A pizza franchise recently announced delivery to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world. This irks me. The only benefit is that it’s my understanding Tanzania requires those who use the mountain for promotional purposes donate money to in-country non-profits.

Growing up, I spent time hiking, backpacking and camping in the Sierras and the Rocky Mountains. The goal usually was to achieve a wilderness experience, to get away from the crowds.

When I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, I was surprised by two things: how hard it was to summit and how many people were on the trail.

Tens of thousands attempt the Mt. Kilimanjaro summit each year. It’s definitely a different kind of wilderness experience with so many people in each camp. Still- pizza deliver to the summit?

I was also surprised by the amenities on the trail like the potty tents some porters carried. Our porters carried a dining tent and table and chairs for us. I titled my second novel “A Table on Kilimanjaro” because, to me, the table and chairs seemed surprising on a mountain based on my past experiences. We usually just sat on rocks or logs if they could be found. The title also references the other surprises the main characters encounter on the mountain.

Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous forty-eight United States, is also a popular mountain to climb.  To lessen the impact of humans on the mountain, trail permits are required, and hikers are issued bags to clean up after themselves. Everything is to be packed out. And I mean everything! A friend of mine is helping get a human waste clean up effort going on Mt. Kilimanjaro where it’s a real problem.

John Muir said, “Wilderness is not only a haven for native plants and animals, but it is also a refuge from society. It’s a place to go to hear the wind and little else, see the stars and the galaxies, smell the pine trees, feel the cold water, touch the sky and the ground at the same time, listen to the coyotes, eat fresh snow, walk across the desert sands, and realize why its good to go outside of the city and the suburbs.”

Mt Kilimanjaro should be a refuge from society, and especially from pizza delivery to its summit!