Posted by: noadventure | September 15, 2015

How to Climb Kilimanjaro

The toughest part about climbing Kilimanjaro is getting the time off from work. However, I did misjudge how cold it would be and how my body would adjust to the lack of oxygen and altitude sickness.

My little 6 minute iPhone documentary:

A little about Kilimanjaro. It’s the highest mountain on 4 continents (Africa, Europe, Australia/Oceania, and Antarctica). It’s the highest free standing mountain in the world, meaning it’s not part of a range. When you summit Kili, you start at the bottom. There are plenty of 14K footers in Colorado that you can do in a day if you park near the top. That’s not the case in Africa. It’s a a more “rustic” climb.  It’s kind of like climbing the highest mountain in Colorado if you started at sea level in New Orleans. Check out this garbage bin in the nearby town of Arusha:


That said, climbing the Machame Route (whiskey route) on Kilimanjaro is mostly a ton of steep uphill hiking. There are a few rocky parts, but none too technical. The climb is more like a long 8 day slog.

Why is Kilimanjaro famous? Kill is one of the SEVEN SUMMITS, meaning It’s a continental highpoint. It’s crazy high; five thousand feet higher than the highest mountains in Colorado. In fact, the final camp is 1000 feet higher than the tallest mountains in Colorado, and that’s where climbers “sleep” a few hours before summit attempts.


Our climbing party was just me and my brother, Dave. Tanzanian law requires that your climb is guided, so we had a guide and an assistant guide, plus porters to carry supplies. A lot of people mistakenly call them Sherpas, but Sherpa is an ethnicity. They are native Himalayan people that happen to be mountain porters and guides.


Every day was blazing hot, even as we advanced up the mountain. Every night was bone-chillingly cold. The only night that I wasn’t cold was right before summit. I was wearing fleece cycling pants, hiking pants, rain pants, 2 pairs of merino wool socks, a long sleeve t shirt, a cowboy pearl snap shirt, a down puffy jacket, another down puffy jacket, a wool hat, and I was inside a Mountain Hardware expedition-weight down sleeping bag with all of those clothes on. I get pretty cold in the alpine desert.


You are essentially out of the jungle at the end of the first day. The next climate is called “heather.” Next is desert, then glacial mountain peak. There are monkeys and elephants in the jungle, but the only animals you see above the tree line are vultures and mice, and they are all over the mountain, except for the last few thousand icy feet to the top. This is a common view: desert with clouds below your feet.


One of the wildest parts about being on Kilimanjaro is water consumption. If you are taking Diamox (prescription anti-altitidue sickness drug), you will be peeing constantly. The solution is to drink 4 liters of water per day, plus tea or coffee, and soups. In some of the lower camps, there are nearby streams, but at a certain point on the mountain, water is no longer easy to get. The porters carry 5 gallon (20 liter) containers on their heads to bring water up and down the mountain. At the longest stretches, they have to go 4 or 5 mountain miles each way to get the water. Yes, on the uphill part of the hike, the water containers are full.IMG_0090IMG_0105

Also noteworthy was our eating of meat and other perishables high on the mountain. I never saw a refrigerator the whole time I was in Africa (except for in the city of Arusha and at the airport). The porters were not carrying ice or cold packs either. We ate beef, chicken, and wild caught fish that had not ever been refrigerated. The animal was killed, then prepared for cooking or storage. I don’t know if they have a salting technique or other curing process to make it last longer. It was cold at night, but like I said before, the days were blazing hot.

The porters were also responsible for doing med-evacs for injured climbers or climbers who couldn’t continue due to exhaustion. They called these steel cages “stretchers.” It would really suck to be wheeled off the mountain on one of these, especially with an injury. These are the modern versions that have a motorcycle wheel and shocks. The old version was a modified wheelbarrow.


Below you’ll find a few pics from the summit. I originally planned on doing pushups at the top, but by the time I got there I was loopy from speed climbing in the dark, so we just snapped a few photos and left. Still, it was definitely satisfying to reach the the top, or Uhuru Peak.


