Reaching New Heights
Philadelphia’s Tarik Moore, who’s on his way to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, prepared for his journey with half-mile hikes during his lunch break.
After completing his first backpacking trip just last year, Tarik Moore has a more ambitious target in his sights: climbing the world’s tallest freestanding mountain.
On June 14, the 34-year-old Moore left his home in Philadelphia for East Africa, to climb Mount Kilimanjaro—all 19,340 feet of it—along with 10 other members of a nonprofit organization called Outdoor Afro. Hardly a professional climber, Moore is an accountant and father of three who trained for his trip by hiking a half-mile loop around his office during his lunch break.
Outdoor opportunities were not always part of Moore’s lifestyle. While growing up in a housing project in Jersey City, N.J., he had limited exposure to the outdoors.
“The only thing we had outdoors was Liberty State Park,” he says. “I was also a Cub Scout and always wanted to go camping and go on an RV across America, but didn’t have anybody to take me there. And the gear was very expensive.”
Determined to broaden his glimpse of the outside world, Moore joined Outdoor Afro and became one of the organization’s more than 80 leaders in 30 states across the country. He says being part of the organization has given him the “confidence and knowledge” to not only spend time outdoors but also to enjoy the experience.
When the organization sent out an invitation for leaders to apply to go on the Mount Kilimanjaro expedition, Moore says he felt he “might as well try and test out my chances.”
After being accepted for the trip, he traded his dress shoes for hiking boots for his first-ever trip to the continent of Africa. Alongside him will be 10 hikers from across the country—all leaders in Outdoor Afro, “all unique and awesome individuals,” Moore says—ranging in age, from 25-year-olds to those in their early 60s.
Preparing for the eight-day climb involved both physical and mental training. He spent more than a year getting ready for the ascent. Besides his lunchtime training, he typically hiked for two to three hours on Saturday or Sunday mornings.
“I had to prepare mentally and just taking in the feat that I was about to do and also physically just increasing my hiking times per week,” he says. “Tuesdays, I hike after work at Valley Forge [National Historical] Park and do a half-mile loop at lunch at least once or twice a week and a hike, which ranges from six to seven miles after work, and I make sure I carry a headlamp.”
Outdoor Afro connects African Americans throughout the United States to outdoor experiences. The nonprofit advocates for and “celebrates African American connections and leadership in nature.” Not all of the connections the organization makes are as ambitious as Moore’s journey up and down Mount Kilimanjaro, but he says they are no less transformative.
This is an ongoing story. Photograph courtesy of Outdoor Afro