Month: March 2014

Houston, we have a problem

Actually, we really don’t have a problem, I’m just trying to figure out if I can post from my iPhone. I just like saying that.

Getting ready to board Houston to Istanbul. This flight should be interesting. Definitely not in Kansas anymore toto. A father and his son are kneeling down facing the east for their evening prayer before the flight. The desk workers don’t speak very good English. I of course resort to my universal accent when talking to them which is kind of a Cheech and Chong Spanish. Somehow doesn’t seem to help. But we’ll get by.

And so it begins.

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To the Land of the Sherpas

Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing” – Helen Keller

In a few days, I will be leaving for probably the biggest adventure I’ve ever done.  I’ll be heading to Nepal to do a trek to Everest Base Camp and then hopefully climb one of the Himalaya’s so-called trekking peaks near Everest, Lobuche East.  I’ll be trekking with Robert Kay, who is going to be attempting to summit Everest for the third time.  That is one reason for the title of my blog, PeeWee Adventures, for I am just trekking around Nepal, while Robert is doing the Big Adventure, actually climbing the highest mountain in the world.

But for me, a flatlander from Nebraska, its definitely out of my comfort zone.  But you can only grow if you get out of your comfort zone once in a while.

Let me tell you a little about how this trip came about.  This is definitely a bucket list thing for me.  I’ve always loved books about Everest, the golden age of Exploration, Polar Exploration, Shackleton, Mallory, Hillary, things like that.  I love stories about man at his best, pushing the limits, testing themselves against nature.  I’m amazed at these stories and what humans have been able to accomplish with hard work, tenacity, teamwork, ingenuity, planning, incredible toughness, and often a little luck.  So for a long time I have wanted to trek to Everest Base Camp but just had never made it happen.

Last spring my son Luke’s 7th grade class was having a guest speaker, Robert Kay, come talk to them about his adventures climbing the world’s 7 summits and Everest in particular and I asked if I could come listen to him talk.  Maggie went as well and was speaking to Robert before the talk and told him I had always been interested in going to Everest.  I came in a couple of minutes later and the first thing Robert said to me was, “Why haven’t you gone, you’re not getting any younger.” That really stuck with me as I realized at my age I’m not getting any faster, stronger, healthier, so I resolved that I would do this sooner than later.

Fast forward to this winter.  Robert made it high on Everest last year but did not summit, so is going back this year to try again.  I had heard that he was looking for people to trek to base camp with so I contacted him, and next thing you know, I’ve got a round trip ticket to Kathmandu.  Robert has been a great help with gear, logistics, planning, and in fact, is acting as a de facto guide on this trip (he’s been to Nepal over a dozen times).  He is climbing with Altitude Junkies, and Phil Crampton is the expedition leader, who has also been involved in helping organize our trek to base camp and the climb of Lobuche.  They have both been awesome in helping me get ready.

As far as physically getting ready for this, I have a pretty good fitness base from endurance cycling the last few years.  I have continued to cycle regularly, putting in some good gravel rides mostly on the weekends, and I have added weightlifting with the legs, core strengthening, treadmill with loaded backpack, and lots of hiking around Platte River State Park with the loaded backpack this winter. I think I’ve hiked every trail out there multiple times.  Dakota, our 10 pound dog, loves hiking at Platte and gets excited every time he sees me getting the hiking gear ready.

 

ImageNot exactly Nepal, but its the closest we have around here!

I feel pretty good about my fitness heading into this, just hoping I will not be holding Robert up too much.  Also, the altitude is a big unknown for me.  The highest I’ve been is 14,000′, and I did fine with that, but we will be going up to 18,000′ on the way to base camp and Lobuche is about 20,000.  The other concern I have is doing hard efforts multiple days in a row.  I’m know I can handle a big effort for a day (think Trans Iowa) but I haven’t had much experience with consecutive big days.

Here is a brief synopsis of our itinerary.  This is just a rough idea as things may change depending on weather, how we (that would probably mean me) are acclimating to the altitude, whether our plane goes missing over the southern Indian ocean, etc.  Arrive Kathmandu after about 48 hours of travel time.  About 3 days in Kathmandu, with time for sightseeing, getting trekking and climbing permits, recovering some from jet lag, relaxing.  Then we take a helicopter to Lukla, elevation 9000′, where the trek begins.  We will be trekking in the Khumbu region, named for the Khumbu glacier which comes down from Everest on the southwest side.  There are no roads in the Khumbu region, so the only way to get around is to walk, and everything up there has basically been carried in by humans or yaks. The people of this region are the Sherpas, which is a race, not a job description as I had always thought.  We will be trekking to base camp for about 10 days, gradually getting higher as we go.

We will start off with the whole group of climbers in the Altitude Junkies expedition for about 2 days to the biggest village in the region, Namche Bazaar (11,300′).  Then Robert and I and maybe some of the others will branch off the main trekking route to go the “scenic route” to Gokyo village(15,715′) which will take a couple of days.  Then we will climb Gokyo (17,585′) which has amazing views of Everest and several of the worlds highest peaks from the summit if skies are clear.  From there we head back towards the main trekking route via Cho La, a high pass at 17,486, on past Lobuche to Gorak Shep (the last village before base camp).  Just outside of Gorak Shep is a brown mound called Kala Pattar (18,175′) that we will climb, also has views of Everest.  Then to base camp, where Robert will spend the next 6 weeks trying to summit Everest via the same route Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay did 61 years ago.

I will then head to Lobuche and try to summit Lobuche East (20,075′).  This is a peak that some Everest teams use to acclimate while getting ready to summit Everest.  There is a base camp and a high camp on Lobuche so will be spending at least a couple of nights in tents.  I will have a Sherpa guide and a porter for this portion of the trip.  Then back to Lukla via the more common trekking route.  All-in-all, I will have made a big circle, instead of an out-and-back.  Just like you try to do when planning a single track route!

Overall, very excited to go on this trip of a lifetime.  The toughest thing will be being away from my family for so long.   I know I will miss them and be glad to see the when I get home.  After my last post, I think Maggie is hoping I’ll just stay over in Nepal!

IMG_1455

On top of Long’s Peak, Colorado, my highest elevation ever

Hopefully I will be able to send some posts while I am in Nepal.  Plan on having pictures and more complete write up when I return.

 

 

 

 

If You Want to be Happy for the Rest of Your Life….

One thing that I’ve said, oh for about 15 years now, is that the key to happiness is to find the right partner to share your journey through this life.  I have been lucky to find the right partner.  Maggie, my wife, my best friend, has been that partner for the last 15 years.  She has been the glue that holds our family together, the CEO of our household, the best mother to our kids, and the best wife a man could ask for. ImageLuke, Maggie, and Erin on Maui.

I see so many people around me that aren’t lucky enough to be with the right person, and life is not as good, and everyone is worse off because of it.  But when you are with the right one, life’s adventures and even the ordinary day-to-day events are so much better.  For that and more, I am thankful.

 

ADDENDUM:

A little clarification on the title to this post is in order.  My wife, the aforementioned Maggie, read the post and pointed out to me, in an ever so gentle and loving way,  that the title is part of a song that says you should have an UGLY wife in order to be happy.  She pointed out that I had basically called her ugly and posted it on the world wide web.  I of course had not paid that much attention to the details of the song.  I only knew it had happiness and wife in the same song.  The ugly part I kind of skipped over.

So Maggie found the song on YouTube and played it for me and the kids.  Oops.  Erin said, “Smooth, Dad.”  Luke’s comment was, “See, that’s why you shouldn’t have a blog.”  This will no doubt be a source of lifelong jokes at my expense, i.e., “Remember when you called Mom ugly on the internet?”

The outcome of this little mishap actually is a little microcosm of the point of my post.  Maggie took something that she could have gotten upset about and turned it into something positive.  She does that all the time, always making the best of things.  That great outlook helps make all our lives better.  She is beautiful, both on the inside, and the outside, and I am a lucky man to be able to spend my life with her.

Now, what’s that song about being in the doghouse?

 

 

Ouachita Mountain Biking

What would you do if you knew you only had 1 day left on earth?  That’s a fun question to ponder the answer.  I know for me at least a part of that day would have to be spent riding some sweet single track.

I got to do just that for 3 straight days down in the Ouachita Mountains in Arkansas last a couple of weekends ago with a great crew from Lincoln.  Corey, Josh, and I headed out after work on Wednesday and made it to our cabin at Rocky Shoals Resort in time on Thursday to be riding single track by early afternoon.   Lis, MW, PC, and Janna were already there and we settled in to the cabin and headed out riding.IMG_1723Getting ready to ride.  Our cabin was literally a stones throw from single track.

The cabin was located pretty much in the middle of IMBA Epic Womble trail, so one day we headed east and the next day we headed west and were able to make a great day of riding without even getting into our cars.

IMG_1731Nice view of Ouachita River from the Womble Trail.

Friday turned out to be our biggest day of riding, and had a little unplanned adventure to boot.  As is often the case, the (mis)adventures came about by following Cornbread’s lead.  We were riding, and about 20 miles of single track away from the cabin, and Cornbread wanted to keep going a little more so we could get “50 miles of single track for the day.” Sounds good, so we kept going.  The trouble was, it was getting later in the afternoon, and no one brought lights except Cornbread.  I had just a rear blinky.  Well, we thought we could get back in time before dark and all was going well and then a few mechanicals started happening.  Janna got a flat, and we dealt with that, then Josh got a flat, and that ate up a little more time.  Next thing you know, its getting late and we’ve got a ways to go. Paul and Janna went on ahead and Corey waited for Josh who was having some serious bonking going on. I decided to go on ahead and try to get through the single track while there was some light.

Long story short, I made it through the single track to the highway that leads  back to the cabin about as it got really dark.  The highway was a “shortcut” back to the cabin.  As is sometimes the case with shortcuts, they don’t always turn out to be shorter.  I didn’t have a light but figured I could find the turn off to the cabin in the dark.  Turns out it gets pretty dark on a cloudy night with no moon on the middle of Arkansas and turnoffs are easy to miss.  I knew I had gone too far when I came to the river that we were not supposed to cross.

IMG_0020Took a picture of the street sign with my camera so I could read the sign!

Also figured I could use my cell phone at any time but when I did try to use it it wouldn’t work because of the cold.  It was about 34 degrees and the iPhone likes to shut down sometimes in the cold.  And this was one of those times.  Finally ended up using my camera to light up my Garmin so I could re-program it so it would light up (I had set it to have no back light to save battery time) and followed the cookie crumb trail back to the cabin.  By the time I wandered back to the cabin, Cornbread had gone out in the car to look for me, hoping I hadn’t become a victim of a banjo playing Razorback.

All in all a little stress but made it back safely and the beer tasted really good after all that!

IMG_0024Saturday was another great day of single track with a nice evening around the campfire to top it all off!

IMG_0040I did bring a light Saturday . . . .