Tag Archives: Himalayas

Misadventures Magazine

19 Oct

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(photo taken in Nepal after we finished trekking through the Himalayas)

Brian and I were featured on Misadventures Magazine on Friday! Hope you enjoy my words and Brian’s photographs about our trek through the Himalayas because we loved collaborating on this project together. If we had it our way we would travel the world writing and taking photographs as a full-time job.

Did you hear that universe?

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“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”

Mary Ritter Beard

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find Brian elsewhere

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trekking in Nepal : starry night

27 Feb

The starry night in Nepal will forever go down in history as Brian’s best night on the trip and my worst. After an eight-hour day of trekking through the mountains, we spotted our home for the night, a little teahouse nestled in the village of Ghorepani. With an altitude of approximately 9,500 feet, it was very cold but had epic views of the mountains. I couldn’t believe that it was were we would be staying for the night. Was this real life??! It was so breathtaking.

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(top photos by my fellow trekker Margaret)
As we approached the teahouse, we giggled with excitement over all the things we planned to do when we arrived, but first we’d try our luck with a hot shower! Hot showers weren’t always available due to the fact that the water was solar heated. If you were lucky enough to snag some hot water, it usually only lasted 2 minutes. So Brian and I decided that we would shower together to up our odds!
We were so that we excited we started racing to the teahouse!

When we finally reached it, we learned that there was no hot water and that the power was out. My first question was, “well, when do you think it will come back on?”. To which the answer was, “it’s been out for a few months”. Oh Nepal, you are a special little place.

We decided to skip the cold shower and drink beer in the last rays of sunlight instead. For a girl who’s not much of a beer drinker, I certainly became one on this trip. Really, there was nothing better than a cold Tuborg at the end of a long day. Granted, my options were limited, it wasn’t like they were offering buttery chardonnay up there.

We sipped our cold beers and huddled up by the miniature fire to keep warm. Soon the sky began to darken, the view of the snowy mountains faded and the chill of the mountains set in. Everyone put on their headlamps and another layer of clothing.

We all sat around a big table lit by candlelight and ate our dinner. Surprisingly it ended up being one of my favorite dinners with the group. It was all rather romantic in a funny way. I mean, I was with my new fiancée in the snowy mountains of a foreign land eating by candlelight with people I really enjoyed. As cold and dirty as I was, I was in bliss. I felt like I was really living my life.

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Another name for this trip could have been “the time Kate ate carbs with abandon“. Every single night I cleaned my plate of rice or noodles- sometimes both and sometimes I even started with a plate of momos. If there had been dessert, I would have happily eaten that too. I was insatiable.

With full bellies, Brian and I decided to call it a night. So what it was 8pm! So what the locals were setting up the music in the main room to celebrate the Festival Of Lights! We were exhausted.

We strapped on our headlamps and proceeded to get ready for bed. Let me tell you, brushing your teeth with only a headlamp is harder than you’d think. I pretty much just spit toothpaste on my hand and shirt a few times and proceeded to climb into my sleeping bag. I was so tired I didn’t even care. I hadn’t showered in four days, my hair was a mess, I hadn’t washed my face in two days, my feet were sore to the bone and I am pretty sure I smelled oh, AND I didn’t care. The only thing I cared about in that moment was sleep.

It was then that Brian had a moment of inspiration- night photography! He had to go out into the dark and photograph the stars! I am not one to stand  in the way of inspiration, so I wished him well and he packed up his equipment, kissed me on the head, said he’d be back in 10 minutes and closed the door to our little box of a room.

I laid there in the dark thinking about my day and how lucky I was to be in such a powerful place, how humbled I was by the mountains and the people of Nepal, how nice it felt to be away from everything and it was then that I realized it had been a good 20 minutes and Brian still wasn’t back yet. I also realized I had to pee – a terribly annoying realization considering this meant I would have to get out of my warm sleeping bag, put on my headlamp and pee in a squat toilet in the dark. UGH.

I unzipped my sleeping bag- FREEZING! Strapped on my headlamp- RIDICULOUS, went to the door and pulled. It didn’t budge. Ummm, what? I pulled again. NOTHING. It took me a moment to realize what had happened. Brian had locked the door from the outside. Keep in mind we weren’t working with door handles and keys here. We were in Nepal where you either locked the door by sliding the bolt from the inside or outside. Brian had done so from the outside. FUCK.

I was locked in a dark 10 x 10 room with only a headlamp for light, no form of communication and oh, did I mention I am TERRIBLY claustrophobic. This was probably the worst case scenario for me. Panic washed over me. I sat back down on the bed and tried to figure out what my next move would be. My palms began to sweat. My heart rate began to quicken. I looked around the room for a way out. Instead all I got was the image of the light on  headlamp darting around the room. It was like something out of a bad horror film. I tried banging on the door but nobody could hear me over the loud music. I tried to reassure myself that Brian would be back soon and this would all be over quickly but with every minute that passed I began to go over the deep edge a bit more…and hate Brian a bit more.

