To Climb Kilimanjaro: Harold Daniel Sets His Goal, And Achieves It
'You have to set your goal and then just take one step at a time,' says Harold Daniel
A frame in Harold Daniel's office holds a chunk of obsidian, a certificate from Tanzania and some photos from his trek up Mount Kilimanjaro last year. It represents one of the top 10 experiences of his life and is the reason that family now call him Senior Mountain Man.
On July 18, 2012, the litigation partner at Holland & Knight spent two hours at the top of Uhuru Peak, which at 19,340 feet is the highest place in Africa. He enjoyed the sunshine, blue sky and exquisite view of the volcano, glaciers and neighboring Kenya. He took a piece of obsidian, his piece of the mountain, to remind him of his accomplishment. It is one he almost missed.
How long had you thought of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro? Why that mountain in particular?
I was an Eagle Scout and I've always enjoyed hiking and camping. That mountain always intrigued me. I thought it would be a great thing to do.
It's not a technical climb like Everest. You don't need crampons or ice picks. If you're in reasonably good shape you can walk up it, but I thought I had waited too late.
What convinced you otherwise?
We were at a dinner party in 2011 and a woman sitting next to me mentioned that she had climbed Kilimanjaro the month before. I told her that I'd always wanted to do it, but I was afraid that I had waited too long. I was 68. She looked me up and down from head to toe and said, "You can do it. People older than you have done it." I started reading and learned that she was right, so I started planning.
Did you train for the adventure?
Yes, after checking with my doctor, I worked with a trainer two days a week for a year, and did speed-walking with my dog the other days of the week. I also consulted a nutritionist and lost some weight.
Were you surprised that your family wanted to go with you?
A friend was going, but he backed out, so my wife, Laurie, said she would go. Then my daughters, Amelia (18) and Annie (15) volunteered as well. I was shocked and very pleased. We invited our nephew, Tim Lake, who is like a brother to the girls. It turned out to be a really good family trip, one that none of us will ever forget.
Did you have to buy a lot of gear?
We had boots and sleeping bags, but needed so much more. Let's just say that our REI bonus from last year was hefty.
One of the things about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is that you go through five ecosystems. You start out at the equator in shorts and a T-shirt and end up at the Arctic in thermal gloves, a Gore-Tex jacket and all the layers you can find. You can expect to spend about $1,000 a person on gear.