Nepal 84: Upper Sinuwa

We pushed through to the village of Upper Sinuwa, where we spent a cold and rainy night. I wrote a few questions to prepare for the interview I had scheduled when the trek ended, but mostly found myself in conversation. I exchanged stories with an older Canadian couple, the German mother and daughter, and a group of Koreans, who were trekking independently and looking for advice from our guides.

Koreans have a reputation as total outdoors nuts—huge hikers. I was interested in the group, since I had yet to meet any Koreans on my travels, but ultimately, I was a little too tired to get into it with them — especially as their English skills weren’t the best. I ate my dinner, had a pot of tea, and excused myself early.

I was probably in bed by 8 o’clock.

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Nepal 83: Chhomrong

We stumbled into Chhomrong exhausted, with our thighs burning.

We had just descended what felt like a thousand steep steps. My knees were creaking; Saffron was leaning on my trekking poles while gasping; Anker was sweaty but whistling cheerily. “We stop here,” he said, as we walked into Chhomrong.

Chhomrong was the biggest village we’d encountered since we left Ghorepani. You could probably even go so far as to call Chhomrong a town—at least by mountain standards.

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Nepal 79: The Most Beautiful Moment of My Life

In life, we remember moments.

We may spend long hours at our work, in the library studying for school, or pouring over our computers. But these are not the things we remember when we look back on our lives. All of that drudgery fades with time, and we are left with only a few, golden moments. A relationship that is stressful and ugly becomes, in memory: a flash of a her smile; a moonlit night under under the stars in a deep mountain canyon; a shooting star; his unexpected ‘I love you.’ These are what stick, not the long, shut-down stretches of black, or the quiet evenings spent in your own head.

Suile holds the most beautiful moment of my life.

Long after the rest of the journey, the rest of the relationship, the rest of the emotions have faded from my memory, I will remember this moment. I will remember it, in crystal clear detail, until the day I die.

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Book Review: Sixty Meters to Anywhere by Brendan Leonard

 

Last Saturday, I found myself in Trident Booksellers, a cute coffee shop/bookstore in downtown Boulder, Colorado. Trident sits off the West End of the Pearl Street Mall, in the shadow of Boulder’s signature Flatirons—three iconic rocks that provide a slabby playground for the thousands of climbers that call the city home.

Even though the weather was beautiful, I wasn’t spending my weekend outside. I was alone, tapping away on my manuscript inside Trident. I spend a lot of days this way.

A man I know—a Bangladeshi Buddhist monk—tapped my table as he went to order a drink at the front. I smiled; happy to see him. He came back, Kombucha in hand. “We are studying out back, if you would like to join us.” I grinned a big grin, and said absolutely, I’d be out in a minute.

Boulder’s the sort of town where things like that aren’t too far out of the ordinary.

Out back, I found my monk with two friends who I had met once before, while rock climbing. They were all studying for their exams at Naropa University, a small Buddhist university. They asked me what I was doing. Writing my book, I responded. “Oh sweet, what’s it about?” one asked me. “Climbing?”

I laughed. “No, although you’d be forgiven for thinking that,” I said. “I am reading a book about climbing, though,” I said, brandishing a copy of Brendan Leonard’s new, bright-yellow book, Sixty Meters to Anywhere. “Have you guys been climbing since we last went?”

No!” the woman says. “We’ve tried to get out with Meg a few times, but it hasn’t happened.”

“I’ve got a rope and draws with me,” I said. “I could take you.”

We worked for a few hours, and then skipped off at 4:30, rushing home to grab our climbing gear, reconvene, and squeeze in some evening laps before the daylight died in Boulder Canyon.
We cheers over a few post-climb ciders and a vegetarian pie at Backcountry Pizza. Glad I ran into you two, I say. That was fun.

“I just feel so good after I climb,” the woman says. “I really want to learn more!”

This sentiment is what lies at the center of Brendan Leonard’s memoir, Sixty Meters to Anywhere.

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70+ Entries and 60,000 Words: Nepal One Year On

Wow. Today is Feb. 25, 2017 (ed. note: this piece got pushed a week b/c I wanted to publish my Iceland essay, ‘Travel in the Age of Trump). Exactly one year since I was left alone and heartbroken in the Hong Kong airport. I won’t lie, it was a painful anniversary for me, personally. I’ve been writing the story of my subsequent travels in Nepal for more than six months now—much, much longer than I spent in the country, in real time.
In that time, I’ve seen the audience on thisisyouth explode— and I can’t thank you all enough for that. It’s a huge motivation for myself to keep writing when I know there are people reading it.

To be honest, if I hadn’t taken the step of publishing these entries, I would have given up on the story long ago.

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