Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Update: T-minus 14 Days


Anxiety prevails!

I've just packed my first boxes and cleaned out two of my closets (oh, and I only have TWO closets!). I'm relieved to say (and feel) that I think packing is cathartic - it's getting my head where it needs to be...  ready(er) to move to Africa.

So here's what's up 14 days before departure:

Training: I am running a bit, but not enough. I haven't been to the mountain in months. I think I'm afraid to say goodbye to her. I'm hoping the 10-12 mile trail runs on the weekends will get me there!

Fundraising: As of this moment, I'm at $4,950. I am overwhelmed by the generosity of my friends and family in giving their money, time, energy and resources. It's been so neat for me to see how much people will do to help me, and this cause. As a team of 11, we have raised over $100,000 USD. It's amazing to me how hard these women have worked, and at the risk of sounding cheesy - I am so proud of the difference we will make.

The Move: Is freaking me out. Our office moved from one building to another last week, so I got to test-drive my packing/moving skills and confirmed what I already knew - I suck at moving. I don't do well with imposed change. That being said, I am thoroughly enjoying my new, short-lived view of Orange County from the 16th floor. The changes at work have made the transition out of Epicor easier. I barely know the place anymore - but I do miss the family we used to be.

I've begun packing my house early (in my opinion) in an attempt to keep this organized. All I can think is that when I come home I'm going to want to be able to find what I need when I need it. I also sorta feel like it's one of few things I have a lot of control over these days.
There's a method to my madness... I swear!

I have yet to find something solid to do after the climb which is making this a true adventure as far as I'm concerned. I've always said that this is something I feel like I need to do... The fact that the right opportunity hasn't fallen into my lap is really putting my conviction to the test. I feel like I'm jumping off a cliff! But as I search for my next place to live and see how helpful I could be, I am confirmed in my choices. I simply hope and pray for safety, food, a bed, and place to help & give love. (Is that simple? I'm not sure...)

My Tanzanian Visa (AND PASSPORT!) arrived from Washington DC yesterday after a record processing time of ONE DAY. Yes, I shipped the passport on Tues, it arrived Weds, they shipped it back on Thurs, and it arrived on my desk by 10:30 am on Friday. God bless Fed Ex and the Tanzanian Embassy!!! I still need my Kenyan Visa - Luckily, this is an easier get with a visa processing center in LA at the Kenyan Consulate. I will paying them a visit this week. Suffice to say - I'm relieved to have the passport in hand!

Other than all of that, I need to paint a wall in my apartment back to white, visit every doctor I can manage to make an appointment with, tie up all loose ends at work, celebrate Christmas, figure out how I'm gonna get money/pay bills from Africa, say goodbye to my village (aka - ARMY), train, get a new phone and learn how to make it work in Africa, fund-raise more, pack a bag or two (not knowing where I'm going...), and get all the rest of my stuff moved out of this place. Whew!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fundraiser Extraordinaire!


Actually, my parents get most of the credit for this one. Garage sale + rain + LOTS of help & donations from friends & family + AMAZING parents = 500 bucks for Africa.

I could not be more grateful for all the help I received on this... we had so much fun!

700 dollars for the week. I just need to pull this off four more times and I'll be good. (Aaaaghhhh!!!)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Eat Treats for Africa!


The mountain (and any other "real" exercise) took a back seat to fundraising last weekend. I baked, literally, the entire weekend. If I wasn't baking, I was shopping for the baking, or wrapping the goodie's I'd baked, or cleaning up the mess I'd made while baking. I suffered more this weekend while baking than I've ever suffered on a mountain. I also ate about 5000 calories in cake batter, icing, and "testing" the finished products. By the time Sunday night rolled around, I was exhausted, 5 lbs heavier, and TOTALLY ready to sell some baked goods!

They turned out pretty rad, I think!

My baking muse - and an INCREDIBLE help - Ashley (yes, that's flour on her head).

Me with an extremely powerful can of PAM spray.

Some of the final products.

All in all, I raised 200 bucks for the Peaks Foundation from selling baked goods at work. Not to shabby. I'm super impressed with how giving people were to the cause. More importantly - I was able to talk to a lot of people about this awesome organization.

