When I first heard about the possibility of participating in the All Abilities Trek to Mt. Everest Base Camp, I was filled with excitement. It was an honor to be invited and wonderful that someone believed in me enough to think I could take on such a challenge. I have felt the fun of fear and the thrill of outdoor adventure before. This opportunity was impossible to pass up, and my reserve of limit pushing experiences was due for a recharge. This trip did not however come without concerns. The most difficult of these was the thought of going so far from my family and being away from them for that long of time. There was also the fear of being in another country with the dirt and probability of getting sick, which I had read about. The uncertainty about the terrain, cold temperatures, and sleeping in a tent for 45 days added to my nervousness. With having my left hand as my only "good" one, I was also concerned about the Nepalese cultural belief that the left hand is "dirty" and that its use customarily indicated some form of serious insult to anyone nearby. Above all of these apprehensions, I could not refuse my need to go and support Tom in his efforts to make history and give disabled awareness the kick it needs to bring down barriers and open minds.
One of the first challenges I was faced with during the trip was communication. The combination of my speech difficulties and the limited English understood by the porters made our efforts almost comical. While riding in the basket on the porters' backs, I became very nervous and tight with fear. The usual response would then be that I would startle, jump, and nearly throw my porters off the trail. Overall, there were only a few times when they would begin to lose their balance or stumble, but each time they quickly compensated. The magnitude of the scenery literally put my head in the clouds. Looking down on high mountain peaks below us and seeing the ever-changing sky as the clouds covered the trail behind and ahead of us was truly breathtaking. The night sky filled with stars and rugged landscape was equally amazing.
After reaching the goal of base camp, the return trek and continuing dirt of the villages seemed trivial. The charm of the Nepalese people and their eager acceptance was incredible. With their help and that of our other able-bodied "HOGS", we made it! Each person played a vital role in our quest, and together we have made a statement to the world about ability, barriers, and attitudes. Everest has been one of my greatest accomplishments, second only to becoming a father to my two sons. It has shown me that I can face whatever adventures are yet to come.