Step #1 – Reassessment

DSCN1359From Everest Base Camp to the south west of Western Australia. Three months, family dramas, a dose of redundancy and a reality check later and I think I’ve begun to understand the luxury of being able to do what I wanted to do and the pleasure of being able to enjoy every day.

Today I’ve driven to the mouth of the Margaret River and watched the waves pounding the rocks as the river surged outwards into the Indian Ocean, I’ve bought a bottle of Semillon Sauvignon Blanc from a boutique winery, I’ve eaten a lunch of mushroom risotto on the balcony of another winery surrounded by the lush greenery that is the south west of this state and now I’m heading off to buy venison sausages.

Is this life not a luxury?

Tomorrow I’ll be on my way back home having had a relaxing and thought provoking few days.

Life, as is its wont, is not prepared to let us rest on our laurels for too long and insists on throwing the odd curve ball our way. When this happens we tend to react instinctively, often retreating into ourselves and possibly making rash decisions. What I’ve learned that we need to do though is to stop, to gather our thoughts and to assess how best to move forward, not to rush in where those proverbial angels fear to tread.

A few days, a few weeks, however long it takes.

Only a matter of weeks ago I was existing on a diet of carbs – pizza, pasta and potatoes, I was pushing myself physically and mentally to achieve my goal and I was walking in the shadow of some of the highest mountains on the planet.

After an amazing and momentous experience life then decided to slap me in the face and I was brought crashing down to earth, reality hit me in all its forms.

These few days away has seen a regrouping, a reassessment of my life. Sometimes what we think we want, what we believe we need, is in reality just a pipe dream. Yes, our fantasy life is appealing but is it what we really want or need?

We all have dreams of what we would like our life to be but if we had all that we wanted, would we be happy? Generally, I think not. Life is not about getting all that we want, life is about making sure that there is always something that we are aiming for.

Our future goals are what make our life worthwhile.

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A Journey Of Epic Proportions

DSCN1251Epic – that’s the only way to describe the journey I just took, no other adjective can possibly do it justice.

This trip required more of me than I’ve ever been called upon to give. Physically I’m shattered, mentally, I’m still trying to catch up. But how do I explain it to you? How do I put into words something so momentous?

Over a number of posts I’ll at least try.

This was one amazing place. Here in the Himalayas, the earth has pushed up these mountains creating valleys and peaks, green on the lower slopes and a moonscape once above the tree line.

A population has infiltrated this landscape and adapted to its guidelines. There are no roads, no vehicles, no wheels. If you’re going somewhere you walk, often days to visit relatives, if you need something it’s carried there, by people or yaks. Building and roofing materials, food, gas canisters, furniture, it’s all taken up manually.

Some of the tracks are in a reasonable and easily negotiated condition, more often than not you’re scrambling over boulders, climbing hillsides of loose gravel, slippery beneath your feet, or ascending hundreds of roughly made steps running with mud and yak poo.

As we got higher the altitude began to grapple with our bodies. Mainly sea level beings some began to feel the effects and need medication, all of us felt the lack of oxygen and understood that the only way to do anything up here was slowly.

The weather at this time of year is tempremental at best. The beginning of the monsoon season saw the clouds beginning to roll in during the mid afternoon and obscure our surroundings, by the time we reached camp the air was damp and the view generally non existent.

But then most mornings we would wake to a crisp, clear sky with the mountains overseeing our campsite. They surrounded us, they dominated, they were simply breathtaking. Our cameras clicked as we were struck by the beauty and the sheer awesomeness of what we were seeing.

How do you wake in a morning, in these surroundings and not be changed in some way?

Our whole group made it to Base Camp, a major feat in itself as approximately 30% of those that set off don’t make it that far.

That I’d made it overwhelmed me and it took a while, sitting on a rock gazing across the Khumbu Icefall that I’d seen so many times in pictures, for me to compose myself, dry the tears and actually be able to join in the celebrations and the photo opportunity.

Here’s just a sample of the squillions of photos I took, more to follow.

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Lukla - streets of mud!

Lukla – streets of mud!

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And THIS is Mt Everest!

And THIS is Mt Everest!

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Transmission resumes – Mission Accomplished!

DSCN1239I’m thinking that somewhere along the line my brain has lost its connection to my power of reasoning, to that department that says, hang on a minute, think this through. Otherwise, why would I have just spent the last couple of weeks playing adventure woman?

Feet firmly encased in a pair of boots that have, to this point, travelled no more than 10 kms at a time and donning her back pack, grown to twice its normal size with the addition of wet weather gear, camera gear, sugary snacks and notebooks, adventure woman boards the tiny aircraft that will traverse mountains and fend off inclement weather to deposit her several thousand feet up in the earth’s atmosphere where she can marvel at the scenery, take several deep breaths and plunge into a hazard strewn voyage of discovery.

Avoiding the onslaught of marauding yaks and the lethal tips of the hiking poles being thrust outwards by other adventurers, she traverses suspension bridges slung high above the raging Dudh Khosi, she ascends the steep uphill sections of the track undaunted by the sheer drop to her right  and, refusing to be put off by the mud, the yak poo and the less than salubrious toilet facilities (basic doesn’t cover it) she forges her way onwards and upwards.

Stay tuned for the continuing adventures of Adventure Woman as she scrambles, clambers and lurches her way up a hill called Everest.

I’m back!

Give me a moment to collect my thoughts and process what just happened and more details will follow 🙂

Help me out here.

FlagMountainIn 4 months time I’ll be turning sixty, exactly 6 weeks today I’ll be setting off to celebrate by trekking to Everest Base Camp for the 60th anniversary of the first successful ascent of Everest by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.

Maybe I’m mad, maybe it’ll be a disaster, maybe I’ll wish I hadn’t done it, maybe … maybe … maybe ….

