Sunday, November 29, 2015

No more colon blow! :)

Thank you for all the comments to my blog. I wish I knew who the comments were from so thank you!

I might have a problem with charging my phone so if my blog updates stop you will know why. I have my fingers crossed. 

Holy cow! The last two days of hiking have been incredible and our stomachs are back to "normal"! On the 28th we hiked from Dole (4200 m/13,779 ft.) to Machermo (4470 m/14,664 ft.). We have been moving very slowly walking shorter distances and guagimg our days by altitude gains. So far we have been doing well!  We stayed at a lodge that uses a lot of solar energy for their electricity and route their water through a black hose over their roof to slightly heat it from the sun. We particularly enjoyed sitting in their sunroom enjoying the heat and incredible views!  I also made a new friend named Dashi with a very cute face and fluffy white coat. I definitely miss my Walter and Winston!
Nawany and Ivan from the US. 

Sunroom in Machermo 
Dashi and his toy bunny. 
Porters playing soccer at 14,665 ft lugging people's gear all day!

The 29th we left Machermo and pushed towards Gokyo (4790 m/15,715 ft). Again we are taking it slowly. We hiked past a series of three lakes that are an amazing cross between blue and tourquiose in color! After doing a little laundry and some lunch we took a 15 minute walk up to a ridge that overlooks the village of Gokyo to watch the sunset on the mountains! Ahhh!  The village of Gokyo sits at the base of Cho Oyu mountain (8189 m/almost 27,000 ft) (Ben I will let you convert that to the exact feet you math wiz!) which is the sixth tallest peak in the world! Holy cow, yet again!
Sunrise in Machermo. 
Buddhist offering for the morning. 

Approaching the lakes close to Gokyo. 

Cho Oyu in background. Sixth largest peak in world. 

Cho Oyu at sunset. 

Where's Tashi???

We left Namche on the 27th hoping to find Lakpa and Tashi Sherpa's Ama Dablam Lodge on the way to Phortse Tenga. We heard it was right along the main trail and we had a picture of what the lodge looked like. By luck Tashi and I were able to connect on Facebook the night before and she let us know that if we didn't stop to see her that day we would miss her because she was going back to Kathmandu before we would complete our loop. It was amazing to walk into her lodge and give her a hug! I had only met Tashi once before a long time ago and john had never met her. For those of you who do not know Lakpa and Tashi, they come to Winter Park, Colorado every year for three months to sell jewelry. Because they are incredibly special people our Grand County community have adopted them as family. Since I did not know Tashi very well I had a million questions to ask about her life in Nepal and in three hours I got to understand just how special of a woman she is! Unfortunately Lakpa was in Kathmandu so we didn't get to meet him but we are excited to meet him later when we return to Kathmandu. Tashi is an incedibly giving person. She devotes much of her time to raising money to help Nepali families in serious need and children who need financial help to get an education. In the three hours we spent with Tashi she managed to feed us two full meals and three tea times! We almost had to roll out of her village! We left Tashi with huge smiles on our faces knowing that we were lucky to meet such an incedible woman and excited to spend more time with her in Kathmandu. There is so much to learn from her so if you live in Grand County and don't know Tashi and Lakpa please introduce yourself to them. They have a jewelry stand outside of Epic Sports and Mountain Rose in Winter Park. Because Tashi is pretty much a celebrity here in Nepal and  knows everyone, she enlisted two women that were passing through her village on their way to Phortse Tenga to walk with us to make sure we got there ok. So for the next two hours we walked with Yangjee and Pemba to the next main village. Yangjee is a teacher and nurse in the town of Phortse and Pemba was hauling gear from Namche back to her home in Phortse. Yanjee told me that she walks to and from her village of Phortse and Namche three times a month to get supplies and food. Phortse is past Phortse Tenga and is about three hours from namche with a whole bunch of climbing. The trail is narrow with extreme exposure and huge drop offs. Not a trail to be taken lightly. To my liking there are no vehicles or motor bikes in the Khumbu valley therefore making life more challenging but in my opinion a lot more healthy of a lifestyle. We split ways with Yanjee and Pemba at Phortse Tenga and John and I decided to take a risk and push on for the village of Dole at 4040 meters/13,254 feet. 
Tashi and Lakpa's prayer room. 

