Hanging Out Like Normal People

Since I am in taper mode, I had what I would consider a normal weekend.  Saw friends…hung out with my husband…did nothing involving a three or four hour workout.  It was a nice change.  After sleeping in on Saturday morning, I spent the afternoon hiking with my friend, Meg.  Well, after I found her…who knew there were three or four entrances to Windy Hill?  And two roads in close proximity to each other with the same name.  Once we found each other, we had a great time exploring some new trails on a beautiful day.

Saturday night, I went to dinner with Meg and some other friends.  She started a book club, which is great – I love to read and don’t do it nearly enough anymore.  However, time got away from me and I haven’t even gotten the book we were supposed to read, much less read any of it.  As it turns out, I wasn’t the only one who had gotten behind due to life, and we decided to meet for dinner anyway.

Since the book was about Peru, we decided to have dinner at a Peruvian restaurant down on the Embarcadero, La Mar.  Dinner was delicious, I has some sort of steak dish with fries and other stuff.  I also had several bites of Meg’s food, since that’s what was put in front of me first.  Oops.  What happens when you don’t really understand the food you’re ordering.  Luckily, they brought her a brand new food and all was well.  We enjoyed the food and wine, and chose our next book.  Really looking forward to getting back into reading, especially with friends.

Then it was on to my Uber adventure home.  I’m the first to admit I have a horrible sense of direction, but this guy…this guy was in a league of his own.  As he’s picking me up, another couple hops out of the car…the lady says to me, ‘he picked up the wrong people….’.  That should have been my first clue, as we then proceeded to drive all over the city before we got to the Tavern in Noe Valley.  After my tour of San Francisco – Pac Heights, North Beach, USF, the Castro….and finally to the Tavern where I had planned to meet Brian a half hour earlier.  But, I got there, we got to watch the amazing end of the Warrior’s game, and have a few drinks….all’s well that ends well, I suppose.

And, today, rather than go exercise for four hours, we hung out like normal people.  Haha. We tried a new (to me) place for brunch on the edge of Noe Valley.  Delicious French Toast and mimosas and breakfast potatoes.  Then we went shoe shopping….yay for new running shoes.  Even though I had to order them since they didn’t have my size, but they’re on their way and should be here by the end of the week.  Then we went to get food for the snake….so close to being normal….haha.

And, now on to the countdowns….

Days ’til Way Too Cool – 6

Number of Orange Theory Classes before Way Too Cool – 1

Number of Days at 24-Hour Fitness before Way Too Cool – 2

Weeks ’til Lake Sonoma – 6

Where has the time gone?  On one hand, it feels like this has been the longest month ever…it was still less than one month ago that we bought the new dinning room table.  But, I really can’t believe it’s going to be March next week.  And, with March comes Way Too Cool….a race I’m way more nervous for than I should be….

I’m worried about getting there since I can’t plan to leave work early to miss traffic….hopefully all of the reports that day come in early.  But, regardless, if I end up leaving late, I can pick up dinner from Amici’s and eat before I leave, and just worry about getting to Auburn, rather than finding food along the way or once I get there.  Or, hold out hope that I can leave early enough to pick-up my bib before pick-up closes Friday night and get an extra half hour of sleep the next morning.

I’m worried about the race itself since I didn’t finish any of the races I started in 2015.  Looking at the course and my previous times, I should be fine…but, I’ll feel much better after I actually run it.  And, at this time next week, it will be over.

I keep telling myself it will all work out in the end.  I’ll have an amazing race – feel great, have fun, and get a frog cupcake at the end.  Then sleep ’til noon the next day.  Rest for a week and start gearing up for my next adventure…..

Because, after all of that…there’s still the beast that is Lake Sonoma….


Coyote Ridge – Take Two

It’s my one-year anniversary with Coastal Trails….sort of.  This weekend is the Coyote Ridge race – the first race I did with Coastal last year (read all about it here!).  It was so much fun, I never left.  This year, I spent Saturday marking a good chunk of the course and Sunday working the race and sweeping the course.