In other (VERY EXCITING) news...

I bought my plane ticket yesterday. I leave on Jan 1, fly to Heathrow, have a long enough layover to go into London (my favorite city in the world!) and have a last supper, and then on to Nairobi to arrive on the 3rd of January. I did purchase a return flight -- but am still holding out hope, and working hard to find some place to volunteer for some time after the climb.

I'm still sorta shocked that this is all happening... wondering when it will set in.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011



Are expensive ... but I'm almost guaranteed not to get Polio, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Tetanus, Typhoid, or Yellow Fever.

I feel like poo. I'm sure it's worth it!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Update - October 9, 2011 - 83 days to go...


Ohhhh boy! Lots to tell!

Time is passing, that's for sure!

I'm filled with stress/anxiety/excitement/fear/wonder/wonder/wonder as time draws closer. 83 days...

I'm sitting in my VERY comfortable home in Costa Mesa. I've rearranged my furniture so that my desk is directly in front of a large window. I've got a mug of coffee on one side of me and "fizzy" water on the other. My book of Africa sits just behind my computer and my favorite greeting card is framed nicely on the other side - reminding me: "Then when it seems we will never smile again... Life comes back." While the temperature is the same today as it was two months ago, something about the angle of the sun and the crispness of the breeze that blows by occasionally is very, very fallish. I love it.

So what's my point? Man... I'm going to miss this place - this comfort.

The stars have aligned in a way that even I (not a super religious person) cannot deny that something divine has happened. I need to be in Africa on January 3, preferably early on Jan 3. This requires me to leave the States on Jan 1. I realized at some point in the last few months that my lease is also up on Jan 1 - nice timing! I won't have to pay rent for that month! Most of my stuff will go into storage. What doesn't go into storage will be safely secured in my parent's garage for the month of Jan. When I get back, I'll find a place to live. No biggie.

And then... Changes at my beloved (sometimes) job of seven years have brought my employment with the company to an end on January 1, 2012.

So I figure, I should just move to Africa. I mean... no job, no home... I'm gonna be there anyway, I should just stay!

So I'm looking for volunteer work to do in Africa next year. REAL volunteer work. I don't want to have to pay to work (apparently, when you try to volunteer in Africa they usually expect you to PAY to do it. Ummm No.) I don't need to get paid either; I just need a bed and something to do every day. Preferably with children. I'm putting my feelers out there, but I'm totally open to suggestions! Pipe in if you have any thoughts!

Honestly though - I am COMPELLED to do this. I realize that it is a choice, it is optional, but I really feel like this time is a gift to me. I've been talking about "saving babies in Africa" since I was 18 years old. In some ways I feel like I'm being kicked out of my own life! Divine, I'm sure.

Stress/anxiety/excitement/fear/wonder/wonder/wonder... PRESSURE!  

Fundraising: I am planning a rummage sale either late this month or early next month. I'll be looking for people to donate old stuff that I can sell and then donate the cash. I've had mixed reviews about this idea - but one of the girls on the team made 1600 bucks on a garage sale, so I figure it's worth a shot! What I NEED is a place to actually hold the sale! Again, if you have suggestions, please let me know!

I've hit up the owners of my favorite bar in Laguna (The Belg!) to see if they would be willing to collaborate with me and do some kind of matching/% donation if I can bring a bunch of people in on what would otherwise be a slow work night. Answers/details to come on that. I'm hoping for a mid-November date.

Also definitely planning on having a "Good-bye Steph/DONATE YOUR CASH" party before I leave... probably in early December.

I'm gonna be a busy girl.  

Training: Well... I've been running a lot! I'm not sure how that translates to training for climbing a mountain that's 20,000 feet in the air - but obviously I'm hoping it means something in regards to training. I climbed a ton last month. Actually, I think I hit the mountain every weekend... I'm a little bit nervous as time grows closer because my mountain is going to be covered in snow soon and climbing will not be as easy or safe. I really don't like relying on other pople to climb with me.

