Friday, November 26, 2021

The Final Stretch...

                                                 The Final Stretch!! 

I now have solid internet back at the home front... so I want to complete this amazing journey to Mt. Everest... This will be a fairly long (With lots of pictures) But what's a great story without a solid ending. So here it goes...

Nov 12th...

I left off this amazing story with arriving Lobuche It was a tough long hike but we arrived around 4:45pm settled in at 16,300ft for the night. 

The temps are in the 30’s with snow covered areas. This has been a wild and crazy journey....everyday seems more dramatic and beautiful. Won’t lie it’s also gets tougher as we continue to hike higher and higher. The sky seems to be a deeper “bluer”. Maybe less pollution at these altitudes. Another cool fact is that as I was hiking I reached a view point that I was higher than Mt. Whitney - The tallest peak in the lower 48 states back home. 

Our tea house is freezing cold with no hot water. Wearing the same clothes for the last few days was bonus Haha.. 

During the day the views were only getting more breathtaking taking at every pass we came to. We also passed thru the memorial site where hikers have perished on the mountains including Mt Everest. Some memorials I was able to see was Rob Hall and Scott Fischer that died on Everest in 1996. It was a moving and surreal area to walk around and see the memorial sites. 

Nov 13th...

Alarm goes off at 5am.. I can see my breath but knowing today is just going to be epic. We are off to Gora Shep. Not only was this a huge day cause we are one cay from reaching Mt Everest base camp but I will be hiking to a location I have been so stoked for. I will be hiking to Kala Patthar for sunset. This will be the Grand of all views to see Everest which also includes the Khumbu glacier and the surrounding mountains from this summit. 

We hit the trail at 8:17am! The morning views got more surreal but the landscape and weather dropped dramatically as we got higher in elevation.

 We finally arrived to Gora Shep at 11:17 am. It was now time for a quick lunch and get ready for my hike to summit Kala Patthar for sunset. 

At 1:32pm I was off for the hike! The hike started off really good for me.. I found a good solid pace (Slow and steady) without to many breathing issues. 

Once I hit 18,000 ft things slowed down even more. Breathing was more of a challenge but still moving forward.

 I climbed up to the top and reached it at 3:59 pm. Filled with emotions I was at 18,629 ft. The views were simply breathtaking from 360degs around me. For the next hour a half I spent up there I watched a magic show unfold in front of me. No words nor pictures could describe it. I took so many images which many of them were epic beyond words. After sunset I started my decent back to Gora Shep for the night. 

                                                         Reached the summit of Kala Patthar

The highest elevation I have ever been in my life. 

The view is just grand here. It was just beautiful. 

Getting in my groove and just capturing the moment

Just little proud moment at Kala Patthar

The magic unfolds as Mt. Everest catches the last light from the sun. 

While hiking back down to Gora Shep this view stopped us in our tracks. Had to just take it all in. 

Nov. 14th...


Sunday morning… awake at 5:33am. Head down for our breakfast. There is no heat in the "dining" tea hut area. Lots of layers and more ginger tea to the rescue! 

Not your average Holiday Inn. Plywood frame with a 3" foam pad makes it home for the night. 

We leave at 8:13am to start our hike to Everest base camp. Everyone’s spirits are high and today is the Huge day for everyone. All the training and work and this is the day! As everyone knows THIS IS THE DAY we all worked hard for. Our guides with Five14 did a amazing job to make sure that everyone arrived safe and sound. Even if it took a horse to get one of our trekkers there safely. 

At 10:39am I reached Everest Base camp after 40+ miles and thousands of feet of elevation gain.

Oh my what a feeling and tons of hugs and tears as we all celebrated for a hour. We all took pictures shared stories and left personal items there at base camp. I had with me 30 prayer flags from family and friends and local businesses. All these flags are now flying at Everest Base Camp. ❤️ What a incredible feeling of not only accomplishment but overwhelmed with joy for the reasons why we are here and the cause of raising awareness of trafficked girls and women. 

Our hike back to Gora Shep after we left base camp was just as rewarding as getting there. So many thoughts running thru my mind of everything I had done so far. 

Crazy plot twist after I got back to Gora Shep....So I had a surprise which I wasn’t expecting at all. We had a few people in our group that wasn’t doing real good. Low oxygen levels…. Etc. They needed to be flown out back to Lukla via helicopter to rest up and get better. Well there was a few extra seats and I was offered one of them. So this gave me the opportunity to shoot some images of the Himalaya mountains from the air! I had to take advantage of this. Another amazing experience to unfold. 

Nov 15th...