Since I’m pretending I’m going to train for the North Face 50, I wanted to get a run in prior to marking.  I made sure to check on sweeping for Sunday before deciding on the additional mileage – I didn’t need a forty plus mile work out over two days….well, I do, but unfortunately I’m not ready for that.  Glad I checked, since the plan was for me to sweep the nearly 15-mile pink loop.  That meant a four mile pre-run, rather than a fourteen mile pre-run.

I got to Tennessee Valley in plenty of time to get in a four miler, but you never know, so I took off up Marincello as quickly as I could.  My trip up Marincello was pretty good…it had been a long time since I’d been up it, so it was like reuniting with an old friend.  I did notice there were random colored ribbons tied to wooden stakes throughout the trail….trail maintenance of some sort, I think.  Nothing I could do about it, but something that I thought could cause confusion, so I took a picture and made a mental note to let Wendell know when I met him a few hours later.

Before I knew it, I was at the top.  Sort of.  I planned to do Marincello – Miwok – Old Springs, coincidentally the yellow loop for the race tomorrow.  And, the top of Marincello, is the top of that hill, but there’s still a little more up before you hit the airport surveillance thing-a-ma-bob and head down to Miwok to Old Springs.  Since I was at the top, I was definitely in the fog or rain or whatever had started.  Luckily, I only tried to fall twice on the way down.  Thankfully, I decided I was going to be the cool girl on the trail with two ankle braces, so I didn’t hurt anything.

Once I hit Miwok, I jogged down until I got to the nastily steep part….and it was wet….lucky me.  After almost slipping a second time, I decided to gently walk down the hill.  Ugh…when did I become so chicken on these hills.

I’m a big fan of Old Springs, so once I hit that trail, I was definitely up for a jog.  It felt great….a little scary, but great.  Again, why am I so chicken….ugh.  I jogged down Old Springs and then wanted to get in four miles, so did a little bit on Rhubarb trail until I hit my four and then walked back to slimer.  At that point, the rain had started (or the fog descended into the valley….never can tell here), so I moved him into the main parking lot (rain starts and everyone takes off, haha – my day had just begun) to wait for Wendell and Lynnard.  As I was hiding from the elements, I made the decision to completely change into my long sleeved shirt – I was wet, sweaty, and cold.  Not a good recipe for marking in the rain.  I decided to risk the heat later on.

Wendell arrived and showed me what I’d be doing….not only marking from Tennessee Valley to Point Bonita, but also taking a second trip to the airport surveillance thing-a-ma-bob and Old Springs to mark the yellow only portion of the course.  And then back up the crazy descent.  What a good time I was in for…..well, I definitely needed the miles.  I let him know about the random markings due to the construction and I was off.

Heading up Marincello a second time was nearly as painless as the first.  For some reason, it’s the one hill in the headlands I can walk up like I own it.  Every time.  It was also nice to be headed uphill in the cold, wet weather that had developed.  It was pretty windy at the top, so I was worried about my pink ‘go straight’ sign and my yellow ‘go right’ signs.  By the time I had finished placing the yellow, the pink one had blown away…..so, I tied it to the tree branches instead.  A little sooner than I wanted it, but at least it would be there for the runners.

Off I was to mark the yellow, knowing both the trip down and the trip up would be an adventure.  Down because, well, I’m afraid of everything and it was wet.  And up because, well, it’s steep.  I only briefly questioned myself….not sure why…I know these trails and I’ve been up there tons of times.  Around the airport thing I went (different than I went before!), and down to Old Springs.  And then back up…..on my way up, I ran into a couple hiking that asked me if I was taking all the signs down.  Nope…putting them up.  The race is tomorrow.

Getting back to Marincello, I realized that my yellow ‘right’ and yellow ‘straight’ signs had blown over.  So, I had to be creative and find bushes to tie them to.  Not ideal, but at least they’d be there for the runners.  Once that I was done, I buried the yellow ribbons in my bag and headed off to mark the pink to Point Bonita.

