If you’ve been meaning to check something off of your bucket list, let Mandy Moore be your new inspiration. The This Is Us star proved that she’s just as much of a superstar off-screen as she is on-screen by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
The 33-year-old actress told her Instagram followers that tackling the mountain has been a goal of hers since she was 18 years old. So with some help from Eddie Bauer, she and a group of friends (including fiancé Taylor Goldsmith) decided to “live their adventure” and make the trek last week.
The climb took several days, and the group faced their fair share of difficulties, including some nasty weather. But Moore said she had “never felt more determined to tackle such a physical challenge before.”
After making it back down the mountain, Moore posted a collection of photos to Instagram and shared the story of their final climb to the top. “On the night of our ascent to the summit, we woke up at 11pm (after a few hours of napping) to enjoy a couple of nervous minutes together with a cup of coffee before it was time to gear up in my our warmest layers and start the nearly 8 hour trek to the highest point in Africa — 19,341 ft,” she wrote.
They took it slow (“pole pole”) through the “total darkness,” trudging “through rain, sleet, and snow” while seemingly everything — “water bottles, backpacks, our eyelashes, hair, fingers, toes, etc” — froze from the cold. Moore admitted it was “much trickier” than they had anticipated, but also said that “ultimately reaching the threshold of the true summit was more emotional and overwhelming” than she had thought possible.
“Kilimanjaro demands a lot from those who traverse her trails. You have no choice but to show up,” she wrote. “And we did. There’s nothing more empowering than realizing that we are all capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for.”
In a separate post, Moore reflected further on the journey — both emotional and physical — that she had taken to reach her goal. “I miss the mountain already,” she wrote alongside another collection of Instagram photos. “I miss the daily rituals and customs that became forever ingrained in the fabric of what this experience was; the ‘water for washing’ every morning and evening, our instant coffee at breakfast, the constant peels of laughter at all of the inside jokes, finding the rhythm of packing and unpacking at every new camp site, the high fives and pleasantries and shorthand exchanged with our porters…”
She continued: “I also miss the simplicity of it all. We were only tasked with one goal every day: to find our breath and put one foot in front of the other. No distractions, no other responsibilities. How liberating! Our phones didn’t work and it forced us all to be completely available to the practice and meditation of being present — with one another and with the climb. Even though it’s not real life, we all have jobs and families and our regularly scheduled lives to jump back into, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to apply that principle on a more regular basis, because this journey was about so much more than simply checking off some item on life’s To-Do list. I’m endlessly amazed and grateful to my body for getting me up that mountain. I’m grateful to share a deeper bond with some of my closest friends and to have made new pals that will be family for life. I know that on days when I’m feeling especially overwhelmed with whatever lies in front of me, I can close my eyes, remember Kilimanjaro and pole pole. Slow and steady does win the race.”
What is the most daunting item on your bucket list? Let us know @BritandCo!
(photo via Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly and PEOPLE + Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW)