Tag Archives: Himalaya

Hey Boulder, CO

© Christen Babb
© Christen Babb

Join Luke on June 18th in Boulder, CO, for an evening of beverages, beautiful imagery, stories, and discussion around the filming of the Karma Documentary and how the earthquakes in Nepal have affected the lives of those we met, and the telling of their stories as we move forward.

Neptune Mountaineering – 8pm
633 S Broadway St Suite A, Boulder, Colorado 80305
(303) 499-8866
info@neptunemountaineering.com

© Christen Babb
© Christen Babb
© Christen Babb
© Christen Babb

Supporting the cause:

-You can donate through the GoFundMe campaign, as well as share the link and encourage others to donate:

http://www.gofundme.com/karmadocumentary

-You can donate through PayPal here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

-You can send a check to:

Luke Mislinski Photography
14821 SE 181st Street
Renton, WA 98058

© Christen Babb
© Christen Babb

Christen ~ Himalayan Reality

Christen does her laundry outside, Himalayan style. © Luke Mislinski
Christen does her laundry outside, Himalayan style.
© Luke Mislinski

Hindu New Year to Buddha’s birthday. One month in Nepal.

Before we left, many people placed wagers on when the reality would sink in for me on this trip. When that moment of “What on God’s green earth am I doing going so far above God’s green earth?!” would hit me.

Many said the gravity would hit me as the plane came skidding to a halt on the tiny airstrip in Lukla. Others said it would be when I looked up at the mountains I was about to climb. Some said it would not be until I got to the 16,500 feet or when I got to the end of the trek. (Hey, thanks for the faith I would actually get that far.)

Reality never came.

Not starting the trek from Lukla on two days of traveling and an hour and a half of sleep. Not when I am doing laundry with cold creek water and a bar of soap in a bowl. Not when I am standing in a shack as I try to shower with a bucket. Not through the almost three weeks of the hike. Not when we got to the end. Not even when hanging upside down in the rabbit trap.

I have no idea why.

Now, I have flown back through China, waited through another cancelled flight delay, flown to Vancouver, gone through customs, and I am sitting in my seat on the little plane that will be taking me from Vancouver back to Seattle.

The announcements have come on. I am so exhausted that I am barely listening. Then, this little tidbit seeps into my consciousness…

“Our cruising altitude today will be 15,000 feet…”

My body freezes cold as my nerve ends flame hot. Ummm, I just hiked higher than our plane will be flying…

Well played, Reality. Well played.

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Donate to the film. Any and all contributions make a difference.

 

***You can donate through the GoFundMe campaign, as well as share the link and encourage others to donate:

http://www.gofundme.com/karmadocumentary

 

***You can donate through PayPal here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

 

***You can send a check to:

Luke Mislinski Photography

3563 US Highway 26
Dubois, WY
82513

Christen ~ Gratitude in Letters

Bit from the letters ~

“Crouch LOW when you pee outside… getting a little hoo-hoo chill is better than sleeping with pee on your pajamas!”

~

“It is not a portrait, in the classical sense. No airbrushing. No photoshopping. In Nepal, I tried to see people how they were. Just you, as the person you are. This is the thinly veiled smile you gave to the doubters before we left. After four demanding days into the trek, that little curl of the lips turned into a full-fleged mischievous grin. It was clear to me then that, while you hiked for the cause, this smile meant more….”
© Luke Mislinski

~

I often come back to a sign my brother saw in Berlin that said, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?”

This trek has been chockfull of firsts for me. My first pair of hiking boots. My first foray into talking openly on social media about what I am doing in my life. (As a generally private person [understatement], that is still weird for me.) My first time eating yak. My first time in Asia. And, yes, my first time heeding nature’s call in nature.

With unhappy digestive systems abounding, bathroom breaks were freely discussed in detail by necessity. (One man’s illness affects the group’s itinerary choices.)

So, as I returned to the lunch table from my first wilderness meditation, so to speak, Luke asked, “How was it?”

