Contributed by Jessica Mohlman

The climb was difficult, but it always is. As I stood before the base of the mountain and looked up to the location our point count was going to be at, I doubted my abilities. As we ascended the mountain, I could feel myself pushing myself to my utmost abilities as I tried to find my footing amongst the loose rocks. As I caught my breath and looked up, all I could think was “you can do this, look at all you have accomplished here so far”. The most rewarding feeling is completing a task you didn’t think was possible, or never thought previously you would do. As I sat on top of the peak and searched for signs of wildlife below, I couldn’t help but be struck by the landscape before me. An arid savannah encompassed by rolling mountains and hills; as I look below me I see a black rhino and group of giraffes feeding. That is when it hits me, I am in Africa, the place I have dreamed of since I was a child. Of course I have known I have been here for some time now, but at some moments, the true reality and emotion of the experience sets in. It is a remarkable feeling to be filled with the euphoria of knowing you are living out your dreams, and it feels as if I climbed a mountain to get here. I feel as if my whole life has been leading up to being here, and being part of this experience. I wake up in the morning not to the sound of an alarm clock or cars, but to the calls of the black-backed jackal, spotted hyena, or lions calling in the distance. When I look outside my tent, I do not see buildings or telephone poles, I see mountains and wildlife. At night, I do not see street or city lights in the distance, I see the milky-way and more stars then I could have ever envisioned. Every few days I pack up my small home, and move to a new equally beautiful location full of diverse unique wildlife. The simplicity of how I am living allows me to fully absorb the experience I am having. I have no outside distractions, no technology, and minimal communication with the outside world. I just have myself, my trip mates, and the wilderness. Each day I amaze myself at the tasks I am able to accomplish and challenges I am able to overcome. Each day I become a stronger person. Each day I further live out my dream. Ever since I was a child, I have wanted to go to Africa. I would go to museums and zoos and learn all I could about nature and wildlife, and yearned to be able to do something to help it and see those beautiful creatures in their natural habitat. I am proud to say that now I am doing just that. It is truly a humbling feeling to be in the presence of wildlife and knowing there is no fence keeping you apart, you are sharing the same land, this is both of your homes.

“Now I know the secret of making the best persons;

it is to grow up in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth”

-Walt Whitman