Peaks Foundation has a training guide to get us ready for the climbs... I have never logged into it. Karma alone might send me suffering like never before. I've been told several times that my struggle with the climb is more likely to be the altitude than my physical fitness. I believe it. I almost died on Whitney at 11k feet. All three of the mountains we're climbing are higher than Whitney - luckily we also climb all three of them much slower than what I did on Whitney (1 day). I have prepped myself with altitude sickness pills and will pump myself full of ibuprofen and hope that I don't barf. That's all I can do, right? Oh jeez. I'll worry about that when I get there.  

Preparations: I get my shots on Tuesday. I'm looking forward to having it done with - but really, really dreading it. I'm not afraid of needles or blood, or even the pain. I'm super worried about what these shots are going to do to my belly. It seems as though my belly is my achilles heal when it comes to medicine. I get sick with penicillin. I am getting shots for Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Rabies (?), and... I think something else. Pumping all that into my body at once scares me. A lot.

Along those lines... When I'm in Africa, as well as two days before I arrive in Africa and for a week after I leave, I will need to take a pill for Malaria. I'm slightly worried about this pill, as one of the side effects is "nausea"... :( What really, really bums me out is the fact that this little Malaria-killing bugger costs 9 DOLLARS A PILL. It will be the single most expensive item that I spend money on from day to day. CRAZY.

Also - of course none of this is covered by insurance. Awesome. Arrgggghh...

I just spent a ton of money on GEAR from Mountain Hardware (thanks to an awesome discount). Admittedly, gear is harder to buy now that I realize I will probably be toting it around Africa (or wherever else this takes me) for several months/year(s) - and probably won't be using it like I would if I were just coming home. That being said, I can't WAIT to receive it! I know myself... I'll try it on and bounce around the house in it. So much fun!!!

Stress/anxiety/excitement/fear/wonder/wonder/wonder/pressure... Peace.

I think I waver between feeling some crazy amount of anxiety and sincere peace with all that's going on. I'm so excited, and I really feel like this opportunity is a gift-  from the fundraising to the climbing, to getting to know my team, to actually living and working in Africa. I am a very lucky girl.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


An update to come... here's a video in the meantime!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

School of St Jude


Ok, I am going to be totally honest... I am MOST looking forward to meeting the children at St Judes. I keep telling myself not to have a "MOST looking forward to" anything, to try to enjoy each experience as it comes and appreciate the whole of it. I don't want to miss a single second of this experience because I'm too busy looking forward, or looking back.

BUT... I am a kid person. Since I've been forced to accept the responsibily of being an "adult" I've been caring for and loving children. I get them. They know. I know. It's all that needs to be said. So... I am (not so) secretly craving the day I walk onto St Jude's campus to meet the wonderful people to take care of those magical, semi-grown humans (aka, MY people).

We had a conference call this week with all the girls on the 3P3w 2012 Africa climb, and Kim from St Judes. Kim has been involved with St Judes since the school started. I immediately appreciate her straight forward nature combined with her obvious love for the children (I can relate!). She tells us about the school. How admissions are done, the current issues in Tanzania, expresses her appreciation and lack of understanding for what we are doing. She is... Fantastic.

Tanzania is rough right now. I know we've all heard about the famine in East Africa lately. From what I understand, Tanzania is affected in periphery. But as Kim explained, fuel is sparce, they are mainly running on generators because of issues in obtaining electricity, and water is not easy to come by.

It has to be a different planet than where I live, right?

I feel myself becoming increasingly frustrated as I listen to her talk so matter-of-factly about how little there is on this Great Continent that I dream of... I'm spending too much. I'm doing too little.

Those babies don't have much of a shot at fulfilling a dream. The average schools in Tanzania house classes full of 60-80 primary school kids (yes, per class!). They aren't allowed to speak during class. (I just imagine the lecture halls as a college student, but fill the seats with 7 year olds who are trying to learn how to WRITE... how the heck does THAT work?) They don't have light at night to do their homework after their chores. (Chores meaning, going to find water, literaly.) As I learned, the ones who have candles are the lucky ones.

I'm spending too much... I'm doing too little...

