Namche to Dhole

Our weather was superb for the entire 15 day trek in the Everest Region and now that we have landed in town for a bit I can catch up on the daily trekking diary!  We left from Namche Bazaar (Rick, Grayson, Shree and myself) on October 4th continuing to see the craziest of weighted down porters who carry absolutely everything including appliances/building materials and even the kitchen sink – literally.  There are weight limits for the tourist porters and you will see even the day packs of some of these hikers outweigh my main pack.  Porters get paid apx. 80 cents to 1$ per kilo which is equivalent to 2.2lbs. The tourism porters have maximum weight of apx. 35 kilos and the local porters have no limits and seem to always have at least 70+ kilos and can be as young as 10 or 12.  Most are men and boys but you will see some woman carrying items from village to village but usually they are gathering yak dung and plants/food and they are not doing it for money only their own needs.  Leaving our lunch spot in Mongo a young girl (16 at the most) left with us carrying 80lbs of rice to stock the teahouse up in Dhole that her family also owns. She hiked just as fast as we did carrying her load from a strap on her head which is how they all carry their loads.  We had lunch in Mongo where Grayson and Rick took small naps and we are at the front of the high trekking season and the route we are taking is not a common one – many would choose this second over the EBC hike and not see this Gokyo Valley – they are missing out – even Rick who has seen much of this range is really blown away by the beauty all the way.

We hiked on to Dhole at 4200m feeling no pain or issues from the altitude. Shree is a bit slower but doing well he is most worried for himself going over the Renjo La Pass but we have no worries about his ability to do it.  It’s nice being on a trek that no one has been on so it’s all new beauty for us all. We had dinner at our teahouse after having some serious wi-fi discussion and attempts with the owner who in the end couldn’t get it to work – Grayson and I shared a room while Rick and Shree shared a room. We played some Eukre after teaching Grayson and Shree, we had bought cards in Namche. We were also promised a nice warm fire when the woman told us to stay at her teahouse and that turned into quite the pitiful fire but all of us were ready for bed at 8:30 anyway – hiker midnight comes early! It will continue to get colder in the evenings at altitude – during the day I am hiking in t-shirt still. Shree and Grayson seem a bit colder blooded used to warmer weather hats and gloves and long sleeves even to sleep. The best tea comes one after another around here (lemon/black/ginger among others) however we scored on finding hot chocolate and Oreos last night which was like nirvana in a cup!! Mmm onto the next day in the mountains!

Lukla to Namche Bazaar

We headed out on our first trek surviving the flight and landing into Lukla, considered one of the most dangerous airports in the world for good reason….its 400 yeards long and at least a 20 degree pitch helping to stop you flying in and give you speed flying out.  Beautiful weather has allowed us to see some of the most breathtaking views of the Everest Region and the giant peaks towering above us all day long as we slog onward and upward from teahouse to teahouse.  It’s been a different sense of hiking all together not having to use a tent and cook my meals – the culture of trekking in the Himilayas consists of little lodges called teahouses that are cheap to stay as long as you eat there as well.  Common foods are Fried or Steamed MoMo’s (like a ravioli) with anything from meat to veggies or potatoes.  Sherpa stew which is broth with cabbage, potatoes, meat (sometimes), noodles and other various veggies.

We started our hike out of Lukla with a stop  at a ‘Starbucks’ of all places (not sure starbucks knows about this operation) lol… then we got on to the trail. We first passed through Chheplung at 2660m seeing a hotel guest returning from his hike with one of the iTrek guides so a stop for tea was in order to chat and see his photos.  We moved along to Pahkding 2610m for lunch at a teahouse and then onto Monjo 2835m where we stayed at The Mini Tibet teahouse for 1 dollar per person. Grayson Rick and I shared a room with 3 beds in it was not bad at all and the custom is that you would eat at the teahouse you stay so that is why the rooms are very cheap. We slept like babies – we thought that it was 2 or 3 in the morning when we heard drums and I looked out the window to see people carrying big balls of fire – turns out it was only 10 pm and the ceremony was for a funeral they do this on the 13th and 49th day after the death of the person. they only go a few houses down each way from the home of the person who died and then they put the fire on the ground and Rick said he thought they werre trying to start the teahouse on fire because there was a stretch of burning ground right in front of our place he could see from his window…..the traditions of the Nepalese are just around every corner it’s nice to have Shree along to explain and answer our questions about what’s going on.

