Caren Ware's Blog

April 21, 2014

A FAMILY AFFAIR

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 10:08 am

SUNRun PRODUCTIONS and ITzABOUTTIME staged THE RABBIT RUN in Irvine, California. These events will help fund PEAK EXPERIENCES and projects on TORETURN for the porters guides, and their children. It was HOPPING. Racers, runners, joggers, walkers, strollers and loads of helpful family, vendors, and volunteers made this happen! IMAG0097

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Putting a smile on everyone’s face while putting a smile on faces in foreign places. Adverse conditions are universal and can make anyone frown. They are in the states. They are abroad. What it takes is acknowledging needs and doing something about it. I choose to do so in a FUN way. Keep blogging and see where I am taking you..and me…and our character.

April 10, 2014

What goes up…must come down.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 12:44 am

The ‘trek’ off the mountain would prove to be as character requiring as the determination up it. Down. Down through the snow and by the glaciers. Down to where the sun rose and its hues are now bold. Years prior, a man had fallen at 17,000 and broke his femur. The group retold his story, and how the heroic porters had carried him to a point of airlift, over 6,000 feet below. In this same area they had heavy frames with wheels that were used to gurney a failing climber down. We would hike by porters paid to return the gurney to 12,000 feet. They weighed near one hundred pounds. The porter was paid $5 to return it. IMG_5058

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So it was unnerving when one in our group took a slide down a couloir. Luckily, though not getting up for far too long, he only acquired a few bumps and bruises. It was steep stepping up Kilimanjaro. Now it was treacherous maneuvering down. Everyone was tired by the night, the climb, the lack of oxygen, the emotion. I could put to use why I went to Jackson, Wyoming. I wanted my ability and agility back. I wanted to be able to bound over rocks and surefootedly hop from them. And that is what I had spent the past year doing. Bouncing over rocks, streams, up mountains, down canyons, over prairies, through forest, into an unexpected and treasured relationship I hoped would go somewhere to… well… all of which was to make me solid, capable, healthy again. Well, at least the outdoor activity had.
I liked the rocks, the uneven, moving earth. I liked that I liked it. One of the guides nodded me forward. “I can keep an eye on you from here”. That is all I needed. I loved being able to move fast and deftly. I knew descending would be the devil to knees and joints, but I also knew, I had trained for this. Bound. Step. Solid. Move. Step. Bound. It took half the morning to get to even a view of the tops of tents at base camp. I was hurting from the mishap of allowing myself to get so severely dehydrated during the marathon. My joints and muscles still are mad at me even a month later. But I had descended well and quickly. It was good to be at 15,500…where, ironically, I could now breath easily. IMG_5054

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I was the first to arrive and here is where the second celebration party began. The porters. They sincerely were happy for the triumph. And they were really in wait to see what I had to tell about it. I had taken the time to get to know the porters. They were old, young, some smiled, other’s not ever. They now had names, and personalities, and I felt a family love for them. The same one that drew interest into making those Hispanic boys family back in Los Angeles. We jabbered. Kidded. Laughed. Shared. And I had no idea how hard the next half day would be as we would have to pack up Base Camp and descend to a safer altitude.
As we waited for the group, the porters and I took turns playing with the camera equipment. Smile. ‘Say heezzze,” they’d laugh. Some shyly hid their teeth with a smirk smile. A common condition was eroded front teeth. They said it had something to do with the volcanic conditions of this area and what was in the water. IMG_5047

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April 8, 2014

People jam

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 11:41 pm

Ok, I have been holding out. There are a LOT of people who pilgrimage an attempt to summit Kilimanjaro. Most, who are guided to go pole…pole, succeed. I think I heard over 60,000 come climb Kilimanjaro a year. That makes it the main stage money source in Tanzania. Guiding, trek services, and porting are a thankful business. We were climbing at the beginning of the rainy season and not high tourist season. I could only envision four times this many people on TOP. There were a lot of ‘groups’ at the summit as we all did the hike on frozen ground and watch the most amazing sunset.

We had been deep into our own interiors finding the grip to make it to the top for the 4,000 feet of night grueling steps. So we turned that into solo celebrations in our hearts on a summit full of people. We were quiet, breathless, and releaved. Cold, done, and super happy. All of a sudden we were freed of fatigue. There is a pure and holy relief when there is nothing, but down. We were standing on a high SUMMIT. That is the draw of Kilimanjaro. It is aIMG_4941

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IMG_4995 hike, open to any body that takes it slow.