Then, the rain stopped…and once it did…the beauty of the headlands came out….nothing like fall in the bay area.

Overall, the pink loop was uneventful…..I mean, it passed through the place on SCA where I busted my good ankle a few weeks ago and the place where I ran out of ribbon while marking Golden Gate, of course, not to be outdone by the turn I missed when I ran Coyote Ridge last year…..but, all that considered, pretty uneventful.  I blew up the turn I missed last year….hopefully no one misses it this year, headed up the road towards Point Bonita, passed the place I ran out of ribbons this summer, and spotted Slimer in the distance.  I made it.  Haha…..11.5 miles later, 15.5 on the day, and I was heading home.  Ready for a shower and some food…..But, I did capture this photo before I headed out….the beauty of a golden gate sunset is second to none…

Since I’ve been dealing with one injury after another (and then my foot turning blue), I’ve been good and followed Dr. Hal’s orders over the past few weeks and run on the flat, predictable trails of Woodside.  I’ve been home for about an hour and a half and I’m definitely feeling the hills from today.  Oh, the cramping that’s threatening.  I hate being out of shape….ugh.  I feel like I ran 30 miles, not 15.  And to think I actually felt fine after 17 miles of flat…..

Sunday brought an early morning – we were up and at Muir Beach before the sun.  Thank God for headlamps, haha.  The day started with me trying, and failing, to open the gate to the parking lot.  Luckily, Brian was with me and knew how to open it…or was strong enough to open it…or something like that.

I helped unload and then set up and worked registration – there were a decent amount of people registering day of, which kept us busy.  Lots of questions about bag checks and parking too.  

After a short stint at the start/finish helping with registration, I headed out to the Point Bonita aid station – of course it would be the one I never made it to…haha.  I got there, and wow….the view was amazing.  It pretty much put the views from Saturday to shame….the city behind the bridge, as the sun came up.  Always gorgeous….always breathtaking….no matter how many times I see it, or from what vantage point.  I mean, really, the picture doesn’t even do it justice.

We were the second aid station and runners were only hitting us once, so my time at the aid station was pretty short lived and passed quickly.  The runners were all in good spirits and many stopped to say hello and let us know how their run was going.  I spent a few minutes talking to one guy about the Umstead 100, a race he had run before and I hope to run someday.  A couple of them had questions about the course, and it was nice to being familiar with the trails and able to answer them.

Once we had wrapped at the aid station, I packed it up in the Xterra and headed out to sweep – the journey of nearly 12 miles begins with a single step.  Haha….I thought the first section would be new to me, as it was the part I missed the year before when I got lost and I don’t really run much on that side of Tennessee Valley.  But, I realized two things….first, I have been on those trails and second, I picked the right part of the course to lose (give me a walk up Miwok any day).  Oh the hills….it goes up and up forever….past the battery….and then up some more.  I vaguely remember running down the same trail during my first 50k….I think going down was just as brutal, with the added threat of falling and busting myself.  To keep the hike entertaining, I stopped to take a photo of a couple with their dog and to smile at a group of hikers who were impressed with how quickly I was hiking up the hill.

Going down the other side of the trail was pretty steep, but really nothing I should have had a problem with – if I wasn’t so afraid of the trails.  Stupid injuries.  But, I survived the descent and made it back to the Miwok junction, right where I found the course when I ran the race last year.  I’m pretty sure there was a moment where I threw my arms over my head, and exclaimed, ‘it’s the course!’.  I’m pretty sure anyone that saw me would have thought I was crazy.

This year I saw two rental mountain bikers looking at an upside-down map (oh Blazing Saddles…).  I stopped and asked where they were headed.  They were trying to find Tennessee Valley Road…at least it was something I could help them find.  And there were two other bikers that came up on us and offered to play tour guide.  I love the nice people I meet on the trails.

