Saturday, August 2, 2014

Trail notes from Kilimanjaro Machame Route – Day 6 - 7

Trail notes from Kilimanjaro Machame Route – Day 6 -7

by Kathleen Lisson

I climbed Mt.Kilimanjaro with Serengeti Pride Safari in July 2014. Here are some tips from my hiking experience.

After a nap and meal, we set off from Barafu to hike past Millenium to Mweka camp for our last night. The hike took us back into the land of plants and thicker air. I didn't know how I was going to hike for four more hours when I first returned from the summit, but a nap and meal made everything feel possible.

I luckily had no knee pain.

We traded email addresses over dinner and enjoyed sharing our plans for the first things we would do when we returned to Arusha. 

On the last day, we got up extra early and hiked 3 1/2 hours to the Mweka gate. It started raining halfway through the hike, so we used raingear and pack covers.

Porters will be RUNNING down this section of the mountain, so be careful and stay left.

The entire hiking party must be present when signing out, so make sure you know where all your hiking mates are. The line can get quite long mid-morning.

There are people who will sell you soft drinks and beer as well as clean your boots and gaiters.

There is a wait for the official certificates, so make sure you have snacks if you get hungry before lunch.

Everyone was happy, even with the rain! Watching the trucks maneuver around the parking lot reminded me of India.

We tipped the porters before we left Mweka camp and I tipped my guide when I got my certificate.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Trail notes from Kilimanjaro Machame Route – Day 6

Trail notes from Kilimanjaro Machame Route – Day 6

by Kathleen Lisson

I climbed Mt.Kilimanjaro with Serengeti Pride Safari in July 2014. Here are some tips from my hiking experience.

Summit night: Barafu to Uhuru

I woke up before midnight and it took a full half hour to put on my hiking gear and get ready before breakfast. Do not let yourself be rushed! 

No one had much of an appetite but I appreciated the hot food. 

We started off very slowly walking through camp. The sight of headlamps snaking their way up the mountain let me know that it was our summit night and made me feel like a part of a larger group. Later on in the hike, I looked back down and saw the headlamps below us. I used the headlamp line to get a sense of where our hike was going throughout the night.

The middle hours of the hike were discouraging. I felt exhausted and my heart was pounding. My thoughts and interior monologue were dulled and I felt like I was barely surviving. I decided to never hike again in those hours, until I remembered the Star Trek TNG episode ‘Tapestry,’ where Jean Luc Picard sees how his life would have ended up if he hadn’t gotten into a bar fight when he was young. I decided that this climb was my bar fight, and I summiting would be my success.

I was dressed well and didn’t feel cold. In fact, my face was exposed and event my nose never felt cold. I would pull my balaclava up over my chin when it got windy.

I never had a headache or nausea and never breathed too fast or shallow. 

Once the sun came up, I was amazed to see the number of hikers that were clearly suffering along the side of the trail. I never felt any sickness from the altitude.

I used 2 liters of water on summit night. I put one liter in my Camelback and kept drinking every few minutes until the tube froze a few hours into the hike. I knew the tube would freeze, but having constant access to water during the first part of the hike was important. I switched to Nalgene bottles covered with insulators. Our guide recommended that we carry our bottles upside down in our packs so the ‘bottom’ of the water bottle would freeze and we would still be able to drink water from the top. Because of the insulator, my bottles never froze.

Urinating and drinking water at a rest break is exhausting. I concentrating on just resting on our third break of the hike and felt better when I resumed hiking.

Listening to empowering fast paced music really changed my attitude and unlocked energy.

Concentrating on holding on until the dawn helped me through the night. The sunrise raised my spirits and I knew that the summit was near, even though I had an hour and a half of hiking left.

Trail notes from Kilimanjaro Machame Route – Day 5

Trail notes from Kilimanjaro Machame Route – Day 5

 by Kathleen Lisson

I climbed Mt.Kilimanjaro with Serengeti Pride Safari in July 2014. Here are some tips from my hiking experience.

Karanga to Barafu

My temper got short and I had easily hurt feelings. Luckily, I had my husband to listen to my troubles and I realized it was a combination of altitude and being far away from home with new people around. 

The trail was hot and dusty. I took my time and made the final ascent quite slowly to not overwhelm myself. 

The mountaintop seems close from here! 

We slept and had dinner and tried to sleep again. I have been having vivid nightmares for a few nights now and sleep felt like a drug-induced state. 

