Tag Archives: Himalayas

Christen ~ 16,500 feet

Bits from letters ~

“It took me a while to digest this news. My first thoughts were are you out of your mind.”

“this is not about you dying, because you are not going to and that is really going to [censored] up the rest of my letter if you think you are”

“Hiking the Himalayas…Are you nuts? :)”

“You make incredibly bad choices, but have incredibly good stories!
I know you will survive! It’s what you do!
GO – Bring joy to the world!”

~

If my grandma had been around for me to tell her about this trip, she would have casually said, “Give ’em hell, babe.” That thought made me smile at Khare Lodge at about 16,500 feet.

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 8.56.35 PM

[Side note: 16,500 feet is higher than anything in the continental U.S. and the trek up here is more difficult than that to Everest base camp. Yeah…these were not things I knew before coming up here. Also, had I read the suggested training information packets, I would, apparently, have been informed that trekkers should be in “marathon plus” shape, as in, you should be able to run a marathon and still have something left in the reserve tank. Since running a block about does me in, we can add that to the list of advice not taken…]

It is the morning after we arrived here. I am walking around to take it in and feeling good. Surprisingly good. Better than I deserve to feel good. And, as you can imagine, I am feeling a little bit tough at this point. Okay, maybe a little more than a little.

Then, I look over and see one of the Russians, shirtless, standing in the snow, casually using handfuls of it to scrub himself down.

Ahh, yes, I am still soft…

Reality Check, I tip my hat to you.

What can you do, but laugh?

Oh, and recruit the Russians and a Ukrainian to help build a human-sized snow demon with the new snow we got last night. Building snowmen is a great equalizer, because it wears everyone out. However, I wore gloves and a hat for some of it, and they did not. I am okay with being a little soft.

Photo credit: Yuriy Taranovych
Photo credit: Yuriy Taranovych

Bits from the letters ~

“It is your compassion that brought you on this journey, and it is your determination that will see you through to the end.

“Hold your chin high, we are all so proud of you, base camp or not.”

“Of course it’s hard. It’s supposed to be hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great. – A League of Their Own”

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Luke Mislinski Photography

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Dubois, WY
82513

Christen ~ Onward and upward…and downward and upward again

The Everest avalanche did not belong to me. It belongs to the people in front of me. But, then, part of why I am here is because what happens to any of us is happening to all of us so, it is not mine, but it is ours…if that makes any sense.

No matter. We still have mountains to climb, and death happens, more often in some places than others, and we cannot help from here, unless the story we are trying to tell here, somehow, in some way, helps someone in the future. So, we focus on that and the next steps in front of us and we keep working our way up.

But, it is not just up. It is up and down and up again. Then, repeat. Sometimes, the ups and downs end with you higher than you started. Sometimes, they end with you lower. Sometimes, you feel like you did not get anywhere at all.

Nepali Flats - descending to go higher

Nepali Flats - inclines

As it is with trying to get through anything, I suppose. Whether it is grieving a loss, or trying to create something that did not exist before, or raising people, or hiking the Himalayas, or just trying to get through the day-to-day, in whatever way that looks right now.

Sometimes, you spend a day hiking here, where you go up and down thousands of feet, but you do not gain any elevation. They call these the Nepali flats.

In anything we are trying to do, it takes a lot of Nepali flats days to get to where we are going.

Nepali Flats - View 1

Bits from letters ~

“recently i ran the nyc half marathon with friends all in the name of cancer. i didn’t do all that much to prep and train. not nearly as much as most running sites encouraged me to do. i drank a lot and still had the occasional cigarette (bad). but i did it–i ran 13.1 miles, which is probably 10 miles more than i’ve ever run in my entire life. it’s a different story, but similar in many regards. the feeling i had upon completion was totally overwhelming and fantastic. i did something i didn’t think i could do. and i did it all for a really good cause. and more importantly, now i know what i can do when pushed to the limits. it’s made me want more challenges and adventures.”

“Thought of you during my spin class…When I thought I couldn’t go any longer I told myself, ‘Christen is hiking the Himalayas, I can do THIS.'”

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Luke Mislinski Photography

3563 US Highway 26
Dubois, WY
82513

Christen ~ Here we go, yo.

There are a lot of things about this trip about which I am not excited. I am focusing on that about which I am.

I am excited to be overwhelmed by the beauty of the views.

I am excited to have the people we meet, and the way they live, put my life into a new perspective.

I am excited to not be dealing with the tedium of the details of the trip anymore and to be just getting to it. Anything we do not have or did not do is just what it is.

Mostly, I am really excited for Luke to be pointing the camera at someone other than me.

They just started boarding our flight out of Seattle. Wish us luck!

Love you.

https://karmadocumentary.com/2014/03/26/christen-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:

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Luke Mislinski Photography

3563 US Highway 26
Dubois, WY
82513

IMG_3929

Christen ~ We do not know what we do not know

Hey Mom and Dad, maybe skip this one. (I am going to bury the lead a bit to even give you more time to do just that.)

So, it has been established that I do not really have any idea what I am doing in all this. I knew it would be unlikely I could make this trek in my converse. I guessed I would need hiking boots, a backpack, maybe a new winter coat (since I have not lived in winter for a while), and probably some gloves and a hat. Apparently, there is a lot more that goes into a packing list than these.

For starters, you cannot just throw on a pair of comfy jeans for hiking in the Himalayas. (Okay, makes sense. Add hiking pants.)

In fact, you cannot wear anything that is made with cotton. (Okay. Add multiple layers of synthetic shirts for varying temperatures.)

ANYTHING made of cotton. (Okay, going against the well known mantra of women needing to wear 100% cotton underwear, add a couple pairs of wool men’s boxer briefs. Whoa, those are not cheap.)

