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50 Latitudes (USA) Feature

The 50 Latitudes Feature will showcase Latitudes from a resident of each US state in their own words to illustrate that despite age, sex, location, or occupation, every living being on the planet has a favorite Latitude.  A person's favorite Latitude is not restricted to their home state.

Entries in Maryland (1)

Sunday
Feb202011

Maryland

After I graduated from law school, I took a six-month trip around the world.  Highlights of the trip included trekking to Machu Picchu, journeying deep into Amazon, exploring the ruins of Ankgor Wat, diving on the Great Barrier Reef, attempting the samba in Rio de Janeiro and beach combing in Fiji. 

However, none of these once-in-a-lifetime adventures measured up -- literally or figuratively -- to the highlight of the trip, Sagarmatha ("Goddess of the Sky" in Nepali).  Westerners call it Mount Everest.

The trek to Everest began with what is probably the world's most harrowing 30-minute flight.  Trekkers take a small turbo prop plane that seats 12, from Kathmandu, Nepal's capital, to Lukla airstrip.  Lukla is an impossibly short runway that is carved into the Himalayas.  It sits at a steep angle to help planes accelerate on take-off and decelerate on landing.  At one end of the runway lies a sheer mountain face, at the other end lies a several thousand foot drop-off. 

After the white-knuckled flight, I began hiking with my guide, Basu.  The round trip hike from Lukla (9,100 feet) to Everest Base Camp (18,000 feet) took twelve days and crossed the world's most spectacular and serene terrain. 

There are no roads, no cars, no multi-story buildings, no pollution, no cell phones and no fast food restaurants.  Only sherpas straining under Sisyphean-like conditions, Buddhist monasteries and prayer flags, take-your-breath-away starscapes, an occasional yak train and awe-inspiring peaks.

Basu and I spent our days plodding ever upwards and our nights in Sherpa guest houses. The hike itself was not terribly strenuous but the lack of oxygen often made it feel like a Sumo wrestler was sitting on my chest. 

After eight days of hiking, we reached the base of the world's tallest mountain, often referred to as the Ceiling of the World.

At its busiest, Base Camp is not much more than several hundred tents staked to the Khumbu ice flow.  However, by the time I reached Everest Base Camp in early June, the climbing season had just ended.   The world's most exclusive club of athletes -- those that had summited (and survived) Everest -- had left no trace. 

Basu and I had the place to ourselves, surrounded by nothing but the grinding and groaning of the ice underfoot and Everest's 29,035-foot regal peak overhead.  

This was true bliss.

I cried several times during the course of the hike to Base Camp, saddened by the thought that I would never see anything as beautiful again the rest of my life.  Although it is true that I have not seen anything comparable since, I look back and recognize how fortunate and blessed I was to experience the world at its most magnificent. 

See Dave Roth at his Latitude HERE in the Gallery