We camped right at the end of the trail. The camp itself is long and uphill from the end of the trail. The hikers that made the trek to sign in at the rangers station found the additional walking quite discouraging, likely due to the altitude. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Trail notes from Kilimanjaro Machame Route – Day 4

Trail notes from Kilimanjaro Machame Route – Day 4

by Kathleen Lisson

I climbed Mt.Kilimanjaro with Serengeti Pride Safari in July 2014. Here are some tips from my hiking experience.

Barranco to Karanga


By the time we got to Barranco camp, my nose was sunburnt and my nails were dirty. 

I wore pantyliners and changed them daily and took a baby wipe with me to the restroom. I used the water we were given in the morning and evening to wash my face. I even put my feet in the bowl a few times! I used baby wipes to wash my body. 

I started to feel sensitivity where my sports bra covered the side of my body because I wasn’t used to wearing a sports bra 24 hours a day, but I didn’t have any redness or rash. 

I stored my toothbrush and toothpaste with my pills in my “pharmacy” bag and took it to breakfast and dinner. I used a cup of warm water to brush my teeth after dinner and my fellow hikers quickly followed suit. The other option was to brush our teeth in the cold darkness outside our tent. 

My gaiters did an excellent job of keeping stones out of my boots and keeping the bottoms of my pants clean through multiple wearings.  

I took some napkins from the Zoey’s Double Hex in Manchester, VT and put one in my pocket each day for blowing my nose. The napkins worked well but my nose was getting raw from all the blowing.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Trail notes from Kilimanjaro Machame Route – Day 3

Trail notes from Kilimanjaro Machame Route – Day 3

by Kathleen Lisson

I climbed Mt.Kilimanjaro with Serengeti Pride Safari in July 2014. Here are some tips from my hiking experience. 

Shira Camp to Lava Tower and Barranco Camp

It was a windy night at Shira camp. I saw the glaciers glowing in the moonlight.

I tried a new technique for handling peeing at night – I stayed awake for an hour in my tent, then went to the bathroom and was able to sleep through the rest of the night.

Due to the decrease in temperature, I wore an extra layer to bed. I wore a Buff over my ears.

I found peeing to be exhausting. I felt like I had to ‘push’ more to urinate.

Next time, I would pack more pairs of lightweight gloves and an absorbent hand towel. I was using my sleeping gloves during the daytime and would have been more comfortable with separate pairs to keep my sleeping kit clean.

The Pimsleur tapes have really helped with my Swahili. My nickname on the mountain was ‘Swahili Woman’ and my porter's nickname was ‘Pombe Tatu’ after my recurrent joke about wanting three beers.

Our cook ‘Frank the Tank’ is amazing! The food is plentiful, delicious and there are different dishes for those with food allergies. The soup is the best!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Trail notes from Kilimanjaro Machame Route – Day 2

Trail notes from Kilimanjaro Machame Route – Day 2

by Kathleen Lisson

I climbed Mt.Kilimanjaro with Serengeti Pride Safari in July 2014. Here are some tips from my hiking experience.

Machame Camp to Shira Camp

The plant life is amazing and the night sky was incredible. I saw the Milky Way!

I discovered my new favorite drink on the mountain – Milo, sugar and hot milk. A porter would come and serve us tea or coffee in our tent shortly after the wake up call.

I had to adjust to drinking plenty of water – I got a slight headache in the afternoon but it went away after I focused on drinking and had lunch.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Trail notes from Kilimanjaro Machame Route - Day 1

Trail notes from Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 1

My gear spread out for gear check at the hotel

by Kathleen Lisson

I climbed Mt.Kilimanjaro with Serengeti Pride Safari in July 2014. Here are some tips from my hiking experience.

Machame Gate to Machame Camp

Keep your passport handy at Machame Gate – the officials need to see it and they will place a Kilimanjaro stamp on one of your pages upon request.

The weather stayed cool and the cloud forest kept our packs damp on the outside. It would be a good idea to put a raincover on your backpack if you want to keep it absolutely dry.

The trail was steep in parts, but there was excellent trail work throughout the route. Hiking poles were needed when the trail got slippery and slightly muddy.

The latrines are well spaced. If you have to pee, ask your guide how far away the latrine is – you might be able to make it to the next latrine instead of having to pee in the forest.

Earplugs came in handy on the first night. I didn’t really feel the altitude until I tried blowing up my sleeping pad. I had my porter blow up my sleeping pad on subsequent nights.

The personal toilet was well worth the additional cost.

