First Person:

In spring 2005 my son Ryan, then a junior television-radio major at IC, spent his semester abroad in Nepal attending an SIT (Student International Training) program. After completing the semester he spent a month trekking around the region. He visited the famous Nepalese mountain region of Annapurna and Mt. Everest Base Camp, and also traveled to Thailand and India.

When he returned home, of course, he shared his experiences. I found myself most intrigued by his trek to the base camp at Everest, a place I've dreamed of visiting ever since childhood, when I'd hiked with my dad. I never imagined this dream would one day come true.

Ryan brought back Tibetan prayer flags -- they fly everywhere in the trekking region of Everest -- and we hung them outside our kitchen window. Each day as I looked out the window and saw the flags flying over the deck, tears came to my eyes. The more I looked at them, the more I felt drawn to Everest. I knew I had to see this magical place for myself. Ryan convinced me that with proper physical training I could realize my dream.

I started training at the Ithaca College Wellness Center in September 2005, intending to depart for Nepal in May 2006. My trainer was Anastasia "Stasi" Kasianchuk '07, a clinical exercise science and nutrition major.

Our trip was postponed because of political unrest in Nepal. We finally left in September 2006. After spending four days in the capital city of Kathmandu we flew to Lukla (elevation approximately 9,000 feet), where we spent two days before beginning the trek to Everest Base Camp, which is at 17,400 feet. The entire round trip took 13 days. It was quite challenging, but we had very little problem with altitude and were very lucky with the weather: it was mostly sunny the entire time, and we trekked mainly in short-sleeve shirts! (It did rain for our two days in Lukla; during that time Everest Base Camp got three feet of snow! There were two expeditions at advanced camps up on Everest at the time and the storm was so severe that the teams were called off the mountain.)

The views were spectacular and the mountains so majestic. To be that close to them seemed at times surreal. At sunrise one day we trekked to the top of a mountain called Kala Pattar, elevation 18,222 feet. From its summit, we could see the sun rise over Mt. Everest and enjoyed a 360-degree view of several of the tallest mountains in the world, such as Lhotse and Nuptse.

Another rewarding aspect of this trip was our time visiting Kathmandu, the capital city. We spent some
time with one of Ryan’s home-stay families. They are a lovely family – the father is a postal worker, and
they have two young daughters aged 7 and 10, who absolutely adore Ryan. It was so wonderful to see
where Ryan lived for several weeks of his visit. Even though they are terribly poor by our standards (annual
income per family is $220 US), they are a happy family, incredibly giving and generous.

Ryan received his bachelor’s degree in Audio Editing and Production from the Park School of Communications in May 2006, and is now living in Portland, Oregon. I was so fortunate to be able to spend a month alone with my son and realize a lifelong dream; this was certainly one of the most rewarding, memorable trips of my life.

Judy's husband, Steven Mauk, is in his 32nd year as the IC saxophone professor. Their daughter, Jenna, received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from IC in 2004 and her master's degree in criminal justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.

Originally published in IC View: First Person: .

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