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Gobble Trot 8 Years Later


IMG_9758-0Back in 2007 when Stacey and I started doing monthly 5k walks, our third one was put on by The Las Vegas Track club called the Turkey Trot. It stands out in my memory because I was lapped by a 84 year old woman. She was nice and encouraging and…well let’s face it, 38 years older than me. I was 46 at the time. Here it is, eight years later and it is turkey trot time again. Stacey lives back east and the 84 year old lady passed a way a few years back. I happened to see her at a few races and then read her obituary. I felt a bit sad, but also inspired that she had spent those 84 years living!

Now I do my 5ks with my great friend Maggie. With Stacey gone it was nice and fortunate to meet her and become good friends. Even better that we hike and walk and even do our adventures together.

This was my third post knee surgery 5k. My goal was to get in under one hour. At the start line we were informed that due to the public works failing to inform the track club of road closure on part of the route, the 5k would be a bit short. I was glad my MapMyFitness app would give me my distance, time and split times as well so I could see what progress, if any, I had made since the Pumpkin Man we did in Boulder City last month. I had done ok in that walk, though my knee was pretty thrashed afterwards.

Maggie Always Makes the 5k FUN!

Maggie Always Makes the 5k FUN!

In my Twilight 5K at Lake Las Vegas I was fresh off a three month hiatus due to knee injury. I had meniscus removed about a week prior to the race. I was still pretty sore and had to use a walking stick for stability. My time was pretty slow. I really hoped to shave a lot off those times month to month. So far, I have!!!!!! Here is a break down: NOVEMBER 5k time was 1:34:46; OCTOBER 5k time was 1:06:50; NOVEMBER 5k was 57:45!! I even had my last mile and partial mile at under 17 minutes, which tells me I have more gas in the tank to use earlier!

TTROTAfter I crossed the finish line I felt rejuvenated. I have not felt this good after a race in about 2 years. My weight is coming off, my diet is excellent and as a result, I am not taken down by a 5k any more. I have 4 months before my knee replacement surgery and I am ready to use it to get as much activity on this old knee as I can before it becomes medical waste. No pain in the now gel filled knee; no joint or back pain; no complete post race stiffness. I was overjoyed by the progress I have made in three months.  My overall time is substantially improved as the knee has improved. The biggest real meter is teh time between October and November. I cut 12:05 from last month. That time improvement from November to October does not tell as much given the surgery was a week prior. o looking from October to November makes me see that there has been improved health with better eating and more exercise in between 5k events.

What is This Thing I Will Do? This Camino de Santiago?


Routes to Santiago. Though any approach is a route, these are the ones people plan for and do in this modern era.

Routes to Santiago. Though any approach is a route, these are often the ones people plan for and do in this modern era.

People do pilgrimages for a variety of reasons. Some go for the adventure, some for the tradition. There are those who have religious reasons and some with no religious connection at all. There are as many reasons, more reasons even than there are pilgrims doing the walking. Some walk, some ride bikes. Others use public transportation all the way to the destination itself. I have a whole passel of reasons I want to do it.  1) I like to pick adventures that challenge me and are epic…to me. 2) I love the ceremony and tradition of the Catholic Church and want to further get back to my Catholic roots. 3) I have neglected my spiritual side for some time and want to reconnect with it. 4) I want to walk more days than I would have had I not flown out from Base Camp in 2012.

When I was in Nepal, I had my first experience walking day after day

Mane and Me, High in the Himalayas.

Mane and Me, High in the Himalayas.

mostly alone (aside from my wonderful Sherpa, Mane who spoke little to no English). It was a wonderful experience, no noise but the sound of my boots to the trail, the wind coming down off the highest mountain on the planet, and the slow, ambling ring of yak bells.  The Camino, as most people refer to the Camino de Santiago, will be a mixture of that isolation of Everest; the tea houses of Everest will be somewhat like the villages and Abrugues at the end of the days, and then the culmination at a place I really, really want to see. In the Trek it was Base Camp and sleeping on the Khumbu Glacier. Here it will be the cathedral, the mass, and the thought that the relics of an Apostle just might be there.

I do not pretend to have all the answers. Some would think it silly to flay from Las Vegas all the way to Madrid just to take a bus to Leon and then walk 200 miles. Others think it is sacrilege not to do that. So to each their own. I am excited by the fact that in my 50’s I can continue to battle through health issues and creeping up in years by planning meaningful life adventures for myself. But I also invite all of my friends, with all of their various positions and opinions to follow

The Three Amigos at Zion 2013 doing the Narrow.

