Thank you David Bonderman!

Because of Mr. Bonderman's generosity, I have been given the opportunity to travel the world and learn about culture. As a Bonderman Travel Fellow I plan on traveling through Western and Eastern Europe, East Africa, Northern India and Southeast Asia. I am excited to experience new and amazing things that will better enable me to empower and inspire the next generation of young students.

ALSO!!! If you are interested in following the nasty development of my beard and can follow it at

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

15 days, 150+ miles, elevation 17770 ft, Annapurna Himalaya Range

It was epic.

15 days might be a little too long to be in the mountains "on my own," but wow was it worth it. I can imagine that if I was hiking with someone else or a few others I could spend months in the shadows of these giants. Simply put, it's where I belong.

I put quotations around "on my own" because I was never truly on my own...I met and bonded with 20-30 amazing people from all over the world. For two or three days I'd join up with different groups of hikers or other solo hikers. My main companion was a 68-year-old Danish man named Ole. He was a stud! I met him on the first day of the hike in Bahundanda, hiked with him on day 5 for a bit, took a side adventure to Tilicho Tal with him and then went from manang to ledar with him on day 9. Great roomie, companion and friend on the trek! I hope to see him again in Pokhara while I'm here...or in Portugal, if I decide to cash in on the open invitation to stay at his olive farm.

I crossed the pass, unexpectedly, on March 16th, Day 10 of the trek...I started in the morning at 9am from Ledar, planning to have a short day to Thorung Phedi and then cross the pass early the following morning (March 17). But I reached Thorung Phedi in great time and decided to try my luck for high camp. I reached high camp at 11am and seriously contemplated crossing the pass. I knew that everyone crossing the pass leaves between 3am and 6am in order to reach the summit before noon and before the winds become too bitterly cold. But I disregarded the warnings, went with my gut and took off for the pass at 11:15am (a full 5 hours after the last person departed from High Camp). I reached Throung La (5416 meters, 17769 feet) at 1pm and IT WAS BEAUTIFUL!!!! I was the ONLY person within miles, the skies were clear and the wind was calm. Unbelievable. I'm really glad I left so late to avoid the masses. Unreal.

I reached muktinath at the end of the day and heard the stories of all the other trekkers crossing the pass in the early morning...sounded cold, windy and VERY crowded :) once again, I'm very glad I left so late! I realize, now, that if something happened to me on the pass, NO ONE would have come until the following morning...leaving me at 5,000+ meters overnight. Oh well, I'm okay and I'd do it again if I had the chance.

Pictures and videos to come.

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