After that, I made my way up the steep part of Miwok for the second or third time that weekend.  At that point, I’d lost count.  I paused to cheer on some of the 50k runners who were on their way down.  Somewhere between there and Point Bonita, probably along Coastal, I ran into another rental mountain biker looking for directions….what was with them on Sunday?  But, I’ve been a tourist plenty of times and am happy to try to help.

I came up on the sharp left, the one I missed last year, and was happy to see that my gerry-rigged ‘wrong way’ sign held up.  Because of the wind on Saturday, and the importance of the sign, I created a tripod for it as opposed to the two we usually use.  Unfortunately, I found out later that one of the runners had missed it.  I grabbed all that stuff, headed up the hill, and on to the road.    

After being on the road for a bit, I wasn’t sure I’d ever been so thankful to see our car….well, I feel like I say that ever time I get tired and just want to be done.  But, regardless, I was thrilled to see our car – I was done!  I sent Brian a text to let him know I was on my way and took off.  I should have paused to take off my super cool ankle braces, but I just wanted to get back.  Ouch….bad decision.  As much as the braces had saved my ankles for the past twelve miles, my ankles were done with the braces.  But, I really just wanted to get back down to the finish….I knew I was late and they probably needed help, and selfishly, I was hoping there was a dry race shirt I could put on.  If I had thought I was cold before, I was definitely cold now.

After briefly following someone who felt the need to drive down to Muir Beach at 5 MPH (thankfully they pulled over quickly), I got back to the start/finish to find it mostly cleaned up.  And, yay there were extra shirts.  Hooray for a dry shirt….went a long way with feeling warm in the wind at Muir Beach.  We finished loading up pretty quickly….joked about my ability to load a tent without breaking my leg….and my text about running out of ribbons (just kidding this time ;)).

Ok….after two days on the trails, I am exhausted.  Until next time….

Thinking of Nepal

One year ago today, I was on a plane to Korea – final destination, Kathmandu, Nepal and the trek of a life-time.  Today, I woke up to text messages and emails about a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hitting the region.  To put it in perspective, the Loma Prieta, the ’89 earthquake that hit San Francisco, was a 6.9.  The Napa quake that caused quite a bit of damage late last year was a 6.0.  A 7.8 in California would do a lot of damage….in Nepal, it’s been catastrophic.
I took the below photo on our first day out and about.  We’d just finished touring our first Durbar Square (basically the word for palace in Nepal) and were enjoying lunch at a rooftop restaurant.  I took the photo because I liked watching the people in the street below….and there was just something about the multi-colored building across the way.

I found this picture of the same area online this morning.  I recognized the colored building right away.  However, most everything else, including the building I was standing on it seems, is gone.

photo credit: http://time.com/3835621/nepal-earthquake-pictures/

It’s unsettling to know that many, if not all, of the historical places I visited around Kathmandu are gone, if not forever changed.  From the first day exploring Kathmandu on a seven mile walk to the tour we took with Ron Jon (totally not how it’s supposed to be spelled, but that’s how I remember it ;)), all of those would be completely different if we took them this year….if that would even be possible now.

And that was before the trek even started.  I read an article somewhere that said the small villages were 80% damaged.  I tried to look for further information, but was unable to find any.  Not really surprising….communication and internet and phone were difficult enough to come by during normal times, I can’t imagine now.  Are the lodges we stayed in still standing….in any sort of shape that’s reparable?  Are the people who showed us nothing but kindness safe?  I can’t help but think of the woman who ran the lodge at Lobuche and knitted wool hats to sell as souvenirs.  She had a horse for rent and let me charge all of my electronic gadgets for the hourly fee, even though they ran over the hour.  Or Namche….what of the bartender who served celebratory beers on the way down, who had moved from Queens, NY, after her Sherpa husband.  And the souvenir shop owners who sold us most of our gifts….and told us we could store it in our guide’s house while we were trekking….haha.  I can only hope that they’re all safe and able to repair their homes and businesses.

