As I posted last time, we have shirts that you can buy to wear in support of our efforts in Peru. These are designed especially for our trek and we are selling them at the cost it takes to print them. Depending on the style, as low as $14.00 each! A Hanes hoodie is only $26.00. Still a few days to get your order in before we have to cut it off for printing. You can order them here.
We know that people often like to plan trips and sometimes cannot always fit them in to their schedule or budget. So we have a couple interactive events to hopefully draw you in to all the fun. I will be blogging live on the trip, though it will be a bit more silent while on the trail due to lack of signal. That is a buzz kill. But worry not! I will get word out somehow!
EVENT 1: TOAST TWO AT DEAD WOMAN’S PASS
The first interactive event is on Wednesday September 3, 2014. If you order a shirt, put that thing on and get out and take a selfie of you and your friends. You can post to WhelanTrek on Facebook, My page or even just post. Be sure to use this hashtag; #incatrek2014 so we can gather them all up. Tweet me @WhelanTrek and hashtag it too. Send us a message. That will be one rough day of hiking so knowing you are all back here wearing your shirts and toasting 5,000 feet of elevation gain will speer us on. Even if you cannot or did not get a shirt, post away!
EVENT 2: GET WRECKED AT THE RUINS
This takes place on Friday, September 5, 2014. On this date we arrive at the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu. That will be an emotionally filled day where we arrive, contemplate all it has taken to get there and think back on the planning and what motivated each of us to actually go. I had told myself that after dad had passed, I was going to go there so there will be a sadness knowing what had to happen to trigger this trip. But I will have him with me on my hat! I will also know that I struggled more on the trip because of my struggle with my weight and all that means in who I am. But I
will have accomplished something I never would have thought in my lifetime that I could do. Both physically and financially. I am blessed and want to share that feeling with you all on this event. So get your shirts, get a glass, fill it and KNOCK IT BACK! No shirt? get wrecked anyway and send us a message like the previous event. I am going to gather them all together and make a little book for Maggie and I to remember our trip and all the support from back home. You can post to WhelanTrek on Facebook, My page or even just post. Be sure to use this hashtag; #incatrek2014 so we can gather them all up. Tweet me @WhelanTrek and hashtag it too. Send us a message. Huq ratukama! (See you later)
So my friend Sonya Vasilief designed us a shirt for the trek. We launched a campaign on Teespring. Teespring is a site where you can put up a shirt, set a minimum sale and if you don’t meet it, you can walk away…nobody is out a dime. We set ours up at the cost Teespring charged for the shirt and printing. I am quite happy about the shirts! We have v-neck tees, long sleeved tees, hoodies and woman’s fitted tees. You can get them in white or grey. We have ten days to hit the minimum (or go over) and then it is sealed and printed. IF you want one and live in Vegas, you can save on shipping as you can just pick them up from me. Here is the link to order INCATREK 2014 SHIRTS.
This is the back of the shirt. It actually shows the mileage per day, the altitude we are at and where we sleep. This is an INTERACTIVE shirt because when we are encouraging shirt purchasers to wear their shirt for two events.
1) TOAST TWO ON DEAD WOMAN’ PASS on Wednesday night September 3, 2014. That will be to celebrate our conquering the near 14,000 foot elevation we will cross during that day’s hike,
2) GET WRECKED AT THE RUINS on Friday, September 4, 2014. That night, we will have completed all of the more than 30 miles and cray cray elevation us and downs of the trip. So once we are safe at our hotel at Agua Cliente, we will be relaxing with a coooooool libation and would like you to join us.
So on those two days, wear your shirts and join us by posting on our Facebook page at WhelanTrek or comment here at the blog.
Time is limited as the campaign ends August 10, 2014 so that the shirts can get sent out in time to interact with us! Thanks for all the support we are getting for this event. We love the encouragement an are looking forward to reporting all of the real time excitement back to you!
Maggie and I took a lunch run over to the outlet mall yesterday to the Columbia store and picked up a couple items at stellar prices. We talked about the upcoming weekend hikes we will be doing up at Mt. Charleston between now and departure to get a little altitude in.
I have been going over the list provided by Mountain Madness to see what I already have and what I yet need to get. They state in their materials you must have everything on the list. When I went to Mt. Everest in 2012, I packed way too much. But I noticed today that aside from what we carry on our own backs for the day, the duffel our porter carries can only be 11 pounds! That is by Peruvian regulation! (He carries 44 pounds, so carries two people’s stuff and his own. We each are allowed 5 kilo’s of that space, so 11 pounds). That includes sleeping bag and sleeping pad. My Mountain Hardwear Lamina 35 weighs 2 pounds one once on its own! Add to that my Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite pad is 12.7 oz.! With that gobbling up almost three pounds, all my cloths and electronics cannot weigh more than 7 more pounds.
