Oxford woman reaches 'roof of Africa'

Oct. 9, 2010 at 5:09 a.m.

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - She likened the journey to childbirth - painful, exhausting and joyous.

Janice Carr walked for six days up Africa's tallest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, as part of a personal life goal that she used to help raise funds for Angel Ranch, an emergency shelter for the victims of child abuse and neglect.

"Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, to me, is liking having a baby," she said "While you're going through the hard labor pains you wonder, Why did I do this?' ... But, once the labor pains are over and you see the little bundle of joy, the pain becomes a far distant memory. The difficulties of the trek are distant memories and all I can remember is the joy of making it to the roof of Africa.'" Carr, 56, went to Africa with her friend, Jean Stewart, 67, of Washington, D.C. The two were part of a tour group hosted by Zara Tours.

On the last day of the 19,340-foot journey, Carr and her group woke up at midnight and began the last seven hours of the uphill climb. A feat which was difficult to say the least, as the high altitude drains the climbers.

"You were so exhausted," Carr said. "You could barely put one foot in front of the other."

The Kilimanjaro summit is well above the altitude at which high altitude pulmonary edema or cerebral edema can occur. About 10 climbers die each year attempting to reach the top.

Carr trained for more than a year for the trip, walking back and forth from Abbeville to Oxford, even during the hottest of days this summer. She asked people to pledge a donation to Angel Ranch if she made it to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

But Carr took it a few steps further.

"We arrived at the summit at 7:15 a.m.," she said. "However, most climbers wanted to climb about another hour to the highest point called Uhuru Peak."

At one point during the journey, Carr looked over and realized the clouds were below her.

"It was amazing," she said. "It looked like you could just lay down on top of them."

While the landscape was awe-inspiring in itself, the porters impressed Carr the most.

"They carry all the equipment up on their backs," she said. "They walk the whole way up with us.

"And each night they went ahead of us and by the time we reached camp, they had dinner cooking and the tents set up. Some wore regular shoes. They were amazing and so well organized."

After the trip up the mountain, Carr visited a school for the Maasia people. She said her next philanthropic gesture will be to raise funds to purchase a blackboard and writing materials for the school.

Sue Turner, executive director of Angel Ranch, said Carr's generosity is appreciated.

"I am very grateful to Janice for her commitment to Angel Ranch and am extremely proud of her major accomplishment," Turner said.

Carr returned home Sept. 28 and is hoping those who pledged will soon be making good on their promise.

"God was in the plan," she said. "He gave me the strength and willpower I needed ... It was a 20-year dream of mine. I'm glad I did it and I'm glad it's over."

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On the Web:

http://www.angelranch.com

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Information from: Oxford Eagle, http://www.oxfordeagle.com

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