United States of America · 36 Days · 67 Moments · October 2016

David Pavlak

Pete & Dave's odyssey through Nepal


12 November 2016

Grand Palace, partied with the mourners. The Thais are SO nice. Gifts of food and drink every 30 feet down the sidewalk. Couldn't get too deep into the palace due to short pants. Ate toasted/salted grasshoppers. Bangkok city is about a third larger than LA but the greater metro area is many times (maybe 4 times) larger than LA County.

11 November 2016

Rainy night in Bangkok.

10 November 2016

Baiyoke Hotel today. Tallest hotel. Soon to be beat by the Jenga-looking building and then to be beat by a 125 story hotel. Big sprawl of Bangkok is similar to LA. Dave picking a fight with an Aussie bull. Me before and after working out by the pool.

9 November 2016

National Museum of Thailand today. Mixed with hundreds of thousands of people in mourning around the royal palace and surrounding parks, making Bangkok all the more unusual.

8 November 2016

Monitor lizards the size of gators. Not dangerous. Tuk-Tyk rides are a buck. Motorbike taxi 75 cents. 1 more week of mourning the king. Zoom in on this one highway to see hundreds of billboards of King's remembrances. Now just imagine that everywhere.

7 November 2016

Bangkok. Good food and warm weather.

4 November 2016

I've decided to write a song about our experience on the trails of Nepal, sung to the tune of Don McClean's American Pie: Bye-bye Nepali yak pie, humped my backpack to the Khumbu and the Khumbu was HIGH, Sherpa porters hauling Dahl baht and rice singing praises to Buddha on high, singing this will be the place that I die. I only have about 35 more verses to flesh out but I'll keep working.

2 November 2016

Raksi and Chang. Tried them both from the local Phakding Sherpani distiller. Mama refills water bottles too. Sealed and everything. (That will teach those irresponsible bottled water users.) Chang is a rice beer that is very diluted and tastes pretty much like the worst saki ever. They "sip" it 12 oz at a rip. Raksi was more appealing to me, tasted a bit like a mild vodka. Had a great chat Mama's 2 boys who are attending college in Kathmandu and has been home for the holiday.

1 November 2016

Long walk to Phakding. Legs are cooked. Celebratory beers at the Liquid Bar. Should be in Lukla tomorrow waiting for a flight. Need a good 2 day rest, but probably in the best shape in 20 years. Ready for skiing this year. 13,000 ft, no problem.
Caught a flight out of Lukla today. Got good takeoff video right behind the pilot. Legs need 2 days rest now. Had to wait on runway for an hour due to Prime Minister using KTM airport. Went to Igor and Lyndsey's hotel to pick up the Northface bag they left for Dave and we bumped into them. They helped us find a way to ship our camping/winter gear home. Having our laundry done today, big garbage bag for $6. We just learned that Aussie yeti Gavin is in town too. Meeting him at a bar in a bit. Big rhododendrons the size of Maples are what they burn instead of yak pies at this altitude.
Graffiti seems to be common in Nepal. I think that they may have a gang problem.

31 October 2016

Wifi has been very bad. Just got to Namche where air feels like pure O2. Having my first beer. Ran into our Aussie climbing friends just down from their success on Cholatsen. Had a hot shower, all is well. Should be back to Kathmandu in 2-5 days as flying weather allows. Gavin just gave us his leftover beef jerky, it's the best thing up here when you get sick of the smell of local food. We had been saving our beef jerky for a real emergency. Like about 1 day before canabolism. But after Cho La we felt safe to chow it down on the way up Kala Patthar. Gavin's will keep us going for a few more days.
Long hike down (and up) EBC trail via Tengboche monastery. Last view of Everest. Hitting the shower, yak steaks and maybe even a Ghorka beer. Slept like a baby at 3000 ft higher than this, it felt like breathing pure oxygen. Tonight will be even better. Two weeks ago we couldn't even walk in this town without gasping for air, now we're supermen. Zoom in on the first pic to see the killer climb to Tengbuche monastery where all the climbers get blessed before tackling peaks. Met a nice group from Vancouver who had just climbed Ama Dablam. One of their party lost vision and got frostbite, was helicoptered out just before we met up. Many people that do way crazier things than us! Different world.

30 October 2016

7am start from Gorak Shep put us at Pengboche (12,923 ft) 7hrs later. Amazing views continue as we descend in a new valley. Walked past water powered prayer wheels, Scott Fisher's memorial chorten and big pipes that were being carried up by porters.

