Luther Alumni Magazine

Jon Jordan ’76 and Elliot Jordan ’05 perch on a boulder at the top of Waynapicchu Mountain, which towers 63 stories above Machu Picchu.

Parent-child duos explore the world

Father and son document their trek to Machu Picchu

In October 2014 Jon Jordan ’76 and Elliot Jordan ’05 went on a father/son adventure trip to Peru. They made the four-day trek along the 26-mile Inca Trail, which winds up and down through cloud forest and subtropical jungle to Machu Picchu. One of the seven wonders of the world, Machu Picchu is considered the premiere pre-Columbian archeological site, possibly built as an estate for an emperor at the height of the Inca Empire.

The Jordans hired an outfitter, Llama Path, to carry most of their supplies, but hiking the trail even with “smaller” 25-pound packs was no easy feat. A documentary video that they made and posted on Youtube (search for Something Hidden­—The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu) shows them hiking along sheer drops and over wet, slippery stones and climbing nearly vertical flights of steps. But the spectacular views of Machu Picchu appear worth the effort. The documentary is made up of still images as well as video from a GoPro camera mounted on Jon’s head.

Flight delays turned the trip home into a long ordeal, with the trip from Cuzco to San Francisco alone taking 47 hours. But Jon says at the end of documentary: “Nothing could take away from the amazing adventure that Elliot and I had shared. Like all fathers, I love my son very much, and more than ever because of this trip and what we did as a team. But the greatest discovery I made, the fondest memory I will take away from all of this, is I really like the man my son has become. I wish I could spend more time with him.”

Jon is the wellness and lifestyle director at a retirement community in Atlantic, Iowa, and Elliot is a computer consultant for the Linde Group in San Francisco, Calif.

Father and daughter hike to top of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest point in Africa

McKenna Campell-Potter '16 celebrates a climb last summer to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro with her father, Ken Potter '75.
McKenna Campell-Potter '16 celebrates a climb last summer to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro with her father, Ken Potter '75.

When McKenna Campbell-Potter ’16 saw the “Congratulations” sign rising in the distance atop Mount Kilimanjaro, she was thrilled. Soon McKenna, daughter of Deb Campbell-Potter ’75 and Ken Potter ’75, would realize a longtime dream of summiting that mountain with her father.

McKenna spent six weeks during summer 2014 volunteering in a hospital outside Arusha, Tanzania. She had always been interested in Tanzania and was looking for a medical internship because she intends to study medicine. The volunteer organization Projects Abroad put the two together for her.

The hospital was among the lowest-level government medical centers in Tanzania. McKenna spent mornings doing rounds with physicians or working in the outpatient ward, taking blood pressure and other basic readings. Afternoons she worked in the operating room, holding a flashlight on incision sites. The hospital’s only technology, McKenna says, was a single battery-operated heart-rate monitor. “I had never been in an operating room before, so it was a little bit nerve wracking,” she says. “But I got used to it.”

Ken joined his daughter after her internship to knock Kilimanjaro off their bucket lists. Two guides ensured they stayed on the path and rested regularly to combat fatigue from the elevation. Porters carried tents, food, and other supplies and set up camps each night by the time McKenna and Ken arrived, exhausted.

They reached the top in four days, trekking first along muddy rainforest paths, then through sandy, shrub-covered chaparral, and finally up steep, rocky terrain that looked like a moonscape. Temperature changes were extreme. “In the rain forest it was hot, but by the first night—at about 9,000 feet (above sea level)—we had on down jackets,” McKenna says.

The final six-hour climb began at 2 a.m. In darkness, wearing headlamps, they got under way in cold and wind that McKenna says was like the coldest January day in Decorah. They skirted the edge of a glacier and reached the rim of Kilimanjaro’s crater about 45 minutes from the summit. They then followed the rim to its highest point, at 19,341 feet.

“The highlight for me,” McKenna says, “was when we were about a half mile away from the summit and we walked over this little ridge and I saw the sign that I had been dreaming about seeing for 20 years.” The experience was breathtaking, she says.

A group of hikers ahead of them were just coming down when McKenna and Ken reached the top. “It was really nice. My dad and I were at the summit alone for about 50 minutes. At the highest point in Africa.”

After a day-and-a-half descent, the father-and-daughter team took in a Serengeti safari complete with close-up lions and elephants. And their adventures may just be getting started. Next up could be salmon fishing in Alaska after McKenna’s graduation from Luther.