The Three Amigos at Zion 2013 doing the Narrows.

along with me. It is 23 months before I set out. And in the mean time I have big things to do: a little knee replacement in April, a couple trips to the top of Mount Charleston, Half dome, maybe another run through the Narrows, a hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back, lots of 5ks, 10ks and half marathons and just a bunch of training. This thing is more internal than external. I read all the time that the walk is very transformative. I felt that in Everest. Look hard enough at the things you do and you can learn new things about yourself.

Trail Canyon –Final Prep Hike


IMG_6073It is two years and two pants sizes since I went to Everest. I am none to happy about how I am leaving the USA but it is what it is. Today, Maggie and I headed off to our final preparatory hike before our departure. It was a great morning. Cool yet comfortable. I have been battling some ankle swelling and have been a bit concerned about that. But today was all about that last effort on home soil.

I had not gotten much sleep. I tossed and turned as my pups, for some reason, were at each other all night. usually they simply sleep with the occasional alerting because something outside catches their attention. But this particular night was different. Lots of banter and territorial growling with he occasional rough necking. All.Night.Long! Morning came and I drug myself from

Dog Jail.

Dog Jail.

bed and noticed Jack the older of my dogs was not his usual cheerful self. He kept looking out in the loft as if he were watching a ghost. I walk out there and there it is. The oat bar he had drug up after having gotten in my trekking duffel bag and taken out my trail bars! So that was the answer to all the trouble!!! I went downstairs to find them strewn about, unopened. Mystery solved, but that didn’t change the fact I was BEAT before we even began.

Xpectacular scenary.

Spectacular scenery.

Maggie got to the house and we loaded up ol’ Ace the Honda Pilot and set out for the trail-head. We yacked about the trip, how much packing we had to do, what tips we would have on hand for the porters and crew of Mountain Madness, are spa day at the end of the trip and other sundry topics as they randomly came to mind. Then we arrived at the trail-head and laced up our boots. We donned our packs and grabbed our poles and off we went.

Today’s hike was Trail Canyon. It is a two mile hike up hill, rated very strenuous. You gain about 1500 feet over the course of the trail. Though Maggie and I both felt Rain Tree was more difficult. But ut was quiet….for the most part…..and nice and really a good way to finish our preparations for Machu Picchu.

IMG_6064I told Maggie to hike her hike and pretty soon she was far enough ahead of me that I didn’t see her any nore. I made my way up trail in my own slow style, stopping to enjoy the surroundings and breathe in the fresh air of summer. The Aspen and Pine forest was filled with the sounds of birds and bugs and that was refreshing. Unfortunately there were a few groups of loud people that came through. One in particular was a gaggle of high school aged girls.

Back of the pack of hyena girls.

Back of the pack of hyena girls.

Maybe a dozen of them. None but a few even had water with them. But all the way up and down the trail they screamed as if they were being murdered just to hear the echo. Nobody leading them told them what bad trail etiquette it was to do that. The pushed passed and never said excuse me or thank you. Just hollering and yelping foolishly.

But they were not going to ruin a beautiful day of hiking for Maggie and Me.  We took in the day, thought about what was ahead of us and were both pretty happy with the day’s work. After the hike, we drove up to the Charleston Lodge where Maggie treated me to lunch and conversation. IMG_6068I have found a real friend in Maggie. She is a great adventure partner and we can both enjoy our hikes without expecting the other to “hike my way”.

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A fine meal with a fine friend!

So that is it. Over a year of training in various ways and times to get ready for this big trek. My second, Maggie’s first. The journey has been great. Ups downs ins outs. All part of the big thing called life and we are finding in our 50’s there is much of it to be lived.

 

And now, a few more pictures of that final hike:

 

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North Loop Raintree at Mt. Charleston


IMG_0351Maggie and I set out again for another run at the North Loop. This is her third, my second time heading up. It has altitude and steepness. Two things we need in preparation for the looming trek. First, thanks to Jim, her husband, for being so kind as to lend her to me today, the start of his fabulous birthday weekend!

So up we went and this time no hot spots on my heels. It is a steep 3 miles to the Raintree, a 3000 year old Bristle-cone Pine yes…I will wait while you read it again but it is true! The first section was much easier than last weekend. We hit the boyscout camp and had a snack and a rest and a great visit.  Then we hit the 7 sets of switchbacks! I am not gonna lie. This was a grueling section designed to brake me. And at several spots it nearly did. Today, Maggie decided to hang back with me and with my slow pace, that gave her a chance to drink in the beauty of the trail.IMG_0360 For me, as always, it was hard work. But that is what I signed up for.

