Hi, my name is Autumn, my mom is Francesca, and we love to go hiking and adventuring together. We have been hiking together since I was a baby. Every year for my birthday, we go on a big backcountry hike—on my third birthday, we hiked the Nootka Island Trail. For my fourth, it was Landslide Lake, my fifth the Rockwall Trail in Kootenay National Park with my Auntie Shanna, and on my sixth birthday we hiked Garibaldi Lake and Panorama Ridge with my best friend Thea. Last year was my seventh birthday, and it was my champagne birthday because I turned seven on July 7. My mom wanted to do something extra special for my champagne birthday, so we decided to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro.

My mom and I did lots of training to prepare for Mt. Kilimanjaro at home in Gold River and around Vancouver Island. On rainy days, we went to the gym to walk on the treadmill and swim laps in the pool. When it was nice outside, my mom and I would jog around the track and run the hills in town. We also went on a lot of local hiking adventures around Strathcona Park for our training, like Crest Mountain and Landslide Lake. But our biggest hike was the Juan de Fuca Trail in the spring before we left for Tanzania.

Little River Gallery

We arrived in Tanzania after a lot of long plane rides. The next morning we took a bus to pick up our team and drive to the trailhead for the Lemosho route. On our drive out we saw zebras and baboons. Our seven day trek started out with us hiking through the jungle, and sleeping in the forest; on our first night we could hear the monkeys all night. By the second day, we reached the alpine desert and got our first glimpse of Kilimanjaro. One of our favourite porters, Shabani, would wake us up early every morning and bring us tea and hot chocolate. My mom and I would drink it in our sleeping bags to warm up before getting changed and packing up to hike to our next camp.

On our summit day we woke up in the night, at midnight, and started hiking at 1 a.m. We had to hike in the dark with our headlamps, and had to go up a very steep hill. My mom had a lollipop in her backpack, and when I started to get tired of the switchbacks she would give me a lick of my lollipop when I got to the end of each switchback. Five hours later, just as the sun rose, we made it to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. My mom and our guides sang me happy birthday as we celebrated the summit! After summiting, we hiked another four hours down to our camp for the night. We had a yummy dinner and, when we finished, our whole crew surprised me with a birthday party in our meal tent. They came in with a birthday cake, balloons, and a crown, and they all sang happy birthday. Hiking Kilimanjaro was hard, but it was one of the favourite things I’ve ever done, and I always ask my mom when we can go back and do it again.

When we got back home, my mom and I did more hikes in Strathcona Park. We summited Mt. Myra and Kings Peak. Strathcona is my home and one of my favourite places to hike and explore. My mom and I plan to summit Golden Hinde this summer, and are planning more adventures for my birthday. We hope to go to Peru and hike and explore for a month. I am excited for our future adventures at home and around the world!