© 2009 Benjamin Chernivsky Lyndsay making a moment with a sherpa kid we hung out with for the evening; Graham enjoys some reading near the warm stove.

Thanksgiving in Nepal…

It’s Thanksgiving day in 2009, and there’s a lot to be grateful for. I don’t want to talk too soon about how well this trip is going, but I would like to profess my gratitude about how things have unfolded thus far.

I’ve been reading a blog from photographer Kevin German who I discovered through a photo agency introduced by Matt Eich. Incidentally his journey to the Everest base camp for his 30th birthday exactly followed the beginning of our route. But rather than going for the base camp we decided to check out the less commercialized Gokyo peak. Now, when I say less commercialized, I mostly mean your average American would know about Everest. Gokyo? I had never even heard of it.

Kevin ran into a plethora of challenges right off: a nose bleed, head aches, full guest-houses, sudden bouts of energy loss. Don’t get me wrong, 2 hours of backpacking with a lighter bag has been more difficult than 8 hours back on Montana’s Beartooth range (2007 with my great friend Chris Pelzarski).

Gratitude: take our second night out here. We were originally going to hike only 2 hours to Phakting for a nice restful afternoon after our first real hike. But just before arriving to Phakting we ran into a local who told us about his guest-house just past Bengkar. He told us it was just an hour past Phakting and he’d have a triple room for us at a great rate (100 NRS. This is equivalent to about $1.40. Our first night we spent 100 NRS. for each bed). Guy loves sleeping on solid ground, and we figured after a solid lunch we’d be good to go another hour.

We slowly (painfully) discover that a local porter’s idea of an hour is more like 2 hours for us. They don’t wear watches, they run up and down this trail for a living, and they have double our weight. And in this case they are loosing altitude; we’re gaining.

We finally arrive in Bengkar; the morning sun has been swallowed by afternoon clouds, it’s getting dark quickly, and the hour we expected has suddenly turned into two hours. Ack. The anticipation. The want. Bengkar is much smaller than Phakting, which was loaded with pastry shops and internet cafes (550 nrs./hour. For comparisons sake, we were spending 100 nrs./ hour in Nepal’s capital city, Kathmandu). We mosey through the town looking for the Everest Restaurant and Guest House, but without luck. The end of the town meets us and we’re tired, it’s getting dark, we’re about to get hungry.

But we run into a treat. The last guest house in town, nestled right off a humming river of crystal sky blue, is dark and cold. Out of Tashi Guest House comes a family with a little boy and girl trailing behind, running. Graham, Lyndsay and Guy fall in love with the little kids, and the price is right. Though I had ran around looking for other rates, and also found a warm little place for us all, we opted for the last house in town – Graham figured we were the only ones to give them business for the night, and who doesn’t like helping someone out?

45 minutes later we’re in a beautiful lodge-like room with the warm of a cast iron wood-burning stove and my computer glowing Disney/Pixar’s “Up.” It’s not in 3D, but this is multidimensional: we have a crowd. The kids cuddle into our down-coat and sleeping bag fest while we wait for dinner. Guy and I brew some Nepalese beans from the Himalayan foothills. It’s all good.

I wondered if bringing a computer was wise or not – but I had been inspired to do it, and who can say no to inspiration? I just said yes, and I’m glad I’ve brought it. Though I’ll most likely drop it off at a Guest House in the last village we’ll encounter bustling with pastry shops and internet cafes (so odd, eh?), and charging it has been an adventure on it’s own (except Apple’s new 7-hour battery life is excellent), I’m glad to have brought it. I don’t do many photo edits, but since there are no printers up in the hills we’ve been reading Bible Lessons from it in the morning, and updating the blog has been possible. And though books and warm stoves are a great combination, how can somebody say no to hanging with local kids and an animated movie? It was precious. The mom loved it. We ate great food, I sipped sweet milk-tea.

I’ve wondered about getting away from the buzz of technology and modern life. But why not embrace it, let it be a part of these experiences? I bring $4,000 digital cameras, LED head-lamps, and I find my newly designed synthetic 0-degree bag incredibly comfortable. Computer is no different. The journey does the work no matter what we profess. It’s not about us anyway.

The arduous day was weighing heavy and the beds called us. The gentle rush of river will be heard from my window as I sleep another peaceful night in the Himalayan foothills. It’s Thanksgiving day in 2009, and there’s a lot to be grateful for.

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