The People We Meet

As the time gets closer to me heading off on my trip to walk the length of Hadrian’s Wall and do some wild walking in the windswept Orkney Islands, I can’t help but sometimes ask myself why I travel as much as I do. Why on earth do I feel compelled to wander far from my home turf and take on what, to many others, is unnecessary strenuous treks when I could be lounging around a pool, sipping cocktails in a luxury resort. Basically, that’s just not my type of holiday. Don’t get me wrong there will be some relaxing and there will be cocktails and wine and good food, but the majority of the time I’ll be hiking and self-catering and coping with whatever the place throws at me. As I train I’m spending a lot of time walking, I’m generally by myself with only my playlist pumping through my headphones, so I get to do a lot of thinking. I can become quite introspective at times and get all psychoanalytical with myself if I’m not careful. Through all the thinking and the analysing and the talking to myself though, I don’t think I’ve come up with a definitive answer yet as to why I enjoy doing something a little bit out of the ordinary. There’s lots of reasons – scenery, culture, lifestyle, but I think that most times that I travel, it’s the locals who have made the biggest impression on me. During my treks in to Everest Base Camp the Nepalese people really made the experience so much better, they are such a genuinely warm and welcoming nation. Travelling... read more

Walk With Me: An Evening in the Himalayas

As you know, because I’ve told you on several occasions, I do a lot of walking. And when I say walking I don’t mean a stroll around the park, I’m talking the hiking and trekking type of stuff, sometimes in rather challenging situations. What you also know, if you’ve read my previous blog post, is that I’m making it my mission this year to take you all along with me on my hiking trips. I’ve launched my Walk With Me project which you can read all about here and which will see me dragging you along with me as I train for and then undertake my hikes in 2018. As part of that project I’ve got something special planned for the people of Perth (sorry non-Perth peeps but I’m always open to a bit of enticement from other parts of the globe), I’m going to be running a series of Walk With Me evenings where I’ll be letting you in on some of my adventures – my treks in Nepal, the UK and Australia. A Date For Your Diary The first of these evenings will be coming up on Wednesday 21st March and will be: Walk With Me: An Evening in the Himalayas. Join me for this special evening as I walk you through the stunning scenery of my two treks to Everest Base Camp. Hear about the highs, the lows, the struggles, the challenge and the unexpected and traumatic event that was to change my life. If you’ve ever considered heading up into the Himalayas, if you’ve been before and want to relive those memories or if you... read more

Everest Base Camp Trek – what to take.

I wrote a version of this blog post a few years ago but I’ve had a few people quizzing me lately on what to take on an Everest Base Camp trek so I thought I’d update it a bit. We’re all very different when we travel and we all have different things that we consider necessities, but I do think that when you’re doing something as extreme as trekking 5,500 kms up in the Himalayas, basically as high as you can go without becoming a mountaineer, and particularly when you’re heading there for the first time, it’s time to consider taking note of what those who’ve done it have to say on the subject. I certainly don’t claim to be any kind of expert but, having been up there twice I do know the things that I couldn’t have done without and things that, although not necessities, made life a little easier. 1. The right boots. Logical really. This is the most important purchase you’ll make when you’re planning this big trip, your life will be miserable if you have problems with your feet way up there in the mountains of Nepal. So, a few tips on buying boots: – Don’t rush into buying the first pair you try on, try different brands and different sizes – they all fit differently. – Try them on with the socks that you’ll be wearing. – Spend plenty of time walking around the shops in them and if they have a ramp in the shop (as most good gear shops do) use it and make sure there’s no slipping. – Check the... read more

Adventure Travel – Why?

