I sometimes wake in the night and start thinking about that final night of ascent on Kilimanjaro (if we make it that far) when, starting before midnight, we wrap up in almost all the clothes in our kit and begin to walk slowly uphill in the darkness over uneven ground in, almost certainly, sub-zero temperatures and barely able to breathe, in the hope of making it to the summit by dawn.
Some people listen to music on earphones while walking, but that’s not for me: I need to be alive to any sounds around me during this once in a lifetime experience. They say that guides and porters work hard to keep our spirits up, often singing along the way, which sounds great. There are several songs which are always sung, especially the Kilimanjaro Song. However, I imagine most of the time we will be left alone with our own thoughts, and I know one thing I will think about during the wee sma’ hoors of Thursday 27th August and that is the support we have had.
I can’t believe the number of people who have taken the trouble to wish us well and I intend to try to remember every single one of you in the course of that night.
There are the fantastic guest bloggers, who have helped us keep the blog going every day since early February – coming up for 200 posts in total. I have loved reading what friends and family have had to say, and also the feedback from so many people on the 3G site, on Facebook and on Twitter. There are some particular guest blogs which I really love, particularly those which are funny and/or inspiring.
There are all the wonderful people who fell into line when called upon to do so by Gwen, and sang their bit in “Climb Every Mountain”. I absolutely love watching and listening to the film you all made – it instantly puts a smile on my face no matter what, and probably will for the rest of my life, computer technology allowing. I am amazed that no-one let the cat out of the bag – Jae, Oscar and I had no idea it was being made until the morning it appeared on the blog. In retrospect, there were a few funny happenings around that time – people being in unexpected places – but there were no leaks, not even from Oscar’s little brothers who look so happy in the film. How did they manage to keep it secret for what, I understand, was some weeks? Many people have told me funny stories connected with making their little bit of the film, and of the complications they encountered, which enhance my enjoyment of it all the more.
There are the many people we have encountered during the last six months, who have climbed Kili or other high mountains and have had advice and recommendations to make. Some – just casual acquaintances – have gone out of their way to answer our questions and to benefit us from their experiences. We have picked up all sorts of useful tips, and have been given time and opportunity to make informed decisions about kit, medication/injections, training, and a multitude of other issues.
There are our friends, family and colleagues who have taken an interest in what we are doing, and who have taken the trouble to read this endless blog and talk to us about our obsession when they meet us. They will be quite entitled to heave a sigh of relief when it is all over and are allowed to talk to us about something else – but they have listened, discussed it with us and helped us on our way in the meantime. My co-cooks at Catching Lives have arranged a goodbye lunch: don’t worry guys – I will be back again before too long, all going well!
And lastly, but not least, there are the dozens of people who have made donations to our charities. I can’t believe that there are almost a hundred of you. Many, I know, are on very tight budgets and must have made economies to be able to afford to make their gifts. Others are people whom we have met only fleetingly, who have been good enough to think about us and to add their pounds into our total. Several have their own pet charities, yet they have supported us, as well, above all possible expectation. I feel humbled by the generosity of so many.
Thank you so much every one of you from the bottom of my heart. I have learned and gained so much from you about all manner of things, and I will never forget that.
During the summit night, I will walk and think in turn about each and every one of you – hundreds of names and faces to try to remember as I go. Many of you have promised to think about us too during that night, and several of you will be praying for us, despite our lack of belief, which isn’t something I ever thought could happen. I feel truly blessed. Thank you all.