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The re-entry...

Sara Lingafelter
Sara Lingafelter
7 min read

I’m home!

I got into Seattle after the long trip home from Kathmandu a couple of days ago, for some time with my parents and sister, then came home to Kitsap yesterday. Everyone’s anxious for the trip report, but that has three complications:

  1. I have literally hundreds of photos to go through. Here’s a taste of what I’m up against, just taking into account pictures from our quick trip down:
  2. Views from day one of my trip down.

    My playmate in Pheriche, at the Himalayan Lodge.

    Views from day one of my trip down.

    Back in Kathmandu.

    View from the flight from Lukla to Kathmandu

    I edited, and deleted, as I went, and I still came home with two memory cards of images and video. It’s bittersweet to look at, at the moment, so we’ll see how long it takes me to go through.

  3. The trip, for me, had precious little to do with climbing, so I’m a bit at a loss for subject matter;
  4. And, my re-entry so far has kicked my ass, so I’m having a hard time deciding whether I need to devote some emotional energy to a trip recap to move on … or whether it’s just too much right now… perhaps the more appropriate next step is to apply the immersion approach to the realities of my life at home.

Wacky, I know, but I’m a girl who has a hard time adjusting back to “normal life” after a long weekend of climbing a couple of hours away from home; I should have known better, and planned a spa retreat (or maybe, inpatient therapy) or something for my return from this particular trip.

So far, the stages I’ve moved through have been:

  1. Friday: Catatonic with jet lag. That was fun. I actually, physically, couldn’t keep my eyes open and felt nauseous my first day in Seattle. My poor family — if they kept me talking, I could stay upright, so they had to listen to story after story about yaks and conditions on the mountain and my extended periods of time in the Communication tent … good sports, all of them. I actually, at a few points in the day, heard phantom yak bells. I managed to get a bunch of sleep that night, though — pacific time night, not my biological night — so I think that was a good start on my recovery. Word of the day: “Voracious.” I couldn’t stop eating. My metabolism, apparently, thinks I’m still in the Himalaya.
  2. Kami Tshering Sherpa (Little Kami), and his yaks

  3. Saturday: Depressed. That was less fun. I know it happens… but it’s still not pleasant. That phase never lasts long for me, but it’s compounded by dealing with some really hard stuff at home. On the other hand, it was balanced by finally getting to spend some extended time with one of my girl friends who I’d been just desperate to catch up with the last few weeks, so as post-trip depression goes, I think I got off easy. There was, of course, ice cream involved. Word of the day: “Profound.” When I thought about anything, the descriptive word attached in my inner commentary was “Profound.” “Profoundly jetlagged.” “Profound culture shock.” “Profound disorientation.” You get the picture.
  4. Sunday: The theme, and the Word of the Day seem to be the same. “Paralyzed.” I’ve completely lost track of both the physical time, and my biological time, and am just not tired. I didn’t sleep much last night, and woke up really early this morning, and thought to myself…

    “Well… NOW what do I do with myself?”

    So, I put on a Genius playlist based on “Blame it on the Tetons,” the song that was running through my head when I woke up. Step two was to pour a cup of breakfast tea, since — unlikely enough, and probably short lived — I managed to kick my coffee addiction during the trip in favor of a tea addiction. Luckily, that lead to a bowl of cereal, which made me think I should probably eat some proper food today (after yesterday revolved primarily around Lucky Charms) which will get me out of the house, to the grocery store, and suddenly, it’s like a magic cure for my paralysis since I now have a “To Do list.” I’d imagine, another therapeutic step will be to go to the climbing gym, so perhaps that’s what today will hold.

If anyone would like to give me a sneak peak of the next few stages of my re-entry, based on your own experiences, I’d be all over it. A little early warning might help me plan the next couple of weeks better.

My instincts have been to flee… I’m home unexpectedly early from my trip, and I think part of my increased disorientation comes because my trip home was just so FAST because we had to jump on logistical opportunities that would get me and Jamie out of Lukla early. Here’s me, head spinning, on the flight from Lukla to Kathmandu…

On the plane to Kathmandu

So, why not just leave again? I’ve got the means, motive and opportunity, but on the other hand, then I’m just going to have to re-enter after TWO trips, and I don’t know if that will help anything at all. Escapism is great, and all, but real life will still be here when I get back, so that doesn’t really get me anywhere.

Not to mention, the rhythm of constant motion that I’ve gotten used to is only one part of what I’m missing. The other part, which is harder to reproduce, is that I’m now accustomed to being completely surrounded by people. I’ve been traveling and living with the climbing team and trekkers from my trip for the last month… aside from my time alone in my sleeping quarters each night, and my solo trekking time, I’ve had the companionship of my travel buddies at all times.

Todd, Scott and our friend Rhita in Namche

I can't remember for sure...

Aside from missing my travel companions, I’m also now conditioned to interact with strangers in the Nepali fashion… with intense curiosity and conversation, pretty much constantly. It was disorienting, and strange, to sit down on my last flight and not have the person next to me turn to me and ask, “Where are you from? What’s your good name?
Are you traveling alone or with a group? Where were you trekking? Is this your first time here? What do you do for work? Are you married? Where did you go to school? How many brothers do you have? How do you like Nepal?” and on, and on. Compared to my “home” there — address, “Perpetual Motion, Nepal” — home here is incredibly quiet, even with my wonderful, heartfully missed friends and family doing their part to help me not be too lonely.

So, first tea. Then breakfast and some good music. I just finished doing my photo dump, so I’m going to open up iPhoto and see if I can stand to look at pictures yet, which will dictate the rest of the day. It’ll either be, “Nope – not ready yet,” in which case it’ll be second breakfast followed by a trip to the gym. Then, the grocery store, and making a yummy, healthy dinner of whatever I feel like eating tonight. Or, if it’s the alternative, it’ll be a day of writing and photos and immersion back in the trip. You’ll know soon enough.

A little bit of gratitude…

Thank you, all, for your well wishes, love and support during this trip… I was mostly only able to broadcast updates and view your messages, not respond, because of our bandwidth limitations — but I’ll be slowly catching up with those of you who sent messages of encouragement and positive thoughts, and every single one was appreciated.

Also — here’s a huge thank you to Tiffany and our guest posters, who held down the fort here so incredibly well, and with such love and care.

And, the world’s hugest thank you to Jamie, Mike, Charlie, the rest of the Hanesbrands team, Elizabeth, and Wally and Leila with Berg Adventures for their parts in making this incredible, first-in-a-lifetime trip a reality for me. There just aren’t words to express my gratitude, and appreciation.

Finally — what do YOU want to know? Ask away, and it might help me figure out what to write up from this trip…

Not Climbing

Sara Lingafelter

Sara (Grace) Lingafelter takes steps forward and backward toward a right-sized life on a daily basis.