Adventure travel has become so much more available in recent years and more people are heading off to undertake more extreme adventures. As I plan my next adventure, hiking the length of Hadrian’s Wall and a bit of wild hiking in the Orkney Islands, I’ve been considering the whole question of why some of us do the adventurous/extreme things that we do? Why do we push ourselves to the limit and sometimes beyond that limit? And do we actually enjoy the stress and the pressure that we put our bodies and our minds under? I mean it would be so much easier to just stay in nice hotels and hire a car or catch a train and see all the sights that everyone else sees when they visit. But oh, so much more boring. I recently did one of those random quizzes that you get on social media, I don’t normally do them but this one piqued my interest, it was travel related. My results (taken with a pinch of salt obviously) indicated that I was an Active Explorer,  so pretty accurate really. But as to the why of it all, why I want to do something a little out of the ordinary when many others are quite happy to take it easy on holiday, well, the answer escapes me. I don’t think there’s any straightforward answer to these questions. In April 2015 I completed my second trek to Everest Base Camp, it was a more difficult trek than the first, there was a lot more ‘weather’ to contend with, we had a diem horribilis when the heavy snow... read more

Lukla Airport – up in the clouds.

When I made the decision to trek to Everest Base Camp to celebrate my 60th birthday in 2013 I don’t really think that I thought it through, it was one of those ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’ moments. As it turned out it was one of the most exhilarating and rewarding things I’ve ever done and it challenged me in ways that I certainly hadn’t anticipated, but initially I didn’t realise what I would be in for. Then I did some research and, talking to myself as much as anyone else, it was a case of, remind me again why I’m doing this. I think I made my first mistake in planning the trip when I delved into the Wikipedia site on the airport at Lukla. Not a good idea as it turns out. Sometimes I just don’t know when to stop, because then I made my second mistake, I watched U Tube footage of a plane taking off from Lukla airport. Google maps showing the terrain really didn’t help either. Lukla is the starting point of several treks in the region and to get there requires a short flight from Kathmandu in a Twin Otter aircraft.   World expeditions, in their blurb, describe it as ‘a memorable flight with amazing views’. I didn’t doubt it for one minute. Notice the mountains in the picture? Well the pilot, of a tiny aircraft, needs to navigate his way around those mountains, banking and descending through several layers of cloud and mist, apparently without the help of landing aids, using just his own keen sense of sight... read more

Nepal is open for business.

As some of you may know I was in Nepal when the country was rocked by the major earthquake on 25th April this year. I’d completed my trek and was sitting in the lobby of my hotel when the earth, quite literally, moved and it’s not an experience I’d ever want to repeat. When I got back to Australia I struggled for some time to come to terms with what had happened. I struggled with my own personal experience, yes, but also with the enormous impact that this disaster had on a country that I’d come to love and it’s people, who had been devastated by such an enormous loss of lives and the destruction of buildings and ancient monuments. Apart from families having to come to terms with the loss of loved ones, the major impact of this disaster has come from the downturn in their major form of income – tourism. Thousands of Nepalese families derive their income from tourism, from housing, clothing, feeding and guiding the trekkers and mountaineers who have descended on the area, in increasing numbers, every year since Sir Edmund Hillary stood on the summit of Mt Everest over sixty years ago. In the aftermath of the earthquake bookings for upcoming treks were cancelled and operators have struggled to entice people back for the trekking season about to begin. A family that I have become close to had their home damaged and were not able to move back in, they are now living in a tent. The father is a school teacher but his school was too badly damaged and has not reopened,... read more

Gokyo Ri – climbing a mountain.

It’s almost impossible to define when a hill becomes a mountain. I’ll not go into the differing opinions (you’ve got Google for that) but in my opinion any peak that stands over 5000 metres above sea level is definitely a mountain. And when that peak is in the middle of the Himalayas I think *mountain* is the only way to describe it. So, having established that, I consider that I climbed a mountain. By that point I’d already trekked from Lukla at 2,800 metres up to Gokyo at 4,750 metres, so, in my mind at least, that adds a certain credence to my claim. Gokyo is a small village in the Solokhumbu district of Nepal, it sits quietly on the edge of a serene and sacred lake and is one of the highest settlements in the world. Rising in front of the village is Gokyo Ri and this is where my definition of a mountain comes in. When you stand on the top of this peak you’re at around 5,400 metres above sea level. So – I climbed a mountain! And I had to trudge through a load of snow to get to it. It was an early start that morning with a 5.30am wake up call, and we were on the track by 6.15am. The lower part of the climb was on gravel which, at times, made it difficult to maintain our footing but the unseasonal amount of snow that the area had been subjected to in the previous weeks meant that the top two thirds of the climb were a struggle through that snow. The view on... read more