Some Quechua words I already knew but did not know their origin are: Condor, and Guano. Also Jerkey is Quechua for dried flesh. Then there are Puma, Quinoa and Cocaine…all Quechua as well.
I am told the people will speak Spanish and many will speak English. But half the fun is interacting with them on their terms as well.
So the last month push continues and it is an intense time of training, packing, evaluating and building excitement toward that day we board our American Airline plane and head off into the unknown. ¡Huq ratukama! (See you later)!
Paul Fussell wrote that the speed of modern travel resulted in the mind being left behind. Without even knowing about what he wrote I somehow already realized that fact. But it is not practical to revert back to forms of primitive travel in order to get the mind right for an upcoming adventure. I have heard people really love cruise vacations where they are on ship and then arrive at ports of call and tour them. Perhaps the subliminal reason for the additional enjoyment is this very thing.
I have compensated for this by reading about my destinations for a long time leading up to departure. Everest was easy. I had read almost everything known to mankind regarding Everest over decades preceding my trip. Watched every movie and documentary too. Even poorly made ones like EVEREST, staring William Shatner and that Beverly Hills 90210 guy Jason Priestly. I think the only reason Shatner was in it was because it was about Canadian climbers and was so low budget that nobody would watch it without a name like his attached. Likewise for Priestley’s participation.
For my upcoming trip, I had only a cursory knowledge of Peru and its ancient Inca civilization. I had a class in undergrad that made me a little more aware of the Aztecs and Incas in the Americas. I had seen a documentary or two but I was a passive participant. When I had announced to the family that I would do the Inca Trail I had no idea what I did not know. My brother gave me the gift of the book “Turn Right at Machu Picchu”. It was a difficult read because the author simply sucked. In between the information about Hiram Bingham, his own story about him and his son retracing Bingham’s steps to discovery was flat, boring, corny and dull. Yes. All of those. Then one of my online friends at Trailspace who had been to Machu Picchu suggested I read “The White Rock” by Hugh Thomson. So I did. And I also read “A Sacred Landscape”, also by Thomson. I was thrown into the world that I soon would be visiting with full force. Both books were packed with history, geography, angst and adventure. I have started to be able to see the environs and the people in my minds eye. I hear their music. No, I do. Because I have several cds on my iPod with traditional pan flute music. FACTOID: Simon and Garfunkle’s song “If I Could” is actually an old Peruvian traditional song called El Condor Pasa“. Oh. You knew that already? I didn’t. That is how little I know of anything Peruvian.
Another pop culture fact a out Machu Picchu has to do with the persona of Hiram Bingham. The lead character in Raiders of the Lost Ark played by Harrison Ford is fashioned after him. Right down to the hat. I have one of those hats to bring with me for the trip! I am silly like that.
So with a little more than two months before Maggie and I get on the plane and make our way south, through Miami, to Lima and then on to Cusco, I am reading books, watching documentaries and listening to music. There will be no danger of me leaving my mind behind!
Kathy swept me off to the airport in San Francisco so that I could depart the homeland for the big adventure. It was an easy check in. But oddly, the lady at Cathay Pacific looked at my Ping Rolling carry on and said it was too heavy to go on the plain. She asked if I could move some of the items over to the tow other checked bags. But I told her I feared they would burst if one more item were put inside them. She said it was not going in the cabin and began to check it. I asked her what cost that would be to which she replied “I will do it for a courtesy.” I thanked her and thought to myself that was nicer because now I wouldn’t have to worry about it while I was in Hong Kong.
I went to the gate and before you know it, I was settling in to my seat: 44A. That meant I was on the bulkhead and would have oodles of legroom. The down side was the constant stream of people to the bathroom within 5 feet of me. But so far so good and the big leg of the flight was shaping up good. My row mates were Dawn and Steve Gregory. They are a fine couple that runs a café in Pasa Robles, California. They were on their way to china for a several day trek themselves. Steve has climbed Whitney a couple of times before as well. It was a great set up there in the 44th row of the Boeing 747. Now I just had to get some rest over the 14-hour flight that was ahead. I have to say that I was impressed with the flight in general. Though there were over 400 people on the plane, the kids were doing well and despite non-stop use of the bulkhead restroom, the air quality remained tolerable.
