05 August 2009

Empathy for an old man

This evening, I have been watching the second disc of Michael Palin's Himalayas. I'm pretty sure it's a BBC production. In the first disc, he travels through the Khyber Pass. All I can say is rent this video series (available on Netflix). I watched disc 1 on the eve of traveling out west. It was my inspiration for tackling the Golden Trout Wilderness. If a 60-something comedic actor can tackle the Himalayas, surely a 40-something botanist can tackle a few shorty mountain passes.

Luckily, I didn't watch disc 2 before leaving. I might have had second thoughts.

Palin suffers altitude sickness. He gasps for breath. He passes signs warning of "Mountain Sickness" detailing headache, loss of appetite, fatigue, and other symptoms. I know them well. I hiked 10 miles up nearly 2000 feet and I couldn't eat dinner. I didn't want breakfast the next day either. I had to make myself drink vast amounts of water. Eating the smallest amount of food felt like a full Thanksgiving dinner. The thought of the summer sausage I had brought filled me with nausea. I may never eat tuna again.

I am quite convinced that there is a thin me living at 17000 feet.

But his hike and mine were vastly different. He had packers of the human sort. He had liberal use of motorized vehicles. He even had yak to aid in his journey. Then again, he is probably close to 20 years older than me. I can cut him some slack.

Friendship Bridge at the border between Nepal and Tibet.

Mt. Everest

That aside, I desperately want to see the Himalayas. I want to spend hours taking photos in Khyber Pass. I want to camp at Everest's base camp. Is this a silly thing to want? I want to do it before I get too old. I don't know how I'll manage it, but man, wouldn't that be a fine adventure?

And unless you have a substantial block of time for travel fantasy, for God's sake, don't click here.

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