Weekly Photo Challenge: Grand

This is my first post as part of the weekly photo challenge. As I saw the theme this week – ‘grand’ – a million of my photos dashed through my head and my immediate thought was, “Yep. On that.” Only now have I realised that actually, maybe that’s not a good thing. How can I choose only one?

2013 has seen the best experiences of my entire life. I don’t have a flashy camera or expensive lens, but it’s been through it all with me. It’s been battered, it’s been bruised, it’s been dropped in the sea and scraped along concrete. It’s been from the beaches of Greece to the summit of Kilimanjaro, it’s been dropped in mud on a Tanzanian safari and next year no doubt will suffer its fair share of abuse when I hike to Machu Picchu in Peru. But I love that. Travelling changes you as a person, so there’s no reason my camera should have to stay the same.

My point is, with my crappy little camera, I’ve taken thousands of photographs. Whether it’s my friends and I at parties or feeding seaweed to wild turtles, there is a never-ending list of photos to choose from. ‘Grand’ is incredibly vague.

After much decision making however, I have chosen one that I took only a few months ago. This summer, I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for charity and it was the best experience of my life. This is one of my favourite photos.

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It’s not the best photo. It’s not the clearest photo. But it’s a photo that means a hell of a lot to me. I took this on the way back down – the day before, I had summited. Through a mixture of altitude sickness and tiredness alike, my time at the top almost feels like a dream. At the time, I hadn’t realised just what I had done. But the reason I stopped on the way down and took this photo was because that was the moment it dawned on me. I had just climbed that monster of a mountain. And I had never, ever been prouder of myself or felt more of a sense of accomplishment in my entire life.

The mountain is grand. The miles of trees and forest is grand. But the true reason this photo is grand? It’s the feeling that it brings back to me every time I look at it. It’s the knowledge that we climbed to 19,340ft, and stood at the top of the world’s tallest freestanding mountain. For a minute, we ruled the world.

It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done – or possibly will ever do – in my entire life. But my god, do I miss it.