Laura Atherton- Senior Program Coordinator Adventures
Karina Salgado – Brand Design Manager
Both genuine Oregonians, Karina was born and raised in Medford and Laura in Portland. They both enjoy snowboarding, backpacking, and of course, long treks in the Himalayas.
Photography & Story by Laura Atherton and Karina Salgado
Laura- The mountains have always fascinated me. The ways in which people climb them, the endurance & training it takes to get there, and the feeling of standing at the summit is incomparable to any other goal I’ve attained. In the past several years, I’ve checked off several Northwest peaks, however, nothing compares to the magnitude of hiking in the Himalayas. Beyond the sheer size of the mountains, there is an intriguing history and culture around climbing Everest that has always drawn me in.
Karina- The love for travel and new experiences- it’s always special to learn and experience new countries and cultures, from the people, to their traditions and customs, to their food. The extra part for me was that I was entering into the unknown physically and mentally. Putting aside day hikes, apart from a couple short and easy backpacking trips and a stint up Rainier that definitely pushed me to my limits, I had never done anything like this, and while I was fairly confident that I could do this trip, I still wasn’t sure how I’d handle everything- the challenge was a big draw, and the potential to succeed and grow.
The weather varied drastically as we hiked from Lukla at 9,383′ to Everest Base Camp at 17,600′. It was critical to always pack in layers and be ready for any temperature.Gear we could not live without included a spacious and well-fitted daypack with many easily accessible pockets to hold the essentials like snacks, water bottles, sunglasses, sunscreen, and extra layers.
In order to reduce our impact on the trail and save money, we opted to filter our water. Steri-pens and Sawyer backpacking water filters were our best fiends as we aimed to drink a minimum of 96 oz. per day.
A water bottle is not only your friend during the day, but at night I’d fill it up with hot water and hold it in my sleeping bag with me for extra warmth. (Thanks Michelle for teaching me that one!)
The pinnacle of the trip was reaching Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar. Starting out in low-lying forested villages, we saw the landscape dramatically change the higher we trekked. Upon reaching EBC, we were surrounded by a desolate landscape of rock and ice.We were proud of how far we had trekked to be gazing up at Everest from the bottom of the mountain.
The trek in general was a truly amazing experience. The morning we ascended to EBC in particular – we started our day early, it was that time in the morning that holds unparalleled peace, one of the few times when it felt really remote.
What Made This Trip So Special?
We got to connect with some many people from all over the world, and the overall sense of accomplishment we had at the end. We hiked most days but still had the afternoons and evenings free. Everyone would huddle around the common area of the guesthouses to share meals, read, play games, and pass time together. We quickly picked up the card game, Dumbal, a fast-paced game that everyone knew from porters, guides, cooks, and guesthouse staff. It was an amazing way to be able to connect with everyone, even if we did not speak the same language.
Where do you want to go next?
Laura- I’m always scheming and dreaming my next adventure. I’m planning on going to Iceland in the spring to circumnavigate the island, some mountain biking and summer climbing in the Pacific Northwest, and hopefully Kilimanjaro in the fall.
Karina- I might join Laura in Iceland or Kilimanjaro, but I have also been dreaming of a warm beach and some smooth waves to surf. Until then, its mostly snowboarding in my near future.