A lot of the Bristle-cones are dead either from past fire or just life going out of them. The strike an ominous pose. They are so cool and eerie to look at!IMG_0358 Reminds me of Tim Burton movie art! Who knows, maybe he hiked these hills!

Once we got to the ridge which sits about 10,000 feet we rested again. I told Maggie I did not think I had any in the tank to drop down to the tree and come back up for our ultimate decent. But she kept encouraging me that that leg was nothing like the murderous switchbacks we had just finished. So I bit and dow to the rain tree we went. And I am so glad for her prodding me on because it truly is the tree of a lifetime!IMG_0380IMG_0373

We spent some time there just enjoying the day and headed back. We stopped back at the boy scout camp. IF you look closely, you will see the stratosphere tower! IMG_0400

We left there and all our media was threatening to die, so we hoofed it back without stops for additional pictures. It was a long day. A good day. One that gave lots of information to us for the final preparations for our IncaTrek!

Here are some more sights of the day…ENJOY!

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Only 8 more miles to the top of Charleston!

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Maggie in between the two trunks of the 3000 year old Rain Tree

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PEEKING!

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Close up of teh Bristle COne Pine in its prime….only several hundreed years old.

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View of Mummy through the Pines

You Can Be a Part of the Trek Too!


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

Summit marker for Dead Woman's Pass at nearly 14,000 feet altitude.

Summit marker for Dead Woman’s Pass at nearly 14,000 feet altitude.

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

The Ruins...NOW GO GET WRECKED!

The Ruins…NOW GO GET WRECKED!

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)

It is Getting Real UP IN HEAH!


Mountain Madness in Seattle Washington

Mountain Madness in Seattle Washington

I got an email from Mountain Madness yesterday. I had to send them my flight itinerary and ask any questions I may have that they could assist with. As I fished out the itinerary from my old emails and looked at the flights and times and layovers the adventure adrenaline began to flow. It is on us folks and I am reminded that there is much to do besides get physically ready.

The first order of business is to make a list of things to accomplish. Things like: 1) prepare enough dog

Tashi Sherpa and her Bailley Chair

Tashi Sherpa and her Bailey Chair

food for the dogs for about 12 days. I have a special needs dog who has to eat certain food in a special chair. Which brings me to 2) train the house sitters on the care and feeding of Tashi Sherpa, my special needs Schipperke who has a disease called Megaesophagus. I have someone staying right at the house spoiling Tashi and Jack the entire time I am gone. Makes it much easier on the pups to be at home when I am gone that long. 3) Also train the sitter in how to determine if Tashi needs to go to the vet and how the insurance works for her.

The next task is 4) sort and organize gear so that I have everything I need and not more than I need. When I went to Everest, I took WAY too much and had to pare it all down after the first day on the trail. It is even more critical this trip because there are weight limits as to what you can carry and what a porter can carry.  There is also the consideration of the plane and cost for luggage. I do not want a repeat of what happened in Hong Kong where my whole trip was nearly bagged by a sudden change in policy from one airline to the handoff to the next.

Item number 5) make a doctor appointment and get Diamox and antibiotics to take along.  Diamox helps in case of altitude issues and antibiotics are used if Montazuma’s revenge (In this case, Huayna Capac’s).  And I will need to do all the work on my calendar, get extensions or make arrangement with coworkers to cover for me. Just another reason to remain on good terms with them!

machu-picchu-peruNext I will 6) need to pay ahead on my bills so I don’t come home to a foreclosure notice on my house or see my car is missing from the driveway. Though this is not a particularly long trip, I get nervous about that stuff and do not want to give it a second thought while I am gone. 7) Get cash for the trip and for the tips to the porters and guides. 8) Call credit card company and let them know I will be using my card out of the country. that Target fiasco has even made it more difficult to go outside your normal patterns of use than it was before.

9) make sure my Spot Connect is working and that I have an international wireless plan for the time I am on the trip. Update email list for those who wish to receive the emails in real time on my trek through the Spot Connect.

Well, that is what I can think of, which means there is much more to be done around work and fitness and hiking. But it is on like Donkey Kong and I am instantly excited that this train is speeding toward August 30, when ALL THE FUN WILL REALLY BEGIN!

