DELMAR: Reaching new heights

"It was a little different at first because we were used to (hiking in) the Adirondacks, where there's no altitude problems, and we were all in very good shape," added Jeff Bryant. "We were really shocked that we needed to be at that (slow) pace."

The group spent the first day walking through a rainforest to reach the base of Kilimanjaro.

"The rainforest was very Dr. Seuss-like. You'd have these wild branches hanging overhead, and it just looked so surreal," said Mark Bryant.

The terrain and the altitude changed once the group reached Kilimanjaro. Over the next four days, they traversed their way over a rocky landscape formed by ancient volcanic activity as they climbed up and down the mountainside to get acclimated to the altitude.

"The physical part was fine," said Fashouer. "It was the altitude that was a problem, but I handled it well."

Sleeping on the mountain also had its share of challenges. Though each camper was provided two pads " a closed-celled pad and an inflatable mattress " to go along with a sleeping bag, the angle they slept at and the altitude they were at caused some in the group to lose some sleep.

"It wasn't comfortable," said Mark Bryant. "You had all this padding, but you still slept at angles and your sleeping bag would slide off (the mattress) from time to time."

The one advantage the group had was a large support staff of guides, porters, cooks and waiters provided by the travel company that did everything from carry the heavy equipment to serving meals. They also provided entertainment on two occasions " once when they reached the mountain, and the other when they returned.

"There's no question that it made it doable for us," said Brennan. "We wouldn't have been able to do it without the guides."

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