The Wisdom Walkers, a group of mature African Americans, made history as the oldest group of Black men and women to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak. The 11 men and women ranging in age from 47 to 73 made the seven-day trek up the Machame route, guided by the premier mountain outfitters, Tusker Trail.
Training for nearly 10 months to prepare for the expedition, the members worked diligently to get in shape. Meeting Sundays for five-mile treks in local parks, climbing local mountains and working out regularly became the norm.
None are athletes and many made lifestyle changes and hired personal trainers to prepare for this journey.
“I had hip replacement surgery in January. So, over the past ten months, I worked with a physical therapist, climbed two mountains and regularly did five-mile treks to prepare for the climb,” said Winona Lake.
“By summit morning, we had been trekking through arid, rocky and difficult terrain for five solid days on Mount Kilimanjaro, often at 45-degree angles and we were tired,” recalled Maynard McAlpin, who made the trek with his wife, Dr. Nneka Davis.
“Beginning our ascent at 1:30 am in the dark was challenging and with decreasing oxygen levels the higher we climbed. We relied on prayer and one another to push forward. So, many of us achieved our personal summit before Uhuru’s peak. Nonetheless, the tremendous effort each person put forth was phenomenal,” McAlpin added.
Organized by D.C.-based business owner and certified yoga instructor, Sharon Goods, the Wisdom Walkers are working to inspire African Americans to age responsibly and to choose health at every phase of life. The group consists of real estate developers, diversity and inclusion professionals, attorneys, business owners, an oral surgeon, and former military officers.
“Mount Kilimanjaro became a focal point for our effort to encourage Blacks to choose adventure and heath in addressing the prevalence of impaired mobility, hypertension, and diabetes in our race, as we age. We are navigating stress and it requires us to be deliberate with our health. We can choose either to gaze at the mountain or challenge ourselves physically and spiritually to trek it,” Goods said.
On Oct. 2, 2022, Sharon Goods became one of the oldest African American women to summit Mount Kilimanjaro.