MP90

Hill Training for Machu Picchu


I have been devising a fitness routine to get ready this 8 months coming up to the Machu Picchu trip. Because I cannot always make the time to go out to the bigger area of mountains near Las Vegas, I go to a park just three miles down the road in my neighborhood. It has a little “mountain” in it and there are trails all over. The nice thing is a little section that is steep that goes from, a shelter to the top. Not long, but the key is that is is relatively steep. I scheduled my Friday Mornings to go there and to do the steep section ten times.As time goes on I will add my weight vest and I will increase the weight IN the vest.

Exploration Park Peak

Exploration Park Peak

This Friday Maggie, who is going to Machu Picchu with me, and I set out to do our first 10 lap assault of the hill. I stopped and ate a big hardy omelet first and met up with her at the park. We headed out and told ourselves that we were going to embrace the toughness when things seemed hard. I noticed that there were lots of people out on the hill. With all the circuitous trails on and around the thing, it looked like a little ant nest. One person was wearing a bright orange shirt so she was easy to spot. First on the north side, then down below, then coming over the top as I ascended past her. About my fourth time up, she stopped me as asked if I had done the mountain before. I told her not as a training exercise. She said “Become friends with this mountain. I did and I lost 120 pounds and have kept it off for five years!” and off she went.

Later, we crossed paths again and she stopped and asked how many times I was going up and I told her 10. We chatted and she has MS…”the good kind” she said with a chuckle. She is being the best she can to suffer the least she can and now does 7 miles a day.

Dawn does 7 miles a day!

Dawn does 7 miles a day!

So off I went, inspired by her and what she has done. We parted with the knowledge that we would see each other again. Every Friday.

There were others too. They would see me and encourage me the way many did on the trail to Everest. We finally hit our 10th lap. It was great! Not the two laps I had scheduled before Maggie said she wanted to join me. So now, instead of adding a lap a week and getting to the ten lap goal in 9 more weeks…I am there now.

Planning Helps!

Planning Helps!

After we finished, we jumped into our cars and headed to TruFusion for a 70 minute TruFire yoga session!

Exciting Action at Base Camp 2012!


Today we got up early and prepared to depart base camp. I was feeling ok and had achieved a dream…but there is a long way to go. My feet were tingling and my right hand was real cold. It had escaped my sleeping bag during the night and my arm had gotten a bit icy. Nothing really more than like when you are a kid and play outside too long in the snow. But uncomfortable none the less.

Mani was already gone from camp, so Nadja and Kadji left with me ahead of the bunch. The plan for the trek today was to head for Peroche. But the Heli Pad was finished and we were all headed there first because we were told a Heli was coming in. Big excitement for Base Camp at 17,500 feet up!  As we all

The Whole Bunch at Base Camp!

gathered and were told how far to stay back, I took a perch on Kadji’s back pack and was just right for the view. It was cold but as the sun came up over the high Himalaya‘s warmth immediately took over that feeling and it was quite comfortable sitting out on the glacier.

Soon we could hear the wafting of the Heli blades from far down the canyon. Everyone began to chatter to one another. The Heli came in, circled and went off. Then You could hear someone say..”no…..cannot go that fast….cannot go that fast…..”. Then the Heli came over again and made another circle and touched down. Everyone was covering their faces from the wash of the blades. The men jumped out and

And we lift off the Heli-pad

took off some supplies and then gave a signal. Suddenly, Kadji grabbed one of my arms and Deana the other and lifted me from my comfortable spot. Mani had my duffel and my pack and they were both tossed into the Heli just ahead of me. Just that fast the door was closed behind me and I was lifting off in what was the first Medi-lift of the 2012 Everest Climbing Season. My whole team was below me waving as I was taken from my beloved Glacier.

You see, what I did not tell you was that I was so exhausted and so low on O2 when I had arrived the night before that Deana, my Mountain Madness Guide, had serious concerns about me. She gave me options about walking out much slower, as our pace was to pick up over the coming days, and I had no extra energy as it was. That would leave me alone in the mountains with a Sherpaat Tea Houses as my energy allowed. I would miss my international flight

Leaving Lukla on second leg of Heli-trip

and have little support going out. That seemed like a far less safe way home than to be shipped out via Heli. Very serious stuff up here in the Khumbu. I borrowed a phone and we called my Brother, Joe, to let him know what was going on. I ate soup. lots of soup. But still was not able to really eat anything else. The food was so good, too!

My roommate had laid out my bag and pad and pretty much everything was done for me. I spent the night listening to the ice crack and the avalanches and knowing tat in the morning I was leaving on a heli and would never see or feel any of this again. I fought the feeling of failure and knowing that some would look at this trip in that way. But they didn’t have boots on the ground, up and down the mountains. They did not have my dream so they cannot end my dream. I was cold at times and could not get real comfortable, but that did not dampen the truth. I DID IT!