29 October 2016

Made it to our 4th and final goal for the trek, Everest Base Camp. Good views of the Khumbu Icefall, and glimpses of Everest on the way. I was surprised that the camp is placed on top of a glacier. Dave got a chance to borrow a Polish flag for a heritage shot. Notice one of Kelly's St. Mary's hats on me. We're doing a second night in Gorak Shep because we slept ok and we're pretty tired. Only 2 people got helicoptered out with AMS this morning. We're just keeping the hand gel flowing and trying to stay away from the big dinner crowd. Tomorrow we start heading down the valley as quickly as possible. Will probably hit Namche in a couple of days.

28 October 2016

Since we got into Gorak Shep early and secured a room at The Himalayan, we took off at 11am for one of our primary goals, Kala Patthar which has a 360 degree view of Himalayan giants, and is considered the best viewpoint in the world for non-mountaineers. We confirmed this. Only our videos will probably do justice. 10 degrees, crystal clear and windy on top. New altitude record for us at 18,513. Close to Tibet.
Got up early and increased our base elevation to 17,000 by moving to Gorak Shep. All of our hikes have involved a lot of up and down so we've often hiked more elevation then our endpoint indicates. Gorak Shep is kind of a pit. Everyone has a respiratory illness and at least a headache. Food poisoning is common. To get there we crossed a glacier with Pumori in the background. There are people in the picture (1) but you may not be able to pick them out. The scale of everything here is huge. Pumori is the mountain that Hillary climbed to visualize the route up Everest. The only flat land in the Everest region is the dried up glacier lake in front of Gorak Shep.

27 October 2016

Trying to shower at least every 5th day, which is much more frequent than the standard up here. Thank god for merino wool all under, it stays amazingly fresh. No toilet paper or napkins anywhere above Namche, my rations are holding out well as long as I can avoid dysentery. Mostly squat toilets up here, though pretty clean compared to what I've seen in Italy and Greece. Barrel of water and a bucket to flush/ rinse, with your left hand. Quite a few western toilets have been installed along the main EBC trail which we will soon be descending on.
Igor and Lyndsey are halfway through a year long trip around the world. They were telling us how to do New Zealand and Australia (camper van). They warned us away from China. They were supposed to spend 3 months there but cut it back to 13 days. They were eating vegetarian but got food poisoning 6 different times between them. Eating in good places. The national parks are ridiculous, standing room only, Disney-esque. Pushing, shoving and dirty factories in front of beautiful mountains. Impressive rapid construction everywhere. They loved southeast Africa best and could live there. Loved Malaysia and Indonesia. Going to India next, then Thailand. Lyndsey was marketing for Conch-y-Toro wines. Igor is in finance in NYC. They recommend Chile, they visited on the vinyard's tab. Patagonia is worth the effort, Argentina is great too.
Spent our down day doing laundry, taking a frigid shower and talking to 2 very nice groups of Americans taking rest also. Shower was lined with ice but the water was pretty hot. Laundry water made my hands ache for 30 minutes. 5 University of Washington students were fun, including Azor Cole, future author. One of their group was down with dysentery but doing ok. Thea guys are you and strong and doing a longer trek than us. They said that sleeping in Gorak Shep was miserable. Not very encouraging for tomorrow night.

26 October 2016

Between Chola Pass and the ups and downs to Lobuche, our legs got pretty spent again. Planning a rest day at Lobuche to get ready for the push to Gorak Shep about 820 ft further up. From there we have decided to Kala Patthar first if the weather is clear. If we're tough enough we will do Everest Base Camp the following day.
Trail leaving Dzlongla was very tiring but very beautiful. Got lucky on the 1st picture. Tabuche is 21,304 ft. 2nd pic is looking back at Dzongla (mid left edge) and the Cho La pass (above Dave's head), can't see the top. 3rd is Cholatsen and we were looking for the Aussie climbers on the peak all morning. The 4th picture shows the Khumbu Glacier, the lateral moraine at it's edges and Lhotse in the background. The Khumbu is the source of the holy river that flows through Nepal and India (Ganges). Near the top the Khumbu can flow one meter per day and crossing it is probably the most dangerous part of climbing Everest.

