Natalie and I at the hippo pool at Lake Manyara
Got up very close with animals: Eye to eye with an Elephant- nose to nose with a baboon, breakfasted with hippos at their pool, laughed with Hyenas, walked tall with the giraffes, slept like a baby hippo, lazied around like the lions, tried to run like a gazelle, waddled down the mountain like an elephant, drove as fast as a cheetah, felt like a leopard protecting her young, after a while crocodile. Nothing is ever just black and white like zebra
I have been truly blessed to see and what I have done in the past 26 days!! My life and the world in which we live in… is an amazing extraordinary place. I have seen such poverty and lack of the things we know and have. But I have seen such joy and happiness and color in the lives of people that enjoy simple basic things. The love of family and friends is universal. The beauty and limitless awe of nature will always be in my heart.
I have made new friends and will treasure them, as our guide Ayubu said “we came as visitors but we leave as family.” I feel overwhelmed with gratitude for a land that has given me the experience of a lifetime.
This trip wouldn’t have been possible in the same remarkable way without my dear friend Natalie- I met Natalie while substitute teaching 3 years ago. She had been on Safari and wanted to come back. I understand why! Natalie has been a friend and inspiration (never met a harder worker or more independent spirited person) and to have shared these adventures with her, has bonded us forever. Ashanti sang Natalie!
I am looking forward to coming home. I’ve missed you all and send my love. I hope the last 26 days has been good for you and kept you in good health and happiness.
Now promise me you will watch my slide show. Just kidding
“There once was a girl named Kari who went on a week long Safari. For late evening laughs she necked with giraffes and told everyone she wasn’t sorry.” ( limerick helped written by my Dad in 1970 for 7th grade English class ) rec’d an A+! Now after 50 years I am on the Safari! Cheers to you Poppa Bear!
July 1, 2017
8 days until I leave for Kilimanjaro. Thank you everyone for your love and support!
Last night with your help, I reached my goal on the GoFundMe-Climbforlymekili site. It sent me over the top with joy.
Thank you, thank you!! (The site will be up until the end of August, if you want to continue to make donations).
The MN Lyme Association is working hard to help those with Lyme Disease. It has been a worthy cause and I will continue to support and value what they do and the people they are helping. A BIG THANK YOU- To all of you.
While preparing for Kilimanjaro, I have learned a lot about myself and others. The generous, loving, caring nature of people is enormous.
The dream to go to Africa began as a young girl. I dreamt of going to far off lands, to help people, to make a difference in the lives of others, to experience different cultures and people, to grow and see the beauty in this world- that has been my desire.
I can’t believe it is almost time to leave and fulfill my dream. My favorite poem-
“Hold fast to dreams for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.” Langston Hughes, so now I fly….
Losing my parents at their young ages was very hard and devastating but THEIR Spirit, guidance, life lessons, courage, support, belief in me and others and love of life- are with me always.
After my Dad passed away in 1991 (at the age of 61), The David Graven Memorial Fund was set up to help people in the community- to give back. A very generous donation was given to the MN Lyme Association, through his memorial fund- on my behalf. (His spirit lives within me). Thanks Dad!
A huge thank you to Sally Graven- to help make that happen. (My beautiful and giving, supportive stepmom, who- even with her own struggles with Parkinson Disease, has shown me, courage and a passion for giving and living. Thanks Sal!
My body, my mind, and my heart/soul are ready… with family, friends, students, and people that I have met- I will climb with joy, gratitude and the strength that you have given me.
For the Lyme Warriors- may each of your steps be less painful and easier because of awareness, education, diagnosis and treatment of this horrible disease.
A new light was born into this world- Lumen Graven born June 21st – the beautiful daughter of my cousin Marie and Noel (Lyme Warrior) and it is with this new life- that the journey continues with greater brightness and joy. Thank you! And blessings to all.
Love and Color, Kari
“Upward and Onward”
We will meet you on your arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) and transfer you to your overnight hotel which is located on the foot of Mt. Meru, the fifth highest mountain in Africa at 15,000 ft. Each of the rooms, comfortable with modern facilities, have the spectacular view of Mt. Meru or Arusha city which can be enjoyed from the private verandah.
Overnight: Ilboru Safari Lodge (Bed & Breakfast)
July 11: PRE-CLIMB ORIENTATION
This day is designed to give you plenty of time to relax, pack and recoup from the long journey. Your Kilimanjaro climbing team leader and guides will meet you in the late morning for a short pre-climb orientation. During the orientation, you will meet the Trip Leader and the Guides and you will go through the climbing program, discuss about the mountaineering and group expedition ethics, hazards on the mountain, sickness prevention, treatment and evacuation procedures. Our guides will go through our group camping gear and demonstrate the use and operation of all the equipment. They will also show you and demonstrate the use and operation of our safety equipments especially Emergency Supplemental Oxygen Tanks, Pulse Oximeter, Gamow Hyperbaric Chamber and our climbing expedition First Aid Kits. Safety is our first priority on the mountain. The guides will answer any questions you have about the climb. We will do equipment check with each person to be sure that you are fully prepared.
