At 59 years young, Emily Kelting promised herself a slew of adventures after turning 60. Once that birthday came and went, Kelting’s escapades truly began. Kelting first tackled the Inca Trail, hiking to the lost Incan city of Machu Picchu. Ascending over 13,000 feet during the 27-mile hike, Kelting celebrated her big 6-0 “the Inca way,” in other words, enduring grueling hikes with no luxury trek accommodations like hot showers, running toilets, or comfortable beds at the end of the day’s hike. Kelting was adopted as a mascot of sorts among her group, immensely inspiring those around her. “We hope we’re doing this when we’re 60,” Kelting’s new hiking buddies said of her accomplishment.
Kelting’s inspirational journeys didn’t stop with the Inca Trail. She recently returned from an excursion to what she called “the rooftop of Africa,” Mount Kilimanjaro. The week-long excursion took Kelting over 19,000 feet above sea level and provided a multitude of challenges and opportunities to turn back. Aside from the potential of dehydration, malnutrition, sleep deprivation, and the effects of altitude sickness, Kelting’s group encountered horrific weather on the final leg of their trek. Hiking through the night amid icy, gusting winds and blizzard-like snowfall, Kelting found herself wondering, “What is a 60 year-old Connecticut suburbanite doing in a place like this?” That 60 year-old suburbanite was following her dream of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, living adventurously, and inspiring women everywhere.
Emily Kelting’s two-part essay about her hikes to Machu Picchu and Mount Kilimanjaro can be found on WomensVoicesForChange.org.