I gave him a look. “Um, awkward…? But, I guess I am getting the hang of it.”

Luke responded, “I meant the consistency…”

“Okay, well, still awkward, but, fine, I guess.”

And, it was. And, it remained fine. Whoever is in charge of these things must have decided that this was hard enough on me without laying on that extra stress of getting travelers’ sickness on top of it. One of many things for which I am grateful.

~

©Christen Babb
©Christen Babb

~

Gratitude…

When I asked for letters that I could read on the mountains, a beautiful thing happened. Letters arrived.

Letters from strangers. Letters from family. Letters from people I get to love in person in my life, and letters from people I no longer get to see but love still. Letters from people I know well, and letters from people I wish I knew better.

The letters were thoughtful and personal and inspiring. They took all forms. Some shared personal struggles. Some shared personal triumphs. Some shared memories we had made together. Some shared hopes for their own future adventures, slices of wisdom, moments of humor, or kind admiration for what we are doing.

I have been sharing bits of the letters with these entries because they mean so much to me. I wish I could post all of them here, but that would violate the trust I feel I was given in receiving them, though I have not been instructed once that this is so. I have left off all of the names because some of the letters shared such intimate vulnerabilities that I preferred to leave them well protected in the mountains where they were first read.

©Christen Babb
©Christen Babb

One told the story of a recent assault on a dark walk home alone. Others were stories of the difficulties of daily life in the attempts to be a good grownup and stories of the hardships of parenthood and all that entails. Stories of the sacrifices made for others and how those sacrifices can sometimes make you feel like you are drowning. Things that cannot be admitted anywhere but a letter sent to mountains far away where the words will not echo back. Stories of finally finding love, stories of still seeking love, and stories of love attempting to be maintained.

There were quotes, poetry, and lyrics to songs. One story-laden song in particular made me smile and sing it out loud when I read it. (“That’s the sound of sunshine, coming down…”) Love you, Mama.

Some fantastic awkward family photos that made me grin. (I am going to go right ahead and credit my sister for this gift, so you know I am not grinning at your awkward family photos.)

©Christen Babb
©Christen Babb

One line from the letters has continued to play in my head. I imagine it will continue to do so for a very long time. It is this, “…and there was you…treating me like I was normal, like I was valuable.”

Like I was valuable…

That sums up, so well, the reasoning that has been behind so many of the choices I have made in my life. I want people to know they are valuable.

I want to say, Thank you, to all of you for your generosity of time put into words. It is such a rare gift to have people in your life that take that kind of time. Thank you for letting me take that gift with me on this journey.

[Mio caro bello vecchio uomo, HKM, CLF, MDB, and JLT, I want you to know that your letters are getting worn at the edges from the rereading. You own real estate in my heart.]

People are asking me if I am glad I went. The easy answer is, Yes.

Someday, when I look back on my life, I want my list of Things I Have Done to be much longer than the Things I Have Not.

The complexity of that Yes is that I know I am just trading in the literal mountains for the much more arduous figurative mountains of working towards doing justice to the stories we have so far, and the more we have yet to experience. That is a much longer climb we will be beginning.

At this moment, at the end of this Himalayan hike, that idea is overwhelming. Instead, I am focusing on how lucky and blessed I am, and I am just going to look forward to this next week we will spend in the little village above Kathmandu called Changunarayan.

https://karmadocumentary.com/invest-in-karma/

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Donate to the film. Any and all contributions make a difference.

 

***You can donate through the GoFundMe campaign, as well as share the link and encourage others to donate:

http://www.gofundme.com/karmadocumentary

 

***You can donate through PayPal here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

 

***You can send a check to:

Luke Mislinski Photography

3563 US Highway 26
Dubois, WY
82513

Christen ~ Rabbit Trap

Bit from the letters ~

“Flamingo legs are an asset, right?”

“Good quote- “Get on your knees and thank God you are still on your feet.” I hope you are still on your feet.”