25 October 2016

Tomorrow Lobuche is only about 300 ft higher and 3 hrs away. Then we hit Gorak Shep which is so high that most people passing through get very little sleep. Trying to decide which of the following options to do if we can only handle 1 night: Everest Base Camp is the destination that everyone is familiar with, but there is literally nothing there and no views. The other is Kala Patthar which looms above base camp and has one of the best views in the world. Maybe we can tough out both. Our lodge temperatures will be dropping from 40 to 30 degrees. Ice in the water bottles. By the way, we've been drinking local water all the way after treating it. We treat with AquaMira drops which kill absolutely everything and tastes great. It's a chlorine based product that has no harmful chemicals. 2 oz will treat 30 gallons and costs about $7. Get some for emergencies or European trips. We've been using it all summer. Plastic bottles are a big problem in Asia, almost all end up in the ocean.
We made it over the Cho La and it was a very difficult 9 hour process. We both recognize that it is the most difficult physical task we have ever done. Very beautiful valley with great views of Ama Dablam and the back side of Cholatsen. The first picture shows the massive boulder field in the second pitch of climbing. There are people in this picture. The back side of the pass had some very steep and dangerous descents. I guess I'm saying that this kind of trail should be left to mountain goats. Walking the glacier was nice though. The altitude at the pass was 17,660 and we descended to Mountain Home at 15,859 in Dzlongle. The plan is to move to Lobuche tomorrow where we should be able to score a long overdue shower. A Russian couple had a high end drone up on Cho La. In 3 or 4 months they will be posting it on their website gorov.ru and we'll be in it along with a great perspective of the Cho La.

24 October 2016

To our weather spotter Steve Rotter. Our cell reception has been bad, so if you can email us an update when you get up the timing will be perfect. pshallam@gmail.com Our Projected Itinerary: 25 Tue Dzongle 26 Wed Lobuche 27 Thu Gorak Shep 28 Fri gorak shep Kala Patthar 29 Sat gorak shep EBC 30 Sun lobuche or pherichedingboche 1 Mon tengboche 2 Tue somewhere 3 Wed Namche 4 Thu phatking 5 Fri lukla 6 Sat Kathmandu
The Aussie Expedition.

23 October 2016

Met up with a couple of great guys from Australia having a rest day. Spent about 6 hrs sharing stories. Gavin and John were true mountaineers. Gavin had lead the 2010 Aussie expedition successfully up Everest. Surprisingly because he is 6'6" and about 350 lbs. Today they are leaving for a technically more challenging climb up Cholatsen. I believe that John is the guy who keeps Gavin out of trouble. Gavin also played division 2 pro basketball for Newcastle, 30 rebounds a game - Dennis Rodman type. Got his website so we can see how he did on Cholatsen. http://gavinvickers.com One of their porters, Timba Sherpa, is going to help us get some of our gear over the Cho La pass tomorrow because part of the hike is a hairy scramble through a steep boulder field.
"Easy" 3 hr walk over the glacier was a killer, and really hairy. Steep gravel traverses that were only 6 inches wide at times. Everything was moving and to stay on the glacier side of the lateral moraine any longer than necessary was risky due to rock slides. Our legs were feeling very week and we just realized that we haven't rested them in 12 days of hard walks. Every day has been like hiking up Whiteface Mountain breathing through a straw and smoking a pack of Marlboroughs Decided to take a rest day tomorrow at the Cho La Resort. See the Nepali teapots, and laundry is always dried on the rocks or metal roofs, even in Kathmandu. We welcome the drying yak pies everywhere because that means heat.

22 October 2016

Climbed Gokyo Ri today, our new record elevation at 17,589. It was very challenging, straight up. Great views of Everest, Lohtse and many lesser peaks. Best views of the first 3 sacred lakes and the glacier behind Gokyo. The plan is to spend a recovery day at the base of the Cho La pass tomorrow, a 3 hr hike over the glacier from Gokyo. Going over the pass Monday weather and health permitting. Another person helicoptered out today - unconscious.

21 October 2016

We plan to cross the Cho La (pass) Sunday if weather and fitness permits. That will put us on track to our number two goal, Kala Patthar, best close view of Everest.
Clear sky this morning. Both slept reasonably well. Set off on the Sacred Lakes hike which brought us up to the limit of our ascent profile at 16,306 ft. Had a crystal day to experience the best view of Everest's south face in the Himalayas. Pictures can't capture it all. This particular place was our number one goal. The glacier was rumbling by. They're very dirty this time of year. Seen 5 of the 6 Gokyo lakes. The 6th would take us beyond our limits. Planning to summit Gokyo Ri tomorrow if we feel well. Couple hundred feet higher. Many people with Khumbu Cough up here. Broke into our cough drops today to keep our throats moist. Used 6 of our 180. Extreme zoom on Everest, can probably see the Hillary Steps. Spindrift snow blowing off the summits give the mountains an interesting halo.