Then we cruised 10 thousand feet vertically down the mountain in 10 hours to get to Maweka camp. The climb was relatively easy, but the descent had me limping with achilles and knee injuries.

Back under the jungle canopy 1 day later.


Posted by: noadventure | December 5, 2014

3rd Annual New Orleans Polar Bear Plunge (XMAS DAY 2014)

Originally posted on New Orleans Polar Bears:

Despite our relatively warm winter temperatures in New Orleans, it still gets pretty chilly. On December 25th, 2014 (XMAS DAY) we will be jumping in the Lake Pontchartrain for a brisk swim. This is an all ages event. Come celebrate Xmas with our Third Annual PLUNGE.


Wear a wetsuit if you like. This whole thing is about having holiday fun. Because of the rocks and other debris on the beach, shoes might be a good idea. Otherwise, what you wear is up to you. Remember that swimming is optional, you can just watch and enjoy the beach or paddle board/kayak if you want to. Here’s the NOadventure post from the inaugural event or the 2nd annual event.

View original

Posted by: noadventure | September 29, 2014

Hobie Cat the Pontch

As an adult, I’ve always preferred the simpler of two machines. I like motorcycles, but I like bicycles and scooters more. I like big boats, but I REALLY like paddling (kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards).

Hobie Cats are perfect for minimalist sailing. And… they’re FAST. The only downside is, they’re kind of hard to maneuver around a marina or pull into a slip because they are 100% wind powered. Beach entry is ideal. Or, if you’re like my friend Hoover, you have a buddy who has a 20′ Hobie and a nice place on the water to launch from.

Here’s Hoover having a blast on Lake Pontchartrain:

AND, here’s that awesome Hawaiian dude who gets his catch almost stolen by a HUGE shark:

Posted by: noadventure | August 26, 2014

Northshore Goat Boating

If you don’t know what goat boating is, I don’t blame you. A goat boater is what surfers call kayakers who are surfing waves. So technically, no “goat-boating” is taking place. It’s more of some decent kayak treks on Cane Bayou and the Tchefuncte River.

Check out Hoover’s tail-of-the-summer GoPro adventures.

Cane Bayou:

AND the Tchefuncte to the lighthouse:

I did my own Cane Bayou NOadventure a few years ago. The audio might be NSFW.

Posted by: noadventure | August 18, 2014

Urban Ruin: Lindy Boggs Medical Center

Editor’s note: Yet another awesome post from Whitney Mackman (@wmackattack). Enjoy.

