Countdown: Three Weeks

Three weeks from today I will be settling into a sleeping bag on Mt. Kilimanjaro, gazing at what I think will be a billion stars overhead. But… back to today. I was supposed to go back to Mt. Washington to hike again, but the Auto Road was closed and… it’s a long way to drive up and back–about 6 hours that I don’t have right now.

But training continues!

I dusted off my Orbea Diva racing bike and took it for a 12 mile bike ride, thinking of Barry Haarde and thanking him for reigniting my love of cycling this year. Quite frankly, I am afraid of my bike. I’m used to the heavier hybrids, where you can really pump hard and fast, standing up even. But this thing.. it weighs about 13 pounds, is light and super fast, but moves when you do. The bike was shaking for 10 minutes when I realized it just feels every vibration in me. It has clip-in pedals, which also takes some getting used to. I survived and really enjoyed it!

My trainer, however, says the bike isn’t enough. Not enough cardio. Ten minutes with my trainer and I feel my heart bursting and pounding, just like it did on Mt. Washington. I see him twice a week and it’s made a huge difference. Dan suggested I increase the incline on my treadmill (what a concept! I’ve had it for years but never do that!), throw a ten pound weight on my back, lace up my boots and walk it. Sounds easy, but within 10 minutes, I was sweating and got the heart pounding again. This is a good thing. Eventually, someday, it will get easy. But not really before Kili.

As important as the training is what I am eating. Previously, I had fallen into a pattern of carbs, carbs, carbs, which gives me lots of energy. But also gives me points in the day when I am totally depleted. I’ve switched to a high protein diet, with minimum carbs. It was kind of hard at first, but now I am slowly losing my cravings for any carbs. This is great because not craving them allows you to think about what you are to eat, not just react. The protein helps repair the muscle tears (plenty of those) and carbs give you energy. This past week I ate so few carbs I found myself really depleted. After an hour with Dan, I went to run 4 miles, made it 2.5 and crawled the rest of the way home!

I am mostly vegetarian, and never eat red meat. No longer. All the working out has raised my energy levels, and I feel like a machine churning away calories! It seems I can’t eat enough, but I am slowly losing weight.

The treadmill says I burned off about 400 calories; how much could one little s’more that night cost?

Seriously, I’m learning so much about eating right, and exercising for maximum effect. If you want to learn about being fit, getting fit and raising your standard of life, check out Bayer’s Living Fit program that might be of help to you.

On Saturday I went shopping at REI and bought sleeping bags, day packs… a ton of stuff you need for six days on the mountain. We will start in tropical weather and end (hopefully) in winter weather with the temperature dropping to the 20 degree mark! It’s really getting exciting, now that the big day is coming!

Consider a sponsorship! I still need to raise more money. Go to and click on Donate Now. Then click Kilimanjaro and follow the directions. Let’s raise it for Africa! Asante Sana!

This Time for Africa!

One month from today I will be in Africa, about to reach new heights, literally. I’m planning a huge mountain climb, up Mt. Kilimanjaro, the largest mountain in Africa and largest freestanding mountain in the world. At 19,340 feet, it’s colossal. We will start at tropical temperatures, and gradually progress up to Arctic temperatures, below freezing. It will take us six days: five up and one down!

Who are we? The nine other climbers are: my 17-year-old daughter; Eric Hill and son Alex; Neil Herson and daughters Britney and Kelly; Jeff Salantai, who has hemophilia, and Julie Winton, a nurse with a son with VWD. Jeff and I just met for the first time last week in San Antonio! He was the first person with hemophilia to climb Mt. Rainier last year!

Eric is president and founder of BioRx, a specialty pharmacy. Jeff and Julie are his employees. Neil is president and founder of ASD Healthcare, one of the largest distributors of plasma derived products and pharmaceuticals in the US.

Our goal is to raise money for Save One Life and its Africa programs. Save One Life is the child sponsorship program for impoverished children with bleeding disorders in developing countries. I’ve been traveling to Africa since 1999, and was the first person from our international community to travel to Kenya, Ghana and Tanzania. I’ve also been to Zimbabwe four times and hope to return again soon. We started outreach programs in Tanzania and Zimbabwe to help locate more patients. We also want to start a scholarship program for college age men in Kenya. They are all so lacking in funds, and it doesn’t take much to get them an education. Once they are educated, they have a chance at a better life.

Eric is a sponsor of two children through Save One Life Neil is one of our biggest sponsors at 49 children! Obviously they are deeply committed to our cause.

They must be to tackle Kilimanjaro. Long the focus of lore and legend, Kili is very special. And tough. While not a technical climb, meaning there will be no ropes or climbing gear, it is strenuous. The biggest worry is altitude sickness: migraine headaches that lead to vomiting and lack of appetite. Oxygen levels will be at 50% of sea level.

But I have hope. Chris Bombardier, a young man from Colorado, just returned from Kenya and I think is the very first American with hemophilia to summit Kili! His climb also raised money for Save One Life.