I took this opportunity to explore more in Lukla and get more personal with the culture and the people of Nepal. This country is amazing already. The landscapes are on another level. The culture is rich with history but its the people of Nepal that makes this place so beautiful. They are very humble, kind and loving people. Everywhere I went the people amazed me. Huge hearts! 

I was blessed to be able to sit and witness a monk prayer / funeral service.  You can see the video and images below. 

I also shared more bracelets that my daughters made to a few new “little friends”.  These little kids were just adorable. They also took many pictures (464 to be exact) on my camera. Hahah

Nov 16th....

Time to Celebrate! Our entire group is back together in Lukla! Our trek is done and the whole gang was ready for a night to celebrate and acknowledge the accomplishment of everyone involved in making this advocacy trek successful. Not only did we celebrate our accomplishment but even had a few birthdays to celebrate also. We also gave huge Thanks to our Porters that played a huge role on our gear making it to every destination along the way. We seriously couldn't have done it without them.

Our Porters... These guys were just simply incredible!

Our Team and celebration evening!

We also received certificates with the accomplishments we all did as a team. 

Then the music came on and we spent a good part of the night dancing, kicking back, and just enjoying time together with the trekking team, our guides, and porters. What a fun, well-deserved night of celebration! Here's a video of the party getting started...


Early morning to start our departure back to Kathmandu from Lukla. Our flight back to Kathmandu was a quiet very easy flight as everyone was very relaxed and ready for the next part of our adventure.


                        The security door to the cockpit of our Lukla flight back to Kathmandu. 

The departure room waiting to fly out of Lukla

Lukla airport... What a rush coming into this airport. 

My ticket back home to Kathmandu from Lukla. 

Some simple stats about Lukla. Pretty amazing overall. 

Small village from above on our flight back to Kathmandu. 

We arrived back to Kathmandu where it all started from at our home base at Five14 headquarters. 

We all had breakfast and got ready to tour the city and visit a "Drop in house" safe houses for trafficking. No pictures were allowed at the Drop in home in the Red light district. The stories were gut wrenching and moving to say the least. It was a gentle reminder to everyone why we were there in the first place. Over 60,000 women and girls are currently being exploited in Kathmandu alone. This is a issue that happens internally in Nepal as well as internationally across its borders. UNICEF estimates there are 15,000 women and girls are trafficked out of Nepal annually with 1.5 million at risk. The numbers are shocking and difficult to fathom. 

For the next few days we learn more about the safe houses and how we can continue to help fight trafficking straight on. I also had the oppourtnity to visit and learn more about the culture and visit some UNESCO World Heritage sites in Kathmandu. I visited Pashupatinah Temple, Swayambhunath Temple, Boudha Stupa, Dubar Square and more. 

Durbar Square - Viewed from our lunch spot. 

When I was in Dubar Square I was able to visit and see the courtyard palace of the where the "Living Goddess" lives - (Kumari). Pictures of the Kumari are not allowed but she didn't appear in her window while we were there.

The history behind this is just fascinating. Click here to read more about this part of history here in Nepal.  

A few images from the courtyard where the "Living Goddess" lives 

Our first stop was the Swayambhunath Temple

First up was the Swayambhunath Temple, also known as the Monkey Temple. This is one of the oldest religious sites in Nepal and is respected by both Buddhists and Hindu.

Swayambhunath Stupa is one of the most ancient and holy shrines in the Kathmandu valley and has been an important Buddhist pilgrimage destination since 5th century. It's also a place of pilgrimage and prayer for followers of both Buddhism and Hinduism. Because of this, it's one of the best places in the world to observe religious harmony. Swayambhunath became a UNESCO world heritage site in 1979.

There are holy monkeys living in the north-west parts of the temple. They are holy because Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom and learning, was raising the hill which the stupa stands on. He was supposed to leave his hair short but he made it grow long and head lice grew. It is said that the head lice transformed into these monkeys.

With that, here are a few photos from the site. Very different from anything I've seen and being on the site it was very clear the respect and importance of the site.

Our next stop was the Boudhanath Stupah which is another UNESCO Heritage Site. 
"Buddhist religious site, or a stupa, located in Kathmandu, Nepal. It's actually the largest and most sacred Tibetan Buddhist site outside of Tibet itself. The stupa is easily identifiable by the massive, semicircular white dome and the towering spire, with unblinking eyes painted on each side that stare into the four directions. The overall shape represents a Buddhist mandala (a cosmological map) and the path towards enlightenment, as well as the mythical center of the cosmos, Mount Meru. According to Buddhist tradition, this site is said to hold the remains of the Kassapa Buddha, the 27th of the named Buddhas."