I tried to escape out the window but quickly realized that the only thing on the other side of it was a dirt wall. Thirty minutes passed. Forty minutes passed. Fifty minutes passed. With tears streaming down my face I rocked myself  back and forth on the bed and tried my hardest to forget the fact I was locked  in a dark room with no form of communication. Think happy thoughts. Think happy thoughts. Think happy thoughts.

An HOUR later, Brian walked in and discovered me standing in a corner with my headlamp on, crying. I proceeded to take my headlamp off, throw it in his direction and scream, “I hate you!” hahhahaha. Seriously over the top, right? But it was a really traumatic experience! Terrifying actually. Luckily, we laugh about it now but in that moment Brian had no idea why the hell I was flipping out. Imagine his surprise since he expected me to be sleeping. HA.

Brian’s side of the story- he had gotten caught up in the moment with the gorgeous stars and then watched the villagers perform their “festival of lights” dance for a bit. What a dear, huh?

Really, the only good thing to come out of such a horrid experience are these EPIC photos below by BHG!

the villagers dancing!

the villagers dancing!

20130224_7A9A232620130224_A9A232920130224_A9A2367Aren’t these amazing?? The last one takes my breath away every time I look at it. Magic!

The next morning, as the group ate breakfast, everyone chatted about the sky filled with stars the night before and the fabulous dancing that took place at the festival. When someone asked me if I had enjoyed it, I glanced at Brian, smiled and said, “I missed it”.

More on our adventures in Nepal soon!

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find me elsewhere:  instagram @kate365, twitterfacebook

trekking in Nepal : the water buffalo showdown

21 Feb

Well, I can officially scratch “getting charged by a water buffalo” off my list of things to do in this life. It was certainly less fulfilling than one would think. Let me set the scene for you: Shree (our guide), Ann, Brian and I were walking along the winding dirt path. It was another eight-hour trekking day (oy), so we were taking it slow to conserve energy. We followed Shree and his colorful flower walking stick while listening to him sing a song that went something like this…“sometimes trekking, sometimes dating, sometimes a donkey, sometimes a monkey”. I couldn’t really tell you what this meant, so take what you will from it.

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Considering Shree was much more adept at maneuvering the narrow uneven rock strewn paths than the three of us, he quickly picked up speed and his singing began to fade. This was normal though. Everyone walked at their own pace and eventually we all ended up in the same place. We walked along talking about our families and life back in the states. Ann was quickly becoming my favorite.

A few minutes later, we spotted the sweetest looking family of water buffalos walking in a row behind us. At this point into our Nepali adventure, we had seen our fair share of water buffalo. They were a common occurrence on the busy streets of Kathmandu,  mostly they could be found basking in the hot sun on the corners of the streets. But up until this point, I had never seen a whole family of them. How cute! Ever the photographer, Brian had to stop and take photos of them.

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(the above picture was taken by Ann)

We let Ann go ahead of us while Brian snapped away. The water buffalo inched closer and closer and I began to think…well, now what? What the fuck are we supposed to do when they reach us? The path was so narrow and they were so big. I didn’t like the equation one bit.

So, I asked Brian, “well, now what?”

Brian calmly said, “honey, go ahead to the opening on the path and pull off to the side”

For some reason I heard, “Run as fast as you can to an opening and hide.”

So that’s exactly what I did. I was almost laughing as I took off down the path. I mean I wasn’t really that scared of them. In all my other encounters with them they seemed so docile.

There I was running away from a family of water buffalo in the mountains of Nepal! Was this real life?! Such an adventure!

I turned around to share my laughter with Brian but quickly stopped when I saw the head water buffalo, who also happened to be the largest, running, or rather, charging down the narrow path towards us. Poor Bri guy didn’t know what was coming either, as he slowly packed up his camera bag.

So I screamed, “Brian, RUN!!!”

Brian turned around, quickly took the scene in and began running too. Now we were both running from the huge water buffalo and I thought…now what?

So, I screamed, “Now WHAT?!!?”

Brian screamed, “Jump in the bushes!!!”

So that’s just what I did. I jumped my ass into the prickly bushes and crouched down. Brian jumped in shortly after me, hitting me in the head with his massive metal tripod in the process, accidentally, of course. But man, did it only make matters worse. Not only was I terrified but I was also seeing spots.

The water Buffalo approached, locking eyes with Brian and me and I whispered, “I’m scared” and Brian whispered in my ear, “Shhh, act small.” So we both crouched down even smaller and turned our heads away from him.

“I mean you no harm buffalo. I mean you no harm buffalo. I mean you no harm buffalo”, I whispered to myself.

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The buffalo walked past us slowly, turning his head every few seconds to make sure we hadn’t moved. He had put us in check. We didn’t move an inch until the whole family safely passed and then we let out a huge sigh of relief.