I did manage to get a good amount of sleep and soon found myself grabbing my bag and heading for customs to venture out to the streets of Hong King to meet up with my cousin, Leonard Nichols at the Holiday Inn. I paid my $90.00 Hong Kong Dollars for a ticket for the train to Kowloon and settled in. We passed the Port of Hong Kong where there were literally THOUSANDS of trucking containers in various stages of loading and unloading. It reminded me of Dad driving container trucks to the port to be shipped overseas. As we hit the Kowloon Station, I quickly scoped out the taxi stand and headed for there, jumped into a little Toyota cab and called out HOLIDAY INN! And off we went…on the wrong side of the Road…ahhh the Brits and their crazy idea that one should drive on the left! We went on a wild ride though the streets of the city and came to a very sudden
stop in front of the Holiday in. Which is not so far from Shakey’s Pizza….yes, the same Shakey’s company that owned the pizza parlor all of us used to go to after Games at Glacier High School.
I fired up the Spot Connect so that I could check in….no bueno. It seemed to try hard for 15 minutes, but to no avail. I had been able to get free wireless at the airport so checked in with family and facebook, but Hong Kong was having none of the coolest piece of gear I got for this trip.
At last I was going to see Leo and we were to make a day of it. He called me and met me in the lobby but because he had indulged in Yak Steak the night before to honor me and because the Yak meat he ate had some sort of malady, he had spent the entire night praying to the porcelain gods and was not entirely done with that pilgrimage upon my arrival. None the less, we set out for the tram to the top of Hong Kong, taking a ferry across the harbor and beginning an uphill walk to the tram. But it did him in, poor guy. So we turned back, stopping for rests and for him to get some liquids. Then back to his hotel and the hotel doctor! I went out for a short walk while he treated with the doctor and got to encounter the hawkers trying to get me to buy hand bags and quality tailored goods.
After the doc left and Leo had gotten a shot and some other medicine, we went out again and ran some errands for him after which we had a coffee (he had a gator aid for the electrolytes) at Starbucks!
I had arrived at about 8:00 AM local time and it was now approaching 2. We decided to go our separate ways, Leo back to Mainland China and me back to the airport. It was so nice to see him. Sort of like a pilgrimage of Nichols visit…first his parents, (my God Parents) back in Fremont California a few days ago and now him in Hong Kong. My efforts to travel there to see him have catapulted me into the favorite cousin position. I just know it!
So onward I went, heading to check in and try to get another one of those swell seats like on the last flight. I walked up with my big smile and was excited for the next leg. But remember that really nice gesture back in San Francisco? The one where the lady put that rolling carry on in with my other checked baggage? That as about to come back and slap me right in the face. The lad y said in pretty good English “You have three bags checked and ticket only for 2.” So, I tried to explain what happened in San Francisco. But that was not relevant to her. For her, all that mattered was I had a ticket for two checked bags, but three had been checked and the math did not add up. Her solution? The first one was for me to pay 120 US dollars for the bag for each leg of my flight. I Told her that didn’t seem fair since they had checked it through in San Francisco and had never said that it WOULD have cost that kind of money. Her second solution? Take the bag number three from under the plane and put it in the overhead with me. Well, that seemed reasonable. Not what I expected but better than shelling out hundreds of dollars for what WAS supposed to be a carry on in the first place. So they sent me to Terminal 1, Section H, Isle
H19 to get the bag. The problem was, they had no clue. Now they wanted me to go get the bag since there was a problem with it….I told them there was no problem. At least not one they didn’t create all on their own. So the young man helping the woman advised me to take a seat and when the bag was available in the Customs Hall, they would take me there. That sounded ok, though there were no seats. I walked a few paces away and simply stood. And waited. And waited. And got hungry. And waited.
I went back to T1, H, H19 and asked how long it would be. The lady (same one) told me that since I had lost my bag…WAIT! I never lost my bag! Now I could feel some anger roiling up inside me. I kept telling myself in my quiet, inside voice…NO INTERNATIONAL INCIDENTS! Especially when you haven’t even started the activities that have brought you over 6,000 miles from home so far. After stern words of urgency to the young lady that I had a plane to catch and the bag she was trying to take off it had to be back on it with me PDQ! An hour and a half had already passed. She brought another young man out and told me to go with him. So off we went. And went. And went. Into the bowels of the Hong Kong
airport. He kept showing different ID’s of his and waiving me on with him. Then we came to an official looking chap with a stamp. You know there could be trouble when they have a stamp and an ink pad at the ready. Was I to be Locked Up Abroad? He asked me for my boarding pass……SERENITY NOW I yelled inside! SHUT THE FRONT DOOR you guys never GAVE me a boarding pass. Then I stared straight into his eyes with my best Robo-Cop impression and no joy to detect on my face. Thought of my father at Chosin reservoir all surrounded by the Chinese. I knew how he felt now. I was sure I did. I was not about to walk the 250 miles back to T1, H, H19 to get the boarding pass. I broke eyes with stamp-man and burned a whole through the young man’s eyes and he slinked off. I stayed put and did not move. Not an inch either way. Just stood and robo-copped the stamp man. About 15 minutes later young guys shows up with a freshly minted boarding pass and we pass thought a gauntlet of flailing, ink lathered rubber stamps and gates and now we are in front of a baggage claim carousel.
