Thoughts from Kilimanjaro

By Zach Stone

It was amazing for the in-between moments. 

This trip holds so many of my favorite memories, and yet wasn’t spectacular in any of the classic story-book ways. I didn’t meet the love of my life. I wasn’t pursuing a long held dream. I didn’t save any souls, and we didn’t lose any people, or body parts. 

I learned that mid-range mountaineering is a game of willpower, and this group helped me win it.
— Zach Stone

Sure, for one night, we stood atop the highest free-standing mountain in the world. We dealt with the altitude constantly pushing to stay awake and upright—and we did something monumental. However, it wasn’t the actions or the location that made it so special—It was just us. It wouldn’t have been the same experience without the people I had by my side.

They were the reason I decided—every morning—to get out of bed, put on the same clothes (which were often wet due to a rainstorm) and continue upwards. They were the motivation for me to push forward, step after step, even after dealing with the side affects of altitude at certain points.

The UConn Kilimanjaro team overlooks the stars

The UConn Kilimanjaro team overlooks the stars

We spent most of the time on this trip just being together. That was the main event, at least for me. Whether it was over a deck of playing cards, sipping tea,  eating popcorn, or laying out underneath a blanket of stars, we were always together. There were bouts of laughter that we sent roaring up and down mountainsides, and deep silences during the challenging parts of the trek. Regardless, there were special moments every day, none of which surprisingly had anything to do with the place we were in.

I learned that mid-range mountaineering is a game of willpower, and this group helped me win it. It was these people, and all the little jokes we shared that got me through it. 

Life’s not about the big events. It’s about everything and everybody in-between. Here’s to life’s peaks, valleys, and the people who fill them.

I also discovered this summer that sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day can be exhausting. Thanks to my mountain family, everybody who made this possible, and to Choose A Challenge USA for the opportunity. Thanks to Connor, Justin, and Jordan for letting me steal some photos.

Always remember,
Pole pole
Kukaa poa chizi kama ndizi

This story was the winner of our 2019 Content Competition for Best Blog