Brian’s first words were, “Why the hell would you run from them?!?!? Don’t you know that that makes them think you’re being aggresive??!!”

I don’t know, Brian. It just seemed like the best idea at the time”, I said softly

And then we both burst out laughing. We laughed so hard we began to cry.

Only in Nepal.

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find me elsewhere:  instagram @kate365, twitterfacebook

favorite things about trekking in Nepal : the group

19 Feb

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After spending five days exploring Patan, Kathmandu and Bhaktapur, it was finally time for Brian and I to meet up with our Earthbound Expeditions tour group and begin the trekking leg of our adventure. Prior to the trip, we had reservations about doing a tour. We’re not really group activity type people. Actually, my dislike for group activities goes way back; it’s the very reason I never went to summer camp as a kid. I knew from an early age that it just wasn’t for me.

But we wanted to do a trek in Nepal and neither of us were willing to do it without a guide- we’re not that idiotic or stubborn!

Orientation was set for 6pm at the Thamel Eco Resort, which would be our home for the night before boarding buses the following morning en route for Pokhara. Brian and I spent our drive there asking each other questions like…What if everyone is in better shape than us? What if we hate them all? What if it’s a group of serious athletes and we can’t keep up? What if? What if? 

What did we get ourselves into?

When I walked into the orientation, I was shocked by what I saw- it was a group of totally regular  people! No hardcore athletes! Holy shit, there was even a couple that looked as if they were in their late 70’s!! If they could trek through the Himalayas, then I could too, dammit. At this point, I still wasn’t sure if I would like any of them but I was quite sure I wouldn’t embarrass myself on the mountain and that was a good start.

The group included Rick and Carolyn, an adorable retired couple from upstate New York. Ann, a gorgeous and  affable (and very tall) young woman from Michigan. She quit her job to go on a three-month trip around the world- I mean, seriously? How cool is she? Paul and Mari, a newly retired and constantly bickering couple from Australia. Sandra and Taiko, an estranged half-brother and sister team from Denmark on an adventure together. Margaret and Kim, a smart, attractive and witty mother and daughter duo from New York City. Maggie, an amiable but quiet young woman from Malaysia, who was traveling by herself. Donna, a middle-aged career woman from Chicago out to find adventure in Asia and Ben, a peculiar little man from Singapore, who made me laugh out loud at least once a day and who ended up buying a donkey to ride for most of the trek instead of walking. Oh and Brian and I, the newly engaged couple (yes that became our “thing”) from Los Angeles.

Oddest group ever. 

As we walked out of orientation, I said to Brian, “Well, hopefully we can steal away a lot on and do our own thing.” Aren’t I positive? But then a funny thing happened, they all became my friends and each and every one of them added something to the experience. Well, maybe not Paul. He took to racing most of us to the finish line each day, which drove me insane. But, the others now hold a soft spot in my heart. There is something very powerful about experiencing such a beautiful, almost spiritual trip together. The beauty on those mountains is unparalleled to anything I have ever experienced. Don’t get me wrong, there were some incredibly difficult times sprinkled in there too. Those moments brought us even closer. We encouraged each other when someone was feeling exhausted by the hill. We shared equipment. We shared toilet paper. We shared laughter each time someone in the group had to brave a new squat toilet. We shared personal stories from our lives back home as we walked along the winding trails. We broke bread together every single night. Even when there was no electricity, we sat together in the dark with only a few candles and headlamps.

Not only did I fall for the group of people I trekked with, but I fell hard for our guide, Shree and all of our porters. Each one of them had such a wonderful joyful energy about them. They all seemed grateful just to be alive. You know when you meet somebody who’s grateful just to be alive? It’s such a powerful energy to be around. It seemed to be a Nepalese character in general. They were the hardest working group of men I have ever met- I don’t say that lightly either. They easily carried between 80-100 pounds of baggage for eight hours a day- with a smile on their face no less! At least ten times a day I would say, “how can that be humanly possible to hold that much weight on their backs???!!” It was seriously mind-blowing.

Each of us had our own personal reason for deciding to sign up for such an adventure. But the common bond of tackling it as a team made for lasting relationships. We tackled that mountain as one.

More on the trek up next…!

(ALL photos by BHG )

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this fancy bus got us to Pokhara!

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Brian and Taiko enjoying a beverage at the end of a long day

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Ann and Margaret

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taking in the view at lunch

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our guide Shree and his colorful walking stick!

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my favorite porter on the trip

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Carolyn, Rick, Kim and Margaret

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Ann, Le Shrimp (me) and Margaret

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Shree and Brian at the top of Poonhill

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can you believe how much weight they are holding?? Amazing right?

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the newly engaged couple

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Ben and his donkey

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all of our incredible porters

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“Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.”
Mattie Stepanek