I bought a money belt to keep my cash and passport. I wore it during the day and even at dinner. I placed it in my sleeping bag at night.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Throw back Thursday - Mount Marshall

Throw back Thursday - Marshall 

by Kathleen Lisson

For Throwback Thursday, I'm sharing a Hiking Mates hike up Mount Marshall from July 19, 2008. I remember being coated in sweat, which made my pink tank top very sheer. Even a sports bra couldn't help this wardrobe malfunction.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

TBT - Cycling Across the Golden Gate Bridge

Cycling Across the Golden Gate Bridge

by Kathleen Lisson

Here is a photo taken of Arun and me in 2012 before cycling across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Ca. We rented bicycles from a local shop and rode to Sausalito before taking the ferry back to the City.

Information on how to cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge from Tripadvisor:

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Runners - Where to focus attention while running

What Should Runners Think About While Running?

by Kathleen Lisson

What goes through your mind when these are on your feet?

In Runners World article titled 'Where To Focus Your Attention While Running,' Amby Burfoot shares information on the best way to calm your mind in a race. He shares differences between "associative thinking," "disassociative thinking" and the "constrained action hypothesis." 

The latest research shows that focusing on feelings or thinking of whatever comes to mind uses up less oxygen than thinking about breathing or form.

Read the article here:

Sunday, July 6, 2014

New Hampshire Presidential Range

Hiking Mount Washington and Mount Eisenhower - Presidential Range New Hampshire Hike Report

by Kathleen Lisson

We chose to hike Mount Washington in New Hampshire as our last prep hike before the Kilimanjaro trip. Arun and I stayed at Carlson's Lodge in Twin Mountain, NH because we wouldn't make it to NH until well past quiet time at the local campgrounds. I enjoyed the 'grandma's house' feel of the lodge. They serve cereal, toast, milk juice and coffe for breakfast. 

 Sign along the Mount Washington trail

Sign along the Mount Eisenhower trail

I relied on the AMC White Mountain Guide for trail information for both hikes. The highlight of the Mount Washington hike was eating soup at the AMC Lakes of the Clouds hut in the middle of the hike. We started by hiking the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail from the entrance behind the Cog Railway building off of Base Road. 

We hiked Mount Eisenhower using Edmans Path. Eisenhower was a good second day hike, providing a steady climb and views of Mount Washington at the summit. 

Lessons Learned:
  • Mid hike soup tastes amazing.
  • Krummholz is a name for the trees that grow near treeline.
  • The Mount Washington summit is a zoo, due to a road and a cog railway taking non-hikers to the summit. They do have a gift shop with some hiking-related trinkets. 
  • Bring cash for the soup and for any purchases at the summit gift shop. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Rachel Cushing's Trip up Kilimanjaro

Rachel Cushing's Trip up Kilimanjaro

by Kathleen Lisson

Watching Rachel Cushing's video diary of her ascent up Kilimanjaro makes me feel excited for my upcoming trip to Africa! It is empowering to see other American women taking this journey and enjoying everything that comes with climbing the tallest freestanding mountain in the world.

Part one is here:

Part two is here:

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Arusha, Tanzania today and British East India a Century Ago

Arusha, Tanzania today and British East India a Century Ago

By Kathleen Lisson

The first day of our trip to Tanzania will be spend discovering Arusha before we pack up to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. I wonder what we will find?

Here is a video of the modern day streets of Arusha:

This video reminds me a lot of my husband’s city in Kerala, India.

Here is mesmerizing video of Theodore Roosevelt's trip to British East India in 1909

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Running Tips from Fleet Feet Albany's Charlie Woodruff

Running Tips from Charlie Woodruff

by Kathleen Lisson

Running in Washington DC

Benita Zahn interviewed Charlie Woodruff, owner of Fleet Feet Albany. He gives tips on couch to 5K programs, how to breathe properly and what to eat before a race. I was most surprised by one fact that Zahn shared - 26.5 million people in America run at least 50 days per year. That's a lot of runners!

Benita Zahn's story is here:

Monday, June 30, 2014

“Endurance Sports are About Not Quitting”

“Endurance Sports are about Not Quitting”

By Kathleen Lisson

I was reading 'Mastering the Marathon, Time Efficient Training Secrets for the 40 – plus Athlete' by Don Fink and the following sentence captured my interest – “Endurance sports are about not quitting.” Fink has written an excellent chapter on mental training for endurance sports titled ‘Racing Strategies and Mental Approaches.’ He shares that a famous athlete once told him that if a runner doesn’t think about quitting at least three times during a race, they are not running hard enough. Fink also explains his “humble happy warrior” approach, the “relaxation – focus – competitive” approach and tips on using the posting of goals to increase confidence.

