Sidekicks in adventure | SteamboatToday.com

Sidekicks in adventure

Mom, daughter's trip to Africa brings them closer together

Natalie Geer, 13, and her mother, Kendall, had a not-so-typical bonding experience in October.

Among other things, the Steamboat Springs residents sampled goat blood stew and watched a lion take down a Cape buffalo calf right in front of their car.

The Geers went on an adventure trip to Africa to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and to go on safari in the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater.

The Geers are no strangers to outdoor adventures. Kendall has climbed 40 fourteeners and Natalie has climbed five of them in the past three years.

But the October trip was the first time they traveled somewhere with just one another.

“I figured if we didn’t do it now, the time would go by too quick,” Kendall said.

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Summiting the 19,340-foot Kilimanjaro was their first hurdle. After eight days of hiking and camping and a total elevation gain of more then 13,000 feet, they reached the top of Africa’s highest point.

“We were above the clouds,” Kendall said. “It was like being on an airplane without the windows.”

Such a high altitude can create havoc on the body, something Natalie and her mother experienced firsthand.

“You get headaches, and it’s hard for the brain,” Natalie said. “We did puzzles to test our brain power at 15,000 feet. I couldn’t do them.”

Both Natalie and Kendall got altitude sickness toward the end of the climb.

“My stomach was upset on the last day, but we made it,” Kendall said.

After a safe descent, the Geers met the residents of a Masai village.

“They thought my braces were so neat,” Natalie said. “And they were the most adorable children ever.”

The Geers brought 30 pounds of school supplies and T-shirts that they collected from the Steamboat Springs community to donate to the Masai children’s school.

Meeting those students was an eye-opening experience for Natalie.

“It showed me I should enjoy school because so many kids need pencils,” she said. “Education is everything for them. It’s what they want for their children, not iPods.”

The two ladies also saw a variety of animals on their safaris. They came across gazelles, wildebeests, zebras, giraffes, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, hippopotamuses and baboons, among others. A highlight was witnessing a lion hunt and kill a Cape buffalo calf.

“It truly was a remarkable scene and very rare,” Kendall said. “It was shocking. I didn’t believe it was happening right in front of me.”

From their camp, the Geers could hear the lions roaring throughout the night, and they awoke one morning to find a fresh zebra kill.

But the hardest part of the trip, at least for Natalie, was tasting goat meat.

“It tasted like a mix between duck and chicken broth,” she said. “But I kept thinking about the cute goats.”

Of course, the goal of the trip was a strong mother-daughter bonding experience. Natalie and Kendall said they were surprised by how well they got along during their adventures.

“We laughed a lot. I was surprised by how easy Natalie is to travel with and how fun she is to be with,” Kendall said. “I now have more respect for her and how capable she is.”

“The experience teaches you to live and enjoy what you have,” Natalie added.

Now they look forward to future adventures.

“Next we will go trekking through Nepal, Peru or Vietnam,” Kendall said. “We like diverse trips where you can get out of the tourists’ eye and get to see the culture.”