Category Archives: Nepal: From desert to crest

Day 4-5: Namche to Deboche

11/10/2015
Namche Bazaar: 3446m/11270 ft.
Deboche: 3867m/12687 ft.
6.5km, 4 miles, 6.5 hours hike time

Terrain: Gorgeous views from high on a mountain side, climbing steadily then sharply up to Tengboche Monastery on a rough trail. Trail continues down to Deboche.

We spent two nights and roughly a day-and-a-half in Namche Bazaar. It’s the first village that lies above the threshold where altitude sickness might begin so most teams spend a day there to aclimatize. On our rest day we did a short hike above the village to a clearing that provides the first view of Mt. Everest.

Tenzing Norgay stands forever in front of Mt. Everest on the back left, with its ever present banner cloud.

A nearby national park visitor center provides a fascinating overview of the Khumbu region, and at the base of the hill is the beloved Sherpa museum. This is a must see, filled with artifacts of Sherpa life historic and modern, as well as an extensive gallery of photos and equipment from famous climbers and expeditions. Continue reading

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Day 2-3: Tok Tok to Namche Bazaar

11/8-9/2015
TokTok: 2544m/8700 ft.
Namche Bazaar: 3446m/11270 Ft.
7km, 4.5 miles, 6.5 hours hike time

Terrain: Gently rolling trail until after lunch, then a steep climb up a long hill using stairs and switchbacks for 2-2.5 hours.

As we struck out from Lukla that first day we quickly encountered something Ryan had mentioned during the pre-briefing: Mani stones. All throughout the Himalaya are symbols of the Buddhist faith that is an important part of their life. Chortons are one example; they are usually larger, constructed structures that look like religious structure and often contain prayer wheels. Mani stones are rustic shrines; large rocks painted or carved with prayer symbols, or piles of rock slates on which the symbols are cut and painted.

Prayer wheels are supposed to be spun clockwise, the direction of the earth’s revolution, according to Buddhist tradition and mani stones are approached the same way and passed on the left side. Ryan had warned us that other trekkers and locals will call you out if you break the custom, which is sometimes tempting when the easier path is a downhill slope to the right.

This was our first mani wall. You can’t see in this shot but there is a path around both sides of the wall. People approaching from the opposite direction would pass the wall on the path that is to my right. We went left.

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Day 1: Lukla to Tok Tok

11/7/2015
Lukla: 2860m/9350 ft.
TokTok: 2600m/8700 ft
9.7km, 6.2 miles, 5hours hike time

Terrain: The trail rolls up and down on a gentle overall decline. A good first day to stretch your legs and work out the kinks. Lots of stairs. Quite crowded with people and animals.

After a quick day and night back in Kathmandu to organize and purchase any last minute items (Thanks to my inability to bargain I now own a pair of outrageously priced trekking poles) we took the 40-minute flight from Kathmandu to Lukla this morning to start our adventure!

The street and shops near our hotel in Kathmandu

The street and shops near our hotel in Kathmandu

Back in Kathmandu we also switched into “expedition mode” with a planning session from our American guide Ryan Waters. Ryan is a record-setting explorer who’s climbed a zillion mountains and been up Everest four times, summiting three. He was the first American to complete the Adventurers Grand Slam, reaching both poles and all seven summits. He owns Mountain Professionals guide company based in Boulder, and is an all around world-class guy. He’s probably also exhausted, since he came straight here from guiding a team up Carstenez Pyramid in Indonesia, but he’s so laid back you’d never be able to tell. Continue reading

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Kumari: No internet, no issues

When I’m done I’m going to compile one list of the most anxiety-inducing moments for me surrounding this trip; both those I feared in advance and those (the few) I dealt with in-country and address how those went. For now I’m going to focus on the tremendous experience that was well worth any discomfort.

People choose Trekking for Kids trips because they want to experience exotic outdoor travel, but also because they like to participate in relief work. At least that’s my excuse, and while I suspect there are more people drawn to the trekking side and the relatively low-cost compared to commercial outfits, I’m sure nobody has regretted the opportunity to help out residents of a host country.

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Greeting Kathmandu

We arrived near midnight after something like 30 hours of travel through Los Angeles and Hong Kong. Its hard to track time’s passage across 13 time zones from behind the drawn shades of a jetliner. I’d planned on sleeping during the flight since last-minute packing had left only a couple of hours for sleep, but alas, there were free movies. And I’m contractually obligated as a film-fam to watch free movies.

Nonetheless, it was  refreshing to get off the plane and breathe outside air as we walked into Kathmandu’s small airport, where customs and Visa processing was the most casual I’ve experienced. We drank our bottled water as we stood in line, I nervously chatted with the girls behind us, aid workers who’d been part of the earthquake relief and were returning now to teach.

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Initial concerns: Heart and bone

I mentioned previously that I was going to be transparent about my concerns as I prepared for this trek. My major obstacle is an anxiety disorder, but I’ll address that in another post. Today, an update on the two other issues I mentioned: low back injury and cardiac PVCs.

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Nepal: The Why, What, and How of Donating

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In early November I’ll be flying out to Nepal to participate in a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, trekking to Everest Base Camp! But the exciting part is that we’ll also be helping a local community, and are raising funds for supplies for the children in a local village.

Karen’s donation page for tax deductible donations through Trekking for Kids (please let me know if your organization has a matching program.)

Trekking for Kids

  • We’ve joined a team from non-profit organization Trekking for Kids, a group founded to give people opportunities to travel to exotic locations, challenge themselves to new heights and help the local community. Our team will be rebuilding a school. (A video of TFK’s 2010 Base Camp Trek and prior project can be viewed on my fundraising page.)
  • Trekking for Kids is committed to using donation money to help the countries they visit. 100% of your donation will go toward our project.  TFK gets income to fund their operations through corporate fundraising.
  • Trekking for Kids is dedicated to treating local guides and porters responsibly. As you may know, Western tourism is a mainstay of Nepal’s economy, but as mountain tourism has grown the local people – who are doing the really tough work – haven’t always reaped the benefits financially. Guiding tourists is difficult and can be dangerous, but when workers are well paid it can be life-changing.

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Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes (but still going!)

I’m a firm believer that when we’re looking for it and let it happen, something greater than us is ordering our days. So when plans change I try to not immediately react, but to step back and see if there are bigger puzzle pieces being arranged on my behalf.

Several days ago the friend who invited us on this trip had to cancel. I confess I was somewhat relieved, as I explained here about how my overly-vigilant nervous system was freaking me out. But we’d also been talking a lot about the trip and in small ways I’d started to become excited.

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There will be yaks and I cannot wait!

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Nepal? How did this happen?

Apparently I’m going to Nepal and trekking up to Everest Base Camp. Read that with an inflection of disbelief and you’ll hear just how it sounds in my brain as the thought flickers by throughout the day. I am not someone who climbs mountains. I avoid camping. And though I may have my Colorado citizenship revoked for revealing this, I’ve hiked exactly one 14-er (14,000 ft. mountain, of which Colorado has more than any other state) in my life.

But several months ago a casual friend included my husband and I on an e-mail blast invitation to his next trip to Nepal. He’s a national-level photographer, and as circumstances worked it, my husband had a break at work just when the trip was scheduled.

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