based trekkers headed out last weekend on what will be our longest training hike before we go. The kick your butt  Sandero Diez Vistas in Coquitlam.

Making the decision to do this particular hike was based on a) is it less than an hour’s drive, b) is it long enough like over 10km, and c) is it free of any technical scrambling (we don’t have any technical bits on Kili so why practice it). I made the decision and posted it to our closed Climbing Kilimanjaro  Facebook group with an open invitation for company. as has been my practice all spring and summer.

My hubby Lance) and the Carmen brothers (Matty and Scott) were all on board. Seems getting serious about your training two weeks before departure is perfect timing when climbing a mountain … said no one ever!

Funny enough while they were all keen to hike, not all of them fully read the information about the trail. When just 10mins away from the trail I got the question “how long is this hike?” I answered all happy and excited “I think 13kms” (its actually 15km). There was a barely audible “oh” from the back seat. Oops!

Any who, off we went and wow the trail was A LOT of work! You were heading up switch back after switch back for what seemed like a very long time in order to get to the the first of the boasted 10  views (Diez Vistas).

Heading up on Sandero Diez Vistas Trail, Coquitlam British Columbia

Wish I would have enjoyed this part of the trail a little more, it was so gentle compared to the rest of the harsh incline and decline we came across. (Scott, Matt and Lance)

More up on Sandero Diez Vistas Trail, Coquitlam British Columbia

The incline is getting really fun now. Shortly after this section we were in full blown switch backs with scrambling sections. (Brande)

I was pleased to finally get to the top (or the ridge). The way up was hard work but also really daunting for me. There was some scrambling on the switchbacks in a couple of spots – which in my scared-of-heights-opinion were slick rock faces directly over a chasm drop to the depths of hell! They almost had the power to mess with my mind enough to send me back to the car. However, a little inner voice saying “B if you cant make this little path, you cant climb Kili so get your Nike wearing butt across this thing NOW” helped me push past the fear. How did you like that insight into my brain?

The view is amazing from the top for sure. You are treated to the first look out and its pretty spectacular, then a second and a third .. and that’s where it stops. There are actually only 3 really awesome views to take in. I guess there used to be 10 (Diez Vistas) but the forest has grown so much that the others are now blocked in by the trees. Perhaps a name change to Sandero Tres Vistas is in order?

View from Sandero Diez Vistas Trail, Coquitlam British Columbia

The view from the second view point ( I think ). We took a 10 min break and had some snacks before pushing on. (Lance and his PB/J sammy)

We followed the ridge line where the path undulated up and down for about an hour and then came even more fun – getting back down. This was knee screaming, find me the gondola, why am I doing this kind  of decline and it never seemed to end. Little roots and rocks all over that lovingly catch on the toes of your boots or slip a little when you use them for purchase. We were working hard and our knees felt it. Now this is great training for the 40km we hike over 2 days to get down from the Kili Summit!

It didn’t look like too many people came down the back side (most went up the front, saw the views and went back down the front again) so I kicked off some please-do-not-eat-me-bear calls which the boys quickly picked up and added their own flare to. The teddy bears at the picnic could hear us call out:  “Yuuup” (Brande) “Nope” (Lance) “Maybe” (Scotty) and “Whatever” (Matty). Strangely enough each of our words sorta match our personalities. hmmm

All in all we were entertained throughout by either each other (heckling your closest friends is always entertaining) or the path itself which had lots of fun, different stuff to offer to keep your interest on the trail and not your knees or blisters.

Sandero Diez Vistas Trail, Coquitlam British Columbia

A fun log bridge over a mushy creek on the back side of the trail.

Wood path on Sandero Diez Vistas Trail, Coquitlam British Columbia

Sections of the trail were or had the potential to be really muddy, the Parks board did a great job of putting in these rough wooden walk ways to persevere the ground and keep people on the path.

Trail Markers on Sandero Diez Vistas Trail, Coquitlam British Columbia

I had heard that some hikers found it hard to find the trail in spots and with these itty bitty markers I can see why!

We managed to make it from start to finish with no mishaps. Don’t get me wrong though there were some screaming knees, a phone call from one Carmen brother to another asking where the path is, one of us out of water, a wrong turn that added 1 km to the trek, and some moments where we lost but recovered the trail.

Oddly, the funniest moment to me was coming across this sign (the first of a few):

Warning Sign on Sandero Diez Vistas Trail, Coquitlam British Columbia

Damage from a recent big storm was obvious in a few spots. Looking up you could see a tree broken in the middle but balancing still on its base.

Yes, if you are wondering, we did keep walking on the trail and while we didn’t stop per se we did slow down enough to find out where and what this “hazardous tree” was all about. I was secretly hoping it was Groot from Guardian’s of the Galaxy all grumpy and wrecking stuff and his friend Chris Pratt was trying to calm him down meanwhile Rocket the Raccoon was chilling waiting out the drama to end. But it wasn’t. Boo!


PS: 8 sleeps (freaking out!)

Talking About Elephants

What would you be focused on with just 11 sleeps to go before you depart on an epic 6 week African adventure that includes climbing Mount Kilimanjaro?

Well Lana Rae and I are talking about … elephants.

We are not spending our time texting about clearly ‘important’ stuff like how our hiking boots fit, our packing lists, vaccinations, entry visas, or even final itinerary planning. We are talking about elephants. Still a pretty important topic considering we are heading to a place with elephants!

Well importance implies a level of sophistication and as with most text conversations between me and Lana they may not be all that sophisticated or even mature but they are funny as all get out. Recognizing of course that humour, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder  – so we leave the level of hilarity up to you to decide. For Lana and I there is often actual laughing out loud when we are texting.

Here are our elephant texts for your giggling pleasure:

“Also, I’m thinking elephant safari – takes about 1.5 hours riding an elephant and the ostrich?”  (Lana)

“Riding elephant scares me more than shark cage – weird?!?!”  (Brande)

“Totally weird! They can’t even eat you nor do they want to!! And it’s a friendly elephant place that doesn’t use pokers. Although they have rehabilitated grouchy elephants …”  (Lana)

“Rehabilitated grouchy elephants. Dude! What if I remind them of their bad owner and the trample me or put me in a trunk head lock! You watch I will get the one called Karma and she will be a reckoning. I am carrying peanuts just in case! And a mouse!” (Brande)

“Ha ha!! I will carry a watermelon .. Mine will be named Squeakers and lift me up like a princess!!!!” (Lana)

Basically we are ridiculous and we love it!


Squeakers the Elephant and Princess Lana and Karma the Elephant and a trunk head-locked B


PS Did I mention only 11 sleeps?

PSS Yes you read about an ostrich ride above – more details to come on that and the shark cage reference in an upcoming blog post.