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Hike, Peak, Repeat

May 8, 2012

in Nepal

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Receiving a blessing from Lama Geshe

After a few days rest, I do it all one more time…Kathmandu temples and monasteries, spine-tingling flight to Lukla, yaks and packs and porters and gear, hours of hiking from the lush and livable “hills” at 9,000 ft to the rocky summit of Kala Pattar at 18,450 ft, blessings from lamas and stringing of prayer flags, a surreal night listening to avalanches and the cracking and shifting glacier beneath my tent in the transitory outpost of Everest Base Camp, long days hiking back to earth covered with trees and flowers, dance party–yes, dance party, in hiking boots, in a darkened dining hall—with staff and clients all flushed with success and relief, and finally a return to the warmth and comforts of Kathmandu and a life in flip-flops.

I won’t lie. High altitude treks are far from easy, even for me. The journey can be a struggle, both physically and mentally. For many of my clients, it is by far the hardest thing they’ve ever done. Yet these journeys continue to be some of the most rewarding experiences of my life, as much for the people as for the majestic geography. Every season, I grow close to people–both my clients and my Nepali staff. I learn about their lives, facilitate their success, share in their stories, unite them across language and culture, and support them in their dreams, whether of reaching the high Himalayas or earning an income for their family. I spend every day in the sunshine–or rain or snow or hail–and I walk across the earth, intimately connected to it. Even when I’m struggling with being far from home, with being sick, cold, tired, uncomfortable (and I have been all of those things and more this season), I finish the journey and relax and wonder if there could ever be a richer way to spend my days.

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Peak of the trek: 18,450 ft and fantastic views. Everest is the black pyramid in the background.

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Yak caravan heading down empty after resupplying base camp.

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The team hikes higher. Pumori--a peak so graceful it's name literally means "daughter of the mountain"--in the background.

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The transitory encampment of Everest Base Camp 2012 sprawled atop the Khumbu Glacier. Khumbhu Icefall starting to the right.

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