St Judes is free to these kids. But, because of the high standard of education and the promising future it affords, it is an incredibly desirable school for these kids. With an average class size of 28 students, multiple computer labs, and with boarding, the security of 3 meals a day, one bed per person, electricity, and water... it shouldn't be surprising that 1% of the 2,000 kids who show up for entrance exams will be accepted into the school.

(Shamefully stolen from the St. Jude website...)

It's heartbreaking. I'm not sure if I'll freeze up when we make our visit, or break down and cry, or find myself a child to love and give what I can, while I can.

Statistics: The school educates almost 1500 kids. All of the secondary students are "boarding" they go home three times a year. It provides the kids with security (of things like food, water, and light) and the family with extra space, food, water (with one less mouth to feed). The primary school children are boarding Sunday through Friday. They go home to their families on the weekends. It costs about 3.5 million USD per year to run the school. It is funded entirely by chairty donations. All classes are taught in English, as it is the most common language internationally spoken. (There's so much more, but I was having a hard time writing as I listened!!!)

I believe in this. I listened to her speak and I could hear the sounds of Arusha and children in the background. I don't understand what it's like not to have clean water, or electricity. But I know what it means to love a child. I long to hold these babeies, and ultimately, try to make something better for them. Certainly, this adventure is the first step.

(Video stolen as well, ;-)

Good luck dragging me away from this place...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Update - August 9, 2011


Exactly five months from today I will be in the middle of the climb on Mt. Kenya.

I'm pretty much gonna explode just thinking about it. Those unfortunate enough to spend their days around me know that I've been counting down for a year now. When I announced this morning that I would be climbing a mountain in Kenya in "JUST FIVE MONTHS!" they looked almost as excited as I feel!

Fundraising: I stink at asking people for money. I finally sent The Email... I've had some nice responses. Some great ideas and offers have come through with fundraising, as well as a little bit of money. Clearly, I am going to have to get more creative in my approach. I'm feeling pressure, which is GREAT! I need pressure!

Training: I'm always doing something active. I'm probably on the mountain three times a month - not to train, but because I love it. I NEED it. Luckily, I can call this training now! I'm also doing the Hood to Coast Relay in Portland in a couple of weeks (to which, I've committed to running much faster than I actually run...) and will participate in my ninth of twelve mountain bike races of the summer tonight. I'm loving it all. Hopefully, this all makes me fit enought to climb 3 of the highest mountains in 3 weeks in AFRICA in five months? Errrr... I might need to focus a little bit.

All of that being said, the emotions that come with the pressure of fundraising, personal finances, training, work, and life are focused into pure joy when I watch the video below. Simply put, I have a really hard time believing that I will be a part of this...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011



The first piece of sponsored gear arrived yesterday. IT'S REAL!!! THIS IS HAPPENING!

I was bursting. Literally, bouncing around the house in my new "Peaks Foundation" jacket by Mountain Hardware.

OHHHH so cool!

(I look like a total goof in this pic... oh well.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

"My" Mountain


I have been told that I run in my sleep. Literally, my feet never stop moving. It explains why I’ve always gravitated to tap dancing, swimming, cycling, and most of all… running.

I began running when I was a little kid. My neighbor saw me playing basketball on roller skates and must’ve realized that I would need a more conventional outlet. He had two daughters of his own, but both were too young mentor. I became the luckiest girl in the world when he took ME on. I think I was 11 or 12. I’d come home from school in 5th grade after running the mile faster than anyone in my class. He took it as a good time to teach me form and the necessity of breathing. He would ride his bicycle next to me for miles and miles and literally, taught me how to run.

From that time, I’ve been a runner (not a GOOD runner, but a runner none the less).

A million years later… a very dear friend invited me to climb a mountain. Mostly un-daunted by anything, I agreed. Not really understanding what I was getting into.

We climbed with his “team”… a group of adventure racers (i.e., crazy people who race for days on end with no sleep, little food, and a lot of no-doze). When I say we “climbed” a mountain, I don’t mean with ropes and harnesses, I mean… like a hike… but not… because they made me RUN up the mountain! RUN! The man put poles in my hands, strapped a camelback to me… and POOF! He was GONE! “You can’t get lost … follow the trail!”

