Every morning at breakfast our guide Buddhi gives us an overview of our day. Towards the beginning of the trek he would say things like “mostly flat” and aside from the glacier bed we walked along toward Base Camp I would say nothing about these hills could be described as “mostly flat”. So after a while Buddhi readjusted his adjectives to things like Nepalese flat, undulating, and Tibetan Bread. Side note: Tibetan Bread was by far my favorite food in Nepal – it’s a quick bread fried in oil and served with honey – the surface of it is similar to that of a German pancake. We also learned that when Buddhi says “20 minutes” it’s really more like an hour.
All of this to say that the trek down was not easy. We were still heading up very steep hills but breathing was becoming a bit easier. And it was nice to be heading down from the unfamiliar and hostile environment at 18,000 feet and back down to where life exists.
Now that we’re headed back down I’m finding it less necessary to focus on each step and breathe. My mind is starting to wander – I’m thinking about my friends and family back home. I’m thinking about design and typography. I’m thinking about my career and the big changes I’ll be making in the next year. I’m thinking about how excited I am to get back home but how I never want to leave Nepal. I love this life that has become about walking, eating, breathing and sleeping but I miss making things with my hands – things like food and art.
The clouds started coming down as we approached Phortse and it felt like Fall outside. It felt magical. In just two weeks I’ve completely adjusted to this being our life – to the point where it’s easy to take the whole thing for granted. But the matter of the fact is that our days here are limited, so I’m trying to saturate my senses with what it’s like to be here. I don’t ever want to forget.
The whole point of this trek was to make it to Everest Base Camp and we did. So it was pretty easy to gloss over the fact that we would be going harder and higher the very next day by hiking to the top of Kala Patthar – where we would get amazing views of the Himalayas around us, including Everest. As a group we decided to leave at 4AM in order to capture views of the sun rising behind Mt. Everest. I woke up at 2:30AM with my heart racing and head pounding – I felt like I was drunk, hungover and experiencing a panic attack all at once. Jeremy was gasping for air in his sleep. This is what sleeping at 17,000 feet feels like. I patiently waited for time to pass and at 3:45 we put our boots on (at this point we were sleeping in our hiking clothes to stay warm) and headed down to the main dining hall where we found Sherpas and trekkers that couldn’t get a room sleeping on the floor. We had some hot chocolate and went outside to hit the trail.
With the light of the moon and the stars we started the very vertical hike up. Headlamps were dotting the trail and we looked like ants making our way up the mountain. In below freezing temperatures, we followed each other one-by-one in a single file line. And within 5 minutes I was spent but we had 2.5 hours to go.
It was around 5:30AM that light started to fill the sky and we got our first views of Everest. The view was breath taking. We pushed up the mountain and the cold air was penetrating our down jackets. Snot was coming out of my face at such a rapid rate that my kerchief didn’t stand a chance. Our water bottles (filled with boiled water before we left the tea lodge) were freezing and our hands were too cold to get them open even if we wanted to. Our quick ascent made breathing damn near impossible. I was just a hundred feet from the top and would have to stop every 10 steps just to keep from dying. But we made it.
At 18,500 feet this might be the closest we ever get to the top of the world. We celebrated up top with a few snapshots but were way too cold to stay for long. We made our descent and I said goodbye to Everest for now. We found ourselves back at the tea lodge around 8AM for breakfast and tea. We packed our bags and were excited to start our trek back to Lukla – with our first stop in Pheriche.
We made it to Base Camp in ten days and now we have only four to get back down. We’ve mentally shifted from going up to going down – but we were hardly going down at all. The trail undulates – up a hill, down a valley to the river and back up another hill.
As we approached Pheriche we had a two hour hike through a flat riverbed. Jeremy and I found ourselves alone, just the two of us, for the first time in a what felt like a long time.
Now that we weren’t struggling to breathe and were on a flat stretch of trail we were able to really enjoy each others’ company. Pheriche looked close but it was still a couple hours away. We walked through a river bed and tried to get baby yaks to let us pet them. When we finally made it to our tea lodge we were spent but giddy to be at lower altitude and making our way back home.
I know I say this every time I design a new invitation but this new suite I designed for Vanessa and George is probably my favorite. I was so grateful to be working for such a cool couple that was willing to go outside the box with me on the design.
Vanessa contacted me for custom wedding invitations after she stumbled across my portfolio on my blog. Vanessa and her fiance George met in Iraq working for Department of State and love traveling. They are huge Wes Anderson fans, love maps and giant squids. Sounds odd and quirky – so of course it was right up my alley. They had lots of fun requests – along with a giant squid on the invite they also wanted to include pi (you know, mathematical constant whose value is the ratio of any circle’s circumference to its diameter in Euclidean space), par avion written in Persian somewhere, and a map with important places to the couple highlighted. It’s not everyday you get requests like this from a bride and I was more than happy to oblige. Overall, Vanessa and George wanted the invite to spark a bit of curiosity in its recipients and I was up for the design challenge.
Life Aquatic is one of my favorite movies of all time so I used that as my primary source of inspiration. I wanted the invitation typography to feel like opening credits and the RSVP tag to feel like a baggage claim tag. We utilized a limited color-palette of emerald and aqua with a few pops of orange. I managed to include all the requested elements without making the suite feel too cluttered – I think what we came away with was a layered and positively curious collection.
Sweet potato and goat cheese flatbread with caramelized onions, rosemary and a garlic olive oil sauce.
I do all the cooking around here. Jeremy used to help me prep but washing, chopping and dicing but I’ve taken over those duties as of late as well. Those kinds of things hypnotize me and calm me down after a long day.
So now, Jeremy acts as the ingredient taster. No matter what I’m making – from raw bread dough to roasted beets to shredded cheese he’s always sneaking a taste. So the other evening as I was making this pizza I decided to be sweet and make Jeremy his own little dish with all the deconstructed ingredients. And get this! He ate the cheese and threw everything else back! So it’s not about tasting the ingredients so much – it’s about the act of sneaking of the ingredients. Go figure.
P.S. The Everest updates will continue through next week – we’ve still got trek back down (going a slightly different route), fly back to Kathmandu and celebrate.
I was digging through my storage bins marked Winter Clothes when I found this cardigan I’ve had since I was 16. I found it 12 years ago in the coolest little vintage shop that was run by this woman who kind of looked exactly like Cher to me. She had a cute long-haired, vintage-Levi-bell-bottom wearing husband who probably wrote songs and rolled joints for her. Meanwhile, I was newly 16 and driving a yellow 1973 VW bug and listening to Janis Joplin and The Cure. And I desperately wanted to be this vintage shop owner who looked like Cher – I imagined her life being full of love and adventure and other great things that only come with being an adult. I would shop in her store hoping it would get me a little closer to cool. And so, I love this ratty old cardigan that is a little too short in the arms for me now. The memories that come with it are invaluable.
In the same bin, I also came across my old limited edition Donny Vomit t-shirt. I was in college when Donny was becoming a big enough deal to have a few shirts printed up – and this is one of them. The hat and belt are just as old – items I’ve had for what seems like forever. Somehow they’ve made the cut even when old prom dresses and designer jeans haven’t.
All of this to say – I love having wearable pieces of my own personal history. It reminds me of the person I wanted to be when I was a kid – how I’ve changed and how some things never change at all.
Jeans – 1921 from Blue Seven Shoes – Eastlands from Ross Belt – thrifted (at least 10 years old) T-shirt – Donny Vomit Cardigan – Garland (vintage – 12 years old) Hat – Old Navy (at least 8 years old – found on clearance for $1)
Do you have any articles of clothing that you can’t part with? What memories are attached to them?