Friday, July 6, 2012


We've been back in the U.S.A. for over one month now, and it's time to finish our travel blog! We were fortunate to find internet in many strange places along our journey, though it became scarce towards the end. Please read on, as our journey continued into Nepal!

March-April 2012
Whitney: We just got back from 18 days of trekking through the highest Apu's on Earth, the Himalayas!

Jonah: Nepal has been gorgeous.  We arrived in Kathmandu and after a few days found out where we wanted to go in the mountains. So many different trails to take.

Whitney: We decided to start from the old trail in Jiri and to walk each day for about 6 hours to the village we would sleep in each night. It took 9 days by foot to reach Namche Bazaar which is the beginning of the trek to Everest base camp.

Jonah: We walked for about 19 days, and saw some of the most spectacular things. From Jiri to Namche, the start of our journey, we walked through enchanting Rhododendron forests in full bloom (Jan you would have loved the flowers we'll show you pictures when I return), we saw so much farm/family life, as fields were etched in the side of hills. It was a real Nepal lifestyle/cultural immersion. It was also by far the most up and down and up and down again hiking we have ever done, yet it prepared us for the later trek up to Gokyo. In Namche we met our friend Pasangs family. What an amazing family they are, they welcomed us in and we felt at home.

Instead of going to Everest Base Camp from Namche Bazaar we chose to go to Gokyo Ri. We chose Gokyo because the View of Everest was said to be breathtaking, the lakes at Gokyo are very sacred, and there were supposed to be less people than the Everest Base Camp trek. All turned out to be true. From Namche we climbed. We were climbing from 12,000 feet onward, and needed to go slowly as not to succumb to altitude sickness, so we took many rests and took in the views of all the soaring high mountains. Eventually we reached Gokyo. A dreamland of ice and snow covered lakes, where silence greets you and beauty takes a hold of your heart.

Whitney: Gokyo is a ridge at over 17,000 feet high, so walking the whole way really helped us acclimatize. Meals were simple, nature was vast, the air was clean and it felt really good.

Jonah: In the morning after reaching Gokyo, we climbed up and saw the panorama of Everest, and many of the other highest peaks of the world. There we had a ceremony for Dad and scattered his ashes. A wonderful moment, to see dreams open up into reality.

Whitney: Gokyo was a very challenging climb for me. We woke up that morning before sunrise and made our way out into the frigid morning. The stars were out, and the mountains loomed like dark shadows. We didn't know exactly where we were going. We had thought that the path would be more obvious, that others would be seen with flashlights making the early morning hike. We had no such guidance. Eventually we found our way to the trailhead and started the long ascent. We made it a little less than halfway up Gokyo Ri when the sun rose over the not-so-distant Everest region mountains. It was a glorious sight, though made blurry through my morning grogginess. Halfway to the top in another 15 minutes we heard the sounds of other trekkers below. I know it's not a race, but we happened to be the first on the mountain, and I really wanted to spend time on the top in silence. The next 30 minutes had me panting and heaving as the highest altitude of my life combined with early morning exhaustion wore me down. And then ten trekkers gained and passed us on the mountain. It was the strangest feeling. An indignant feeling was born, as though by right of firsts we should have been able to experience the peace and quiet of the sacred mountain. No such luck. They were European  travelers, many from France and German, all loudly talking and laughing, snapping photos with their heavy lensed cameras, outfitted in still new, still clean clothes. We tried our best to find our sacred moments of silence by climbing over crags near to the prayer flags. Jonah scattered the ashes of his Father, and we threw Tibetan bread to the many types of crows. A trekker came by and took pictures loudly exclaiming about the multitude of black birds diving for the bread. We looked out onto the horizon and sat for longer than many of the people stayed.

Seeing Sagar Mata (Everest) was really strange. She sits high up among all these other tall tall mountains. More mountains than you can count, and it reminded me a lot of Alaska. I had always pictured Everest alone, by herself, tall and proud.  Instead, she is wedged in between a line of other slightly shorter sister goddesses. It's funny to come to Nepal, trek for nine days, then say "okay... which ones Everest?" We watched the sun change the shape of the clouds and the shadows on Sagar Mata and the other Himalayan high mountains. We counted our many blessings, and started the long descent, and long walk back to Namche Bazaar.

On the way back to Namche we decided to go through Khumjung, which sits above Namche. While walking the last few hours we were enveloped in a deep myst and fog. The fog parted in a valley and revealed the National bird of Nepal, the Danphe. We hadn't seen any pictures of the Danphe before, and thought it looked like a peacock with shorter and brighter feathers. It was an amazing moment.

Jonah: After our last night in Namche Bazaar we journeyed back making our way to Lukla airport where most people start there trip instead of doing the long walk we had chosen. We flew over the mountains we had once climbed and in an hour were back in Kathmandu, it felt like cheating to the two of us. We enjoyed meeting more of PJ's family and spending more time with them in Kathmandu. Eventually we left Kathmandu for Pokhara, a beautiful lakeside town.

Whitney: More to be added on Pokhara and the last legs of our transition from Nepal to India! Stolen wallet, long bus rides, Varanasi, and more to come!

Travel certainly has etched new elements into our character, brought loneliness, adventure, and so much exhilaration. And we have undoubtedly learned what it means to push forward when we have wanted to turn back :-) Thanks to our friends and family who have supported our amazing adventures!