Filling in for the sleeping sis

Karen asked me to put up a blog post for her because she’s busy sleeping in a monastery after trekking her way to Thyangboche. She sends me brief little texts. Luckily, I can read between the lines because I’m her older sister and formed her mind when we were much younger.

On Saturday, she texted from Namche Bazaar that her scheduled “rest day” would actually be comprised of a hike, the pinnacle of which would be her first view of Mt. Everest. She didn’t bother to reply to my suggestion that she simply look at a postcard of Mt. Everest while remaining snug in her sleeping bag. When I inquired about the condition of her feet, she replied, “They’re great.” That translates into, “I am very happy I hiked Black Mountain a few weeks before my trip started, stamping my feet with such force that most of my toenails turned black – hey, I bet that’s why they called it Black Mountain, get it? Happily those pesky toenails fell right off, and now I don’t have to worry about them one little bit – get it?”

When I awoke on Sunday, Karen had already been up the “hill” above Namche Bazaar to gaze at Everest. She texted: “Saw Everest.” Now this is worrisome to me. I am beginning to wonder if she isn’t falling under the spell of that malicious mountain, and will conclude her trek with an overwhelming desire to conquer Everest. Though she scoffed at the notion of ever climbing Everest when I brought it up prior to her journey, I detect in her text a seedling, a mere sprout of what could become a full-blown mania. We’ll have to keep an eye on that!

Her next text to me was during her trek from Namche Bazaar to Thyangboche. It said, “Wow. Getting stronger! Hike hike hike!” Translation? “I am doing better than I expected, and I could Indian leg wrestle the Terminator and kick his cyborg ass.” Karen has always had phenomenal leg strength. I told her I bet her legs are like pistons. She replied, “My pistons are slow.” Well, duh! A locomotive’s pistons are slower than those of a Honda CBR 1100 motorcycle. My sister isn’t a flimsy little flash-in-the-pan motorbike: she’s a goddam train relentlessly chugging up a mountain with her whistle screaming, “I know I can, I know I can!” And by the way, the next filthy hippie who makes a disparaging comment to her on the trail had best be prepared to be shoved over the edge into a crevasse.

At 4:40 this morning (5:25 p.m. in Nepal), Karen texted, “Just got to Thyangboche Monastery. Long hard hot and cold day. Hiked down to the river (10,000 feet), then back up to 12,000 feet after lunch. Brutal.” I’ll just bet it was. A five-mile hike is 316,800 inches on the prairie. I’m figuring that in mountains some more inches sneak in. If Karen were obsessive-compulsive, she would count every single inch. Happily, Karen doesn’t suffer from that particular disorder.

Three hours later Karen texted, “Long hard day and another tomorrow – the rest day.” Indeed. Where on earth do the organizers of this trip get off calling something a “rest day” and then forcing people to Bataan Death March it up a mountain? Brimming with indignation on her behalf, I asked my sister about it. She explained that the rest day hikes are to further acclimate the hikers so they don’t fall prey to altitude sickness. Oh.

Karen expects to soon be able to update her blog, and I happen to know she has some hilarious stories. I won’t steal her thunder by leaking the details. Know she is well, persevering, and very happy.

About WhelanTrek

The mountains are in my blood and Everest has been a symbol to so many areas of my life. I blog about adventures and life in between.

Posted on April 2, 2012, in Hiking. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Rick-Pittsburgh

    Karen, it seems as though you are having one hell of a trip(in a positive way of course.) Nice to hear your legs and feet are not giving you any trouble. I wish you nothing short of happy trails on your journey.

    Keep on keeping on. Oh and hug a yak for me.


  2. I wondered if I should post, yet again, ‘so proud of you, Karen’, but when climbing Mt Everest , it seems continuously encouragement with a bottle of water, would be an essential. Considering the distance , I shall send drops of essential encouragement .

    “I am very proud of you , Karen, I pray for a positively eventful trip with a safe return”


  3. Kim Oglethorpe

    So glad you saw Everest! (Sis your writting is almost as entertaining as Karen’s, HEHE. Thank you for filling in when Karen can’t on the blog.) Praying and hoping and believing in you Karen, keep it up, one foot at a time. Love you, from KIM an JEAN


  4. Hysterical wonderful post sis of Karen! I loved it. i adore your sister – my old buddy from way back when that I am so grateful to have reconnected with. I can tell immediately that I would feel the same about you. I hope we can all get together sometime, I think we’ll be laughing until we other words, the best of times! 🙂
    BTW the hippy comment made me snort out loud.


  5. Thanks Kathy! Your interpretations are delightful. No wonder Karen needs to get her sleep – she’s doing so well!!! That’s quite a sister you’ve got there!


  6. Steve Jovanovich

    I am google earthing your trip and the higher you get, uh the higher you get! I have been reading about these treks and climbs for about 10 years now; the oldest daughter wants to do this as well. Take your time getting acclimated. Sounds like you have lots of opportunity to rest. (right).
    Altitude sickness could really mess up the adventure. Sounds like you are well on your way to pulling it off though. Good luck and take lots of pictures.

    P.S. Hi Kathy! You’re a pretty colorful blogger.


  7. Darlene Mainwaring

    Thank you sis of Karen, your insights made my day!


  8. Kathy,
    You had me at “I formed her mind” lol! Thank you for the update!
    I think that I probably checked 15 times looking for one! :o) I’ve gone to Youtube and looked at some of these destinations, all I can say is wow! Trying to figure out how far I would have made it and where I would most likely called it quits… so far I am coming up with Hong Kong! :o) Karen you are an inspiration!!


  9. Kelley Gallagher hanon

    Not sure if you remember me…but your sister-translations are too funny! The “witty” gene seems alive and well with the Whelan girls! :o) Thank you so much for the fun report! Karen…as always–you are amazing! Keeping you in my prayers!


  10. Dear sister of Karen,
    Amazing fill in for the ole gal!!! I commend you and of yeah, Martin Sheen said hello 🙂


  11. Ginelle Holyoak

    Reading this made my day even better! I’ve been thinking about Karen alot the last couple of days. It seems like now that she is on this journey I and others are following along with her from home. I can’t wait to see pictures. I can only imagine the majestic surroundings. Thank you for keeping us posted. She is still amazing 🙂


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