Cold weather training in North Carolina with the All Veteran Parachute Team

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Last weekend, The All Veteran Parachute team hosted the Kilimanjaro Warriors in Fayetteville, North Carolina. We were invited to do our first cold weather training hike to help prepare for our upcoming expedition.  With the journey to Mount Kilimanjaro beginning in just three weeks, this was our last session to test our equipment and our endurance.

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 Our team was given the opportunity to travel by private jet to North Carolina.  The wonderful people at Texas Jacobson Aviation provided us with roundtrip flights between San Antonio and Fayetteville.  The donation of their assets and time are greatly appreciated. They truly live up to their mission of assisting ambulatory military veterans with free air travel to and from Texas.

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Kisha and Erich traveling like rock stars! 

Upon arrival in Fayetteville, we were greeted by members of the All Veteran Parachute Team. The AVPT provided us with lodging and hosted a party for us the first evening.  We had a great time and met some unbelievable people who want to give back to their fellow veterans.  The AVPT has a program called Therapy in the Air, which supports the Combat Injured Troops branch of their team.  Their mission is to provide therapy to injured veterans by taking them out for a tandem parachute jump. We were invited and excited to jump with them, but unfortunately the winds were too strong all weekend.

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We needed to train in cold, windy conditions, similar to what we will experience climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, and North Carolina provided us with exactly that. As we headed out for a sunrise hike on Saturday morning, the wind was strong and the temperatures were in the 20s .

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We hiked with a large entourage, which included the athletic team of the AVPT and members of the United States Veterans Corps. They provided inspiration and camaraderie for our frigid four-mile hike through the woods.

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When we reached the halfway point, Kilimanjaro Warrior Erich Ellis led us in some exercises called burpees to really get our blood flowing. They definitely aren’t easy to do, especially with a prosthetic leg!

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Here Erich Ellis relaxes with Kelsey DeSantis of the AVPT, Athletic Team.

After our morning hike, we warmed up and had lunch while waiting for the winds to die down, hoping we could get our tandem parachute jumps in.  Unfortunately, the winds never settled, so we geared up again and ventured out for another hike.

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It was still brutally cold, but everyone was motivated and hiked with positive energy.

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Besides the wind and the cold, we also encountered mud.  The conditions were just what we needed to test our gear and our resolve.  Attitudes stayed positive and we learned a few new ways to make the Kilimanjaro climb more achievable in similar conditions.

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Our second hike on Saturday was six miles long, which made our total for the day ten miles.  This was great practice because our total mileage for the eight days on Mount Kilimanjaro will be just over 40.  Although we were at a much lower altitude, we were proud to cover a quarter of our Kilimanjaro total in just one day.

 Even though the winds did not allow the tandem parachute jump, overall we had a very successful weekend. We want to thank the members of the AVPT for hosting us through such a beneficial weekend.  We would also like to thank the members of Vypr Ballistic Sunglasses for providing us with stellar eye wear for the weekend, and Texas Jacobson Aviation for transporting us like rock stars!

The Kilimanjaro Warriors are very grateful for everyone’s support.

Stay tuned for real-time updates from the mountain!

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