And than, the chatter and hugs and victor fists. It was external bonding shared by people that bonded in what they had just asked their bodies to do. As we passed the pastel lit glaciers on our left and the volcanic valley to our right, the summit sign came in view. Mamma Pinkie said it for all of us. Her shoulders heaved and she let out a few and very real sobs. No words. Sobs for what it took and felt to be here were more appropriate.

The WHOA women all summited, every single one of them. And the handsome German gentlemen ,with Australian accents and their Sales Force Team aqua blue beanies were there. It was high fiving, hugs, back slaps, and photos. And the guides were protectively corralling us off the mountain. We had stayed far longer than most allowed and they knew what we did not know. It was a LONG way down.

April 5, 2014

The world awakens

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 11:32 pm

Was it worth it to part weeks of precious schedule to tackle a mountain smack in middle of the equator? One which makes you have to bring wool, down, and gortez? Absolutely. Kilimanjaro is one of a kind Where else can any Joe Smo experience elevation and a 19,000 summit experience? The sun rising over Africa is exquisite,the 360 view tantalizing, brimming with pride to have accomplished something arduous, but so breathtakingly gorgeous. That is why ‘peaks’ are so engulfing and a life goal. I heard about Kilimanjaro from some medical students that were climbing THE GRAND in Jackson with myself and two Exum Mountain Guides. We stayed in ‘the hut’ together, a tent erected on a plywood platform the park service air dropped every year at the 12,000 saddle. The Grand was climbed at night also. It was done so to get the climbers off the mountain before afternoon thunderheads were most likely to strike the mountain with lightning. Climbing the GRAND meant climbing. You had to use ropes, know how to belay, repel, and suck up any fear of heights. There were 2,000 to 3,000 foot drop offs on the GRAND in the Tetons of Wyoming. I stepped out of the hut into a 90mh wind store. Either gender had pee flying in all directions though discreetly hovering behind rocks. We were tackling the treacherous terrain with EXUM MOUNTAIN GUIDES that know the proper route. As we left, you could not see the hand in front of you. We would climb on belay and with ropes for six hours until sunrise. On the four pitch, we were moving in rapid alpine style, coiling the ropes and throwing the line behind us to belay. I caught the rope on my headlamp and it sent it flinging through the air like a released rubber band. The precious beam of light landed one full pitch below on a tiny ledge. Picture the feeling of being on a ledge over 13,000 feet with NO LIGHT. I belayed my climber up on braille hands feeling the rope and he was luckily able to traverse over and get my headlamp. Those were dark moments! We finally all tumbled onto a ledge and still having half a day’s climb left, watched soft hues open up the precipice we were preciously above. I enjoyed being sandwiched between the guide’s expertise and easy going professionalism. This was my first encounter with guides. I liked being with people that lived and loved their mountains. They made the experience as would the guides in Tanzania.
In the Tetons, we were awakened at midnight and given boiled water to pour into instant meals. Sooooo….. understand why I was so taken by the African porter’s bringing fresh vegetables and the cooks conjuring up crepes and sautéed potatoes. Yes, yum, but I did not need to be told to eat with caution our accent meal. My body had lost its appetite. So I drank hot water, not daring coffee or tea. And I nibbled on a tea cookie and resorted to by clip gels like I would in a triathlon or marathon. We had eaten WELL all the way up the mountain. That would survive this next 38 hours.
So we summited. Words cannot describe the 360 degree feeling of being on the top of a place to its own. It was everything I envisioned it to be, and even more goal branding that I expected. It etched erasable sketches of experience that bake character. We were punchy, our words slurring, but triumphant. We had done it. It was so solely personal that it was as if we each were alone up there. And yet…IMG_5026

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April 3, 2014

There are top of the worlds

Filed under: hiking,Marathon Running,traveling,Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 7:52 am