Overnight: Ilboru Safari Lodge (Bed & Breakfast)
July 12: DRIVE FROM ARUSHA TO LEMOSHO GLADES TRAIL HEAD (7,550’) & HIKE TO MONTANE FOREST CAMP (9,450′) 3.9 miles
After breakfast in the morning we will drive approximately for about 2-2.5 hours to the Londorosi Registration Entrance Gate (7,750’) of Kilimanjaro National Park. We will checking in and register at the gate. After registration, we will continue with our drive (about 1 hour drive) through Kilimanjaro National Forest to the Lemosho Glades trail head; where we will meet the rest of our climbing crew including guides, assistant guides, porters and the cook. Our Lead Guide will give you a full introduction of the entire climbing team. After the introductions, we will start our hike for about 3-4 hours through a very thick and undisturbed forest to our first camp on the mountain for the night. We will see a lot of very beautiful flowers on the way; with luck we may hear and see Black and White Colobus Monkeys, signs of elephants or buffaloes and other forest wildlife on our hike to camp.
July 13: MONTANE FOREST CAMP (9,450’) TO SHIRA PLATEAU – WEST SIDE CAMP (11,450′) 4.9 miles
Today will be one of our long hikes, which will take us about 6 – 7 hours from the Montane Forest, through a transition zone into the Heath zone on the west side of the Shira Plateaus, where you will be able to see the old Lava flows. Your climbing guides will point out and discuss with you unique environmental differences that characterizes each climatic zone. We will take our time hiking slowly while spotting some of the plentiful different game and birdlife life to our overnight camp which offers dramatic view of Kilimanjaro and its glaciers.
July 14: SHIRA PLATEAU – WEST SIDE CAMP (11,450′) TO SHIRA PLATEAU – EAST SIDE OR MOIR HUT (13,580’) 6.8 miles
Our hike today will be about 4 – 5 hours across the Shira Plateau, a World Heritage Site to our picnic lunch stop at Scott Fisher’s Camp. After lunch we will proceed with our hike for about 1 – 2 hours up to the western slopes of the Kibo Massif. We will be hiking through Moorland Zone where we will spend our time admiring and exploring the plateaus, arriving to our beautiful overnight camp which is at the base of massive lava flow, a very fascinating terrain with a lot of elevation changes and uneven wall-type features that are very intriguing to rock climbers.
July 15: MOIR HUT (13,580’) TO LAVA TOWER (14,950′) 2.3 miles
Today will be a short hike for about 3 – 4 hours to our overnight camp just under Lava Tower, a 300 foot high volcanic lava plug that juts out of the side of the mountain. We will arrive at the Lava Tower Camp for lunch. After lunch, you will take some time to relax. We will leave in mid-afternoon and embark on an acclimatizing hike to the top of Lava Tower to enjoy the scenery of the surrounding areas and descend back down to the camp just in time for early evening appetizing hot drinks and snacks, before dinner. Adequately, this will increase your performance by acclimatizing high on top of the tower. This will be our first introduction to the Alpine Desert Zone, with the only plant life being the hardiest of grasses and lichens. We will have a spectacular view of our final ascent route up the Western Breach Wall and the Breach Icicle.
July 16: LAVA TOWER (14,950′) TO ARROW GLACIER (15,970′) 1.7 miles
With the Western Breach ascent route in full view, we will spend about 1 – 2 hours climbing to the base of the route where we will camp near Arrow Glacier. The day will be spent mostly resting and conserving strength, but there will also be an afternoon hike partway along the final climbing ascent route. This will get us to higher elevations for better acclimatization and give us a chance to familiarize ourselves with the beginning of the toughest hiking day of the whole climb.
July 17: ARROW GLACIER (15,970′) TO THE CRATER CAMP (18,800′) 1.5 miles
We will wake up very early in the morning for breakfast and ready to start hiking by 5am. We will wind our way up the Western Breach non-technical climbing route. The first part of the trail is covered with a lot of scree or loose rock with the final part of the trail being steep rocky slopes which you will need to use your hands to navigate the sections and using rocks for handholds. There are a total of 4 such rocky sections to the rim of the crater, which many climbers consider fun. Although many people consider the trail steep, it is only 30 – 40 degree slope which takes about 6 – 7 hours to the camp for the night which is next to the Furtwrangler Glaciaers. We will have an optional hike after lunch break to explore the inner crater and ash pit. This is a raised, circular inner rim, the inside of which slopes down to a flat floor, and then a 400′-deep inverted cone (hole) at the very center of the volcano. Kilimanjaro has one of the most perfectly formed volcanic ash pits of any mountain in the world. The climb up the soft scree slope will top-out at 19,200′; which is only 140′ lower in elevation than Uhuru Peak, the actual summit of Kilimanjaro. The view of the inner crater and ash pit is amazing; this spot is much more beautiful and awe-inspiring than Uhuru Peak itself. The inner crater and ash pit are the most impressive landmarks that you will see on the mountain. In the evening you will enjoy the stunning views westward towards Mount Meru and the setting African sun. The high altitude of crater camp makes it a physically demanding experience, but the reward is a radical scene of towering glaciers rising from the harsh rock landscapes.
