I'm always so thankful for each of you who takes the time to read what I write and share. Recently, I entered a writing contest with the travel company I went to Tibet with in 2015, Extravagant Yak. To my amazement, I made it to the top 10 and in order to advance to the finals I need as many public votes as possible, which is where you come in. It would mean the world to me if you followed the link below, scrolled to the bottom of my article, and clicked the 'like' button. Having the opportunity to win a trip to Tibet is incredible and I know with the help of the community around me I can get one more step closer. Thanks again for the support and feel free to share the link with anyone you know who might enjoy what I wrote about.
Our trek was coming to a conclusion and the comfort of Zhilam Hostel was at the forefront of my thoughts that morning. This is a combination of the last two days of hiking. The one day we just hiked directly back to our first campsite so there weren't too many breathtaking images that I hadn't already seen. During the entire time of being out in China's vast countryside I hadn't showered or cleaned any part of me other than my teeth and mind! To say the least, I was revolting in every definition of the word. My hair was greasy, hands brown (either from dirt or the sun), feet blistered, skin peeling, nails long, and did I mention my hair was greasy? I felt like an animal and the sweet taste of the delicious carrot cake, scrambled eggs and toast, chai and any of the other incredible food that the hostel offered was a strong motivator to keep hiking.
The last morning of tenting our campsite was overwhelmed by fog! You couldn't see the tent next to you it was so thick. Fortunately, it started clearing up before breakfast and provided for some incredible images. After we packed up camp we were on our way to where the bus would pick us up and bring is back to Kangding. Once we arrived back at Zhilam Hostel the first thing on my agenda was taking a nice hot shower and sitting down with a cup of tea while sorting through the gigabytes of photos from the hike. If you haven't picked up on it yet I am highly recommending Zhilam Hostel as a place to stay if you are ever remotely close to Kangding, China. It is clean, well maintained, has comfortable beds, hot showers, friendly staff, and ran by amazing people with food you just can't beat. But back to the story, shortly after starting to sort my photos, I remembered I didn't have enough flash portraits so Zach and I begrudgingly grabbed the flash gear to get our final portraits. The one is of a Zhilam Hostel staff serving up some delectable cake and the other is of Abu; a staff member for Extravagant Yak Travel Company who lead us on the prestigious hike up to 4950 metres and was just an incredible guy. Oh, and another China exclusive I would recommend is Extravagant Yak Travel Company. Just go to their website and see all the phenomenal tours you can go on. The service these guys provide is truly phenomenal and the experience will be with you for a life time!
This is the last entry of the China Blog series and for those of you who have taken the time to read even one of them, thank you! I hope you enjoyed it and that my writing was not too boring or that my images were too amateur. I just integrated a video page on my website where you will find a short video I made while on the trip as well as some of my other work. It gives a great overview of what we did and some of the highlights for us Digital Media guys. This summer many more adventures are approaching and I can't wait to share them!
The pinnacle of our trip had arrived! We woke up early in the morning filled with curiosity of what our day would look like and excited for another adventure. Everyone's anticipation that had been building all trip was finally going to subside and the story of hiking up to 4950 metres above sea level in Tibet would be one we could share with thousands! Sometimes I find myself more excited about the possible story than the experience at hand; this may not be a good thing but its how I am.
For the most part I like to let the images speak for themselves but I do have some things to say. First off, the sky is actually that blue! Due to the thin atmosphere at nearly 5000 metres it appears more blue than what we are used to seeing closer to sea level. This provided for some epic black and whites as well as incredible contrast to the white snow that blankets the mountain side. The image of the man in the red sweater is the same man that we took portraits of a few days earlier. He was guiding a couple over the pass we just reached in order to get to the next town another 36km away! There was no way they would reach their goal that late in the day and they didn't seem to have any tenting supplies so I am extremely curious as to what they did that night. The day provided incredible images and a spectacular view that photos just didn't do full justice. Lastly, thank you for reading my stories and it would help a lot if you shared this any way you can!
Waking up to a heard of yak's roaming through your camp is unlike any alarm you will ever get on your phone. The yelling herders and bells clanging around as the yak's crossed the river and meandered through our campsite was an incredible start to the day. In addition to that I was feeling way better than I was the previous day and almost was looking forward to the hike ahead of us.
I was still a little weak but it was bearable and the hike was much shorter than the days before; merely 4km. Once we arrived at our campsite we realized the water source that had been there years prior had dried up so we backtracked about a kilometre and set up camp there instead. Zach and I both wanted to regain our strength for the hike we had the next day where we would be reaching an altitude of 4950 metres so we decided to set up our tent and remain there bantering for the remaining of the day. In the meantime Paul, of course, decided to ascend directly up the face of a mountain to try and check off yet another summit. This one reached up 4800 metres! While he was up there a storm rolled in and we got some awesome time lapses but for the most part listening to rain patter on our tent was the extent of my activity. Overall the day was nice and relaxing with the anticipation of our upcoming hike slowly building.
Day 6 was the most exhausting day that I have ever experienced! The hike was another 8km into the Tibetan mountain range and the sickness everyone had caught the first day hit me at full force. That night I was up for most of it wishing I were either dead or in a hospital being cared for. This may sound pathetic, but at one point in the excruciating night I woke up: oozed out of my sleeping, got out of the tent, stood up in agony, looked at the breathtaking stars, and wished that falling over in the rain soaked earth to die was a logical option. Shortly after a desperate prayer and a few minutes of shivering and moaning in misery I reencountered our delicious supper and was stable enough to return to bed. Sorry for the graphic imagery. This being said, my night was still far from peaceful and I awoke totally drained.
As soon as I woke up the thought of hiking was probably near the last thing I wanted to do that day. While everyone packed up the tents and supplies I hardly had enough energy to pack my own bag but once I did it purposed as a pillow. I laid there motionless until we had to start the 8km hike, which on any other day would have been a breeze. After breaking about every 10-20 minutes we finally arrived at our campsite. I took a 2.5 hour nap and awoke just in time for supper. I was feeling way better and thats when we saw the tibetan man below sitting on a ridge in the distance. I don't recall who initiated it but Paul and Zach grabbed the flash gear as I mustered up the stenght to merely fetch my camera. We got Abu, one of our guides, to check with the man to see if it was alright to photograph him and once we got the go ahead he was lit up with masses of photos! We all took turns capturing images of him and while we had the gear out figured it would be cool to get some portraits of Tom and Garret. Everyone was was a great sport and I think that the images of the tibetan man are some of the best portraits I have taken to date! Thanks for reading!