Maybe I’m going to have one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Actually, yes, I am going to have one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

It’s going to be hard, there are going to be days when I question why I’m doing it and there will be times when I will just want to stop. I know that. But there will also be many more moments when I savour my surroundings, when I take a breath and appreciate life and when I realize that, with the right attitude, we can succeed in whatever we choose to do.

And there’s the thing – I’m choosing to subject myself to this extreme holiday, choice though is something that many people don’t have.

Many girls in the world do not have the choice over the basics, whether they complete their education, whether they marry or not or who they marry. Over 10 million girls under 18 years old are forced into marriage each year, many with men much older than themselves.

The education of these girls is of paramount importance. With education comes understanding and with understanding comes power. The power to create change.

Change doesn’t come easily though, it’s usually won after a hard fought battle. So, while I’m fighting my own battle and pushing my physical and mental endurance to its fullest I’ll also be supporting the education of girls worldwide through the ‘Because I’m a Girl’ campaign.

Because I am a GirlI’d love it if you could get behind me by donating to this worthy cause and spurring me on as I train, quite vigorously I might add, for the greatest challenge of my life.

See that ‘Donate’ button up the top there? Go on  – click on it, you know you want to. There’s not long to go.

 

Countdown to Kathmandu: 59 days!

kathmandu-city-bOnce again I must comment on the propensity of time to take flight and disappear, leaving in its wake a confused population wondering where it’s gone. With barely any warning, except the fact that it happens every year, the first three months of 2013 are almost at an end.

And you know what that means don’t you?

Kathmandu and Everest Base Camp are now only two months away! That’s 8 weeks on Monday!! That’s 59 days!!! I’m down to counting the days.

I’ve made the final payment, I’ve got the E tickets, I’ve got the accommodation vouchers, I’ve got most of the gear, I’ve even got bright orange bag tags from World Expeditions making it easier for their representative to spot me at Kathmandu airport.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFriends ask if I’m getting excited and I am. The thought of the amazing scenery that I’m going to be seeing, the iconic Himalayan mountain range with its snow capped peaks, the exciting but ever so scary flight into Lukla and my ultimate destination, Everest Base Camp where sixty years ago Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay prepared for their ascent on the summit. Yes, I’m excited.

But I’m also heading into the unknown, an unknown culture, and that worries me a little. Will I be able to cope?  Until last year the Indian sub continent had always been on my list of places I didn’t want to visit. The thought of the less than sanitary conditions, the strange food and the chaos and the confusion, the ‘foreignness’, all so alien to my western upbringing and sensibilities, had always sent me in the totally opposite travel direction.

But there Mt Everest sits, with one foot in Nepal and one in Tibet, daring me to approach and that approach takes me through Kathmandu.

Kathmandu is going to throw the lot at me – the sights, the sounds, the smells, the dirt, the dust, the lack of western sanitation. It’s going to challenge me like I’ve never been challenged before. I know this so I guess I’m going in forearmed and, as I’ve just been reminded by Steve over at Around The World With Steve, all of those things may be out of my control but I have total control over my attitude. Let’s see if I can utilize that control.

Countdown to Kathmandu – getting closer!

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Where on earth did the second half of 2012 go?

All of you loyal followers who’ve been with me since I made my madcap decision, think back to my original Countdown to Kathmandu post. For those of you who may have inadvertantly stumbled upon my blog more recently (maybe even today) have a look and acquaint yourself with my upcoming trek to Everest Base Camp in May.

When I did that post there was 10 months and 1 week to go.

Cliche or not, time has flown, in a matter of hours we’ll be in 2013!

I was under the assumption that once Christmas and the New Year were out of the way I’d have just over 5 months to knuckle down, increase the training and get all the necessaries organised. You know, stuff like buying thermals, checking out the need for innoculations, trying to get my head around packing as little as possible while still taking everything I’ll need.

Somewhere between the accountancy course I took several years ago and now though my maths seems to have become a little unstable. If New Year is in January and the trek is in May it would seem that I only have 4 months not the 5 I was relying on.

So, that’s the thing, 4 months to go before I leap out of my comfort zone and where am I at?

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Training – going well. I’m at the point that I can go up those steps 20 times, a couple of times a week and do a hike with pack on the weekend. I’m feeling pretty happy with myself and the intention is to pick up the pace in the final few months.

The training is on temporary hold this week though as the temperature is hovering around 40 – 42 degrees for most of the week. Would be a form of suicide to attempt anything out there at the moment.

Bells Rapids Trail waterfall

Gear – Of the main stuff I’ll need I’ve got the boots, the pack and the waterproof/windproof jacket and I’ve picked up a few bits when they were on sale during the last few months.

This week I’m hoping to buy the hiking poles at the sales and then I need to make a list of everything I still need to buy to make sure I’ve got all bases covered.

Thyangboche Monastery

Thyangboche Monastery

Research – When I do anything or go anywhere I like to get all the information I can. To this end I’ve been reading anything I can get my hands on about Everest and trekking to Base Camp. If anyone’s got any suggestions please let me know.

I’ve read some excellent biographies of mountaineers, including Sir Edmund Hillary and accounts from people who’ve spent time in Nepal and the Everest region.

Blogs have also been an great source of valuable information from people who have recently done the trek and are able to give me tips on what to take, what not to take, what to do and what not to do.

Because I am a Girl

Fund Raising – Raising money for the Because I’m a Girl Campaign is proving to be a very rewarding enterprise. People have been very generous and there have been donations from friends and family and from total strangers. This is a very worthwhile cause and you can read about it here.

There is still plenty of time to donate and help me reach my target before I leave for Nepal.

SO ….

4 months and 13 days to go!