Pemba and Yangjee

Pemba's bag!

Stupa on the way to Phortse Tenga 

The hike to Dole went faster than we thought it would and thankfully so because John was experiencing some serious "colon blow" as he put it! After we made it to Dole John shared his appreciation for his sphincter because he made it without an "accident."  BTW intestinal issues when traveling in countries like Nepal are common. 
Steep and cloudy walk to Dole. 

We spent a wonderful night with our new friends Ivan (originally from Macedonia) and Nawany (originally from Nepal) who now both live in the United States. We had a blast "chewing the fat" last night. 
Ivan and Nawany

Today we walked to Machermo (4040 m/14,468 ft.). Tomorrow will be a big push to Gokyo where we will climb a peak and spend two days for more aclimatization. 

Our lodge in Machermo. 

Soccer at 14,468 feet????

My new friend Dashi!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving day hike!

As part of acclimatizing our bodies it is recommended that we stay in namche bizzare for an extra day and hike to a higher elevation for our "reat day."  So we headed up above namche to the two small villages of Khunde and Khumjung. We passed many stupas on the way to both villages with prayer flags attached to them. The Sherpa ethnic group is predominantly Buddhist and stupas are structures containing relics from Buddhist monks and are places of meditation. The religious practices in Nepal is rather interesting because historically Hinduism came from India and Buddhism came from Tibet which has created a mixed practice in much of Nepal. However in the Khumbu valley the dominant philosophy (Buddhism is actually not a religion but a philosophy.) is Buddhism. 
Famous Ama Dablam mountain!

Stupa above Namche Bizarre

High school in Khumjung.


Namche Bizzare


We are leaving namche and heading to Dhole. This is going to be a big climb for us today and we will take it slowly so we don't push AMS (altitude mountain sickness) onto our bodies. We are both nervous because most people use porters for this trip and we have questioned our body's ability to complete this trek ourselves. We are going to try it and just pay close attention to our bodies for AMS signs. The care for AMS is to go down in altitude. We do have an option for a shorter day today and we are not afraid to take it. It doesn't matter how strong or in shape you are....high elevation always rules the roost! Oh....we are going to pass Tashi and Lakpa's lodge today so I will send pictures in the next update. Lakpa and Tashi spend their summers in winter park, CO and many locals have grown very fond of them!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Namche Bizzare

Happy thanksgiving!!!!! I have to say that I am a little teary knowing that I am missing out on such a cherished time with family and friends. I have so much to be thankful for and my thanks is reinforced everyday that I am here in Nepal. I feel very fortunate for the life I am living and so much of that quality is because of all of you! Thank you for sharing yourself with me!

I had no idea of what to anticipate with a village named Namche Bizzare and I was very surprised upon our arrival yesterday. Our days of hiking are not defined by distance but rather elevation gains. The biggest concern with trekking in the Himalayas is altitude sickness. We have to plan our trekking days around our body's ability to acclimatize. Our climb to namche was a tough climb and we were exhausted when we got here. Of course the day was eventful with new sights to see, people to meet and just time reflecting about a lot of stuff. As we were leaving the village of monjo I veered off the trail to go see their village school. Because it was early, there were only a few children at the school. 


This is their playground. 

Trail to the school. 

This school is at an elevation of 2815 meters (1 meter = 3.28 feet)(Hey Granby Bears! This would be a great math exercise!) and they do not have heating systems like we have in the United States. As we continued up the valley we began to see students heading to school in their clean uniforms. I didn't get any pictures because I wasn't sure how they would feel about me taking a picture of them. I did however bring pencils to give to children as a friendly gesture. 