Mani Sherpa. I love this guy. He is strong and responsible and happy. He got me there. It is always the Sherpa when the going gets tough. Don't let anyone tell you any different.

As I looked at my team mates below and lifted off into the morning sky, I had tears rolling down my cheeks. I had not got to know them the way I would have liked. I was never with them during the long days to chat and joke and build the kind of camaraderie that they built together. And I could see it. I was not left out, it was just the way it was.

The end of the scariest runway in the world!

Soon I was at Lukla, where we had all been what seemed eons ago, though was only 8 days. I was confused since we were supposed to be going to Katmandu. But things are never that easy in Nepal. So I stood, feeling tired and weak, aside the heli pads at Lukla watching the planes come in and out of the scariest airport ever. No real protection between me and the planes and copters wondering what would happen next.

About two hours went by and the same copter that had brought me from the glacier whisked me up again and by gosh it was the ride of a lifetime! That copter hugged hills, buzzed roof tops and dodged weather over every hill and dale between Lukla and Katmandu. It was the longest roller coaster ride of my life and thrill does not begin to define it.  After and hour or more of that I was at the big airport again in Katmandu and a tiny ambulance awaited my

Ambulance time!

arrival. Along with my Mountain Madness man who rode with me to the clinic. We headed through the crowded streets of Kathmandu and the tiny siren tweeting atop the capsule was barley even audible in the loud and busy city.

But alas, we arrived at the clinic and inside I went to undergo a barrage of testing. Blood samples were drawn and and ECG performed. Funny thing that ECG. Giant Frankenstein like clamps were attached to each ankle and wrist. Then funny little suction cups around my chest. The paper feeding through the machine sounded loud as a chain saw. I felt like the machinery was right out of the 50’s.  (But I also felt awful and dirty having had no shower since Namche Bazaar.) The doctor ordered IV and some juice! So I lie in the bed in a funny little room that seemed to house two such beds with a separator curtain along with odds and ends of furniture from other parts of the facility. But it was clean and comfortable.

A nurse came to talk to me. She was a Sherpa woman. She went to school with Babu Chiri Sherpa‘s second eldest daughter. Her own father had died some years earlier leading men up Everest. It is common here if you are of the Sherpa people to have family on that mountain.

I spent the day sleeping the sleep you have when you are in a car. When the IV’s had run all of their healing juices into my veins they turned me loose. Sagar came and got me and followed my cab to the Yak and Yeti. I showered. Boy did I shower. I went and ate and came up to my room and went to bed. It was raining hard. There was lightning in the very skies I had just cone through a few hours before. I though of my friends in the mountains coming down and I was sad not to be with them. The rain beat down on the windows. and I smiled. I had done it. I had made it to Base Camp. I do not know all that it means to me yet, but I do know it means more than I can articulate here. Oh, and yeah. I am getting pictures in again. More later!

First bed I slept in for days~

On to Tengboche Come What May!


After the Namche Rest day, we got up and headed for Tengboche. This is where there is a great monastery. The group set out and I, as usual, am in the back. I am always with Sherpa, and like every day, he took my pack after about the first 45 minutes. I am slow. Real slow. I remember In Junior High Track, Mrs. Campbell always said that my run was more of a glorified walk. It was true. And when Kathy and I were picking strawberry’s one summer…I never made progress down the long, seemingly ever longer rows. I think of some of that on my long walks in the Himalayas all by myself. The Hike in to Tengboche seemed innocuous on the map. We would end up a t relatively the same altitude that we left in Namche. But hikes here are not like walking across a ridge to the next village. It walking down the river, crossing on a hanging bridge and walking up again to the ridge…and then maybe back down and up. This is nothing like I thought it would be. I am expending every bit of energy every day. It is wondrously beautiful. I have never had this much solitude in my life. I am by myself with the Sherpa of the day assigned to me. He is really not assigned to me except that my slowness makes him “my” Sherpa by default. I have hours and hours to my own thoughts. I hear the sounds of traffic, which consist of the slow moving dong of the yak bell and the fast, high pitched chaos of the jingle bells that are around the horses necks. As I pass groups of porters resting aside the road with the baskets heavily laden with all sorts of necessities of life and trekking I do feel transported to another world. But it isn’t another world. It is just different. It is a mixture of worlds that are coming together and the people seem quite happy. Though it may seem odd to me that a young man trekking a basket up thousands of feet on his back reaches for his cell phone when it rings it is life as he knows it. Far be it from me to require that my trekking experience be more rustic because it fits my imagination. At the end of each part of the day, I find myself so exhausted by the up and down work that I seem to have to have a good crying moment. Not sad, not hurt, just emotional to be able to be doing this and to be with the people I am with. Every one to the last one are kind to me and to each other. The Mountain Madness staff is beyond reproach. They are helpful and happy and they love to interact with the group. Some speak pretty good English too!. So arriving in Tengbouche for me, was difficult. I set out the Spot Connect, ate a little bit of dinner and went to bed. No real interaction with the group. The next day was coming.