20 October 2016

Solar charger has been working great. The valley is considered kind of a sacred place. Thousands of rock cairns everywhere We're staying in the place that has the world's highest bakery - a nice treat. Actually got a hot shower, first in 3 or 4 days. Nepali food is pretty disinteresting especially when battling the altitude.
Set out for Gokyo in mist and a few snow flakes through tundra. Climbed above the clouds about 2 hours in when we began to see the first emerald pools of the Gokyo lakes. Stunning scenery everywhere. Altitude really slowed us down. Dave slept well last night but was especially tired during the hike. Peter didn't sleep much due to the common problem of two stage breathing. During acclimatization your CO2 level is good and that's what controls respirations until your brain notices that your oxygen is low and tells you to breath hard. During sleep this can wake you up every 5 minutes. Diamox keeps you in rapid breathing mode so you get better sleep and acclimatize more rapidly. It makes your fingers tingle. I'm feeling good but Dave is still a little tired. If we're comfortable tomorrow we may do a full day hike up to an adjoining glacier where you can have the world's best view Everest's south face. The ice starts just above Gokyo. Bringing Microspikes (like crampons) with us tomorrow.

19 October 2016

If we sleep well tonight then it's on to Gokyo (15,612). The British docs Simon and Lucy recommended half doses of Diamox tomorrow and for a few days until we're caught up on the altitude. Our ascent profile is pretty safe but sleeping and eating will be easier. It was 30 degrees today so our room is probably 35. No problem for our good sleeping bags. Sitting by the yak dung fueled pot belly stove in our Lodge's dining room is pleasant. That has been how it was for the last couple of nights. The Sherpas are only allowed a short period each year to gather dead wood so it's pretty precious. Only dinner hour gets heat. There has been a lot of downtime each afternoon and evening, pretty boring and cold when the afternoon clouds chill things off. Everybody gets to bed early so they're up and out at daylight. Typical tropical split of 12 daylight and 12 darkness.
We visited the Machermo Porter Shelter & Rescue Post today. The route to Gokyo is especially prone to Acute Mountain Sickness because it is a gradual climb and there is no route that goes directly down to a low altitude. (We have helicopter evacuation insurance). It was only recently that many porters were able to stay in shelters and tea houses. They are also very prone to AMS because they are often flown up from low altitude to work in the high country, often without good jackets or shoes. IPPG is an organization from the U.K. that keeps a steady stream of volunteer doctors on site. It was heartbreaking to hear some of the stories. We plunked down all of the money that my Human Resources friends gave to me to donate. I was originally targeting schools but there is only one school up this high and it is well funded - the Hillary School is where the kids go, about 3 hrs from here. They board there.
Hiked through a cold fog, spitting snow, to Machermo(14,465ft) by way of Luza's peace pole. Tundra. Sherpa soup for lunch. No views today.

18 October 2016

13,776ft at Dole after hiking 4 hrs from Mong La through forests of Juniper, Rhododendron and Birch. Crystal blue sky. Feeling good today after we both had slight nausea yesterday. Musk deer up close. Sherpa soup and lemon ginger tea for lunch. Dhal Bhat planned for dinner.

17 October 2016

Had to stop at MongLa, birthplace of Buddh, at 13,075 ft. because the views were too nice to head the mile downhill to Phortse Tenge. Hilltop Sherpa Lodge sitting on top of the hill. Big Golden Eagles flying around. Ama Dablam dominates the view. May see deer in the morning.

16 October 2016

Moving up to Phortse Tenga tomorrow, back up to 12,750ft. It will take 4 days to reach Gokyo in order to avoid AMS. Planning to stay at the following places in order: Phortse, Dole(13,308),Machermo(14,408), Gokyo(15,583). Wifi may be tough. This is more backcountry than what we've been doing, but still very trekker friendly.
Big hike today up to 12,729 ft, higher than either of us has ever been. Visited Everest View Hotel that has great views of Ama Dablam and Everest. Continued to Khumjung which has been amazingly rebuilt. Largest town in the Khumbu. Hillary sponsored a school there. All the schools still closed for the holiday. Big yak bulls came down the street and even the Sherpas ran for cover. The caravan yaks are really naks (hybrid females), much more easy going. Feeling very good and ready to move on.