“Be you. Be safe. Be nothing else.”

~
Pasang 2

The last two days was going down to 11,000 feet and then up over a difficult pass that exceeded 15,000 feet and finally down to 9800 feet into Lukla, where we had begun the trek.

Prayer flag sky

I have learned that the ascents take physical strength, which is harder on me, but they make you pay attention. It makes it less likely you will fall on the inclines.

Descents are different. The descents are mental. You must keep your mind focused on the steps you are taking because you find your mind wandering much more easily on the declines, which makes you more vulnerable to slipping or tripping. For someone who is prone to daydreaming, this can be tough for me, but I will take the mental over the physical any day.

However, the real challenge for someone as clumsy as I am, it turns out, is when you get to the bottom and you stop paying attention altogether.

I made it through the trek without slipping and falling, without injury, and without getting sick, neither traveler’s sickness nor altitude. (Luke was kind enough to do all of those well enough for the both of us.) That alone was cause for celebration, and we did just that. The staff and the trekkers sat down to a celebratory dinner, followed by some impromptu dancing.

Being in Lukla again meant a return to internet access, as well, which let me call people to let them know I was not dead, (a bigger worry for some people than one might have guessed.).

I finished these calls in the pitch black of night (for the almost 13 hour time difference). With little to no electricity, pitch black has a different meaning. Your eyes do not adjust and all you can see is what is lit by the pinhole of light from your headlamp in front of your feet.

After taking this pinhole of light to the outhouse, I made my way back to my room by way of a narrow flight of uneven, and sometimes loose, stone stairs. In my attempt to not stumble on them, I did not notice that the left side of the stairs was lined with twirling barbed wire. (For what purpose, I still do not know.)

Forward and downward motion does not combine well with catching your left leg in barbed wire in the dark. As the rest of me went forward, my left leg pulled up behind me, which effectively hung me upside-down by my left ankle. As I did not know yet that it was barbed wire, my first coherent thought was something roughly akin to, “Did I seriously just get caught in a rabbit trap?!” I started laughing because, well, what else can one do when one is hung upside-down in the middle of the night.

Being rather lanky, it makes my ankle a long ways away, as I tried to do upside down sit-ups in an attempt to free myself from whatever briar patch in which I had found myself. Every time I tried to reach for it, it pulled tighter around my ankle.

Realizing I would not be getting myself out of this, I attempted yelling for help, to no avail. As I sat staring at the sky, hanging off the side of a stone wall, dangling above a flight of stone stairs, I realized that I was stuck here until the sun would come up in a few hours and people would start waking.

I did the only thing that seemed logical. I went to sleep.

I cannot decide if it is fortunate or unfortunate that there is no photographic evidence of this. It is likely much more hilarious in my mind, as I picture the first people who came around the corner that morning and came upon a girl, bundled in a black parka, hanging upside-down, sleeping like a bat.

I hope my rescuers found it as funny as I do, before they woke me up to help me down.

As a friend lovingly said before I left, “I can see why they want you to come on this trip. You are absurd.”

Thank God for getting that tetanus shot before I left.

Bits from the letters ~

“…what might you need, right now, at some unknown yet moment…perhaps 2am Himalayan time, under a starry and frozen sky…”

“Love was real.
‘Love is bigger than whatever you have experienced, so far’
Someone told me that once.
So, you go and look at the sky…”

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Donate to the film. Any and all contributions make a difference.

 

***You can donate through the GoFundMe campaign, as well as share the link and encourage others to donate:

http://www.gofundme.com/karmadocumentary

 

***You can donate through PayPal here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

 

***You can send a check to:

Luke Mislinski Photography

3563 US Highway 26
Dubois, WY
82513

Luke ~ The Heart of the Himalaya

Here is a little time lapse video taken in Khare, the base camp area for Mera Peak. The audio track is from a Sherpa song and dance performance by some of the villagers we met in Sibuje, Nepal.

Enjoy!