Etna is no longer in the distance and, as every day passes, it looms larger and larger on the horizon.
When my friends and I came up with the idea of climbing Etna to launch MS Positive it seemed perfect, in theory. Now, with three weeks to go, the reality is sinking in.
I don’t actually like walking. It’s just not my thing. Perhaps that was something I should have remembered months ago. Tennis, pilates, weights – not walking. Yet our plan is to cover around 15km a day, on occasion climbing over a kilometre upwards, to get to the top of an active volcano. Did I read that someone just fell into a volcanic crater in Italy yesterday?
The one thing that’s worse than walking is sleeping in a tent. I am definitely not a bush baby. What’s with the toilet? The last time I tried camping I gave up at five in the morning and went home. So just in case the walking and the climbing isn’t enough, we are spending a night under canvass – my choice. In for a penny, in for a pound.
I should be nervous (that’s what everyone is telling me) but today – and of course it may be different tomorrow – I am just really excited. Of course it’s going to be challenging but I truly believe that if I put my mind to it I can do it. At the very least, I’m going to give it my very best try.
I just think of the end result, one step at a time. I don’t really feel I’m training as such, but I did 6km in an hour today. I’ve got my pilates classes – which we hope to be able to use the charity to offer more widely – and I’ve got someone else helping me with my walking position to minimize the stress on my body.
And I keep picturing the view from the top, the adrenalin rush I’ll get from looking down from the brim of the volcano; the camaraderie of the climb with my husband and my friends, the exhilaration of the descent.
And it will be so worth it. It would be so much easier for the Etna trekkers to write a cheque. But it’s so much more of a commitment to actually be doing something. The adventure is part of charity’s message: you can’t walk up a mountain without being positive about MS.
My late father-in-law ran a football team in South Africa. Its name was ‘the sundowns’ and its motto was “the sky’s the limit.” I feel that’s where I am now: we’ve getting there. I’m going to get to the top of Etna, where it touches the clouds. Then, well then, the sky’s the limit.