Of course we crossed a few bridges on our way which totally got my goat! From a logical standpoint they are completely secure because I watced full herds of yaks and mules go over them with full loads of gear on their backs. My problem arises when I get on the darn bridge and you can see through the metal grates and you feel like you are about to step through a hole to 500 feet below! Then the darn bridge sways while walking across making it hard to keep your balance and then the icing on the cake is there are missing bolts on many of the grates! I do have to say that I am adjusting to the bridges and getting more and more confident on them. Phew!
We went across the upper bridge. 

Realistically the bridges are safe....just a little unnerving for me!

The Sherpa people are incredible! Most people think the Sherpa people are the ones who carry large loads for the Trekkers and climbing expeditions but actually the Sherpa people are their own ethnic group originating from northeast Tibet. They are the dominant ethnic group in the Khumbu (Everest region) region. I don't want to generalize these people but I have found them to be extremely friendly, happy and very hard workers. Before I came to Nepal people who have traveled here told me that initially people go to Nepal for the mountains and return for the people. We are early in our experience here in the Khumbu valley but so far I would concur with that statement. Living life up here in the Khumbu valley requires an incredible work ethic. Yesterday we watched two women hand turning the soil of an entire field. We also saw women and men carrying huge loads of supplies ranging from wood, food, bottled beverage products, and building supplies (metal roofing, plywood, and lumber) all on their head and backs!

This morning I watched the sunrise out our window in our room and it was amazing!

  Namche Bizzare is a double edged sword for me. The panaoramic views are incedible but the presence of the west is more present than back in Lukla and monjo.  I feel like the locals are providing for the tourists and therefore making namche more familiar and comfortable for westerners. Last night as I watched the sun set and the clouds roll in the strings of Christmas type lights began to emerge all around. As we ate dinner the kids of the owners were watching tv on a flat screen tv that is nicer than the tv I have at home. (Actually I technically don't own the tv in my house because it's a friend's tv that I am borrowing.). Not that I don't think they should have tv's it's just that I typically don't watch tv at my house and I prefer to hear the noise of Nepali music, Nepali conversation and a crackling fire in the tea house. But this also gives me a glimpse of their lives this far removed from civilization. It's amazing how advanced technology has become allowing villages this far removed to have wifi, cellular service and tv! At least there isn't the noise of motor bikes, cars and the pollution from them! Ahhhhh! Happy Thanksgiving!
Hugs, Country Mouse (Remember the children's book!)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

We are in the Himalayas!!!

Over and over both John and I keep stopping and hardly believing that we are in the Himalayas! So many issues have come up that jeopardized  pulling off this dream of a trip and it's hard to believe that it actually materialized! Before I get to day one of the Everest Basecamp Trek (EBC) I am going to free myself from typos, autocorrect mistakes, and poor writing. I am typing on a tiny iPhone 5 screen and this blogger app actually makes what I can see 1/4 of an inch because my keyboard takes up so muchspace.  I refuse to read and reread my posts because I might be missing out on more stuff around me. So there you can fill in the blanks where things don't quite make sense and maybe use your own imagination. What I write is what goes through my head so watch out! Haha! 

EBC trek is a Trekker and local's "highway" of dirt, stones, and scary bridges. There aren't any signs making it totally clear of where to go but there is enough traffic to figure it out. The local (Sherpa) people are extremely kind out here. It's nice to finally be out of the city and I will not get on that rant. If you know me well enough you know how I feel about cities and that id rather have my feet directly on the dirt surrounded by trees. We saw views of towering peaks that make colorado's 14ers look tiny right out of the gate! I can't help but take pictures and pictures of the same peaks. I think I might be suffering from trigger finger! The natural surroundings are amazing but this is far more than a "nature" experience....this is a cultural experience. There are Trekkers from all over the world and plenty of local people to mix with and learn from. I just love meeting others who are different from me and learning from them. Every experience we have (both positive and negative) shapes who we are and allows us to grow in the ways we choose to grow from them. I guess that's why I like getting out and trying new things and taking healthy risks. We are finishing breakfast as you guys are finishing dinner. Bon appetite and cheers!  More to come on the subcultures in Nepal and what a Sherpa person truly is....