My goal isn’t to achieve a certain time, it is to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro, so I am using this poster as a way to ‘post my goals.’

kilimanjaro poster

Though I will not be using the strategy of running at different paces during my hike and will have to accommodate the change in altitude, I will definitely use Fink’s top strategy of not going out too fast. I will be excited on the first day of the hike, and will have to remember to hike slowly so I am able to hike, over a series of days, all the way to the top.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Peekamoose and Table Mountains Catskills hike report

Peekamoose and Table - Catskills Hike Report

by Kathleen Lisson

Arun and I hiked Peekamoose and Table Mountains. This time Arun came down with 'summit fever,' the irresistible urge to hike past overlooks in search of the summit before stopping for a break. We ended up enjoying the overlooks on the trip back to the trailhead.

Lessons Learned:
  • Camping is better than dayhiking - we didn't start hiking until the afternoon because we could lounge around our house. Waking up in a tent ensures we get an early start.
  • There are several parking lots on the way to the trailhead. Luckily we asked a local for directions and she pointed us further down the road. 
  • The DEC didn't put enough sheets in the trail register! Arun had to sign us in on the back cover. When we signed out, we found that other hikers had followed our lead and signed in below us. Signing in at the trail register ensures that rescuers have basic information about you and your planned hike in the event you get lost. It also helps the DEC allocated funding for trail upkeep.

Peekamoose and Table Mountain hike information from New York New Jersey Trail Conference:

Saturday, June 28, 2014

How to Increase Pain Tolerance for Endurance Athletes

How to Increase Pain Tolerance for Endurance Athletes

By Kathleen Lisson

In the Runner's World article ‘Three Workouts to Increase Pain Tolerance,’ Alex Hutchinson writes about a TransEurope study which found that “athletes can endure the discomfort at higher levels and for longer times than nonathletes. They have a higher pain tolerance. And it's a learned skill: Research suggests that the harder you train, the higher your tolerance rises.” 

Hutchinson goes on to profile three workouts that increase pain tolerance for long distance running.

Much is made of altitude sickness as a factor in summiting Mount Kilimanjaro. I will be taking medication and understand that I have no control over how my body will react to the altitude. I do have control over how I react to the hikes each day. Hopefully increasing my pain tolerance will make the trek less unpleasant.

Check out the 'Three Workouts to Increase Pain Tolerance' article here:

Friday, June 27, 2014

Outdoor Leadership Quiz

Outdoor Leadership Quiz

by Kathleen Lisson

As I have spent more time in the backcountry preparing for my hike up Mt. Kilimanjaro, I have become more interested in the skills needed to be a great hike leader. 

I came across this webpage from the Appalachian Mountain Club titled 'What Would You Do?' The page outlines to hiking scenarios and asks the reader to put him/herself in the hike leader's shoes and make a decision that will ensure the group's safety while keeping the hike fun and rewarding for everyone.

Try out your Outdoor Leadership skills here:

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Altitude Acclimatization Advice from Princeton University

Altitude Acclimatization Advice from Princeton University

 By Kathleen Lisson

In the publication ‘Princeton University's Outdoor Action Guide to High Altitude: Acclimatization and Illnesses,’ Rick Curtis, Director, Outdoor Action Program offers recommendations for trekkers climbing at altitude.

His most valuable tips for me were to engage in light activity during the day. Light activity is “better than sleeping because respiration decreases during sleep, exacerbating the symptoms.”
Curtis also recommends “eating a high carbohydrate diet (more than 70% of your calories from carbohydrates) while at altitude.”

Curtis also shared a test for moderate Acute Mountain sickness (AMS) – “have the person ‘walk a straight line’ heel to toe. Just like a sobriety test, a person with ataxia will be unable to walk a straight line. This is a clear indication that immediate descent is required. It is important to get the person to descend before the ataxia reaches the point where they cannot walk on their own.”

I did not know that above 10,000 feet most trekkers experience Cheyne-Stokes Respirations. I think that my altitude sickness prescription should ensure that this does not happen to me.

Read the Princeton University's Outdoor Action Guide to High Altitude: Acclimatization and Illnesses report at

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Do You Hike Just for the Summit?

Do You Hike Just for the Summit?

Map of Mount Kilimanjaro
 By Kathleen Lisson

In the article ‘5 Training tips to climb Kilimanjaro,’ Daniel Dorr of Kilimanjaro Adventures has some wise words about training to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. He shares a quote, “enjoy your suffering, that’s what alpinism is all about.” Dorr cautions that trekkers “can’t spend 7 days climbing a mountain if you only enjoy standing at the top.”

This advice really hit home. When I was training for my half marathon I read post after post from non-athletes that wanted to know the bare minimum training regimen that would help them stand at the finish line of a race. I want my week on Kilimanjaro to be meaningful, not just the handful of minutes on the summit.