we woke up in Monjo and had our brefakfast they had some Tibetan bread and egg I had apple panacake and hard boiled egg with some milk coffee!! mm mm every so often we get american looking food and its pretty nice change. On our way from Monjo to Namche it was only a 4 hour hike or so but up up up we went – in a matter of about 2.5 miles we climbed 700 meters – feeling good no real pain everyone is feeling good. We laugh because both Rick and Grayson have dealt with some sickness down in Bhaktupar but once you get up and get hiking seems like the body knows whats best for it. Shree is worried about his fitness but is just chugging along fine – we will keep listening to our bodies and making smart decisions about meters climbed in a day and adjust accordingly!!

Prime Minister and Classy Flying

Just shook hands with the former prime minister of Pakistan in the Dubai airport – had to ask the onlookers who it was of course like I would pick him out in a crowd!! Just one of those things you can say you’ve done in your life;)

Goodbyes were tearful as I walked into security and headed onto my next adventure. Its been a mixed bag of emotions that is for sure as I always measured my worth and value by the level of productivity I gave in a job and leaving that behind not knowing the next direction has been a real raw experience.  Making me dig down into what really matters to me and how I deem happiness I guess.

The trip started out giving me a good perspective that you can’t plan for everything. I had to watch my backpack filled with my life’s essentials be checked in  and disappear behind the black plastic flaps on the baggage escalator and I can only hope I see it on the other side.  I couldn’t take it due to weight and that was unplanned but I grabbed my technology, medications and shoes knowing if I lost the rest I’m buying it all in Nepal!  So welcome to taking life as it comes!!

So here I sit at the Dubai Airport……ready to board after a luxurious flight here complete with menu of amazing food and complimentary wine and drinks.  Got a warm wash cloth, sleeping mask, socks, toothbrush and had a touchscreen tv to play all I wanted so the 14 hour flight here went by in a breeze!!  We’ll see what I get on the next one – only 4 hours from the final destination.

I had a 9 hour layover and almost left the airport by geting my passport stamped as a visitor visa and it sure would have another adventure in itself to see Dubai but after assesssing the public transit and being asked if I needed a taxi and proceeding to follow a gentlemen ony to realize he was going to the parking garage I said sorry I’m not interested in your taxi services and shot back out making the decision not having cell service or wi-fi was putting me in a hard place if I had any issues whatsoever.  Back into the airport and happy moms everywhere I am sure hearing that!!  I then realized my connecting flight was from a different terminal all together and needed to take a taxi – well they have pink topped taxis designated and driven by women.  Very nice and great little lady gave me the 10 minute ride.

I have a few remaining dirham dollars to bring home and bought a small backpack afterall because all that crap didnt fit into the airline bag and was hanging out everywhere.  UPdates in Nepal are that Rick and Grayson begin building a wall for lady who only has 3 and not 4. They are planning a delivery of 100 blankets to villagers before winter weather hits and discussion are being had about clearing a road to a village blocked by debris from the quake.  I’m going to good places and ready to take part. ONto the challenges and accomplishments we get to experience everyday as we assits as needed and also take a 8 day trek amidst the help!!!  More to come soon.   Apologies on typos I re-wrote this after losing it all the first time – uggghh

Namaste – Lady M preparing to fly

Today I Fly….

John Prine says it best for today…”I’m taking a walk, I’m going outside…watching the birds and just getting by”.  My needs for today are quite small, my dreams are big and opportunities are endless!

