Sunday morning started off with a minor challenge when I found myself without a hiking partner at the last second because her roommate’s dog needed to see a vet ASAP. Thankfully, my wife Jess and my youngest son Max, were available to join me on a moment’s notice.
The plan had been to hike in High Park, but we called an audible and opted for something closer to home. We decided to enter the trails south of Edward Gardens and head towards Serena Gundy Park near Leslie and Eglinton.
The weather was not on our side. It was a balmy -16 early in the morning (-23 if you are one of those people who factors in wind chill). The good news is that it likely won’t get much colder than this when we are hiking on Mt. Kilimanjaro, so it was a great test to see how few layers I could get away with and still stay warm.
The result was that I was able to hike in a base layer, mid layer and a Windstopper shell and remain quite warm. That, of course, is in addition to a good hat and a light pair of gloves. A pair of long underwear would probably have been a nice addition given the chill on my upper legs from the wind. But I’m happy to confirm that I won’t need to wear a lot of layers to stay warm. I strongly dislike wearing several layers of clothing.
The final piece of adversity we faced on Sunday morning was the ice. A recent dump of snow covered up the thick ice that had formed over the dirt trail. The ice made the footing difficult in parts – especially coming down hills. Despite my best efforts to be diligent about the slippery slopes, I ended up taking quite a spill around the 3km mark. I landed hard on my left side, with my hip, leg and foot taking the brunt of the impact. I avoided hitting my head – thanks, in part, to my backpack – and also avoided snapping a wrist or an arm. The pain from the fall dissipated as my adrenaline kicked in, leaving the only real damage a big bruise to my ego.
The challenges notwithstanding, the hike was good. I tried some merino wool socks from Icebreaker and they made my feet feel a lot better. My legs felt stronger from all the heavy weight training I’ve been doing with Marshall. Additional stretching also helped with the tightness and soreness that I had experienced in my lower back on past hikes. This was a tip from Neal Kushwaha. Neal is serving as a training consultant and guide for our climb and has been a valuable source of information about what to expect both pre departure and during the climb.
One of the interesting pieces of advice shared by Neal is how we will establish a hiking rhythm on the mountain. Essentially, we will climb for an hour and then take a 5-7 minute rest break including snacks. The goal, while climbing, is to let as much heat as possible evaporate from your body so you don’t get wet from the sweat. Once you stop for the break, cold sets in quickly. So there is a prescribed method to take off your pack, quickly put on a down jacket to keep warm, and enjoy a snack. Just as quickly as the group stops, each person must remove the warm coat and starting hiking again in the lighter layers.
Neal also suggested that I find out which snacks I really like to eat. Based on his experience and the experience of others, one’s appetite begins to disappear with altitude. So it is important to bring a snack that you will eat as opposed to something like protein bars that taste like crap and become hard to get down if you are battling the altitude and the elements.
From a fundraising standpoint, I’ve been overwhelmed by the initial support and donations from friends and family. I have committed to raising $10,000 towards the campaign For All Canadians through the #Climb4Cord and I have already raise 15% of my total goal. If you would like to make a donation, you can do so here: http://shar.es/YibXY
You can also provide moral support by signing up to join me for a #KiliHikeTO to train for the climb. Lots of dates between now and May have one person signed up, but the more people that sign up, the merrier.
The #Climb4Cord features a group of business leaders who will be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in August 2013 with the hopes of raising $750,000 for the campaign For All Canadians, which is dedicated to building Canada’s new national public cord blood bank. Click here to donate to my personal page or for more information on the campaign please visit: http://campaignforcanadians.ca/