If you’d like to sponsor a climber, please go to our donation page. Please note that 100% of your donation goes to Save One Life and its African programs, and not to cover the costs of the climb, or airfare or anything related to the trip. Each climber pays for his or her own expenses. All funds raised are donated to Save One Life. It’s a huge commitment in terms of time, energy, and money for these climbers. Please give them motivation and support by pledging today!

Interesting Book I Just Read
Break on Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison by James Riordan and Jerry Prochnicky

Shaman or madman? Forty year ago today Jim Morrison died of “heart failure” in a bathtub in Paris, of a suspected overdose. His death is being honored around the world by tens of thousands who loved his music and somehow identified with this tortured poet-turned-rock star. It’s hard to see the poet when you read the account here which can make you wince: the drinking, the juvenile antics, destruction of property and disregard for the rights of others, including his own band mates who suffered six long years with their front man. Gifted with a gorgeous voice and even better looks, Morrison relished the role of star, but also sought solitude personally, and respect for his poetry. “The Lizard King” brought the Doors fame and a legacy in rock and roll history, but as much for pushing the envelope as for his lyrics. His on stage antics made him the first rock star to be arrested on stage; he had 20 paternity suits pending at the time of his death; he was banned forever in Phoenix. Now his antics look tame, but in the 60s, this was all new, and dangerous. Morrison took rock where it had never gone before.

Riordan was a Rolling Stone contributor, and interviewed Morrison. But the writing is choppy, perhaps reflecting two different authors’ styles, and references to current events—Vietnam, Charles Manson, Apollo 11—are stuck in the middle of the story, often without a connection, or when there is a connection, it’s contrived. Some of the statements are just ridiculous (No matter how he tried to avoid it, legal trouble followed Morrison [as though he were an innocent bystander] and then in the next paragraph, they relate how he was arrested by the FBI and held in jail for disturbing the staff and passengers on a commercial plane ride). The attempt to view Morrison as a shaman is a bit too serious, verging on hero-worship. Much of the material here seems to be pinched from other sources, though sources are often not cited. So this is not a well written or researched book, certainly not as good as No One Here Gets Out Alive. I prefer drummer John Densmore’s Riders on the Storm the best, for its candid and sympathetic view of a man, Jim Morrison, who vented his deep-seated angers at his audiences, and muted his insecurities through alcohol. What a waste: judging from the Celebrations of the Lizard today, he is still cherished as a star, marveled at for being truly innovative, and listened to with pleasure. He appalled and attracted. The world is ever fascinated by him. Morrison has influenced many rock stars since his brief life ended. And members of the Doors are still touring, as much as ever (I almost went to see Ray Manzarek when he was in Massachusetts in May–so sorry I missed it!) He always said he would be a comet: a brilliant flash, here for a short while, but leaving a lasting impression. How true! RIP, Lizard King. Two stars.

Jambo Kilimanjaro!

At 19,340 feet, Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain on the African continent and the largest freestanding mountain in the world. And guess what? I am going there in August! I’m actually going to hike it and attempt the summit. Why? Not just because it’s there, but as a fundraiser for Save One Life.

Save One Life is a child sponsorship program for children with blood disorders in developing countries. I founded this 10 years ago to help the poor I saw during my trips overseas. We now have 750 children and adults with hemophilia enrolled, and we hope to add many more! Remember, of the estimated 400,000 with hemophilia in the world, 75% have little or no access to factor. They need our help. And we have a way to help them.

The climb is the brainchild of Eric Hill, president of BioRx, a homecare company, and a sponsor of two kids with hemophilia. Last year he, an employee, and a person with hemophilia, Jeff Salantai, climbed Mt. Rainier. That was a highly technical climb, meaning they had equipment, ropes and crampons. Thankfully, Kilimanjaro is not a technical climb, but it’s no walk in the park! With a team of ten, we will trek for 4 days, hopefully summit on the 5th, and then come all the way downhill in one long day.

Would you like to help us?


See who is climbing with me! And consider making a donation. Note that climbers underwrite their own travel expenses: so 100% of your contribution will go toward Save One Life’s core services and Africa programs. Please be sure to email us to let us know who you are sponsoring!

Asante Sana (thank you)!

Jungle Photos (

Great Book I Just Read

Home of the Blizzard by Douglas Mawson

In December of 1911, Douglas Mawson, an Australian geologist, set out Antarctica to explore a 2000 mile long coastline to gather scientific data and search for the magnetic pole. What happened is one of the greatest survival stories of all times. When one companion falls to his death in a crevice, and takes most of the supplies with him on his sledge, Mawson and his remaining companion struggle on. They only had six dogs and one sled with enough food for ten days. Their struggle to survive is surreal; the dogs are reduced to eating the leather straps on the sledges, or even the hair from the reindeer sleeping bags. One by one, the men eat the dogs to survive. And it’s this that led to the demise of Mertz, who becomes delirious and dies. Vitamin A poisoning from dog liver is suspected, but not in this book, as there was no word even for vitamin then!

Alone, Mawson heroically staggers back in blinding katabolic winds, and temperatures of 40 below. How he survived is beyond belief and makes for a gripping read. Mawson is a professor and geologist, and the book is old, so expect some stilted writing and highly technical explanations. But Mawson is one of exploration’s greats and this is a classic. Four stars.

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