Read ‘5 Training tips to climb Kilimanjaro’ here:

Monday, June 23, 2014

Why Do People Climb Mountains? or When Does a Summit 'Count'?

 Why Do People Climb Mountains? or When Does a Summit 'Count'?

by Kathleen Lisson

In the article ''Deadliest Sport Ever? Why People Risk Their Lives Mountain Climbing,' Bill Fink writes about what motivates people to climb mountains. One of Fink's comments really hit home for me. "Having a set of expert guides and hardworking Sherpas basically drag you to the top of a summit offers neither a proper sense of achievement nor any life lessons for dedication, planning, or teamwork. Essentially you’ve just become a really expensive piece of baggage."

I am reminded of of a story from 46er Grace Hudowalski. Before she made her first hike in the Adirondack High Peaks, her father told her, “It’s not important whether you make the summit. It is important how you make the climb.”

I have learned a lot about myself as I have trained over the past few months for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. 
  • After our long chilly climb up Mount Marcy my husband shared that he respects me a lot more as a hiker than he did last year. He is right. Before I made the decision to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, I had climbed a few High Peaks, but saw hiking as a hassle rather than a challenge. I was interested in easy day hikes, not sweating for 6 hours. My worst fault - I was a complainer and a whiner.
  • Now I see a rainy day as a great opportunity to test out my waterproof gear and my skills. I rely on my waterproof boots and gaiters to allow me to step in the muddy trail instead of widening it by searching for a dry spot to walk.  
  • Hiking and camping together has allowed my husband and I to spend more time together without iPhone/tablet/laptop screens getting in the way. At home, we love looking at our screens. Lack of reception lets me look at my husband instead.

In reading other climber's trip reports, I have learned many lessons. Climbers don't wear adequate clothing, don't prepare for frozen Camelback tubes, and/or don't eat for 9 hours during the last segment of the ascent and end up using their porter's clothing or being practically dragged up to the summit. I know that I have no control over the effects of altitude sickness. I hope to be able to make it up to the summit on my own two feet as a result of, to quote Fink, "diligent training, planning, teamwork, and a step-by-step discipline."

Read 'Deadliest Sport Ever? Why People Risk Their Lives Mountain Climbing' here:

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sunrise Hike up Mount Marcy - Adirondack hike report

Sunrise Hike up Mount Marcy, NY - Adirondack hike report

by Kathleen Lisson

Arun and I decided to take advantage of the Strawberry Full Moon in June to hike up Mount Marcy in the dark and experience sunrise from the highest point in New York. This trip would also prepare us for the summit hike up Mount Kilimanjaro, which also starts at around midnight.

We stayed at the Wilderness Campground at Heart Lake and had dinner at the Adirondak Loj. The folks at the Loj packed a trail lunch for our summit meal, complete with their delicious Marcy bars!


Up until we lost cell phone reception when we left Lake Placid, the weather looked good. It was overcast, but set to clear out Saturday night and be sunny and mid-70's on Sunday. We set up out tent and got an hour of sleep before dinner. There was a drizzle of rain on the tent when I woke up. That should have been my first clue that the weather was changing, but I held out hope. We had dinner and slept some more. Waking at midnight, it was cold and completely cloudy. We set out and I left my waterproof jacket on until we arrived at Marcy Dam, then took it off because I felt warm. 


Those first two miles were interesting - hiking in the dark left me feeling a little lonely. I asked Arun to give me a hug at one of our snack breaks. I used the hike to practice using my headlamp and hiking in the dark.


We continued on the path and the light misting of rain never let up. Since we were hiking seven miles to the summit, that light mist had a chance to get our outer layers completely wet, even though we didn't ever feel it "raining." Luckily, I had a base layer, hiking pants and gaiters on the bottom, a hat and three layers on top. As we got higher up and closer to the treeline, I told Arun it was time to put the pack cover and rainjackets on. I felt much warmer with the rainjacket hood over my hat.


Once we were in the alpine zone, it was light enough to take off our headlamps. The wind really picked up as the trees got shorter and Arun told me he saw snowflakes. We also hear the call of a white-throated sparrow. It was a unique setting, the chilling fog/rain blowing sideways and the sweet, happy call of a bird at dawn.

The call of the white-throated sparrow:

As we hiked on the solid rock slabs of the summit, the weather was increasingly poor. Wind blew steadily and threatened to knock me over. I had to take extra care to not step on any of the plants. The rain/mist blew sideways and the howl of the wind was only overcome by the occasional bird song. 

