Commentary

Tedy Bruschi: Terrain, inspiration on rise

Updated: May 16, 2011, 9:59 AM ET
By Tedy Bruschi | ESPNBoston.com

Editor's note: ESPN football analyst Tedy Bruschi will chronicle his climb up the 19,000-foot Mount Kilimanjaro (May 13-19) for ESPNBoston.com. Bruschi, former Titans coach Jeff Fisher, former Eagles tight end Chad Lewis and four injured military service members are climbing the mountain to raise awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project. You can follow the progress of the group on the Wounded Warrior Project site.

TANZANIA, Africa -- The second day of our climb began with a 6:30 wake-up call. The porters come to your tent, shake the tent, and have a glass of hot water. They ask you if you want coffee or tea. It's great. So we had breakfast and then got an introduction from our head man, whose name is Nixon. He's from Masai Giraffe Safaris Ltd., the best in Tanzania.

[+] EnlargeBryan Wagner, Ben Lunak
Courtesy of Dan MosesBryan Wagner and Ben Lunak, two of the four "Wounded Warriors" making the climb with Tedy Bruschi.

After that, we went on our climb from the Machame Camp (10,000 feet) to the Shira Camp (13,000 feet), which is about four miles. We started around 9 and got into camp around 3 o'clock.

The climb was very different from when we were in the rain forest the day before. There were more rocks to climb, and there was a lot less tree cover. It was a route that had better views and we could spend some time and enjoy those.

When I was researching Kilimanjaro, I read that it was somewhat of a gradual climb. Maybe I think differently from other people, because I'm an inexperienced climber, but this seemed like anything but a gradual climb. There was steep, rocky terrain that we had to go up.

Watching the Wounded Warriors go up was just amazing to me. To see two single-leg amputees -- Bryan Wagner and Ben Lunak -- lead the way and climb up these steep cliffs … Nancy Schiliro can't see out of her left eye as she lost her left eye in the war … Michael Wilson is still experiencing the results of traumatic brain injury … to see them conquering this climb is absolutely inspiring to me.

On our climb, when you look back, one of the things you quickly realize is that you are climbing among the clouds. The clouds are rolling past us, and then you get to a point where you are higher than the clouds.

Throughout this journey, we've been followed by a photographer, Dan Moses. He's an experienced climber and we call him "Mr. Hustle" because he's always ahead of us, and he's sometimes going up steeper areas to get better shots from different positions. He's so good at it, sometimes he's in craters and you pass those craters and he startles you because he's looking for that perfect picture.

You'd think being this high in the mountains, with so many rocks to climb, that you wouldn't see much cover. But there are flowers blooming now that are white, yellow and red.

I also noticed along our climb that there was a bird that followed us. It's a white raven and it's no small bird; it's bigger than some small dogs I've seen.

When we reached the halfway point of our climb, we stopped for lunch. The porters prepared us pasta and zucchini soup.

Then, when we got to camp, all the porters started singing tribal songs about Mount Kilimanjaro. We all joined in and started dancing in a circle. It was cool.

Tonight, we rest up, and Sunday we're going to the Barranco Camp. The terrain has been a challenge, but when I see the Wounded Warriors, it's just inspiring. I'm excited to be a part of this.

This is getting harder, and it's becoming more challenging to communicate. With that, my plan is to focus on the rest of the climb. After we reach the summit and make our way down, the plan will be to detail more of this incredible journey.

Tedy Bruschi played 13 seasons for the New England Patriots and is a member of the franchise's 50th-anniversary team.

Tedy Bruschi

Columnist, ESPN.com
Tedy Bruschi spent his entire 13-year career with the New England Patriots after being drafted in the third round out of Arizona. He played in five Super Bowls, winning three. He retired prior to the 2009 season.

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