The Nepal Earthquake – Mother Nature v Lady Luck

When I woke on Saturday morning, Anzac Day 2015, my plans for the day included a wander into Thamel, one of the busiest tourist areas of Kathmandu, a bit of last minute shopping and lunch at one of my favourite spots – The Roadhouse Café. This was to be my last day in Kathmandu and I wanted to make the most of it. Even during breakfast when Pramesh, one of the waiters, asked my plans for the day, I told him I was heading into Thamel. This was my second visit to Kathmandu and I’d still not been to Durbar Square – I figured this was my last chance. Why then didn’t I follow through with those plans? For some inexplicable reason that I still can’t fathom, I changed my mind. I lingered over breakfast, popped across the road to the local jewellery shop for last minute purchases, bought a couple of t shirts for my grandsons and then settled myself in the hotel lobby with my book. I’d decided just to relax. That decision could well have saved my life. I was still reading in the lobby when the 7.9 quake struck minutes before 12.00. The power went out, not an unusual occurrence, but then the hotel tilted and shook and it took only a nano second to figure out what was happening. I tried desperately to get outside but it was like trying to walk on water, the floor and my feet would not work in unison. As I ran, I imagined the building toppling around me, it’s amazing the number of thoughts that can shoot through... read more

Going back – revisiting the Himalayas.

I don’t know about you but there are so many places in the world that I’ve visited that I’d love to go back to. I’ve been there once … or twice … or several times, and still there’s a pull that they exert on me to keep revisiting. The pressure to go back. I want to go back to Paris for the pastries and the sheer Frenchness of it all. I want to go back to Rome for the ancient monuments and the quirky streets, to Florence for the art and the architecture, to Crete for the laid back Mediterranean lifestyle, and I’d love to go back again to England and Scotland, for the history, the Roman ruins and the beautiful countryside – and the list goes on … Switzerland, Cairns, The Black Forest, Antibes, Broome …… In a weeks time I’ll be touching down in Kathmandu ready to head off on my trek into the Everest region – AGAIN! But my reasons for wanting to revisit this area and this type of holiday (okay – some may not call trekking at altitude a holiday) are different and a little hard to describe. The pressure of life. As I sat in a café today with my flat white and white chocolate and Raspberry muffin – because I’m going to be burning it all off over the next few weeks – I looked around me and saw so many people with so many things to do and so many places to go. They’ve made time for coffee with family or friends but they don’t seem relaxed, it’s more like an obligation in their lives, having to schedule... read more

Countdown to Kathmandu and my Everest Trek – 30 days to go!

The countdown is definitely on. It’s nearly two years now since I did the Everest Base Camp Trek and would you believe, it’s only 30 days now till I head back up into the Himalayas to have a go at the slightly more strenuous Everest Circuit Trek. Fingers crossed, but if my commitment to training is anything to go by this time, I WILL make it to the top of Gokyo Ri and Kala Patar. The clear, crisp air up there in the mountains is a photographers paradise and, although I don’t lay claim to being anywhere near an expert photographer, even I managed some amazing shots last time. You really can’t go wrong. So, in anticipation of my journey back to Everest and her white capped neighbours,  today I thought I’d reminisce and bring you some of my favourite shots that I took on the last trek. I know you’ve seen most of them before but I didn’t think you’d mind my little indulgence as the excitement is really starting to kick in.   Like this:Like... read more
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