Each bag that passed, the young man asked if that was it. No. It wasn’t. Time was now speeding passed. I ask young man where all these bags on the carousel came from. He said they are lost from their owners…..MINE IS NOT LOST! He gets nervous again…or maybe afraid that my big round blue eyes have now turned red and laser like. He moves off to a coworker and they speak. He comes back and says “Your Bags should be coming now.” BAGS??? I told him that the all the bags were checked through and for whatever reason they decided the third bag could no longer be under the plane and had to be in it but what was he doing with my other two bags! He said they all had to come off. And it happened.
At last, it happened. They had broken me. All at once I realized that in 20 minutes my plane was leaving. I had not gone through security or customs. And now all three of my bags had been exorcized from the plane….the one about to leave….with or without me or them. I looked at the man and said “I spent thousands of dollars on this trip and now it is about to be ruined if me and those bags do not make it to Katmandu tonight. And with that big tears rolled down my cheeks and I was through, I took the rebel bag that had been the source of all the trouble, they took the other two and we went our separate ways. I headed for customs. I got through customs after a thorough tear down of THE BAG and hurried through security and then scurried for the gate. I got there just as final boarding was being called.
So here I sit, in Dragon Air’s plane…in Seat 22A, a bulkhead seat with no isle mates, at 38,000 feet in the air, eating Indian rice and writing this blog entry. I do not know if my gear is on the plane with me. I will not know for another 3 hours. Adventure, it’s what’s for dinner.
Today is the day. Have been working, waiting, fretting for it. When I set out for this adventure, I am not sure even I believed I would follow through with going. But here it is, March 24, 2012 and I HAVE set out on the biggest adventure of my life.
Along the way, I have learned a lot about myself. That the Karen I always was was inside waiting to get out. I learned that the biggest obstacle to success in anything I set out for is not the physical environment around me. Though many of those things are huge challenges, the actual obstacle is myself and the mental battle I fight with myself.
So here I am at the beginning. I was all packed up and ready to roll and Jim and Maggie arrived to transport me to McCarren Airport in Las Vegas. They came in and met my digs and we chatted and all of a sudden I was out the door. The dogs were behind the door while we were headed off to the car and I would not be seeing them for 22 days. Just that fast, I was leaving.
I got a comment on a post a while back from a person who is also doing this trek. We have been communicating about it ever since. He has a reason for going. Seems that is common…..exorcising some demon or another by putting ones self through some physical challenge far off from home. He phoned last night to give me a pep talk and encourage me. He is a few weeks after me. I’ll have been home a few days when he starts. It is somehow comforting knowing that somebody I have spoken with will be putting his feet where mine once were in a land far away and as high as you can get into the heavens. It also motivates me to work hard against the voices that chirp and bleat about when the going gets tough. He wants me to finish it for him. So that he can know that he can finish it too. I think he already knows he can.
So we sped down the 215 to McCarren, chit chatting with each other along the way. Jim and Maggie are stand up folks who I have come to know most recently and feel like I have known forever. Maggie came climbing in the gym with me Wednesday and she has now caught the bug. Guaranteeing more fun together. Jim works with me at Red Rock Search and Rescue. They are sporting their own WhelanTrek shirts and toting my baggage! What great friends they are to come clear across the valley and pick me up and cart me off on my journey!
In a flash, they, too were gone. So off I went, checked in and paid the extra $60.00 for my duffel and back pack, got my boarding pass and headed in to the gate. But first I tested out the Spot Connect and checked in from McCarren. I wanted to be sure to get used to using it and understanding it. I also wanted to be sure I get the trip from door jam to door jam. I was excited when I was sitting in the plain and got a text from another friend, Kristen, who had gotten the email Spot Connect sent out to her. So. It is working!
Airport security wasn’t too bad. Boarding went well too. And to my delight, nobody was sitting next to me. It is always a nice flight in coach when you have a seat between you the next person.
I was thinking as we flew along and I could see the Sierra Nevada Mountains out my window that those will see so very small in a few days when I see the big peaks of the Himalayas. And how this short flight to Frisco will seem like bliss compared to what flights lie ahead.
