We woke up on the morning of Day 18 to daylight (we would usually wake up way before the sun did on this trek) and the sound of prop planes taking off and landing at the airport down the trail.
Our room had 2 walls of windows - as we peeked out of them we could see the Happiest Town in the Whole World was already awake too. I went to the bathroom and found the most amazing view of the moon just over the mountains and it hurt my heart. And just moments after that as I enjoyed my morning pee my uterus bluntly and unapologetically let me know that I was definitely not pregnant. Just like that Baby Ever, Buddhi or Babu had turned into this fantasy of what if that I had foolishly let myself indulge in - and I was a little disappointed to, just like that, let it go. But at the same time I was
a little a lot relieved. I told Jeremy and, just like that, our lives went back to normal. As normal as our lives could be along a trail in The Happiest Town in the Whole World, Nepal. The late factor is in no way normal for me but can be explained with the physical stress, rapid weight loss and high altitude. At that point I was grateful that I didn't have to deal with it while hiking around at 18,000 feet.
We had a lazy breakfast, packed our bags and headed to the Lukla Airport aka The Most Dangerous Airport in the World around 9AM. We said a tearful goodbye to a couple of our sherpas, Uttar and Bimboo. And then we waited and waited and waited. We got word that weather was bad in Kathmandu and thought we might have to stay in Lukla another night. No planes were coming in or out of the Lukla airport but a plane finally arrived around 1PM. Hundreds of people rushed to the "gate" hoping one of those 18 seats on that twin otter belonged to them. But those seats belonged to us.
Leaving Lukla was much less stressful than landing there - the skies were clear and we had an amazing view of the Himalayas. As we approached Kathmandu circled the city 4 times while waiting for the president of Nepal to depart from the Kathmandu Airport. At this point I was itching to be out of that plane and safe on the ground. We landed safely, gathered our bags and like that we were back in the craziest city in the world.
We arrived to our hotel, drank Americanos (our first drop of caffeine in 2 weeks) and showered for what felt like ages. We napped, played Plants vs. Zombies on our iPhones and got ready to go to dinner in Kathmandu with our trek mates.
What followed was one of the best nights of my whole life. We took two taxis through the crazy city that is Kathmandu to Thamel House. We were led up a winding staircase up about 5 flights to the top of the restaurant where we sat by candle light at low tables on pillows. We ordered Everest beers and looked at the menu. There were two options: Meat and Vegetarian. We ordered vegetarian and ate a 10 course meal. We were giddy to be drinking and eating and the magnitude of what we had accomplished just days before was finally sinking in. We were served shot upon shot of Raksi and our conversations and laughs became louder.
That magical moment I was waiting for at base camp was happening here.
One of the best things about this trek is never knowing which day it is. Monday, Friday, Sunday... whatever. It's all the same. But on this day, Day 17, it started to matter that I was 8 days late. Yes, that kind of late. Jeremy and I spent a couple of late nights, squeezed onto a single twin size cot in our -15F down sleeping bags, whispering about what if...
So on day 17 when we started our long hike to Lukla and one of our trek mates asked us if we want to have kids one day. Jeremy and I exchanged grins. I had a lot to think about on Day 17 aka 8 Days Late. What if...
And just like that there were babies everywhere. And I started getting excited about the whole idea of what if...
What if I am...
And we brought a baby to the top of the world and back.
Can we name it Ever? or Buddhi? or Babu?
Will I still be able to work out?
Will we still be able to travel?
I guess we should finally fix that door down to the basement...
As we got closer to Lukla we started passing groups that had just started. All fresh faced and clean - a stark contrast to our burnt and weathered faces, our baggy clothes and dirty hair. Just two weeks ago we were those people - as we trace our steps back to Lukla it's easy to see that we've come so far.
After our very long day of hiking and thinking about the big what if we finally made it to Lukla, the happiest town in the whole world. We made it to our tea lodge and were ecstatic to find our room had a big double bed and a bathroom attached to our room.
After tea and dinner we found an Irish pub across the street. The place was filled with neon lights, a dance floor, a pool table and darts. The DJ plugged in Jeremy's iPod and we listened to Mumford and Sons. Jeremy had a Guinness and I only had a sip of Bailey's because you know... what if... We played pool and darts with our sherpas. And as the evening became night the place turned into a big dance party. Never in my life did I ever think I would be shaking it in an Irish Pub in Nepal with sherpas. It's a scene I will never forget.
We left the pub at 10PM but it felt like closing time. The trail and town was dead silent and we crawled into our big double bed and said good night.
Before we left for our grand Everest Base Camp adventure acquaintances and coworkers would ask me and Jeremy if we were climbers and serious hikers - if that's something we do. Even though we're a pretty active couple (we enjoy stuff like indoor rock climbing and getting lost in the woods on occasion) I always answered not really - hiking around is not an activity I really identify with myself. But after our trek through the Himalayas, not only do I miss Nepal on a daily basis, but I miss pushing my body, one foot at a time, for up to 8 or 9 hours a day.
The days following Thanksgiving in Oklahoma were gorgeous. Yesterday, I was feeling a bit of cabin fever and convinced Jeremy to hike around the Wichita Mountains - just a two hour drive from Oklahoma City. It felt good to lace up my boots again. We walked along the Bison trail - at just under 6 miles long, completely flat (Oklahoma flat, not Nepalese flat) and at only 1,600 ft. high we couldn't help but compare (or contrast, rather) it to our experience in Nepal. I mean, we could breathe! We weren't too exhausted to wander off the trail and explore a little bit! Without a doubt, this part of Oklahoma is gorgeous and magical in it's own way. And it's home - that's something Nepal doesn't have on this flat little range tucked away in the corner of Oklahoma.
This morning we ate breakfast and tried to avoid the spectacular view of the hill across Phortse that we were going to have to tackle today. We're close enough to being done with our trek that we're ready to get back to Kathmandu.
We packed up and made our way out of the sleepy, quiet town of Phortse. We saw a baby yak - probably just about a week old - I wanted to pick it up and take it home with me. So sweet. We made our way down a steep trail until we crossed the river. We took an extended break to prepare us for the huge hill ahead of us.
We were supposed to be trekking a full 8-9 hours today through Namche Bazaar and to a town called Monjo. But with an altitude sick trek mate our guide decided it would be best to stay the night in Namche Bazaar.
We stayed in the tea lodge that we had spent 3 nights in on our - it was nice to be in such a familiar place where we knew the food was good and the toilets were clean. We went into town and did a little more shopping and ate chocolate cake. We ate our favorite meals and watched an Everest documentary with Sherpas and trekkers. We enjoyed how thick the air felt at only 11,000 feet - the same air that was so thin on our way up just less than two weeks before.
Tomorrow we make our way down to Lukla - it will be our last day to trek through the Himalayas.
Last night I celebrated Thanksgiving with my mom and dad, siblings and nephews as well as a few of sideshow performers, including Donny Vomit, Heather Holliday and Lil' Miss Firefly the Midget of Mischief and Mayhem (at only 27" high she had to sit on a stack of Gazettes with Donny on the cover), a couple burlesque girls and their roadies. We chowed down on vegan mashed potatoes, corn and a rustic veggie pie stuffed with spinach and mushrooms. We did the thing where everyone takes a turn saying what they are thankful for and the answers are either really sweet or really sarcastic but always really good.
This year I feel thankful for about a million things. If I had to narrow it down to a small list it would be the following that I'm most thankful for:
• Jeremy. His continued support, his undying love and his cute cute face.
• Nepal. The people and the place that has left me forever changed.
• Courage. Finding enough of it to quit my job, live what I love, and travel the world.
• Blogs. I'm thankful for this little blog of mine and I'm thankful for anyone who cares about what I have to say. I'm thankful for all the blogs out there because I really do care about what you all have say.
• Family. The one I was born to and the one I married into.
• Food. I'm thankful for all the farmers who provided me with delicious veggies this year.
I could go on and on. I feel like a very lucky girl this year and I'm thankful for all of it.
Every morning at breakfast our guide Buddhi gives us an overview of our day. Towards the beginning of the trek he would say things like "mostly flat" and aside from the glacier bed we walked along toward Base Camp I would say nothing about these hills could be described as "mostly flat". So after a while Buddhi readjusted his adjectives to things like Nepalese flat, undulating, and Tibetan Bread. Side note: Tibetan Bread was by far my favorite food in Nepal - it's a quick bread fried in oil and served with honey - the surface of it is similar to that of a German pancake. We also learned that when Buddhi says "20 minutes" it's really more like an hour.
All of this to say that the trek down was not easy. We were still heading up very steep hills but breathing was becoming a bit easier. And it was nice to be heading down from the unfamiliar and hostile environment at 18,000 feet and back down to where life exists.
Now that we're headed back down I'm finding it less necessary to focus on each step and breathe. My mind is starting to wander - I'm thinking about my friends and family back home. I'm thinking about design and typography. I'm thinking about my career and the big changes I'll be making in the next year. I'm thinking about how excited I am to get back home but how I never want to leave Nepal. I love this life that has become about walking, eating, breathing and sleeping but I miss making things with my hands - things like food and art.
The clouds started coming down as we approached Phortse and it felt like Fall outside. It felt magical. In just two weeks I've completely adjusted to this being our life - to the point where it's easy to take the whole thing for granted. But the matter of the fact is that our days here are limited, so I'm trying to saturate my senses with what it's like to be here. I don't ever want to forget.
The whole point of this trek was to make it to Everest Base Camp and we did. So it was pretty easy to gloss over the fact that we would be going harder and higher the very next day by hiking to the top of Kala Patthar - where we would get amazing views of the Himalayas around us, including Everest. As a group we decided to leave at 4AM in order to capture views of the sun rising behind Mt. Everest. I woke up at 2:30AM with my heart racing and head pounding - I felt like I was drunk, hungover and experiencing a panic attack all at once. Jeremy was gasping for air in his sleep. This is what sleeping at 17,000 feet feels like. I patiently waited for time to pass and at 3:45 we put our boots on (at this point we were sleeping in our hiking clothes to stay warm) and headed down to the main dining hall where we found Sherpas and trekkers that couldn't get a room sleeping on the floor. We had some hot chocolate and went outside to hit the trail.
With the light of the moon and the stars we started the very vertical hike up. Headlamps were dotting the trail and we looked like ants making our way up the mountain. In below freezing temperatures, we followed each other one-by-one in a single file line. And within 5 minutes I was spent but we had 2.5 hours to go.
It was around 5:30AM that light started to fill the sky and we got our first views of Everest. The view was breath taking. We pushed up the mountain and the cold air was penetrating our down jackets. Snot was coming out of my face at such a rapid rate that my kerchief didn't stand a chance. Our water bottles (filled with boiled water before we left the tea lodge) were freezing and our hands were too cold to get them open even if we wanted to. Our quick ascent made breathing damn near impossible. I was just a hundred feet from the top and would have to stop every 10 steps just to keep from dying. But we made it.
At 18,500 feet this might be the closest we ever get to the top of the world. We celebrated up top with a few snapshots but were way too cold to stay for long. We made our descent and I said goodbye to Everest for now. We found ourselves back at the tea lodge around 8AM for breakfast and tea. We packed our bags and were excited to start our trek back to Lukla - with our first stop in Pheriche.
We made it to Base Camp in ten days and now we have only four to get back down. We've mentally shifted from going up to going down - but we were hardly going down at all. The trail undulates - up a hill, down a valley to the river and back up another hill.
As we approached Pheriche we had a two hour hike through a flat riverbed. Jeremy and I found ourselves alone, just the two of us, for the first time in a what felt like a long time.
Now that we weren't struggling to breathe and were on a flat stretch of trail we were able to really enjoy each others' company. Pheriche looked close but it was still a couple hours away. We walked through a river bed and tried to get baby yaks to let us pet them. When we finally made it to our tea lodge we were spent but giddy to be at lower altitude and making our way back home.
J & K started this blog project to document the remodel of their 1929 historical home in the heart of Oklahoma City. It has now turned into a documentation of life, food, fashion, freelance, inspiration, design, adventures and details around the J & K house.
Kathleen works as an award-winning brand consultant and designer specializing in small business branding at Braid Creative & Consulting. Jeremy is a software engineer and is the left-brain to Kathleen’s right.
You can contact Kathleen at
jeremyandkathleen (at) gmail (dot) com.
All photos and graphics by Kathleen unless otherwise stated. Feel free to use them with permission or credit.
Anatomy of an Outfit
Sometimes I like to get dressed and take pictures of myself. For all of my outfit posts click here.
Freelance Matters: A series about how I tackle freelance issues such as estimating, billing, to-do lists and how to fire a client.
Trekking to Everest
In October 2010 Jeremy and I trekked through the Himalayas to Mt. Everest Base Camp. It completely changed my life. Read about the entire adventure, day-by-day, here.
Braid is a creative & consulting business I own with my sister. We do branding and business visioning for creative entrepreneurs. On the Braid blog I share branding adventures, how-to articles and advice on the creative process. If you need a little brand therapy of your own visit Braid or subscribe to the Braid blog RSS feed here.
What We Eat
We like to eat really good food - at least 3 times a day. Sometimes I blog about it - click here for recipes and yummy ideas.
J & K: Blog Archive
- ► 2012 (182)
- ► 2011 (257)
- Nepal Day 18: Return to Kathmandu
- Nepal Day 17: Return to Lukla
- Nepal Day 16: Back to Namche Bazaar
- Nepal Day 15: Phortse
- Day 14: Kala Patthar Summit
- Wedding Invitations: The Life Aquatic
- Pizza: Deconstructed
- Anatomy of an Outfit: Houndstooth and Layers
- Nepal Day 13: Mt. Everest Base Camp
- Nepal Day 12: Lobuche
- And Kathleen Studio on Brooklyn Bride!
- Nepal Day 11: Day Trek to Chukhung
- Nepal Day 10: Dingboche
- 5 months freelance
- Nepal Day 9: Pangboche / Ama Dablam Base Camp
- Anatomy of an Outfit: My Pajamas
- Nepal Day 8: Deboche
- Huevos Rancheros aka The Best Meal I Ever Ate
- Nepal Day 7: Thame Village
- Anatomy of an Outfit: Jeremy Style
- Pippin + Pearl
- Nepal Day 6: Khumbu Region Day Trek
- Wedding Invitation: Quirky Patchwork Circus
- Nepal Day 5: The Push to Namche Bazaar
- Anatomy of an Outfit: Red Plaid
- Nepal Day 4: Lukla/Phakding
- Nepal Day 3: Kathmandu
- This is Halloween
- Nepal Days 1 and 2: From here to there
- ▼ November (33)
- ► 2009 (406)
- Eva Black | Spaces
- Emma Dime
- Life as an Artistpreneur
- Jane Reaction
- Ink & Letters
- Meg Biram | The Edit
- Sarah Von Bargen's Small Biz Blog
- Design Crush
- The Equals Record
- Emmarie Designs
- Rory Gordon
- Yellow Brick Home
- The Creatives Project
- Silly Grrl
- Photographers Skeen
- The Clothes Make the Girl
- Bringing Design Home
- Pip & Estella
- A Practical Wedding
- Kind of a Sideshow
- Sandra Juto
- Old Sweet Song
- Rambling Renovators
- Brooklyn Bride
- Design Crush
- Experiment in Poverty
- The Jealous Curator
- Making it Lovely
- Dressing on the Side
- The Oklahoman
- Young House Love
- Oh So Beautiful Paper
- A Cup of Jo
- Brooklyn Limestone
- Glamour Weddings