And that’s not saying anything of the guides, porters, and kitchen boys who were with us every step of the way.  From the ‘sherpa saunas’ to clear my congestion to a hand up to the top of Kala Patthar to all twenty-some of them rushing out to say goodbye as we made one last trek to the Lukla airport, nothing was overlooked and they always made sure we had exactly what we needed.  I can only hope, pray, and send positive thoughts that they and their families are safe.

We’ve reached out via email, but haven’t heard back yet.  Of course, internet will be very difficult to come by, and they’re trekking with a group, so I’m sure have lots to sort out with their current group.  One of my fellow trekkers checked the site, and we think the schedule puts them somewhere near Gorak Shep, the highest point of the trek.  Hopefully it was Kala Patthar day and they would have been heading back down at the time of the quake.

All the places I’ve traveled have been special to me.  Nepal, first because of the people and second because of the history.  Never have I been somewhere that just about everyone treated you like one of their own.  I hope that they are able to rebuild and that people continue to travel there, because it truly was a life-changing experience.



Everest Trek – The End of the Road

Annnnd, once again, it’s taken me forever to get back and update this….must. get. back. into. blogging. haha….

I guess I’ve just been busy…running up Mt. Diablo, traveling back to Buffalo for mom’s birthday, working on a bunch of stuff for my new job, signing up for a 50k run in august.  And, our lead Sherpa from our Nepal trip came to San Francisco to bring his son to school.  We were able to meet him for dinner, so we took him to Sam’s Chowder House – gave him his first experience with chowder, halibut, and key lime pie.  So much fun and so great to see him.

Anyway….on to the end of the trek….

And, we’re back in Kathmandu…it seems like, just like that – it’s over.

After dinner last night was pretty much a goodbye party.  We had lodge food for dinner, and it made us really, really thankful for our cooks on the trek.  Once we were done eating, the entire team came in to say goodbye and get their tips.  We got to see the kitchen boy who received the coat Brian donated.  He was so happy and proud of his new jacket – he had never had one before.  One of the guides took my shoes, I’m glad someone was able to use them, even though they’re small.  As we gave each of the groups their tips (kitchen boys, guides, porters, etc.), they came around and shook hands and gave hugs – some really emotional moments.

We finished the night with a few rounds of sherpa alcohol our guide bought for us, Everest beer, and a championship round of dominos.  A great ending to a great trip, and I still can’t believe it’s over.

As we left this morning, all of the porters and kitchen boys ran out of the kitchen tent to wish us one final goodbye.  As we walked further up the road to the airport, the guides met us to wish us goodbye as well.  A few more powerful moments as we followed our head guide to the airport.  After weighing all of our luggage and getting tickets, we bid farewell to him and our sidar.  He wished us well and told us he’d see us in San Francisco.

The flight out of Lukla wasn’t nearly as terrifying as the flight in.  Granted, we had to wait for them to clean up a bunch of popcorn kernels (the flight before us was carrying people and supplies)…quite funny actually.  Then, we were off – down the downhill runway, kind of like a roller coaster.  Our final guide got us to our van at the Kathmandu airport, and then we dropped him off at home on the way to the hotel, officially saying goodbye to the final person from the trek.

Now that I’ve been back for awhile, and had more time to reflect, I’ve realized how awesome all of this really was.  It seemed like each day kicked my butt more than the one before, and I truly didn’t think I could do it again, climb one more hill or one more flight of stone steps.  But, then I did…and I made it through the next day, and the one after that too.

The cough eventually went away, I got over the sick, and the ankle has pretty much healed.  But, the memories will last a life time, and the photos longer than that.  I’ll never forget Mr. Bean turning around at the top of Kalapatthar and telling me that I had two more steps to go.  My smiling photo at the top will forever remind me that I can do things I thought I couldn’t.  

Everest Trek – Lukla – 5/15

So, I woke up this morning with a very angry ankle.  As I unwrapped it, Brian was like, please dont be black and blue, please dont be black and blue.  I, of course thought it was too early for it to be black and blue.  So, of course, it was black and blue…..awesome.  And, of course, I just wrapped it back up and shoved it in my boot.  It only had to make it three hours.