15 October 2016

Going on a long acclimatization hike tomorrow, then back to Namche Bazaar for one last night in a town. Going to Khumjung and Khumbu, both hit hard by the quake. Hoping to find a way to donate to schools there but most are still closed for the holiday.
Pete and Dave on acclimatization hike.
Small acclimatization hike above Namche past helipad. Sagarmatha Park Visitor Ctr. Pose with Tenzing Norgay in front of Namche's sacred mountain Chomolungma, Nepali name for Everest (our first look). Sagarmatha is the Sherpa and Tibetan name.
First look at Everest. Lhotse showing in this picture.
Morning view from Namche Hotel. Yak steak for dinner last night was great. Yak steaks are really buffalo in Namche, but that varies by region.

14 October 2016

View from Namche Hotel. Big farmers market tomorrow, it's a big deal once a week where sherpas come from miles to sell their stuff.
More crazy bridges (check out the two in the picture) and awesome scenery as we climbed the 1,600 feet to Namche Bazaar. 4 hrs, mostly crude steps straight up.

13 October 2016

First peak at a larger mountain above the lodge. Beautiful up and down stroll to the entrance to Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park. Many suspension bridges along the way. First look at one of the higher mountains. Already made the trip worthwhile. Lodging at Buddha Lodge tonight, free if you eat. 49 degrees in our room last night but warmer at the Buddha tonight. Acclimatizing a second day at 9,175 ft before tomorrow's 2 hour climb to Namche Bazaar at 11,500.
Ang dawa Sherpa in front of his lodge.

12 October 2016

Decided to leave for the mountains, had enough city. Caught an 8:30 flight to Lukla, world's hairiest airport. Only one kind of short take off and landing plane can land on it. Beautiful 6 mile walk at about 9,000 feet. Stayed at a nice new lodge in Phakding for $1.85 (really) but spent $20 on dinner and breakfast. Met a couple of Brits and a couple of Aussies drinking beer on a deck in town. Discovered Collin and Carl lived 2 blocks from where my dad (Peter's) grew up in Leeds. Funny story about Carl and a box of matches. Cracked us all up but not for general audience. Collin had a major headache next day due to beer and cigs at altitude. We've been sticking to lemon tea.
Sherpa Lodge Phakding. Can't control the first picture in the series for each journal entry, so there you have one of the nicer shared toilets in Nepal. Not sure if we want to show you the other end of the spectrum. Will ponder it.

11 October 2016

Toured greater Kathmandu today. Temples, funeral pyres at Pashupatinath, Mother Theresa's home for poor and sick outcasts.
Peter tries to blend in (he's in the grey shirt). Our friend Shaila who operates Mi Casa, our Kathmandu inn, working on the 10th day of festival Dashain, most important family holiday. Great guy.

10 October 2016

Sherpa beer before we head to the mountains and really can't drink. Dave pretending he drinks again. My bindi is running.
This might mean Sherpa crossing.
Our room in Kathmandu, Durbar Square on Dashain, most important festival of the year with sacrificed animals given to monks, Peter tagged by a holy man.