July 18: CRATER CAMP (18,800′) TO UHURU SUMMIT (19,340’) AND DESCEND TO MWEKA CAMP (10,000′) 7.5 MILES
We will start our ascent to the summit early enough in the morning to be on the summit by sunrise. This final ascent to the summit is only 540 feet, but very tiring. We will start the hike after early breakfast. The beginning part of the trail is very soft, loose, dusty scree and few steep rocky scrambling to the top of the rise, followed by relatively flat terrain of about 300 yards to the Uhuru Summit sign. This is quite a contrast to the 4,000 feet slog required to summit via all the other ascent routes on Kilimanjaro. The rewards of seeing the summit crater glaciers and standing on Africa’s highest peak are well worth the efforts. After taking in the view from Uhuru Peak we will begin the long descent through Stella Point to Barafu Hut (about 2 – 3 hours) where we will stop for lunch break. After break we will proceed with our descent for about 3 – 4 hours to Mweka Hut Camp which is our last camp located in a thick rainforest zone.
July 19: MWEKA CAMP (10,000′) TO MWEKA EXIT GATE (5,380’) (6.3 miles) & DRIVE BACK TO THE HOTEL IN ARUSHA
Today’s hike will take us about 4 to 5 hours to make the 4,500 feet descent to the park exit gate. We will start the hike down through rainy forest in a steep downhill and very often slippery terrain all the way to the park exit gate. We will arrive at the gate in the afternoon, sign-out on the National Park log book and receive your certificates. You will say goodbye to your climbing crew which is usually quite a sad moment after you have created a bonding with them over the days you were on the mountain. We will drive through very beautiful lush coffee plantations and small villages of the Chagga people back to Arusha for a nice hot shower and time to relax looking forward to go on safari or depart back home the following day.
Overnight: Ilboru Safari Lodge (Bed & Breakfast)
Jambo, (Swahili for Hello)
The training I have been doing will be put to the real test in 3 days! Leaving for Africa on July 9, I will be Posting photos/ up-dates on FB Kari Graven, FB Climb For Lyme and GoFundMe/ClimbForlymekili (where you can still make contributions to the MN Lyme Association) You can follow my colorful journey on my blog -Living Large at my website www.www.karigraven.com
A great Youtube video called “Climbing Kilimanjaro- To The Rooftop of Africa” is a great overview of what I will be experiencing.
Destination Safaris is the awesome group we are going with. On the mountain–our guide Innocent, will be posting our progress via satellite at www.Detasa.com (Click on Follow the Group and view the itinerary and posts of the group).
2 years of planning- a lifetime of dreaming, many hours, days and weeks of training and it will be here before I know it.
To everyone I have met and gotten to know-to all those that know me and still love me (lol) and to all the people I will continue to meet on my Living Large Journey- Thank you !! It is the people that make the journey worthwhile.
The Journey begins
Please join me in support of awareness for Lyme Disease to help bring it into the “Lyme Light.” By donating to my GoFundMe campaign, you will be donating directly to the MN Lyme Association (MLA) to build awareness and provide accurate information and education through the Partnership For Tickborne Diseases Education. Your donation is tax deductible.
I began the idea to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to honor and celebrate my parents’ lives and those of others who died too young. (My mom in a car accident at 36 and dad at 61 of cancer). It has been a lifelong dream of mine to travel to Africa, and to summit the “Roof of Africa,” Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Losing my parents made me realize how precious life is and how quickly it can all be taken away. I try to “live large” and make a difference in the lives of others. My goal is to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in 9 days to bring awareness and provide hope to those that climb mountains every day- Lyme warriors.
One of those Lyme warriors is a family member that struggles every day, after having been misdiagnosed, and having the relentless, painful and debilitating disease that is LYME. As I began to share my dream of climbing Kilimanjaro with others, I was astounded to discover the amount of people that have been affected by this disease. Whether it is your family member, co-worker, friend, or neighbor, chances are you know someone affected by the disease. Your donation makes a difference.
I hope to reach the summit but it is the joy of knowing each and everyone of you that makes my journey worthwhile.
“Asanti” (Thank you in Swahili) for your support, encouragement and love.
You have all touched my life.
P.S. I will be sharing events, posts, blogs stories, and photos about my journey, over the next 10 months, along with the actual climb July 10- July 19th, 2017
Check out my Facebook pages Kari Graven and Climb For Lyme
and www.karigraven.com and Climbforlyme.net
Visit Gofundme.com/climbforlymekili to donate