Our last day of hiking was a lot of fun.  It was relatively flat, I’m finally feeling close to normal (of course), and  my foot held up ok.  We also enjoyed seeing everyone come through from Lukla at the start of their trek.  Some looking prepared, some with guides, some without.  One without any warm clothes or a sleeping bag…how are you going to trek without a sleeping bag?  One rather large gentleman who walked by and said, ‘I thought I’d give this a go’…..I dont think he had any gear.  And my favorite, a girl in full make-up, short shorts, and a strappy tank top….. good luck with that as you go up the mountain….

As we walked, I tried to take in as much as possible from all of the little towns we passed.  I felt like I missed so much the first time we came through.  The school children, the porters hauling up the latest load (food, candy, beer, etc.), and the people in the village going about their business.  It made me wonder how long the Himalayas will stay as I remember.  Will these somewhat hidden villages stay hidden except to those to trek to them?  Or will the modernization continue?  Cell phones are already everywhere, even at the highest elevations.  And, apparently for the right price, you can helicopter to Gorak Shep (the highest place we slept) and take photos.  How long before the nearest road isnt more than two days walk and there really is a gondola to the top of Everest.

Once we got back to Lukla, we took a bunch of photos – group shots, us with our guide, etc.  Then we had the final meal cooked by our kitchen staff – cinnamon rolls, french fries, and yak cheese…haha…I will miss these healthy lunches.  It’s great to be back to civilization…and have the opportunity for a (not) warm shower, but I really cant believe we’re already back…and we head back to Kathmandu tomorrow.   I’m sad it’s over, but so glad I had the adventure.    

Everest Trek – Phakding – 5/14 – 8,487 ft.

Remember the Real World?  In 1998 (I think), back when I used to watch the show, the Seattle season cast traveled to Nepal.  Today, our guide had on an MTV/Real World/Nepal shirt on.  Turns out he was part of the group from Nepal supporting the show while they were there.  He told us a little bit about what they did, how they took a helicopter up to the Everest View Hotel (cheating….haha), and how it was a quick trip, so he didnt really get to know them, but that there were cameras everywhere.

Today’s hike from Namche was relatively easy, but I was ready for it to be done.  It’s funny, when we’re hiking, I cant wait to stop, because I’m kind of over the whole hiking thing.  But, then we get to where we’re going and it’s just magical.  I feel like there’s so much to learn and see and do.  Today during the afternoon tea, we talked with our guide about Nepal and the power outages.  He let us know that they’re upgrading the power in Namche, so it will be out from May 15th until the end of September when trekking season starts up again.  Overall, it sounds like a lot of the power situation is political and is in the hands of the powerful and wealthy few rather than the many.

Phakding is a small town, but somewhat larger than a couple of other ones we’ve been to.  It’s right on the river, so after lunch, we all went down to hang out in the sun at the glacier river.  Or, rather, I tried to…first thing I did was find a rock and roll my ankle over it.  Went down pretty hard since it’s so weak from my trail adventure before we left.  Good times….sick and broken.  At least we only have one day left, and hopefully it’s an easy day.

I think last night was the last time we got hot water bottles.  It was fabulous in the cold, but I’m ok letting them go – its been warmer at night, and last night, I came back to my sleeping back to find that the bottle had leaked.  Luckily, it was a small river and my towel could take care of it.

Tonight was the last dinner our cook made – tomorrow we have dinner at the lodge we’re staying at.  It was nice: some KFC (khumbu fried chicken), stir fry noodles, veggies, and chicken momos…lots of old favorites.  To top it off, we finished with a last day cake, complete with frosting….yummy.

Now we’re hanging out in a room at the lodge, playing our nightly dominos and having good conversation.  I’ll miss this after tomorrow….that and my daily 3pm tea.  Perhaps thats something I can institute at the office….haha.    

Everest Trek – Namche – 5/13 – 11,200 ft.

So, I’m having a beer…at this point, the hard part is over, or I hope the hard part is over….haha.

