Friday, September 18, 2009

Taking Chances

Walking on a ridge top path in the Himalayan foothills.

Sagarmatha, the mother of the universe, as it is called in Nepal, or Everest, as it is known in the West, is the tallest mountain on the earth. It is more than 29,000 feet high. If you happened to be floating on your back in the sea it would be 5 ½ miles straight up in the air. It would be higher than most clouds that you might see passing by as you floated there and just about as high as Jumbo Jets fly.

The Himalayas, are topped with snow year round. As spring turns to summer some of the snow melts from the mountain peaks and the water collects into icy streams which become rivers. The rivers plunge over the edge of the mountains in dazzling waterfalls. The rivers continue down past tiny villages where mothers bathe their children and wash their clothes. It continues down to the valley past large cities where millions of people live, then down, down, down to the low lands called the Terai where there is never any snow and it is hot and humid all year round.

If you could fly as fast as a small plane from the top of Sagarmatha to the Terai, it would take you less than an hour and you would still be in Nepal. The Terai is nothing like the city of Kathmandu and bears no resemblance to the foothills of the Himalayas. It is a subtropical jungle only about 300 feet above the ocean. It is the home of tigers, rhinos, crocodiles, snakes, giant spiders, monkeys and elephants. Once it was so full of malarial mosquitoes that it was virtually impassible.

If you stroll in the jungle you must keep all of your senses alert. There is no telling what manner of beast could be lurking behind the tall grass watching you silently as you pass by. I know this because I have been there. I have seen the tracks of tigers in the dust across my path; I have been bitten by a monkey at the Monkey Temple; I have contemplated which tree to climb before the rhino charged… There are many dangers that dwell beyond the familiar, and that is something that one should never forget, no matter where they travel in life. Yet, if I had not traveled beyond the safety of what I already knew, neither would I have been able to soar between the highest peaks on earth.

12 comments:

  1. What an amazing life you have lived.

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  2. You're experiences are incredible. And you are right; one must step outside their comfort zone to have those incredible experiences. Easy for me to say from my predictable routine in my house in the suburbs...

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  3. Thanks again, Butternut for opening our eyes to the vastness of this rock we ride around on. Twenty-nine thousand feet above sea level is almost impossible to imagine, but your words and experiences help. I always enjoy your fine writing.

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  4. You are so brave! I would never have the nerve to walk through that jungle. Wow

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  5. Butternut: An amazing description of a whole other world . . . seemingly . . . You are one courageous woman, and being so have reaped the reward of an exciting life.

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  6. Oh what a beautiful place isn't it. Edmund Hillary comes straight to my mind when I hear about the Everest My brother climbed in the Himalaya as well and when I was going through old post last week I found letter from him about his tramp. A great place to be. I love the jungle as well I walked in the jungle with monkeys and snakes in Malaysia. Nearly stepped on one. Things I will never forget

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  7. Wow this really struck a chord in me...I am enjoying my new job but there are so many things that sort of scare me because I am not fully aware of what is going on...sort of like my own little jungle of surprises...although not as scary as having a monkey bight me!

    You are like Indiana Jones!

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  8. hello butternut! i am always excited to read your posts - even more so afterwards when i realize where i've travelled through your experiencing. i've never been a courageous traveller. it's how i see myself. yet i've been intrigued since i was very little and read about captain scott, and lawrence of arabia by the idea of travelling into challenging places. my nature has compelled me to turn inwards to travel in the challenging places of my own tiny knowing of this world. so thankyou for the little gifts of these posts. have a peaceful day. steven

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  9. Very nice post. I've seen the Himalayas from a distance, but I bet it should be something else to be there..

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  10. beautiful word and picture story! wonderful - thank you for sharing!

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  11. I love hearing your stories. They take us into a world that most of us will never experience. The other day, while hiking high in the Sierras, I had a feeling I was being watched. My husband and the dog were way ahead as I had stopped to take a picture. The thought "culling the heard" popped into my mind and I hurried to catch up. It must be 100 times more intense in the jungle.

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  12. I do hope that some of you clicked on the image. If you ever come to Nepal with me, I am going to take you there, to walk on that ridge. It really is quite spectacular! This is the ridge that I am writing about in a previous post, 'Among the Gods in Dakshinkali.'

    Thank you for the lovely comments. You make me blush.

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