Climbing right up the ridgeline of a volcano in the middle of the night above 15,000 feet is not something one does everyday. The lack of sleep. The lack of oxygen. The task was to keep going…uphill. Plod. Plod. Deep, noisy breath. It is windy. Very windy. It sucks precious air away. It is cold. Very cold. Skin has to be covered in warm layers. But we are sweating. It is a dangerous combination that does require the right kinds of layers and materials. Here, the products gleaned from living in Jackson, Wyoming are made for just this. An Icebreaker wool base layer. A Patagonia fleece hoodie. A Northface down jacket. A Marmot Gortez expedition jacket. (I left my beloved STIO down jacket and wool sweater in the states, reserved for the ski slopes, not the trudge up Kilimanjaro) The designed hood of the Gortex expedition jacket became my saving friend. It let me hide from the wind and choose when to face the lung freezing air. The beloved jacket was earned working a running event for Teton Mountaineering in Jackson.
The stars are out. On all sides of us. It is very hard to describe, but we were stepping through the galaxy. The stars were all around. It was so dark you couldn’t see the ground. All you could see was within the beam of the headlamp. There were many climbing the mountain and you could not distinguish which were far off headlamps, or glittering stars. Plod. Plod. Breath slow and steady. Every once in a while the body would just gasp, or sigh, or grimace. The little stuffed monkey dangling from the pack in front of me was the only thing illuminated by my headlamp beam. I tried to bubble out a few sentences of encouragement, but no one could hear. The wind, one; but more so, we had fallen into a chain gang progression of altitude endurance and we had retreated into our own little survival worlds. Awake. Moving. But in a disturbing dream state.
My world wandered to some woes. The condo I tried to buy and didn’t get a bank in Wyoming to venture a loan. They wanted a year’s resident history and a full time job in town. I blindly thought getting a year round full time job in a seasonal resort town would be no problem. Plop. Plop. Suck in air. Breath it out. I started being constructive, tackled great ideas for new events, rolling through my mind like catching a great set of waves.
Our guides were moving among us constantly checking on our well being. I could tell they were concerned with me. I was the amped one that could have a breathing attack. I was the one that my lungs were starting to gurgle. But they also knew I was the one that competitive, athletic determination was going to dogmatically summit and shut out the wisdom to respond to what my body was doing in elevation. That is why the guides have to be given the final judgment calls, but thankfully they know that it will only be called if seriously threatening. It was tough on everyone, no matter and we all just had to push past. That is what is so rewarding about tackling Kilimanjaro. It is doable and we were doing it.
My mom came to mind. And there I memorialized Kilimanjaro to a great hearted woman who always reached out for the underdog as she was one. I twinge as my steps climbed higher. She had lost her life to cancer in her fifties and asked me to explore the world for her…to not wait until retirement years. She looked me in the eye, reached up and pulled a hand full of hair and laid it on her hospital bed. The first round of chemo. She weakly smiled an affirmation of acceptance. A tear of love dripped out of her eye. And than she turned and gazed far off and silent. Without looking back, she said, “explore the rest of this intricate world for me, dear daughter. Retirement years are not guaranteed to ever get. You can only take the lines that you wrote on other people. Nothing else.” So, dear mom, who taught me to see life in angles, and hues, and expressions, and improv moments through the lens of a camera, I dedicate this climb to you. You, who, also, as a child was abandoned in a boarding home most your life ,taught me to feel the needs of others.
Joel our guide is humming. It is as melodical as his accented voice. He is humming a hymn to a beat that is African. A guide down the line on the mountain joins in. Than does our other guides. A guide above us starts to add to the symphony of voices. I hadn’t even noticed the wind had died. Stilled. And the still night was lullabied by IMG_4922

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IMG_4951these beautiful men with husky, flowing, beautiful voices. Their song hugs us in a way that you could not feel until you have meet the grace of these Tanzanians.

April 2, 2014

In the middle of the Night

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 11:26 am

That deep Tanzanian accent has a music to it. “Time to hike to the top of Kili” It is pitch black in the tent as I fumble for the headlamp. Mamma Pinkie’s light pings on and a groggy, but armored voice reports, “we are ready”. The groggy is hard to decipher. It is more from altitude that lack of sleep. It is 11:00pm. The accent is made in the middle of the night for two reasons. To climb on top of the scree while it is frozen. And to be rewarded with the sun rising over all of AFRICA at the moment of summiting. Both are awesome. It is so dark outside you cannot even see the outline of the mountain you are climbing. That may be a third good reason to ascend at night. It is steep. It is one foot slowly planted and pushed up upon another. It is a long, grueling way. Over six solid hours of gruel ahead. 4,000 vertical feet. That is far grander than a marathon. And like a marathon, the unknown is how your body will react. I already shared my mishaps in being hyped and running around too much at 15,500 feet. So after my ‘episode’ of panicking after running to get my buff in my tentIMG_4901

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IMG_4910 we began our “pole, pole”. 15,500 to 19,320. Here we go, Mamma Pinkie. We are all quietly questioning, “how ready are we really?”. There is no way to know. What is that sticker on my girlfriend’s refrigerator? “26.2 mile- What could possibly go wrong?!” So…4,000 feet, what could possibly go wrong? Hmmmmm.

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