Today's Necessities
Today’s Necessities

More to come…. as I drive to Chicago with my 2 supportive parents to board that flight to Kathmandu, Nepal.  13 hours and 40 minutes later let’s pray I land in Dubai for a 9 hour layover….hmmm….home to the tallest building in the world….can I make it out of the airport and back?!?!  Let the independent adventures begin world I’ve been waiting!

One Adventure Leads to the Next……..onto Nepal

Gearing up for a Himalayan adventure…. On Sept. 23rd, 2015 I board a plane headed to Kathmandu, Nepal with my trusty 55L Osprey backpack filled with the few items I deem necessary for survival.  My adventure actually evolved from a 2011 thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail where I met and became friends with Rick Nooft and from there the story continues to grow and take shape.  A few of us met while hiking through the great state of Maine, summiting Mount Katahdin together and creating some forever trail friendships along the way.  In April of this year Rick was doing a trek to the basecamp of Everest when the earthquake struck and turned his trek into a very real and immediate relief effort.  I will be volunteering for his newly organized a charity called the New Hope Society USA, a 501c3 here in the U.S. created to continue to support the New Hope Society founded in Nepal by Shree Prasad Koju The combined mission is to provide support and relief to the villages devastated by the recent earthquakes and with the support and network of people in Nepal Rick has come to know I am proud to be a part of the volunteer efforts.  I have decided that the most rewarding and authentic way that I can help is by traveling to Nepal and putting my hands and heart to work on projects they have already started and continue to manage.

The Nepal earthquakes which struck in April and May of this year killed over 9,000 people and injured/displaced tens of thousands.  The opportunity and choice in going to Nepal is simply an example of how one decision in life involving travel and adventure can certainly lead into another which will bring an even greater sense of accomplishment through giving back.  So many fellow friends and family members aren’t able to go out and experience such a meaningful rewarding trip to the other side of the world and it is my intention to share the joy, pain, truth and honesty about my own experience while taking such a life-changing direction.  I resigned from from a comfortable salary and benefits working in the financial industry just a few short weeks ago, have packed all of my material possessions into a storage unit and purchased a 1-way ticket to Kathmandu, Nepal with the intention of giving because I feel capable and willing.  This choice is not for everyone and I am thankful for that because somewhere in all of us is a want to live life a little different from the rest and to describe our own version of a ‘successful’ life.

I will be posting as much as possible amidst my 90+/- days of trekking and the plan is quite open to change and evolve based on the people and places I encounter.  My posts are going to be at the discretion of my heart and relative to the thoughts and emotions that travel is evoking in my own life.  I am not sure what tomorrow will bring but I know I want to remain authentic and directed more by my experiences and not by what people want to see or hear.  Death and divorce in particular have brought me to this present place in life where I haven’t been able to shake the bigger questions about who I am and what I am living for.  Fear of rejection, not being liked and having to defend one’s choices can keep you from fulfilling some of the most rewarding and positive dreams.  The first thing I had to come to terms with before writing my first post on my very own travel blog was that another’s acceptance (or lack of) is unnecessary to continue forward on my journey and I can share from a place of enjoyment and empathy for others.  My way is no better, no easier, no more difficult than that of any other and it takes all kinds to keep this world moving forward.

I am ‘making’ this time for myself and I do not believe you have to be rich or lucky to do what I am doing.  You have to be willing to fail miserably and do your best to use both the blessings and hardships to shape and nurture the inevitable growth we have in our human experience.  I want to embrace each day as it comes, the beauty of the outdoors and the beautiful people around every new corner.  I hope to encourage others to travel, to search, to dig deeper into the meaning behind what drives you, what makes you want to wake up and be YOU.  Happiness isn’t one size fits all – it’s an individual experience that we each get to call our own.  I hope you find something of value in following along as I continue to share my adventures with you. Take what you’de like and leave the rest for another!

Happy Hiking – Lady M