Dena is a mom of two and married to a man who shares her adventure for life. Dena was born two months early and weighed 2lbs, 14 ozs. From day one she hit the ground running and has never stopped. She built her family ranch into a reputable borading and training facility going on 16 years. Always moving, always learning, always thankful to the dear Lord for all she has been given. This is an opportunity she hopes to share with as many others as possible.
Story by Dena Dorn. Written by Mikayla Boge.
Up at 3 a.m. to feed the baby, alarm ringing at 6 a.m. to feed the horses. Get the husband out the door for work. My morning is crammed full of house cleaning, laundry, paper work and business calls. Afternoon is crammed with horses to train, picking up the teenager from practice, a grocery run, a crying baby and supper preparation. I finally feel my soft, cool pillow at 11 p.m., only to wake up to the sound of baby boy crying for his before-the-crack-of-dawn feeding… and thus the cycle repeats. Being a mother, wife and ranch owner is exhausting. Yet, my husband, Rob, and I decided to start another exciting, but busy journey, all because of a split-second decision and a leap of faith.
It happened back in 2013 when a young woman, Lizzie, whom I give horseback riding lessons to, was excitedly talking about her upcoming mountain climbing trip. The trip was to Tanzania, Africa to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. The way she was talking about the culture, the scenery and the mountain, it made me want to go and I was completely shocked when she asked me if I wanted to go with her! She was leaving in FIVE days to travel across an ocean and climb a mountain for ten days. There was no way I could leave my family and ranch for that long with such short notice. The thought of leaving brought visions of Rob burning down the ranch and losing the baby. Just kidding, although not far from the truth, but there was just no way I could go. I was still laughing about the suggestion when my husband walked up and asked what was so funny. I told him her absurd suggestion, and he shocked me by saying, “Why not go, it’s a once in a lifetime chance?”
My journey of faith started without me even realizing it had begun.
Rob and I frantically got our ducks in a row for the ranch, a babysitter for the baby while Rob was at work and all of the items I needed on my travel list. As we were preparing, it dawned on me I was about to climb a MOUNTAIN! I’m an athlete and stay fit working around the ranch but I wasn’t sure if I was ready for a mountain. As the days passed and people started to hear what we were doing, I was inundated with questions such as, “WOW, that’s a huge commitment. How long have you been training? People die climbing that mountain. Are you sure you are ready? What vaccinations did you get to travel?”
There were so many more questions, and it slowly began to sink in that this may not be an average, everyday climb I was about to embark on. I still wasn’t deterred as my entire life has been about believing anything was possible and not to sweat the small stuff. However, as Lizzie and I flew across an ocean, I prayed continually that this was a good decision. I started to get scared because I couldn’t even get in touch with the climbing company AND I didn’t even have confirmation that I had a space in the upcoming climb. I really started to doubt my leap-of-faith decision.
Adding to my nerves, we had a layover in Dar Es Salaam. Dar Es Salaam is known for people getting kidnapped for money, luggage being stolen and every other frightening scenario you can think of. I had just stepped off the plane into one of the most crime ridden cities in Africa. My family, my baby, my friends and the ranch were running through my mind. Thoughts of never seeing my family and friends again ran through my head. Trusting Lizzy and the seemingly nice taxi driver she had set up beforehand, we stepped outside the airport to get a ride to our hotel. Thankfully, we made it, but I did have every Kung Fu movie action move I had ever seen scrolling through my head until we made it back to the airport the next morning.
Thoughts of never seeing my family and friends again ran through my head.
We boarded the plane to Tanzania and I slowly began to find my true faith. God was with us and had been the whole time. As soon as I stepped off of the plane in Tanzania, Africa, I was struck by how amazing the culture and landscape around me was and that my prayers had not gone unanswered. The sights, the smells, the sense of adventure; it was intoxicating and I was in love. I had to pinch myself that I was actually there! Our lead guide, Faraja, met us at the airport, proving that I did have a place in the climb. I could finally breathe.
Faraja, who was from Tanzania, had started as a porter but worked his way up to guide status for climbs up Mount Kilimanjaro. Throughout our climb, I had the pleasure to learn more about Faraja, his dreams and aspirations for his family and for himself. One of his dreams was to climb every large mountain in the world, sharing his experiences with others along the way. Another of his dreams was to own his own climbing business, where he could share his passion of adventure with others. As I spent more time climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and learning about Faraja, I wanted to share in his dreams. I too wanted to give people the sense of adventure and excitement I was feeling. I wanted to help others take that leap-of-faith, even the busy moms that never dreamed of doing something such as this.
Finally it clicked, I knew my to-do list was about to get longer because God made it an easy decision for us.
As I climbed, there were continuous occurrences where Faraja and his team proved their ability to help us have a great adventure, be safe and make it to the top. Rob had bought me an amazing back pack for the climb which equated to 15 pounds when empty. Unfortunately, most people suggest a pack around 10-15 pounds full. Due to the added weight, my neck started to give out in the middle of the steep incline just past Kibo Hut, which was about day 5/6 into the climb. After seeing me struggle, Harold, the other lead guide, made me give him my back pack which he figured weighed around 40 pounds! I also was getting nervous during the climb because I was becoming increasingly cold. I couldn’t get warm, no matter what I tried even with changing my damp clothes and adding layers. The guides noticed my struggle and explained that I needed to cover my entire neck because the blood runs through my neck into the brain, so by keeping the blood warm going to the brain it keeps the entire body warm. I covered my neck and I started to feel warmth creep back into my body. It started to work but by the time we made it to the top, Crater Camp, I was starting to get very cold again. I have NEVER been so cold in my life and started to think the worse again. I was mentally making my last will and testament in my head when I remembered that this was a leap-of-faith adventure and that I needed to trust God to help me make it. I did eventually make it and I thank God every day that I took the leap of faith to have the adventure of a lifetime.
When I returned home, Rob and I sat down to discuss what the next steps were. We both had a lot of soul searching and praying ahead of us but God opened the right doors for us. Faraja, already had a great business plan mapped out, incredible individuals in place to help out and all the equipment needed to get started. What Faraja lacked was a missing link, the “store front” of his business. My husband and I decided to be that missing link. In 2015, we officially started a travel agency called Adventure Africa, Inc. that would help bring individuals, ready for a life-changing trip, to Faraja and his climbing business, Faraja and Jande Adventures. We plan on offering five different climbs and four different safaris but as of now, we started with the best and most popular climb, Mount Kilimanjaro. We are still continually praying that our business will flourish and we can share our passion with many others, especially the busy mom that thinks something like this would never be possible, but we are relishing in the fact that we have found our purpose. We have found some solid ground in our leap of faith.
I thank God every day that I took the leap of faith to have the adventure of a lifetime.
Dena Dorn and her husband own Triple D Ranch and Adventure Africa, Inc. in Watkins, Colo. To learn more about Dena, her family or Adventure Africa, Inc. visit www.adventureafricatravel.com.
Mikayla Boge owns a small, Colorado based marketing company called BAM Bar LLC and shares in Dena’s passion to reach individuals through Adventure Africa, Inc. To learn more about Mikayla, or BAM Bar LLC, visit www.bambarllc.com.