It was a mention made offhand that started it. An Australian girl traveling alone through Peru said she didn’t handle altitude very well, she’d already been to Everest base camp and that was even higher than this. Where was Everest base camp? In Nepal. Did I want to go?
I never made it to base camp. Everyone who goes to Nepal goes to base camp, about thirty thousand people descend every year from all over the world to this one part of the country, and they never go anywhere else. Base camp, or so I’ve heard, is an ugly place. The trees have been razed to make warm showers for travelers. There’s litter everywhere. Plastic doesn’t decay. Once you drop it on the ground, it will remain there forever. Instead, I would go on a trip titled Lower Everest Trek. This trip would begin at the house of a local family, and would continue by foot across areas almost entirely untouched. The land would be lush and fertile and you would only see other people now and again carrying up to 70 pounds in a basket, using a strap that wrapped around the basket and braced against the forehead. Infrastructure would be non-existent. Local people, when you saw them, would be happy to see you. I don’t have pictures of these people, mostly because I think it’s rude. There you are, carrying 70 pounds on your way home to the village, and here is a complete stranger taking your picture to take home and show their friends.  
Altitude was not a problem. I took altitude medication when I went to Peru, and never acclimated properly. When I tried not taking the medication, I got nauseating headaches and went back on. In Nepal I didn’t take anything, which sounds insane. There were the usual effects –  higher altitude usually meant more pressure on the kidneys and the almost incessant need to pee. The world become your toilet. It also means slower digestion, and difficulty digesting proteins. I tried to stick to eating mostly carbohydrates the higher I went. But what was different on this trip, was that the elevation was gradual. Every day we walked, and every night I slept at a consistently higher elevation so my body was able to acclimate naturally. The highest I went was 13,000 feet. From that vantage point, I saw the peaks in the first photo. Their names: Gauri Shankar (a sacred mountain that no one is allowed to climb), Karyalung, Khatang, Numbur, Everest, Lhotse, Amadablam, Makalu, Buruntse. My spelling may not be entirely correct. 
cheese factory views
View from the Cheese Factory
While I was researching for guides – this was not the kind of trip I would feel comfortable just “winging it” on my own, living on luck and a prayer – I was surprised by the lack of information available. When I got to Kathmandu, I could understand why. There were next to no Americans. There were Europeans (Germans mainly), Australians, Indians and Chinese (these being the two neighboring countries). It could have been because the country only recently opened for business. Nepal had immersed in civil war from 1996 – 2006. In 2006, the country became a republic. During the war, the government devoted all its resources to fighting the Maoists, and forgot about its people. While I was there, the country was still putting itself back together. We rode part of the way in a jeep across dirt roads. The next day, it rained and the roads washed away. So the country is still finding its way.

Mani wall

Mani Wall
Above is a Mani Wall, which is a Buddhist structure built along the roadside. As you see, you cannot separate Nepal from Buddhism. The two are intertwined. If I talked about Nepal and casually omitted any mention of Buddhism, I might as well have just hiked the Appalachian trail.  
My biggest fear on this trip, was not the physical exertion, the country conditions, or accidentally drinking exotic e. coli and getting diarrhea. It was potentially handing over money to a fraudulent or inept travel agency. In that sense, I was very lucky. I wanted to work with a smaller travel agency, and I wanted a local guide, and both these needs were met. The trip was very well organized, my guide provided food for me in the middle of nowhere, three meals every day, and I did not get sick. In fact, I ate very well. 
Travel Agency:
Himalayan High Treks This agency is based in the US and has offices in San Francisco. I took the Nepal: Lower Everest trip. The agency will help you prepare everything you need. The Nepal trip is listed as moderate, so you can pick the level you are most comfortable with. 
Three Jewels Adventures: Our guide for the Nepal trip, Amber Tamang, also owns his own travel agency based in Nepal and can offer more extensive and personalized trips.  I trust Amber, and I also trust his staff. I always felt safe as a female in the middle of wilderness. 
Third Eye Travel: I worked with Sonam and Usha to book my Airline tickets to Kathmandu, Nepal. Airline tickets were my biggest expense, and I wanted to get a deal on a nicer airline, such as Cathay Pacific, because flight would take a long time, a layover was inevitable, and I don’t believe in unnecessary suffering.  
I will talk a little about Kathmandu in another post. 
Nepal Landscape9Before sunrise



I’m talking about these people who’ve ended up in one life instead of another and they are just so disappointed…They’ve done what’s expected of them. They want to do something different but it’s impossible now, there’s a mortgage, kids, whatever, they’re trapped. Dan’s like that…

But I don’t think he even realizes it…High functioning sleepwalkers, essentially. 