Just as I completed that thought, the flight attendant came over the loud speaker to say that we were about to descend to San Francisco International Airport. She wanted us to know, too, that she was about to take one last run down the isle of the plane to take all of our plastic cups from us for fear that they could be projectiles should the landing be a bit too assertive. At least that was what I heard her say. So here she came and I launched my cup her way as she blew past my seat
28A. Just like that I was at another airport. Only difference was, now there was all this rain coming down.
It was nice to get out of the plane and enter the airport and smell the wonderful bread! Moisture in the air always makes food smell so good! I headed out to the curb after collecting my bags and headed out shopping for some final things with my sister. Then back to her house for a piping hot bowl of Clam Chowder with fresh sourdough to dip! What a wonderful dinner on a cold San Francisco day.
Now my sister and I are done for the evening and we are drinking tea and petting her schipps. Makes me miss Cappy Jack and Katie Scarlet already!
So I’ll sign off now, from this my first dispatch of the journey. I will finish by thanking Jim and Maggie for their gracious assistance, and for the Trekkies for supporting me on this excellent adventure!
Well, with the tip looming on the horizon and gear getting packed I thought I would share with you all the part of this trip that I am NOT looking all that forward to. Long walks in boots will mean sore feet. That is to be expected. But blisters and toe nail issues are also quite likely to occur and it takes work to prevent them. Today I
ordered a little tool to help out when I have bruised a toe or two and caused the nail to begin turning black. Why, you may ask. Who cares if it is black. Well, the black is blood under the nail and usually means the nail is getting lifted up off its nail bed. So, this cool little hand drill will enable me to drill through the nail to alleviate that pressure and hopefully save the nail. Again, you ask why any of this would happen. For me, it is a lacing issue. My boots are comfy and large enough. But when coming down a steep descent, if they are not laced in such a way to keep my heel back in the boot, the toes will hammer up against the ends of the boot. Over and over again. AND if my nails are not trimmed nice and short, that will add to the trauma, causing the nail to lift with each slam into the front of the boot. Sounds fun, huh. So I have a lacing pattern to help with that and drill bits to fix it if the toes get away from me.
The next issue is my heels. On relatively flat hikes, this is no problem. I wear socks and liners and have not problems. But when I go up steep grade for a long time, the
hot spot starts. So, I bough a huge supply of band-aids to prevent the problem. I use one of these firmly on each heel every day that I have the boots on! This is a tested system for me. But I have to plan for the worst, so in addition to this, I have tincture of benzoin, Glide and various tapes as suggested by ultra-runners and the great resource book Fixing Your Feet. Add to that gel pads, mole skin, and first aid cream and I think the feet are pretty well covered and ready to carry me up and down the trail!
The next thing that is no fun about a long, multi-day hike is the bathroom…or lack there of. It is so easy for boys. They turn around and go. Don’t even have to interrupt their conversation. But I do not want to find myself having to search for a spot and then drop my drawers, letting all the good hear completely out. So I got a little device called the Go Girl! (its competitor is the She-Wee.) Now I will be able to run
with the big dogs and not pee like a puppy! All the while keeping my generous back side covered and protected from the elements…and onlookers.
Don’t laugh. This is a very important tool in my arsenal. But you may ask, with all of this trouble, why bother even going why bother when I could simply check into a Super 8 and spend the three weeks photo-shopping myself into pictures of Nepal and Mount Everest. I guess I don’t have to answer that. Do do so would either mean to sound trite by quoting George Mallory by saying “because it is there” or to try to make some other profundity flow forth. Suffice it to say, I am going, and I am going to feel the pain of it all, but I will be smiling ear to ear when I return. Stand by.
So. I ordered my duffel today for the trek. It is a Mountain Hardware duffel and got great reviews. It is the tip of the iceberg of lists of things to get. Here is the list that Mountain Madness has supplied me with:
2 Long Sleeve Polyprop T’s (1 to date)
2 sports bras
Soft Shell Jacket
Down/Synthetic jacket or vest
Hard Shell Jacket with hood ( got mountain hardware outer shell)
Warm Hat (GOT)
Shade hat (GOT!)
2-4 pair liner socks
3-4 pair light trek socks
2 pair light long underwear
1 pair quick dry hiking pants
1 pair soft shell pants
Spare relax shoes (GOT)
-5 rated sleeping bag (GOT!)
Sleeping bag liner
2400 ci Day Pack (GOT)
Large duffel bag (GOT)
1 small carry on
Headlamp with spare batts. (GOT)
2 1 liter water bottles (GOT)
Treking poles (GOT)
Baggies for TP
and an extensive first aid kit.
So. I still have a lot to get and am excited to acquire all I need!