As of March 24, 2015
Planning has been coming along slowly but surely. Here’s a list of notable things I’ve accomplished/gathered recently:
- I’ve been meeting weekly with a very kind Nepali woman who has agreed to teach me basic Nepali language skills. The language is so different from English, it’s a pleasure to learn and practice. Sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed by my own ineptitude, having never learned another language before, but its important that I stay on track. The ability to communicate is just as important as carrying a map. Thank-you to the Calgary Nepalese Community Association for putting us in touch.
GEAR & PARTNERS
- I’ve teamed up with a non-profit group called Intensity Trekker, as an ambassador. These guys are very supportive of my goals, and we have the same values around trail documentation, education and preservation. I’m very excited to be working with them.
- On top of the gear I owned previously, I’ve acquired some new equipment such as a Garmin GPS, a GoPro camera, a Goal Zero solar panel, a Platypus water filtration system, and more. I still have to buy a couple of key items such as a new lightweight tent and sleeping bag, as well as some smaller items.
- I applied for expedition support with MEC to see if they are able to help me out with some of these gear items. Keep your fingers crossed for me! Working with MEC would just be so rad.
MAPPING & PERMITS
- I’ve been chatting back and forth with a trekking company about the permits and permissions I need to get. Going as a solo trekker makes this challenging, as typically only group travel is permissible in Nepal. I won’t go into detail about this but I will say we’ve found a way that might work, but the permits are going to cost approx $3300 CDN. This red tape is still my number one challenge to try to overcome. In some cases, I really might be forced to join a group and/or hire a guide for particular sections. At the end of the day, it may not be ideal, and I may not be able to say I did the whole thing solo, but it’s a better alternative to not being allowed to enter these areas at all. In addition, I recognize that some of these rules are in place for my own safety, or as a political check for preventing cultural or ecological degradation, which must be respected.
- I have completed mapping my desired route through Nepal using printed maps, Google Earth, books and recommendations from groups and the few individuals who have finished the GHT or parts of it before me (only about 40 people). You can check out a kmz Google Earth file of my route here. Please note that here I have just posted the “ideal” route. I have also mapped some “alternative” routes around certain areas, depending on a variety of issues that could arise, which I have not posted. The “trail” is not well established yet, and is actually just a network of pre-existing pathways at the moment. In some places these “pathways” aren’t even clearly defined or easy to follow – there are certainly no trail markers. Special thanks to Doc McKerr who is constantly offering advice and checking in with me to help with planning. The mapping alone has taken me 30+ hours.
- Wide Open Vistas posted an annual report, featuring the success of sending nine children to school in 2014. WOV is a non-profit organization that helps improve education and health outcomes for children in Nepal. Please consider supporting and inspiring me by clicking here to make a donation to Wide Open Vistas. Under my campaign, donated funds will go toward improving the situation of female students. Thank-you to Seth Wolpin for giving me advice about the GHT, and introducing me to Wide Open Vistas.
STILL TO DO – This list is not comprehensive, but here is a short inventory of what I still need to work on:
- More language practice!
- More gear! Namely the tent and sleeping bag, but also smaller things such as new sunglasses, electric outlet converters, and a stove.
- Book travel medical insurance $$$ – yikes!
- Make an appointment to get more contact lenses
- Get all my vaccines and additional medications (such as altitude pills)
- Move and sell/store my belongings
- Notify my banks and grant permission to my family to manage my accounts in my absence
- Media & sponsorships – I’ve done very little to pursue this so far, but I would still like to explore the option of having corporate sponsorships! Let me know if you or anyone you know has an interest in partnering
- Train – and train HARD. Fortunately I’m registered for an ultra-marathon in May which forces me to kick my butt in gear. I have also planned some weekend and day trips with all my trekking gear to prepare myself for the weight and elevation.