It was humbling to see the plants and animals surviving and thriving in these harsh conditions and think about the negative impact that humans can have on our environment. The tiny flowering plant survives ice storms, snow cover, howling wind but would be harmed if I stepped on it with my boot. 

We turned back onto the blazed path and headed to tree cover before eating our Marcy bar. 

If it had not been socked in by a storm, this is the view from the summit of Marcy:

After we took a shower and a nap at the Wilderness Campground, we packed up and had a late lunch at the ADK Cafe in Keene.


  • Always wear layers, and bring extra layers and gloves in your pack.

  • Don't rely on a weather report. 

  • Buy the brighter headlamp.

  • Hiking in the dark can bring out emotions. 

  • Wearing a bearbell on the Camelback tube ensures it will ring constantly. 

  • Shower + nap after a long hike is the best way to relax.

  • I can hike in harsh spring conditions!

Read about another Mount Marcy sunrise hike in the Summer 2014 edition of the ADK Cloudsplitter:

Other Mount Marcy sunrise hikes:

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Best Massage in Troy, NY

Best Massage for Runner and Hiker in Troy, NY

by Kathleen Lisson

To prepare for my hike up Mount Kilimanjaro, I have been running long distances as well as hiking in the Adirondacks and Catskills.  With all the changes in my body come aches and pains, especially in the legs from climbing and neck / arms from the pack. 

I go to Jess at Collar City Massage monthly. I believe that having a monthly massage helps keep injury at bay and relaxes me. I pay attention to what my body is telling me during the massage and I can often feel soreness in a muscle before it becomes painful on a run. 

Jess gave me a great tip for my sore neck. I have been camping on the weekends and using a travel-sized camp pillow. She recommended that I try a neck pillow like the ones sold at the airport. It provides more support for my neck than a camp pillow alone. My husband liked it so much he commandeered my first neck pillow and I have had to buy a second for myself. 

Jess is going to have her work cut out for her when I return from the summit! 

Friday, June 20, 2014

President Teddy Roosevelt - Original Trail Runner?

President Teddy Roosevelt - Original Trail Runner?

By Kathleen Lisson

In the Runner's World article 'The Bull Moose Runs,' Peter Sagal provides some colorful history on President Theodore Roosevelt's vigorous local hikes, one of which biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin in the 'Bully Pulpit' called a "jog" in Rock Creek Park. 

I am excited to learn that Roosevelt may have enjoyed running through the woods and, inspired by Teddy's "exemplar of vigor and motion and joy," I look forward to "Roosevelting" my way up Mt. Kilimanjaro. 

Read 'The Bull Moose Runs' here:

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Freshette Review

Freshette Review

By Kathleen Lisson

On the advice of Kilimanjaro veteran Jenne Fromm, I purchased a Freshette.


I have used it a few times while hiking in the Adirondacks and will take it to Kilimanjaro with me. What I have learned:

  • Peeing like a boy is much better than peeing like a girl. I can walk a few paces from the trail and face a tree to pee instead of tramping across vegetation until I cannot see the trail anymore before I drop my pants. 

  • There is a skill to removing the Freshette from my pants after urinating. I must keep the plastic close to my skin or I will have pee running down my leg. I think having the device at the correct angle was also part of my problem. 

  • Keep everything less dirty by placing a wet wipe in the pink part between uses. I also rinsed it with water after using, kept it in a plastic sack inside my backpack and cleaned the whole thing between hikes.

  • A panty liner will catch any stray pee. 

I look forward to using Freshette on Kilimanjaro! 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Kilimanjaro: Roof of Africa

Kilimanjaro: Roof of Africa

 By Kathleen Lisson

I love the guide's explanation, "Kilimanjaro is a place where ordinary people come to do something extraordinary."

I also am thinking about the idea that everyone has an Africa of their dreams, and they come to see how the mountain is compared to the Kilimanjaro of their dreams. Watch the video here:

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Does Hiking Make You a Better Decision Maker?

Could Hiking Improve Your Decision - Making Skills?

by Kathleen Lisson

Natural scenery can improve decision making skills

I recently read an article on Pacific-Standard about the effect of viewing nature scenes on decision making skills. In 'Feeling Impulsive? Head for the Forest,' author Tom Jacobs provides details of a study where participants were asked to make decisions after viewing either a scene found in nature or in a city (buildings or geometric shapes). The Results? Better decisions after being exposed to the nature scene.

Now I have one more reason to keep on hiking! Arun and I have a photo of some autumn trees in our bedroom. This might be the encouragement I need to take more nature photos and display them around the house and in my office.