And, then you need socks made for hiking. When I was trying on hiking boots, Trent, our helpful man at Second Ascent in Ballard, handed me a pair of socks and told me to make sure I put them on the correct feet. I thought he was messing with me. They are socks. Nope. There was a little R and L for right and left feet. (Add a couple pairs of expensive socks, so that you have socks to wear while you wash the others.)

You need different levels of coats for varying temperatures, long underwear for under those hiking pants, a pair of waterproof hiking pants to go over your hiking pants, a pair of gators for hiking in the snow to keep the snow out of said hiking pants, a headlamp for hiking in the dark, a pair of polarized sunglasses that can protect you from glacier blindness, face masks, goggles, lighter gloves, arctic gloves, and it all just keeps going…

All of this is fine and, of course, good (though expensive, which is inconvenient). It is good to be prepared.

Now, during all this this supply prepping, I have, also, been acquiring information prepping, as well. Not by my own choice. If I am going to do something, I do not really see how researching is helpful in cases where it is not going to change anything. In those cases, I am best when I focus on what I need to do now.

(On our hike the other day, I had to keep telling Luke to stop telling me the distance we had left to the top. It does not help me. I cannot climb the whole mountain at once. I can only climb what is front of me. If I continue to climb what is in front of me, I will get there, albeit slowly.)

(Mom and Dad, if you have not already, this is where you want to bow out of this. Truly.) With this in mind, I had not looked at the itinerary. It seems of little use to me. I cannot change it. It is what it is and I will deal with it as it comes. It, also, means that I had not looked into the various stops and had not been privy to this next little tidbit of information.

We land in Nepal in Kathmandu. After a couple days, we fly to Lukla, where we will begin the hiking bit. Tenzing-Hillary Airport, also known as Lukla Airport, happens to be (by many counts) the most treacherous airport in the world…

The most treacherous airport in the world…

When I was told this yesterday, I just started laughing…of course, it is. Why wouldn’t it be?

Oh, on a similar note, another thing I did not realize I would need. Evacuation Insurance. Again, makes sense, but…

There is a never ending list of things to get and to do (including, but not limited to, moving out of my place) and it does not feel like I am even making a dent in it, as much work as I am doing towards that every day. And, somewhere in all of this, I need to try to find time to go on some hikes at some point, which are just hours I do not have at the moment.

People plan for a year for these kinds of things. I have had a few weeks.

Oh, well. I know it will all work out. Things always do. However, if someone could, somehow, buy me just a couple more days, well…no matter. I am just going to take a couple deep breaths, and then get back to it, because I can only do what I can do.

https://karmadocumentary.com/2014/03/26/christen-invest-in-karma/

She Walks on Water 6

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82513

Christen ~ Bullfighter

IMG_4124

 

When you are not an outdoorsy person [understatement], and you tell people who know you that you are going to spend three weeks hiking a mountain in an undeveloped country, the reactions vary.

Oh, wait, it is not just hiking a mountain, I am told. Even though I am not going to the very peak (no one thinks that is a good idea), I am going up to base camp, which is 16,486 ft of Mera Peak.

Let’s put this in perspective. The south and north base camps for Mount Everest are 16,900 and 17,958 ft, and people have to qualify to climb that. Since I just bought the first pair of hiking boots I have ever owned, for this trip, it probably stands to reason that I do not qualify for anything at this point.

Having mostly guy friends, they give me their reactions pretty straight, so I have had quite a few that have simply said, “Dude, you are probably going to die.” One even went so far as to sit me down for a serious conversation and say, “This is the dumbest decision you have ever made”, to which I responded, “Well, that cannot possibly be true.”

[I did try to walk off a broken foot through London with Nerdstick for a couple weeks by just tying my chuck taylors tight.]

These are the reactions that make me laugh, and they are quite helpful. I am prone to acting as a devil’s advocate on any topic, so to have others taking that side relieves me of the need.

Most responses have been supportive and of the “Once in a lifetime opportunity” variety. These are quite helpful, as well.

All three of my siblings are behind me on this trip. If you ever saw the four of us try to pick out candy together when we were kids when we could only get one thing, you would realize how astonishing this is that we all agree on something. I appreciate their support, because they do not often unite as a cohesive front behind my choices.

Then, there are those who hold a special place in my recent memory.

~I told a friend in NYC that “I have been asked to be in a documentary. It requires that I take a three week trek up a mountain. I leave in a few weeks.” He said, “Is it a comedy?”

~A friend in LA had the first reaction of, “Oh, I see Academy Award winning documentary all over this. You will be a comedy of errors in all of this.” He calls occasionally, laughing, to check in on my progress and to tell me that the more people he tells, the funnier he finds it.

He called on a Tuesday night around midnight and asked, “What are you doing?”

“Eating cinnamon rolls.” I said.

“At midnight?!”

“Yes, why not?” [What the time of day has to do with it, I have no idea.]

“Is this part of your training?” He says, laughingly.

Swallowing around the too big bite of the cinnamon roll I had just taken, “I am wearing hiking boots.”

~My dearest guy friend, Nerdstick, in Chicago, watched the first bit of footage and said, “I get why they asked you to do this. You are absurd.”

The reactions are entertaining and I love that I have such wonderful people in my life that even entertain having reactions. I guess it really comes down to the really ridiculous, stoner sounding, stream-of-consciousness explanation that I gave Luke when he broke into my place one morning to ask me if I wanted to go on a hike (and he filmed it…).

Bullfighting from Luke Mislinski on Vimeo.

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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:

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Luke Mislinski Photography

3563 US Highway 26
Dubois, WY
82513