Today, we hiked back into Namche.  A somewhat difficult hike since I still cant breathe, but overall bearable.  And, we got to hike down into Namche, which was a nice change.  We got here and got cleaned up, and then went to grab some souvenirs (mainly yak bells).  Then we headed to a bar with some of our fellow trekkers to celebrate our return.  Yeah beer at 11,000 feet….haha.

We’re camping at the same lodge we camped at on the way up – yay for a second chance to fall off the terrace.  We headed back there for dinner….yak steak!  I’ve never had yak before, and it was actually pretty good – kind of similar to salsbury steak.  Or I just really needed red meat.  Or both.

Now we’re enjoying more beer and playing our nightly dominos game.  We’re in the lodge with two other groups of people on their way up….one group is playing cards in another corner and the other is a group of guys singing to music through their dinner.  Oh to have that much energy again.  haha.  It would be interesting to see them in a week on their way back through….

We met some people at the bar who were also on their way up.  Not sure why drinking was a good call….or not having a buff…but they seemed interested in what we had to say and still have time to buy the stuff they dont have.  They have some tough days ahead of them, but hopefully they have a good time.

Tomorrow, we continue our descent into Phakding…hopefully an easy day since I’ve been up until a whopping 9pm tonight.

Everest Trek – Deboche – 5/12 – 12,300 ft.

Ok, so before the story….I survived four days of bootcamp this week (it’s usually three), but in ‘only me’ fashion, my jeans didnt make it into my bag.  Awesome…way to rock an athleta inspired look of cycling pants and a nice shirt.  haha….oh well.  It actually worked well somehow.  Also, there were some changes to my job….I’ll be working on international stuff and project stuff.  New and different, which is good, but, it’s a lot and I dont have my team anymore.  So, mixed emotions, I would say.

And….on with the story….

Today, we continued our descent to Deboche.  We took the upper trail out to base camp, and we’re taking the lower trail back, so we’ve been able to see a lot of different things and places.  Today was a short hike, only took about three hours, maybe a little more.  It was nice to have a semi-rest day, especially after yesterday’s long day.

Instead of staying at another lodge, we’re camping at the home of one of our guide’s friends from his monastery days.  She’s let us in her prayer room for meals and in between.  It’s a nice, peaceful space, and pretty warm.  Granted, I’m still wearing my parka, but I’m not cold at all.

Tomorrow, we get to visit the Tengboche monastery – that should be cool.  However, it’s a somewhat longer day – 5 hours, and has lots of climbing….and here I thought we were descending.

I spent some of the down time today relaxing in my tent (and making sure the laundry didnt blow away in the wind) and thinking.  We’re nearing the end of the trek, only four more nights, including tonight.  And, I’m not sure how I feel.  On one hand, we spent a year preparing, and its been a great trip.  Granted, being sick for the entire thing has definitely taken away from some of the fun.  On the other hand, I’m kind of ready to be back in Kathmandu – with a bathroom in my hotel room, where brushing my teeth isnt a major production.

But, what a trip this has been….Everest base camp….Kala Patthar…Nepal…how cool are those things?!  At least we have a few more days in Kathmandu at the end.

Ok, bed time, I think it’s the last night to cuddle with a hot water bottle  

Everest Trek – Pheriche – 14,049 ft.

I can’t believe it’s only been one day since yesterday.  Our day started with a wake-up knock at 4:30am.  I was glad that despite the coughing fits, I was able to get a decent amount of sleep.  However, I wasnt ready to be up yet.  Too bad I didnt really have a choice.

After attempting to force down a small breakfast, we were off towards the summit of Kala Patthar.  To say that I was nervous was an understatement – I was nervous it would be too hard or I wouldnt be able to finish.  It was hard, but not too hard.  One of the guides was in front of me the whole time – he helped me fish out my heavy gloves (I thought it would warm up quicker, so had started out in my lighter gloves), he held the top of my water bottle so I could drink with my gloves on, and when we got to the top, he turned to me and said – just two more steps.  And as with every other day on this trip, I did something I didnt think I’d be able to do – I made it up to the top of the 18,500 foot peak.  I wasnt the first, I wasnt the last, but in the end, it didnt matter.  All of us that set out that morning made it to the top.