9 October 2016

Doha, Qatar
We're on our way and I wrote the long intro on "questions" on the plane between JFK and Doha, Qatar. Qatar Airways is top shelf but the price was great. We had taken the train from Rensselaer to Penn Station and then on to a Howard Johnson's to spend the night. This morning we took the quick Air Train to JFK. All went smoothly. Amtrak was $84 pp round trip, plus another $6 each for the train to Jamaica and the Air Train. 12 hr flight to Doha then 3 hrs layover before the 4 hr flight to Kathmandu. I'm struggling a bit with this journaling app but I think it will be good when I figure it out. The phone keeps swapping words as I type so you may see some odd words here and there. Some of this blog is going to be boring because I'll be doing some equipment reviews and other details that only Nepal trekkers that I share this with may appreciate.
Seventh question -What group are you going with? Pete & Dave are freewheeling it because we're such world renowned travels. Seriously, the major trekking routes are fairly straightforward and people do this all the time. We can pick up a guide or a group along the way if needed. Guides are very inexpensive and very helpful for learning the culture and history in Nepal, but for navigation we're trying to be independent. Similarly for porters. A Sherpa porter is very affordable and they really need the work, especially following the quake. We really want to do the work ourselves but may break down if we're under the weather or feeling guilty. Our plan to relieve guilt is to donate to every school we pass. I read that this is a reliable method of getting funds in the right hands. A $10 donation goes a long way. When I mentioned this to 4 people in HR one day they all threw $20 bills at me. I hope to post the 4 school pictures later.
Sixth question - how can you afford this? Nepal is an inexpensive place and I'm in a happy place following 35 years of saving, thanks Bernie Burns, and the recent sale of our home. I also had saved up vacation time that will cover most of the period. Nepal is very cheap once you've paid for the $1000 flight. A nice hotel with breakfast in the heart of Kathmandu is $34. Out in the country trekkers usually stay in tea houses (lodges) for under $15 per double room, including meals for 2. We'll also be camping, which is available in most places for free, a modest donation to the local school is encouraged. More on donations later. The high altitude and cold will limit our tent camping on the EBC trek above the Sherpa capital of Namche Bazaar - by our choice. We will camp above 14,000 only if the tea houses are full.
Fifth question - how do you get 7 weeks off? Dave retired this year at age 57 with his NYS benefits, lucky dog. I'm blessed with great bosses. I credit Michele Walsh, our VP of Nursing, for encouraging me to pursue this leave with my boss Scott Bruce, now stuck with my work, and our CEO Vic Giulianelli who seems more excited about it than I am. These folks have provided incredible support and understanding. I'm very thankful to have worked with Vic for the past 35 years. He has carried forward, and elevated, the nurturing environment that associates enjoy at St. Mary's. Gretchen, Mike and Allysia - thank you so much for covering for me. The place is in good hands.
The plan for the trip developed as I read more than a couple of "trek Nepal" books that I will try to acknowledge when I can dig them out. Everything was bounced off Dave but he really prefers me to plan. I also read incredibly detailed blogs all over the web, Rough Guide, Lonely Planet &TripAdvisor were especially helpful as were numerous independent blogs. Just type in "Can I pick up Diamox in Namche Bazaar or should I bring it?" and you'll get good answers. The Everest Base Camp Trek is one of the most widely discussed trips in the literature. Both the popularity and the degree of difficulty turned me off initially and sent me more toward the Annapurna Region which is slightly more tame and has some options for getting away from the crowd. Ultimately the EBC Region won first place with us because of the world renowned views and because I discovered a loop that would take us away from the busy route for much of the trek. We may end up in Annapurna as well, 2nd half of trip.
Fourth question. So who's going with you? The first person I asked answered instantly "Hell yeah, when do we leave?". Dave's been a great friend since we were 3. We traveled together extensively when we were young and found that we are very compatible travel buddies - except for that all night drive through Texas when Dave butchered MacArthur Park lyrics for 8 hours. It was the same trip where we learned a few things about altitude sickness on Grand Teton. Things like water is better than wine for curing the headache. Dave and I have been backpacking almost every other weekend since December - another blessing from my wife. We knew that we had to become accustomed to packing about 40 lbs over 11 hilly, rainy miles a day. More on that later, but we found that we're still good companions on the trail. We've also learned most of the latest ultralight backpacking techniques which make modern backpacking so much easier on us old timers. More on that too.
The next questions were... Is you're family going with you? No, my son is busy with school and neither Keaton nor Bernie had any interest in backpacking 150 miles through thin air in a region where toilet paper is a novelty. Bernie has blessed and encouraged this trip from the onset. She knows that it is important to me and she recognizes that at age 57 my window of opportunity would never be more open due to physical limitations. I love Bernie dearly for the support. I know that Keaton will get to Kathmandu someday too because he has an adventurous soul. Backpacking is much less important than girls and parties at age 19. Been there.
"Why Nepal!?!" It was the most frequently asked question since Dave and I decided to take the trip. It was almost always followed by the statement "You're nuts!". I really don't think that we're too crazy and I'll try to explain by answering the introductory question. Back in 1996 I read two unrelated articles that put me on the road to Nepal. The first was a discussion of countries that were poor, in need of assistance, inexpensive to live in, and tolerant of Americans. I had been looking for potential places to retire young and volunteer time at clinics where Bernie (my lovely wife) and I could apply our basic clinical skills to some good. Nepal fits the bill in all of these respects, plus some. The other article was Outside Magazine's 1996 preview of Jon Krakauer's book "Into Thin Air" which turned me into a junkie for adventure non-fiction for then next decade. I have no desire to summit Everest, but I have every desire to see one of the world's beautiful countries.
Qatar Airways

7 October 2016

The boys setting out from Rensselaer Train Station.