People like him think work is supposed to be drudgery punctuated by very occasional moments of happiness, but when I say happiness, I mostly mean distraction. 

Say you go into the break room…and a couple of people you like are there, say someone’s telling a funny story, you laugh a little, you feel included…you go back to your desk with an afterglow, but then by four of five o’clock the day’s just turned back into another day, and you go on like that, looking forward to five o’clock and then the weekend, and then your two to three weeks of paid vacation time, day in day out, and that’s what happens to your life.

That’s what passes for a life…That’s what passes for happiness for most people. Guys like Dan, they’re like sleepwalkers…and nothing ever jolts them awake.

– From Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel


Here we have walls posing as art. Classy all the way. 

For the weekend, here are something to ponder: watercolor interiors from Kinfolk. Photographs by Ditte Isagar and Styling by Nathalie Schwer. Sometimes you want to please more than just your imaginaton eh? Sometimes your eyes deserve a little something as well.  See more here.


Window vase

How to Intentionally Design a Happier Life
Having a better life takes work, and some good tips.

30 Day Minimalism Challenge
Habits are hard to break. My running theory is that it will take a good 30 days to reset daily habits.

5 Dinners You to Make from Pantry Staples
I’m going to try the chickpea recipe. I needed this more than water.

Before I Go
What are your priorities in this life? Do you know? Maybe reading this will speed that thought process right up.

Let’s All Agree to Put an End to this Unhealthy Habit
The habit of judging people. In case it’s not obvious.  I think this has two parts – judgment is a habit, and the less you judge others, the less you judge yourself.

Hopper App
I’ve used this for domestic flights and its pretty good, and this way I know I can just stop looking. Hours will be saved.

Minimalist Bike Lights
I’ve been eyeing these. You can take them on an off very easily, and then use them all over the place.

Charles & Keith
For the shoes.


waking up2

While in Peru, I met three women, all of them wore eyelash extensions like they were t-shirts. You go out onto the Inca trail, you take only the basics with you. You leave the rest behind. They considered eyelash extensions to be a staple, somewhat the way I view SPF 50 and a proper water filter. And in a way, they were going about the Inca trail differently. They were horseback riding their way to Machu Picchu. This would cut the normal three day journey down to two. And it would require considerable skill. I asked one of them how she learned to ride. Well, she said, both her friends had been trained to ride and had 10 years of experience on horses. She, on the other hand, had always been something of an adventuress. She had seen a horse in Bermuda, and she had taken it into her head to learn how to ride it. And now here she was, in Peru ready to embark.
The memory surfaced recently, when I was preparing to go snow camping. It’s a combination of backpacking, snowshoeing, and camping all in one. I had gotten it into my head somehow that this was a great idea, and it stressed me out. I had to invest in real gear. Some people like that part, buying shiny new things. I hate that part. I wish everything were free, especially down-filled pants. But if I trotted out into the snow in jeans and a t-shirt, I would probably die. Cotton kills, as the saying goes.
How did I get here? At some vague point in time about two years ago, I decided to change into a different person. This other person, I decided, would be someone who liked the outdoors. Now, I have neither a hero’s heart nor a puppy’s spirt. I was built for quiet contemplation. But sometimes, it’s nice to try on a different persona, a different mindset, and to look out at the world as opportunity for adventure.
So what I have here is a cave I dug for myself to sleep in. The walls and floor were made of snow, and when I woke up, my boots were frozen stiff. The next day, I summited an unknown peak and looked down. I was adventuring. 

viewsfrozen bootsAt the TopSharp angles2walking


Image Via
Black. All black. Head to toe in different textures. It’s comfortable without being boring, so there is a fine line you have to walk. How to look sleek and sophisticated instead of safe and uninteresting? Here’s one way to do it.