And the view….it doesnt get much better than a completely unobstructed view of Everest – the Hilary step and the South Col.  We took great photos and got some group and individual shots too.  Definitely some of my favorite shots from the trip.

Then, we made our way down for what felt like the longest day of hiking ever.  We had some tea and cookies in the lodge at Gorak Shep before we officially departed.  It was hot…it was cold…we were pretty much too exhausted to eat lunch.  Nine miles later, we reached our destination.

Once I reached my tent, I barely had the energy to dust myself off (literally) and change clothes.  We had some tea and then we were off to the Himalayan Rescue Association Hospital.  It was interesting to learn about the center, how many people they support – 600 trekkers each season, plus the locals they treat for free during that time.  They’re completely funded through donations and receive no government support.

We had pizza for dinner again – this time with sausage, and spaghetti with yak cheese instead of parmesan cheese.  I thought we were supposed to lose weight on this trip, but these cooks have been amazing.  The things they come up with at several thousand feet of elevation.

After dinner, we had an interesting conversation with our guide about the expedition season ending and the sherpa strike, and he had a very different point of view than we thought.  They’re concerned for the impact to the economy in Nepal – lodges, hotels, shops, etc. in future seasons, if people are afraid something similar might happen, and thus decide not to sign up.

Alright, today has drained pretty much all the energy I had, and the cough is kicking my butt.  Off to sleep with my hot water bottle.

And…there are stray yaks.  Awesome.  But, luckily theyve put up a make shift metal fence to keep them out.  Does that actually work?  We shall see.  And, there are some tied up in here with us, hopefully with a thick rope.

Everest Trek – Gorak Shep – 5/10 – 17,100

Quick note….amazing trail run today.  Rock tape has changed running with a healing ankle injury.  Ok, on with the story….

Well, today I proved that even if you sprain an ankle the week before your trek, and get sick the day it starts, you can still make it to base camp.  Base camp was…pretty cool even though just about everything was gone.  There wasnt a sign either, but there was a bunch of prayer flags and stones people had written messages on.

Today was a cool day, but a long day of hiking.  We got to Gorak Shep for an early lunch after about three hours of hiking up and down and more up.  Then about five hours of hiking to and from base camp.  It was rough, even with the excitement of base camp.  Tomorrow is Kala Patthar…based on today, I’m still nervous.  I want to be able to make it up to the top, but between the altitude and the cough, I’m not sure how it will go.  I’m basically huffing and puffing through my mouth, when I really need both my nose and my mouth with such little oxygen.  Hopefully, somehow I’ll feel as good as I did on the stairs on the way to Lobuche.

It was interesting to watch the sherpas and guides today, really over the entire trip.  Our Sherpa leader always brings up the rear – helping people if they stop, and slowing down with people if they need.  Like today, I decided I needed gloves, so stopped to pull them out.  He came over, pulled them apart for me (my hands were too cold) and held them up so I could slip my hands in.

Each of the guides takes a turn leading the group, and the others divide up within the line.  They answer questions and keep the Yak/Zopkyo trains away from us if they get too interested.  There’s one that always seems to be in front of me – I think he’s afraid I might crash through the rocks or something and he wants to be close in case he has to rescue me.  It seems as though each of them also takes a turn running the site and walks with the yak driver and kitchen team for the day. They go ahead and make sure everything is ready when we get there.  It’s also interesting to see how they train people – for example, today one of the kitchen boys came on the base camp hike, I imagine to experience what the guides do.

Ok…last night in a lodge – nice one too (read, western style toilet…now if only I didnt have to dump water in it to get it to flush).  And, now I have a hot water bottle in my sleeping bag, I’m exhausted, and it’s an early morning….it’s bed time.