Lindy Boggs Medical Center Explorations
Like the Market Street Power Plant, the abandoned Lindy Boggs Medical Center dangles itself in front of me every time I run Bayou St. John. It just sits there, wearing the sad, dark brick, like it would do anything to shake such a burden. A chair dangles stubbornly over the edge of a blown out, third floor window. Dark green water sits silently under the Emergency ramp, harboring 9-year-old lily pads of mold. Mattresses, ones possibly used to transport patients above the floodwater, gather leaves near the main entrance.
water rampelevators
Forty-five people died at Lindy Boggs during and after Hurricane Katrina. When the power failed, the remaining patients were left in stifling heat without life support, crucial medicines, and blood. After the floodwaters rose, the sickest patients and pets were left behind with only three medical professionals. If those professionals didn’t stay, those patients would have been left behind to die, alone, in an empty hospital. I’m glad I didn’t know this during my first exploration, but I could definitely feel that kind of energy inside. Each place that lies abandoned cradles its story within its wall, however moldy and crumbling.
Lindy Boggs 9.5mattress
The damage sustained is shocking. I wandered the halls imagining nurses and doctors trying to find their way in this sweaty, pitch-black apocalyptic labyrinth. Boxes full of sterile syringes, test tubes, and IV needles sit untouched in their boxes above flood level. An x-ray table waits, with a lead apron casually dangling from a nearby counter, as if the next patient is about to walk in from the dressing room. But the creepiest was turning the corner to face a room that caught fire post-abandonment. The burnt paint chips, with their coal black bodies and gray tips, animated the wall. I couldn’t breathe for a moment, as if the room was still on fire, and I had to blink a few times to ensure the room was not engulfed in ghost flames. I take moments like these as my cue to leave.
 Lindy Boggs9
A few months after my first venture into Lindy Boggs and after reading Five Days at Memorial, I felt the urge to get inside one more time. A man pumped the nasty water out of the basement and told me gutting would begin once he was done. They have even painted over all the external graffiti tags. “Coming soon” was finally coming true. A slight panic rose within me: I still hadn’t made it to that third story window that  I always look at while running along Bayou St. John. Also, no one has seen the recently drained part of this hospital in years.
flooded basement
basement chair
After entering, we immediately went to the basement. The ground was red and squishy; the walls were still dripping wet. Above and below us, rust reigns. Trash rests in piles as if someone arranged it. Chairs, metal, gloves, and biohazard cartons stick out of the mud. This floor hasn’t had a breath of fresh air in far too long. I pulled my bandana off my nose for less than a second and knew instantly we had to get out of there.
medical 1
While hunting for my third story room in the dark maze, we happened upon creepy after creepy. All the beds are on the upper floors, crammed into rooms that still have white boards reading: “Today is August 29, your nurse is ____.” There are no mattresses and the bed frames are mangled in painful positions. In one room, a day-by-calendar reads “Today is Tuesday, August 30, 2005,” and tubes still run from the wall to the twisted bed frames. Down the hall at the nurse’s station, a white board announces the names of patients and their assigned nurses. Around the corner, water drips onto debris. It is so loud and rhythmic, it sounds like footsteps.
today is
nurses station
The graffiti is honestly the scariest part. The adrenaline I feel while exploring is full of wonder and shock. I experience only minimal pangs of horror – until my flashlight illuminates, written in classic horror-film-blood-dripping-font, “Are you scared yet?” Other graffiti is helpful, telling us which stairs lead to roof access or pointing out open and plunging elevator shafts. The horrific demon-faced caricatures, however, are not helpful. After finding the room I always look at from Bayou St. John, I enjoyed the gorgeous panoramic view of the city from the roof. However, my throat was getting itchy, and an itchy throat is also my cue to leave.
skyline 1
ER ramp
Lindy Boggs has been looming in my world for the past four years and I feel honored to be able to explore it. I want to help tell a story and spark interest in and anger for what happened to the people who remained in hospitals during and after Hurricane Katrina. The failure of response at all levels of state and government created situations that each doctor, patient, and family should never have to face. The choices they were forced to make are things we cannot forget.
For more information on Lindy Boggs, read:
For a similar story, read Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink.
For not-so-similar, but equally horrific stories, read: Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers,
and One Dead in the Attic by Chris Rose.
Posted by: noadventure | August 3, 2014

Bayou Segnette FAIL

Editor’s note: Another entertaining post from writer Whitney Mackman.
Bayou Segnette State Park
For a brief moment in my life, paddleboarding caught my interest. I tried it once and decided to get my own inflatable paddleboard.  While conducting future adventure research on Googlemaps, I discovered a cluster of homes, or a fishing camp, only accessible by boat in a small bayou off Lake Cataoahouchie, where Jean Lafitte Park begins. Five miles in, five miles out, this would be an easy trip for a kayak since the average person can kayak between 3-5 mph. A paddleboard, however, can maybe go 1-2 mph. DOWN RIVER.

Barataria SignKayak

The park is located across the Mississippi, not to far from New Orleans over in Westwego. There is a boat launch with parking, and there is where I decided to set off. Most boats were respectful and slowed down, but there were a few instances were we had to have paddles up to be seen. A Wildlife and Fisheries Agent was patrolling by boat, checking for lifejackets.
About 3 miles out, we take a break and drink a beer. We hear barking and see an alligator-like stick floating about 50 feet away, but we aren’t convinced. I lay back on my paddleboard and shut my eyes, tuning into nature. It is then I hear the bubbles.
I snap up, look over the edge of my board and see bubbles furiously shooting to the surface. I crawl to the other side of the board to get the puncture hole out of the water. My adventure buddy dries it off and applies duct tape that I rip off my backpack over the hole. In Hollywood timing, we hear barking again, this time louder, closer. We look up to notice the alligator stick has eyes and is now about 10 feet away. Right when we make eye contact, it slides in reverse under the water, just how alligators do. We scream, I start wildly paddling my board backwards, on my knees, away from where I last saw the gator. My buddy does the same, except he is much faster in his kayak. After a half-mile of crazy paddling, we relax. If he was going to take me, he would’ve.