Read the article here:

Monday, June 16, 2014

What is in a Perfect Mid-hike Snack?

What is in a Perfect Mid-Hike Snack?

By Kathleen Lisson

I am trying to hike both days every weekend to prepare for my expedition to Mount Kilimanjaro this July. 

With all the time hiking in the woods, I have begun to listen to my body more. If I feel a sudden tiredness mid-hike, it is for one of two reasons - either I'm hiking up an incline or I need a snack. I have found that a snack can be as simple as a bite or two of a cookie or bar. After a few minutes, my enthusiasm for the hike returns and I speed right back up with a smile on my face. 

Hiking has also improved a lot since I began using my Camelback instead of waiting until a 'water break' to drink.

I've covered the physical needs for refueling on a hike, but what about the emotional aspect? I recently went on an easy hike along the Shawangunk Ridge Trail. I stopped at a scenic overlook and tried a LemonZest Luna Bar. As I was sitting and watching the peaceful movement of Lake Awosting, the lemony taste reminded me of relaxing summer days, sipping lemonade and feeling the warm sun on my face. 

For a moment, all the stress of preparing for Mt. Kilimanjaro melted away and I was able to enjoy a moment of just looking at the trees and smelling the woods on the breeze.

I'm looking forward to enjoying more Luna bars on the trail and bringing them with me to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro this July. I'll need the reminder to take a moment to relax in the middle of my journey and enjoy the sights and smells around me.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Hiking in the Catskills

Hiking in the Catskills

by Kathleen Lisson

Here are a few photos I took on recent Catskill hiking trips. I enjoy living so close to these mountains. Arun and I have spend many weekends together camping and hiking in preparation for Kilimanjaro. When I hike the Catskills, it gives him a chance to spend one day hiking and the other rock climbing.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Advice for Hiking the High Peaks

Advice for Hiking the High Peaks

By Kathleen Lisson

In the article 'How to Hike the High Peaks and not be That Guy,' Casey Normile offers 10 tips for hiking in the Adirondacks. 

My favorite was 'don't hike Mt. Marcy first.' Certain mountains are "friendlier" than others and a beginning hiker can get discouraged when their second or third hike is MUCH more difficult than the first few. 

Read the 'How to Hike the High Peaks and not be That Guy' article here:

Friday, June 13, 2014

Gear Review - L.L. Bean Duffel Bag

L.L. Bean Adventure Duffel Medium - Hot Coral

by Kathleen Lisson

LL Bean Adventure Duffel

I bought both the medium and large duffel bags from L.L. Bean for my upcoming trip to Kilimanjaro. 

I took the medium duffel bag with me on my recent trip to the Junior League Annual Conference in St. Louis. The bag fit into the overhead bin on my Southwest and Delta flights and the waterproofing came in handy while waiting for the MetroLink outside of the airport. 

  • POSITIVE: I could load a lot more items in this duffel than would fit in my rolling carry on.

  • NEGATIVE: There is more packing space, so be careful to pack a bag that you can still lift and carry through an airport! 

  • SOLUTION: I will use a separate folding luggage cart to easily transport both my medium and large duffel bags on my trip to Tanzania.  

I like the memorable color and added my monogram so I could confidently pick my bag out of a pile of bags on a luggage carousel. I will fly to Tanzania with this piece of luggage as my carry on.

The L.L. Bean duffel bag is online here:

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Adirondack Mountain Club Meeting

Adirondack Mountain Club Meeting - June 2014

by Kathleen Lisson

I had a great time at the June meeting of the Adirondack Mountain Club. Club members offered their unused camping gear at a summer gear swap before the meeting began. I bought a few small daypacks for my husband and an inflatable sleeping pad for Kilimanjaro. My best deal was a pair of Julbo glacier sunglasses for only $5! 

After the meeting began, we elected officers and then settled in to watch photo slideshows capturing the outdoor adventures of several of our members over the past year. We saw day hikes in Hawaii, visited the highest point in Australia and took a peek at plenty of snow adventures right here in New York and the Northeast. 

For more information on the Albany ADK club, visit the website:

Prepare Mentally to Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro

Prepare Mentally to Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro

By Kathleen Lisson

Mark Whitman of the Climb Kilimanjaro Guide website offers tips on getting physically fit for the trek up Kilimanjaro in the article ‘Training to climb Kilimanjaro – how to be perfectly prepared for the summit.’ 

I like Whitman's advice to prepare for the adventure mentally as well as physically. I remember very well the last mile of my last half marathon. The goal was almost in sight, I was on track to finish in under 2 hours, but I had no more gas. The mental strength I used to get to that last straightaway is the strength I will need to get to the top of Kilimanjaro. 

