Our dune climbing adventure had an early start. I had to wake up by 5:00 AM and had to be completely dressed and ready by 6:00 AM. As the bus made it into Sossusveli, my fellow students and I watched the sunrise. The early morning sun cast shadows on the dunes, giving them a surreal and breathtaking look. Finally at 8:00 AM, we spotted “Big Daddy”, one of the tallest dunes in the Namib Desert and the dune we would climb.
A group of three other students and I, made our way up the dune. We quickly came to the realization that they best way to walk up the dune was to keep looking down at the trail not off to the side. I soon discovered that climbing “Big Daddy”, a 300 meter dune, was not going to be an easy task. I followed my fellow students’ foot prints, and whispered encouraging words to myself to keep marching forward. After about 45 minutes of walking, we reached a plateau area. I made the executive decision to kicked off my sneakers in order to climb steeper part of the dune barefoot.
After a much needed 10 minute break, my band and I started up the sharp incline to our destination. Each step was agonizing. My legs shook with exhaustion as I walked up a nearly vertical incline of 50 feet. At one point I started crawling on all fours in order to gain a better grip on the dune. My entire body felt like lead I dragged myself up the side. About 10 feet down from the top, my legs collapsed with fatigue. I lay in the sand as my body screamed that I could go no further. A guide cheered me on, and I made my way to the top of the sharp incline along with my teammates.
We were almost to our destination but we still had a quarter of a mile to go until we reached the top. My peers and I trudged along. We made sure to take careful, calculated steps. Finally, only one sharp incline separated us from the top of “Big Daddy”. For a few moments, I believed that I couldn’t achieve the task. The climb was too high, too far, and too dangerous. With some effort, I pushed all of my doubts and limitations to the furthest depths of my mind. I kept moving forward. With slow determination, I placed one tired foot in front of the other. Finally, we reached the top of the dune. My weariness turned to joy and triumph; for we had made it to the top.
While waiting for the rest of our group to join us, I made the connection of how climbing the dune was a lot like my college career and life in general. There were easy parts, hard parts, and parts that seemed nearly impossible to finish. Nevertheless, through these hardships and heartbreaks I’ve become a stronger person. Climbing “Big Daddy” made me grasp that no matter how far away my goal may seem; I have to keep fighting if I want to achieve it. The climb was both mentally and physically challenging for me, but it made me realize that I need to keep moving forward and push myself past my mental limitations. In the end, it’s the struggles that we face on the climb that makes our goals worth the fight.
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