We can’t rest long, however, as I am sailing a sinking ship. We slowly but surely make our way back to the boat launch just as the nose of my board starts dragging underwater.
On the way back a woman in a passing boat hollered, “Why aren’t you afraid of gators?”
“Oh, I am!” I hollered back. I just love adventure more. Correction: I love adventure in a kayak.
Posted by: noadventure | July 27, 2014

Abandoned Power Plant

Editor’s note: Another killer post from NOadventure writer Whitney Mackman. 
For four years I’ve been teased by those ever-present twin stacks rising along the banks of the Mississippi, just behind the Crescent City Connection. But every time I drive by to find a way in, someone is filming a movie. This time, however, I had a plan. Terminator 5 just wrapped and abandoned the grounds. It was the 4th of July, so all the police were busy downtown.
The Market Street Power Plant was built in 1905 and operated by New Orleans Public Service Inc. until 1973, when it shut down. Entergy sold it to Market Street Properties in 2007 and, as usual in New Orleans, there are plenty of plans for future development that have yet to take off.
big room
The inside was eerie. Every time the wind blew the storm-loosened metal sheets on the roof, we thought we had been caught. I could barely wrap my mind around how this power plant worked, as I’m sure all the pertinent machinery had been taken out. You can see where there was an intentional pool of water below a massive windowed room with lots of steel. We climbed shifty steel staircase after staircase, ducking in and out of doorways that led to more huge rooms, rusted machinery, gutted control pads, steel jungle gyms, and Dr. Seuss pipes.
crazy pipe
Posted by: noadventure | July 14, 2014

DEEP Westbank Adventure: Woodlands Trail and Park

Editor’s note: As I’ve been preoccupied, writer Whitney Mackman has still been out there adventuring with the best. Here’s another one of her posts.

Tucked between Planter’s Canal, Donner Canal, and the Mississippi River, this wide, lush roller coaster trail through a coastal forest ecosystem transports you to another world. Dodge raccoons and stare a little too long at trees engulfing other trees. And, if you look hard enough through the tangle of overgrowth at the end of the trail (5.5 miles), you will discover 10 WWII Ammunition Bunkers emerging from the wetlands. They are open and accessible, if you have a machete and don’t mind avoiding banana spiders at certain times of year.



Best advice: Keep your head up! Most of the banana spiders were hanging just out of reach, but look for branches that stretch partway across the trail toward another – these seem to be their favorite. They are HUGE, yellow, and purple, you will see them. I biked holding a giant stick in front of me, but that felt a little extreme. When the trail seems too overgrown to continue and you see the frame of what used to be a trail sign, keep your eyes peeled for the concrete bunkers with large green doors on the very overgrown Naval Ammunition Depot Loop.



It’s pretty easy to get to Woodlands Trail and Park from New Orleans: Cross over to the West Bank, exit and merge onto General de Gaulle. Take that for 4 miles and don’t panic when the street turns into a huge bridge that looks like the end of the world. Go over it (Intracoastal waterway) and once you get down, hang a left and then take your first sharp left (almost a u-turn) onto Herbert Blvd.

Once on F. Edward Herbert Blvd, you will pass an abandoned complex on your left (I explored one building of this government complex after my bike adventure, but it was getting dark and creepy). Then you will cross a small bridge (Planter’s Canal) and make an immediate left before the animal shelter to Woodland Trails (if you hit baseball fields, you missed it). Trailhead is at the end of the road. Very easy to follow and incredibly well marked, choose the equestrian or the hiking trail. It’s very overgrown in places but doable, since the bike elevates you a bit.

The address of Woodlands Trail and Park is 449 F. Edward Hebert Blvd, Belle Chasse Louisiana.

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