Allrighty then… Headphones in, trail ahead… “There is a top to this mountain.” Move. And so I did. Music, accompanied by the smell of sagebrush, accompanied by the most amazing fresh air, accompanied by the strength in the pistons (legs) I’ve been blessed with, accompanied by a bit of competition, accompanied by the magnitude of the mountain granted me the greatest gift I’ve ever received.


I fell in love with the mountain that day. And since then, I have proudly (and arguably) called her “my" mountain. San Antonio is her name, but she goes by Baldy. I have climbed her countless times since… mostly alone – but occasionally find myself a partner.

She has become my sanctuary… Always - a place to find serenity, strength, or simply, solid ground. Weekend after weekend, I run to her… and despite her moodiness in the winter, she always manages to send me away feeling enlightened.

I’m happy to report that other mountains return the same results – and although my loyalty is always with Baldy, my sense of adventure can't help but send me exploring.

However, never in my life did I think I would climb mountains in Africa. It’s beyond what I could have even dreamed…

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dream Realized -- (journal entry) September 21, 2010


Say what you want. Today is MY DAY.

As it looks like...

Is going to...

to climb...


and (and watch the sun rise from)...

and hopefully hold...

and maybe try to change...

> From: Laura Hartstone
> Date: September 20, 2010 11:38:01 PM PDT
> To:
> Cc: Jo Paulson , Cathy Dean , Chloe Chick , Chloe Chick
> Subject: 2012 3 Peaks 3 Weeks Challenge
> Reply-To:

Dear 3P3W applicants,
We have copied 13 of you onto this email. After watching/reading your applications, we have come to find out that none of you have a career in mountaineering, but we would like to invite all thirteen of you to be climbers on the 2012 3 Peaks 3 Weeks Challenge!
Every year we eagerly send out the application forms and with much anxiety read through the submitted ones hoping to find a team that matches everything we are looking for. We hope to find a group that will carry on the 3 Peaks vision not only with great dedication but with a passion that will inspire people across the globe. We aim to select a diverse group that comes from a variety of backgrounds but yet has a cohesiveness that will carry them to the top of each mountain.
For these reasons, and several others, you have all been selected to take part in the 5th annual 3P3W challenge. Because we had so many strong applicants and such a difficult decision we opted to choose 13 for the team, rather than 12. We are excited to have you all on board and look forward to the year ahead!

2012 3 Peaks TEAM
1 Olivia Toye UK
2 Agnes Margot CH
3 Lyndall Hord AUS
4 Christie Stubbins AUS
5 Vanessa Gerrard DE
6 Sarah Baker USA
7 Marjorie Webb USA
8 Kacey Barron USA
9 Katie Tenney USA
10 Stephanie Hathaway USA
11 Melissa Uribe USA
12 Kate Bennett AUS
13 Camilla Liou USA
To accept your spot on the team, you will need to do a couple things:
1. Email me to let me you are on board and include your post address.
2. Pay an acceptance fee in two weeks time. Please stay posted for details on how to go about this.
3. Post a 30 second video to youtube introducing yourself to the team (please send the link out to everyone!). This is the first year we would like to incorporate these video introductions but we feel it will be a great way for you each to see who else is on the team.
Lastly, we will send you a 3 Peaks 3 Weeks film in the coming days so that you can use in your fundraising activities. Extra copies can be sent to you at $5 USD per copy - please let me know if you would like any additional copies. 3x3 Tshirts can be purchased directly on our site if you want one. All of our items are shipped from Arizona – so if you order anything – all of it will come in the same package.
We will start scheduling conference calls soon to keep everyone informed and answers questions/etc. I am sure you will have many. Please feel free to start fundraising and we will be in touch soon to discuss how to deposit the funds etc. It's going to take some time to get all of this out to you - so please bear with us and feel free to send me questions via email in the meantime.

While things slowly start to get rolling, it is a good idea to examine our website in full and the websites of our partner organisations. It will help you greatly in the coming months to know this information and be able to speak about it without hesitation. This is your homework!
Again, a very warm welcome to the team, and lots to come!


Laura C. Hartstone | p: + 255 783 000 431 | e: