See those boots? Those boots took me all the way to the summit of Gokyo Ri at 5360 metres above sea level. That’s seriously high. Not mountaineer serious but it will do me nicely. That’s you’d better take the altitude sickness medication high. That’s one foot in front of the other will get you there high.
See that tiny tiny village below? That’s Gokyo village. When I took this photo our kids were down there free ranging ..with 200 Nepali Rupees each to spend at the bakery. Four glorious hours with no parental supervision … just our brilliant porter Lukpa keeping an eye from a distance to make sure they didn’t get into serious trouble.
When we hiked into Gokyo (you can see the track beside the lake in the photo) I looked up and up at the path that zigzigged it’s way to the summit of Gokyo Ri which stands 500 metres above the village. I was so relieved to be approaching our destination after a long day trekking (and listening to kids complain about the trekking) but I was also dealing with the rising panic at the thought of climbing Gokyo Ri the next morning with Rob and our guide Utra. It just looked so bloody hard! Harder than anything I had tackled so far this trek. The anxiety started to rise as I went through all the possible reasons why I shouldn’t bother with this extra high point in our trek.
I knew though that it was in me to attempt it. I had proven to myself and to others around me that I’m actually pretty good at keeping on. My trekking style isn’t fast or flashy and , yes I am the turtle and not the hare but I get there. And being a parent crazy enough to take a 10 and 12 year old trekking I get there with the two of them running interference in the form of whinging, fighting, stopping right in front of me when I’m concentrating so hard on where I’m putting my feet….
We made our plan and went to bed in our cosy sleeping bags. I slept fitfully, as most do at altitude, with crazy dreams thanks to the anxiety about the morning and also the altitude tablets. I got up in the morning, dressed and ate breakfast and then I climbed Gokyo Ri. One step at a time. It was bloody hard work and we passed others who struggled with the altitude and had to descend. We kept on. We watched a helicopter fly up the valley below us and we fed a tiny bird cashew crumbs at the summit. We took in the incredible expanse of the Everest region ..including Everest herself. We took photos and sat in the beautiful sunshine and then descended 500 metres to see what the kids were up to in the village.
Bloody hell people! That’s Mount Everest in the background! I’m a 46 year old mum from Brisbane and I’m a friggin superstar! Who knew?
If you are thinking of trekking in Nepal ..and you should be, do consider the Gokyo trek as opposed to the more populated Everest Base camp trek. It’s bloody amazing. The BBC have summed it up quite nicely here and if you follow my blog I’m sure I’ll mention it again. xx
I’ve just begun listening to the Slow Your Home podcast series by Brooke McLarey. I think Brooke started this podcast in 2015 and I’m up to episode 7. I’ve got a long way to go and a lot to learn. I was particularly inspired this morning by her chat with Cybele Masterman who writes Blah Blah Magazine. Among other things they talked about purposeful living and the desire to be content ..over the desire to be happy, and finding the moments of joy in each day. I think for me being content means taking the time to appreciate where I am and what I’m doing at any given moment. So much of life since my children were born has been spent in a bit of a blur. I have a tendency to hurtle from one activity to the next. My pride in my ability to multitask can often mean that I don’t give any one thing my full attention.
My goal is to be present. When I’m talking to a family member, when I’m working at a task. That’s going to take some (a lot) of self control but I’m hoping that with practice it will become part of me.
We spent almost a month travelling and trekking in the Gokyo Valley in the Everest region of Nepal in December 2016 and it was a wonderful reminder of what it means to be in the moment. With few distractions the act of trekking was purposeful and meaningful. My purpose for each day was to get to the destination, and enjoy the challenge, the company and the environment around me. It narrowed down my priorities. It was less important to check my hair in a mirror and more important to make sure we had filtered enough water for the day. I kept a journal which I plan to share here at some point. One day towards the end of the trek I wrote a list of things I had learnt. All were insights were gained through experience and reflection during the long walking days where I had the luxury of time to notice.
Things I have learnt
- Hiking poles are invaluable. You need two and you need to have them at the correct height.
- Take the Diamox (altitude medication)
- Squat toilets are actually pretty good and very efficient
- Nepalis work hard. The people of the Khumbu are kind and strong..and they like a laugh
- You don’t need as much toilet paper as you think
- You don’t need to look in the mirror every day. You really don’t.
- Taking the no-shampoo challenge is easy while trekking
- There is no limit to the amount of tea you can drink in a day
- You can climb any hill one step at a time
- Stopping for a slow food lunch is good for the body and the soul
- I am stronger in body and spirit than I first believed.
- My kids are incredibly resilient -there have been a few “Are we scarring them for life?” moments
- You can measure how cold the night was by the thickness and quantity of the ice in the “flush bucket” next to the toilet.
- Squat toilets lined with yak dung smell pretty good
- 10 year old boys get the baby discount when shopping
- Don’t count on being able to clean your face for days on end.
All photo credits to Rob, Miya and Toby Saunders. I was too busy putting one foot in front of the other to take photos. That’s on my list for the next trek!
46 is turning out to be a pretty spectacular age for me. Some new challenges, a fair bit of navel gazing and some new experiences are shaping me into a bit of a different being. I’m liking it so I thought I’d document it. Not a whingy blog ..though god knows there is a place for whinging. Generally my place at about 8.30pm. I’m hoping this will be a place for anecdotes about my boundary pushing, the goals I set for myself and bits and pieces of the special in the everyday.
Today for example. A visitor at our house for the first time got to help herd our neighbours escapee llama back home.
I get to live somewhere pretty special, and it’s often when i see it through the eyes of a visitor that I really appreciate it.