A family holiday gathering in 2003 brought a group
of men together for an adventure of a lifetime. Sunolian Ken
Feltrop and nephew, Dan Matthews, who had recently returned
from military service in Iraq, were looking for an adventure.
Ken and Dan had several other adventures hiking together so
when Dan suggested Mt. Kilimanjaro, Ken said "OK let's
The pair immediately started planning the trip with Ken's wife
Bonnie's blessing. She said "By all means, you must go
its one of those last chances in life to do something really
Ken, being the organizer of the two took over planning the
trip and booked their trip with Tusker Trail & Safari Company
which specializes in organizing trips to Kilimanjaro. Accompanying
Ken and Dan on their journey was Ken's brother-in-law, Mike
Cantu and brothers Rod and Rick Morgan.
It took the group one year to plan and train for the 17 day
expedition, which left San Francisco on December 15, 2004 and
after a stop in Amsterdam they arrived in Tanzania.
Ken is an experienced hiker and has even climbed Mt. Whitney
but training for this expedition took him to Fremont's Mission
Peak, where he hiked for 6 months with a 30 lb pack. He also
used his stair step exercise equipment daily.
The group first took a five day safari in the Serengeti where
they had their own safari jeep and driver, "You can't go
to Africa without going on safari", said Ken. "We
spent all day, everyday, cruising around the safari looking
for critters. It's all open space, flat land as far as you can
see, just full of animals. We had a lion so close to the jeep
that you could have touched his tail."
I was especially lucky to view Ken's spectacular photos from
the trip. Ken's pictures of the Serengeti captured every sense
of the African wilderness that one could imagine. He snapped
photos of ferocious looking lions, a gangly long legged baby
giraffe, pretty pink flamingos, elephants, wildebeest and much
more. Ken said, "There were wildebeest by the millions,
as far as the eye could see there were long lines of wildebeest
traveling, looking for water and looking for grass. We would
get into our jeep and get in the middle of the herd and travel
right along with them. It was absolutely magnificent! I would
love to take Bonnie back; she would love that part of the trip".
And of course there were pictures of trees; Ken has a special
admiration for trees so of course there were amazing pictures
of the African Acacia tree backlit by the setting sun.
They then descended on the majestic, Mt. Kilimanjaro. Ken says,
"Mt. Kilimanjaro has become a major hiking phenomenon and
the reason is because it's almost 20, 000 feet and it's not
technical, meaning that you don't need to use ropes and snowshoes,
when you climb it.". The five men were joined by a father-son
team and were accompanied by 26 porters, guides and cooks to
support the now seven member expedition.
They hiked an average of 6 to 12 miles per day, and had only
mild altitude sickness problems when they reached 15, 000 feet
in elevation. No one in the group had to use the oxygen they
carried, but their guides checked their blood oxygen levels
twice a day to be sure they stayed healthy.
One of Ken's final pictures is of the group surrounding a sign
at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro on Uhuru Peak, which proclaims
that you are at the "highest point in Africa".
"My goal was to go someplace that was 20,000 feet tall
but I missed it by just a little bit because it was really only
19,364. But it was close enough, I'll take it. I consider that