Read the ‘Training to climb Kilimanjaro – how to be perfectly prepared for the summit’ article here:

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway

The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway

by Kathleen Lisson

Ashley gives a video Review of The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway. She sees the mountain as a metaphor. I’m glad I watched this, as I thought of bringing the book to Tanzania to read.Watch the video here:

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tips for Women Hikers on Kilimanjaro

 Mount Kilimanjaro Packing List - tea, fiber bars, pens

In 'Tips for Women Hikers on Kilimanjaro,' hikers Leigh F. Bacher and Lori F. Banks share tips for women hiking Mount Kilimanjaro. I had never thought to bring herbal tea to drink. I will also look for fiber bars as snacks. Another good tip is to bring pens to give to local children. 

I can't bring my fireplace, but I can bring my favorite tea...

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Mountains Will Wait for You and Grace Peak in the Adirondacks

The Mountains Will Wait for You

By Kathleen Lisson

The Mountains Will Wait for You

I recently watched 'The Mountains Will Wait for You,' the story of Grace Hudowalski of Troy, the first woman to climb all 46 High Peaks of the Adirondack Mountains.

I enjoyed this movie. I like the idea of recording more than just routine weather / route / date / peak information in my climbing diary. The Adirondack 46er page encourages hikers to record "What you saw.  Things you learned.  How you felt.  What the climb meant to you.  Summarize some of your favorite memories, adventures, or misadventures for us."

I bought my copy at the High Peaks Information Center. Find more information about The Mountains Will Wait for You here:

Some 46ers are working to get East Dix renamed Grace Peak. I haven't hiked East Dix yet, so I am looking forward to noting it in my hiking journal as 'Grace Peak.'

The fact that the Adirondack 46ers started in Troy, NY is one more reason I am proud to live in Troy! 

Find out more about the Adirondack 46ers here:

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Noonmark Mountain Hike Report

Noonmark Mountain Hike Report

by Kathleen Lisson

Ladder on Noonmark

Arun and I hiked Noonmark on Memorial Day. We planned it as a half-day hike on our way from the Adirondak Loj to home in Troy. 

After dinner at the Adirondak Loj the previous night, a Loj employee read the weather report - warm, overcast and windy at the summits.

I learned:

  • Waterproof pants are empowering - I was more willing to climb on wet rocks because my butt would not get wet. They're NOT just for rainy days!
  • Hiking poles make a steep trail easier on the knees. 
  • Noonmark's summit is rocky, which makes for amazing views BUT was dangerous in the day's windy conditions. 
  • I used my rock climbing skills to get up part of this trail. A visit to the rock gym is part of a good hiker's cross training.

  • Just because a peak isn't part of the 46, DOESN'T mean it is "easy." 

Summit of Noonmark

Noonmark Mountain Hiking Information from ADK -

Catskill 3500 Hike Review - Slide, Cornell, Wittenberg

Catskill 3500 Hike Review - Slide, Cornell, Wittenberg 

by Kathleen Lisson

Arun and I began at the end of this weekend's hike by camping at the Woodland Valley Campground. We camped spot #47, right next to the trailhead sign and directly across from the day-use parking lot.

Trailhead at Woodland Valley end of hike

Bridge at Woodland Valley end of hike

We drove to the other end of the trail and left one car at the Slide Mountain Parking Area on Oliverea-Frost Valley Rd. / C.R. 47, then climbed Slide, Cornell and Wittenberg mountains before descending to our campsite at Woodland Valley.

3500 Foot Mark at Slide Mountain

Plaque at Slide Mountain Summit
 Lessons Learned:

  • BUG SPRAY - I did use my bug face net on the summits, but I forgot to put bug spray on my socks and legs and now I have a rash above my ankles from bug bites. Luckily, I took a shower immediately after the hike and discovered the rash. I put bug bite ointment on my legs before dinner. 
  • EATING - I ate on all three summits. My husband didn't eat on Wittenberg and he ended up asking me for a snack to keep up his energy on  the long descent. 
  • SHOWERS - A campsite hike is the best! I was able to walk straight to the showers. I felt like a new woman after my shower and was ready to relax and enjoy dinner. 

The campsites at Woodland Valley campground:

BAD - feel very close together, there is not a "secluded in the woods" feeling,

GOOD - but the campground was at the trailhead and alongside Woodland Valley Stream.

Catskill Mountain Guide

I used the Catskill Mountain Guide to guide me on this hike. The book has an excellent trail map in the back cover and a lengthy description of popular Catskill hikes. I read the description of the upcoming section of trail at each summit.