Lukla and Namche — GUT BUSTERS


LUKLA

Getting ready to board at the #! most dangerous airport in the world!

Getting ready to board at the #! most dangerous airport in the world!

So we left Katmandu and boarded a plane for Lukla. Lukla is the location of the Number 1 most dangerous airport in the world. The flight is in a 15 seater and Feels loud a rickety. It takes about an hour to get there and the flight went well. Getting close, though, he was threading a needle through the mountain. I would say getting as close as 500 feet at times! The landing was pretty uneventful, but I can say I landed at the most dangerous airport in the world!

Airborn

OH MY GAWD!

OH MY GAWD!

We took off from thee and headed for Phak Ding. It was going to be about a four hour hike. Supposed to be the easy day before the hard one. For me? Not so much. It was hard. While you lose altitude you go up a lot to do it. And I had way over packed my day pack Late in the hike, the Mani, my Sherpa of the day, took my pack and I continued on without it. It was tough going. Lots of stairs that go uphill and lots of very steep near-scrambling. At least that is my memory. I arrived at Phak Ding 10 or 15 minutes after my fellow trekkers. They are great, by the way. Every last one of them. The hike itself rambled through villages and fields and was really breath taking. But we ain’t seen nothing yet. Sorry no pics again, but the upload eats up all my time for blogging. I buy it by the usage. [edited in pictures]

Headed in. Permit required from this point forward

Headed in. Permit required from this point forward

NAMCHE BAZAAR

This is supposed to be the tough day. I didn’t sleep at all during the night. Our accommodations were very nice, though cold. But I kept warm enough. my roommate is great and does not snore, but I was Sleepless in Phak Ding. I have not been able to eat a lot, though I feel great.  I was worried about the hike to Namche. How hard it is touted to be and how difficult the easy day was for me. We got our wake-up tea at 6:30. The Sherpa brings tea to your room and wake you up. An hour later you are to be at breakfast. I ate lots of mush and an egg for breakfast and we headed out. I was very scared. I had learned that all the elevation gain was in the end of the hike. We meandered back and forth across steel bridges across the river and each time there were steep rock steps to climb on both sides. Up, down, up down and then after crossing the last bridge, a huge down followed by steady, extremely steep hiking all the way in and gaining over 2k in around 3 miles. I was again assigned a Sherpa who again took my pack once we crossed that last bridge. I pressed on. I fought with myself about why I thought I could do this. But here I was so stop it and keep going! It was ugly. Real ugly. But on I went, all the time being treated extra nice by a man who could have run up the hill! I was passed time and time again by porters carrying 100 pound loads in sandals.   I drank 4 liters of water as told by the Dawa, the boss of the Sherpa. Finally, we get to the very edge of the town of Namche andI have to take another of the many rests I had taken. Suddenly I was sick. I just started throwing up off the edge of the cliff. Nothing there though so I simply sounded like a barking dog. One of the Sherpas early in the day had told me that I can trek my only problem is that I am FAT! He said it smiling and there was no negative meant by it, just the facts ma’am! Another point in the day an old hippie passed me on the trail and spit out. “Just go slow!”. several hours later he passed me again and said “you are still here! I am F!*$in’ impressed! I figured you would have quit a long time ago! That is GREAT!”  All I could muster was “there is no quit.” That along with a bucket of spit like a distempered horse!

The Sherpa suggested we stop at the Irish Pub and have tea before the last leg. I did and we had two milk teas as I looked around at the big mountains around me. I am here. In Namche. I did it. I did not quit. I am well…the tea hit the spot. Now I am simply going to take a shower after having a dinner of Shrimp chips, pasta with sauce, mashed potatoes, fruit, tea and Soup. I will write more later, but the shower and Big Agnes the sleeping bag beckon. Maybe next time I can introduce you all to Elvis the Yak!

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