Our last stop was to the World Heritage site of the Pashupatinath Temple along the Holy River Bagmati. This Temple which is a sacred Hindu temple that dates back to 400BC. Only Hindu are allowed to go in the temple so I was only able to get a pic of the outside entrance. This location is where cremations occurred and they happen every day and around the clock. There was one that we saw set up and as we walked by later it was burning. This is very normal part of the culture here but I had a hard time wrapping my head around something that isn't typically normal here back home. The sites and smells of this area will always stick in my memory for sure. 

Nov 21st.....

Fast forwarding to my departure day. One thing I wanted to experience after seeing the chaos of traffic was to ride on a scooter around this mess. Boy what a adventure this was! See the video below. 

So much fun riding around here. Scary also at times. 

Hanok and I riding thru the streets of Kathmandu. So much fun 

Uber transportation... LOL

Typical streets thru Kathmandu

Normal views among the streets of Kathmandu

Picked up a few things from this local store. The owner was nice to capture a image also. 

The entire trip was flashing in front of my eyes and thru my mind. So I didn't want to lose a single moment of it. Back to writing on my phone not to loose any of the memories or details that I just went thru the past 3 weeks or so. These notes are just as I was thinking of them.. no particular order at all. 

Boarding our flight from Kathmandu heading back home..... 

We had a team that all bonded together thru thick and thin from start to finish...

Our amazing team....Amanda, Katie, Courtney, Kat, Ignacio, Joe, Kyle, Alyssa, Alex, Travis, Ruth, Laura, Aaron, and David along with our guides: Xiwan, Hanok, Asmita, Sanish and our porters...we all became family. We all helped each other, cheered each other on raised each others spirts. We laughed together, cried together, prayed together and lifted each other up on so many levels. I used this term a few times but I was calling it "Band of Brothers and Sisters" It was all so true. 

Food... awe.. The Dahl, Sherpa Stew, Ginger tea, Chai tea, Momos, Rice... more Rice... and guess what more Rice. Hahah It was the food that gave us the fuel to keep it going along with over 30lbs of "USA" snacks that was shared with everyone. They came to the rescue when in need. Or just some simple Hot Tamales would work also. 

Every morning we would hear Ignacio giving a long, loud, drawn out NAMASTE as he enters the room. Making everyone smile and another great day ready to start. 

Found the real Poop Emoji

We had to scale down our gear and luggage to two people per duffel bag... yikes this was fun. 

Evening warm fires fueled by yak crap. Cold nights sleeping with hats, gloves and handwarmers in place. The cold showers or lack of showers all together. Well lets just say it was hard to get out of warm clothes. 

We all had exhaustion, tough time sleeping at altitude, the oxygen level checks throughout the day. 

Many bracelets given away.. Smiles from everyone that got one. My daughters Chloe and Brianna did a awesome job making these. 

The yak attack video, suspension bridges, the surprise first glimpse of Everest! the dogs that laid in the sun everywhere or followed is around most of the day on the trail.

Squatty potties or just a emergency in the woods if necessary and carrying toilet paper everywhere. Not being able to flush the toilet paper was a bit of a change. 

Passing religious monuments always on the left

The night sky, sunset above the clouds in Dingboche. 

Cinnamon porridge, pizza fails and the occasional success.

My buddy Travis's Lego family getting images everywhere...  the flight to Lukla and cheers when we landed.

Kala...what a night that was.

Base camp...the victory, the rock, the shoulder of Everest, the prayer flags, the photos, the ice fall...and the hike back to Gorak Shep. Avalanches happening in front of us 

Purchasing single expired cough drops , morning huddles to talk thru the day.

Scooter ride thru the streets of Kathmandu! 

Water, own pace, WOW attitude. Every morning we all had our "wow" face on. 

Coffee shops, Wi-Fi sometimes good...sometimes poor. Dingboche bakeries and sneaking coffee with rum in it. Yummy! 

Re-wearing socks...again and again. Dang my boots stunk even after hanging them outside from the window overnight... Nothing helped with this. Haha

The celebration, certificates, the dancing...

It was love in every sense of the word...for each other, for the beauty, for our cause, for the accomplishment, for Nepal and its people. It's now all a part of me and will live forever in my heart and soul.

Life changing, no doubt.

So blessed to be part of this amazing adventure... As my life continues to unfold in mysterious ways It's unknown where my next adventure will lead me but when it does I will never forget who I am and where I came from. 

Until then Let's all help "Live a better story!" 



The Final Stretch...

                                                  The Final Stretch!!  I now have solid internet back at the home front... so I want to comp...