Monday, April 7, 2014

Heading Out - The Great Himalayan Traverse

I run down the street and catch my reflection in the window of the Seattle coffee shop, momentarily startled thinking it is another runner on my heals. Hipsters inside are slouched in front of their laptops, lattes in hand and knit caps pulled down low. My reflection moves by and so do I, trying to catch up with myself. And that is how much of the last 3 months has felt. I left Kathmandu on January 13th, two days after weeks of harried preparation leading up to the inaugural Kathmandu Ultra 50k. I remember settling into my airplane seat and watching the rice terraces recede into the distance, relieved that I had an excuse to just sit. Thirty three hours later I stumbled out of a different plane and was greeted by more clouds and rain. I repeated this stumbling for ten more weeks and now I find myself on a plane back to Kathmandu. Where did it all go? How so fast? Inquiring minds want to know. 

But it goes back farther then that. Three years ago Pasang Sherpa sidled up to me. We were on the steps of the hotel, the students/trekkers fading away to hot showers inside and a wifi signal on their phones. Pasang's face was a nice grin..eyes weathered from years in the sun carrying loads. Could I maybe help him with school costs for his kids? This sort of sponsorship is not uncommon in Nepal, especially after multiple trips. I explained in a lame way that I couldn't do much because I didn't have much in terms of a job back home. I walked away knowing that whatever 'thing' I had back home - it was on an entirely different level than Pasang. I have lived a very privileged life. The next spring I found myself intentionally homeless, running across the country. All along people asked me why, what for? And one reason became clear. For Pasang and his kids.

And so I raised enough to put Pasang's kids plus two more to go to school for almost a year. I ran day after day, averaging 31+ miles a day for 107 days from the wet Oregon coast to the cold waters off Boston. I should have raised a lot more. I could have. I didn't  - I learned that asking people for money was harder than running. 

Fast forward two years and it's time folks. This time I am traversing Pasang's country. I need to do better on all levels, to 'step it up' both literally and figuratively. I'm joined by 3 incredible people and together we will walk and run more then a 1,000 miles of the Great Himalayan Trail across Nepal. We will start near Bhutan, at Kanchenjunga Base Camp and head west across some of the highest mountain ranges in the world with names like Makalu, Everest, Langtang, Manaslu, Annapurna and Dolpo. We are starting out with 12 days of food and will meet up with two expedition barrels and a climbing guide at Makalu Basecamp where we will attempt to shave off some miles by crossing the Sherpani Col which is over 6,000m/20,000ft. If all works out, we will stop at the western border Nepal where it meets Tibet, having shed 70-80 days and a lot of weight. You can track our progress and find brief updates sent by a satellite communicator at www.greathimalayatraverse.org 

So please, follow along on this next new adventure. But help me make it a little less selfish. For my part, other then getting my ass kicked all over the Himalaya, I've created a non-profit in the State of Washington called 'Wide Open Vistas'. One of the biggest endurance challenges of my last ten weeks has been filing for 501(c)(3) status with the IRS. Review is still pending but providing we are approved, all donations since we filed should be tax deductible. So run, don't walk www.wideopenvistas.org or just use the button below. I've made it that easy. 

So that is my pitch. My next blog post will likely be in July.  Big thanks to everyone who has already donated and also to those who have supported me on this latest adventure - especially Julie Cassata for teaching me how not to get lost in life and on the trail, Dorjee Sherpa, Doc, Robin, Mom,  S2Mountaineering, PROBAR, and RUNA Tea

Wish us luck, Seth


With Pasang Sherpa after Annapurna Trek, 2011