Thursday, April 30th, 1998
From Ali Orton, a Prescott College, Arizona student and C.W.HOG (Cooperative Wilderness Handicapped Outdoor Group) volunteer.
The All Abilities Trek is hanging out in the clouds and loving life here in Tengboche which sits at 12,352 feet. This village is a holy place as here resides one of the most famous monasteries in the Khumbu. Today is a holy day. I am enchanted by the sound of gongs and horns as I write this update.
We are now half way to Base Camp, having left Namche Bazar two days ago. From Namche, we dropped down to 10,400 feet to a little village called Phunki Teng. There is one family that lives in Phunki Teng and the rest of the occupants are part of the Army Base. You wouldn't know there was a base there as a crystal clear stream borders it making it a heavenly sight.
The stream hydro-powers vibrantly painted prayer wheels that spin constantly in the shade of huge blooming Rhododendron trees. These trees bear Nepal's national flower and color the forested valleys with vibrant white, pink and fuschia flowers. The only indication of the base are the men dressed in camouflage carrying guns who stopped and stared at us as we made our way down the trail to a bluff where we had a photo-shoot in honor of our wonderful sponsors: Ereka!, Cascade Designs, Leki (trekking poles), Kompdell (trekking poles), Alps (packs), Cyottee Eye Wear, New Sun, Manastash, Cloudveil, Adventure Medical, Buck Knives, The herb store, King B Beef Jerkey, Ogden Orthotics and Prosthetics, and to keep us healthy; E'ola products. Thank you all for being a part of making the All Abilities Trek possible.
The descent to Phunki Teng was steep and exposed as we traversed for a bit then dropped straight down to the Dudh Kosi River. Tom McCurdy says about the hike, "That was the most exciting day yet, for me, being on the horse. I was a little scared at some places. (I was thinking) my life is not in my hands and I hope these guys (the horse wranglers) know what their doing. My trust in them has been growing everyday as they maneuver through the toughest parts of the trail. It makes me feel confident that we will make it to Base Camp".
There were sections of the trail that were bordered by steep drop offs causing rapid heart beats and heavy breathing in Ike Gayfeild, Tom McCurdy and Kyle Packer. Ike says, "You could look down or not look down. I chose not to look down. I kept my eyes closed. You just had to go with the flow".
Cindy Whittaker says that in some ways it was easier to have Lizzy here when she was three ( she's now seven). Lizzy likes to talk with her hands so picture her bouncing down the trail, absorbed in what she's saying, kind of oblivious to the drop off beside her. She kept saying, "Mom, do you have to keep holding my hand?" She's a total trooper. She's hiked the whole way by herself and says its one of her favorite parts of being here. Other favorites include riding the horses and playing with the porters.
Kyle appreciates the porters for different reasons. "I have to depend on them to get me around. My biggest fear is that we don't have communication. Like Ike, I just don't watch when we come around corners. But we're here and we did it!"
Bob Meyer sees the porters as such an enhancement to our experience here. "They've become like friends. They are such an added dimension. We wouldn't know half of what we know about this country if there wasn't a willingness to share their life with us."
After our morning of rest and photo-shoot in Phunki Teng we made our way up the Tengboche hill. Although not as long, it's just as steep as the Namche hill. People hiking definitely felt the altitude on this hill finding that they had to take more breaks. Kyle decided to get out of his basket and crawl for a good portion of it, on some of the harrier areas too. He was tired and satisfied as the sun set that evening.
Steve and Cindy DeRoche's experience was satisfying as well. Steve says, "You could look down and see how much we had accomplished and see how far we'd come. Then you'd look up and see some snow capped peak that would make you feel insignificant and make you realize how much further you had to go. Every corner was a postcard". Cindy responds, "I spend so much time watching my feet and where I put them that I don't have a chance to see the scenery unless we stop and rest. I think the trip is a great experience for everyone. We're here and we've seen the Mountain and we're going to get to Base Camp".
Carla Yustak has her own experience with the hill. "It was a bit difficult but I just took one step at a time. I'd go up and rest a bit, go up and rest a bit. Then when I got high I could see the distance. I was quite amazed at how high we were. For myself its total adrenaline and then you can rest when you get there."
I hiked up with a porter later that day. I stayed to be with the solar panels as they soaked up the precious early day sun. The clouds roll in in the afternoons so we have to get juice for our computer and video cameras whenever possible. Thanks to Photocom and Steve Allen for the solar panels. They are awesome! We don't know what we'd do without them.
Everyone here is healthy, happy and strong. We all have a bunch of supportive people back home to thank and say Hi! so I'll end with that.
Hi! to Gates City Elementary and Miss Struebel's class and Poki High School. Also Hi! to all the students and faculty at Alameda Jr. High School and Ermineskin's Kindergarten , Primary and Jr. High School as well as Miss Koller's third grade class in Boise and Marlys class. We hope you're following the climb and seeing the updates. Ike says Hi to Noah, Mckenzie, Rachel and Diane. A special hello to my family from Carla. "I love you all!" Lizzy says, "Hello to Miller Valley. Thanks Mr. McGee for letting me come on this trip. I miss you Molly and the rest of the students in my class". Cindy W. says, "Hi Mom. Everything is going great. Hi to Crystal and Casey in Janesville, Wisconsin". Kyle says, "Hi, doin fine. Missing you all". Tom says, "Hi honey and the kids. Can't wait to come back and spend time catching up and going fishing. I'm doing great, healthy". Bob says Hi to his family and that he misses them. Steve says, "I love my kids and I traded my wife for two yaks!"
I love you Mom and Keri. I carry you with me always.