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Wrapping Up Trekking Season in Nepal

May 10, 2010

in Nepal

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Sometimes being an Everest Base Camp guide is like this:

Happy and excited trekkers listening to me weave stories of Nepali history and culture as we walk through our days—yoga and stretching in the sunshine of an alpine valley with only the sound of wind and glacial streams around us—stories of climbing and adventure, danger and rescues, told by Pemba over dinner—prayer flags whipping in the wind on the roofs of village homes and strung across high passes—yak caravans with bells clanging as the animals lumber up steep trail—teaching about Buddhist philosophy and the meanings of paintings on monastery walls—stars crisp in the thin air and mountains floating in moonlight—avalanches that crack and rumble down the night as we sleep in tents on the glacier.

BUT…

Sometimes being an Everest Base Camp guide is like this:

A knock on my door at 1:30 am by someone who is throwing up, scared, and sick—finding the only uninterrupted 30 minutes of personal time in my day is from 5:30 to 6:00 am—being responsible for the health of 20-40 Nepali staff in addition to clients—watching carefully who eats their dinner (loss of appetite being a common altitude problem)—test riding horses to determine if they’re too unruly uphill/downhill for evacuating weak clients—no shower for over a week…and then always being the last in the group to shower—someone breaking into tears because they are sick and tired and just want to give up (and helping them find the strength to continue)—frozen toothpaste, again—showing up in Kathmandu hoping for ease and getting a nationwide strike instead.

Transformation

The thing is, guiding in Nepal is never one or the other. It’s all wrapped up together. Even the hard parts are rewarding, both for me and for my clients. Seeing people overcome their physical and mental challenges, seeing their joy and awe in the mountains, seeing their pride and satisfaction at accomplishing more than they ever bargained for when they first sent in an application, seeing clients and Nepali staff joke and tease with easy familiarity–it’s all part of why I keep coming back to do it again and again.

Some adventurers get addicted to danger and thrill. I think I’m addicted to the intensity of personal connection and to the personal transformation that occurs in people. I love supporting it, witnessing it, being part of it.

Nonetheless, it’s a good thing I’m on vacation now. I’m tired!

{ 2 comments }

Nik Batra May 11, 2010 at 10:13 am

Thanks for sharing your blog Deana, and allowing us to enjoy the mountains vicariously through you. Great writing. Great pictures. Maybe will see you in SF if you are around June 26th weekend? -Nik

Nina Henning May 13, 2010 at 5:02 pm

I like your analysis of the job, Deana. You deserve your vacation, that’s for sure. Look forward to catching up when you return Stateside. xo Nina

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