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Friday - December 30

From Lucy:

After almost three and a half days of travel (Yes, we timed it with a stopwatch), we made it to Gangtok. Although the flight delays and extra DC time was not what we anticipated or hoped from our adventure around the world, it became an opportunity for rest, community, and fun before making our travels.

Whether together or apart in the air or waiting for our plane, exhausted or reenergized, the group found opportunities for fun: yoga in the terminal, airport exploration, friendship bracelet making, pretend poker with our spare change, perfume testing, trivia, and more, all interspersed with loud (sometimes delirious) laughter.

Four airports, six combined flights, a group split later, we arrived in Delhi, exhilarated from the pent-up anticipation. Our groups reunited not only with each other, but also with Tim and Lalit for some tea and dosa in Delhi. We swapped travel stories, took in the new surroundings, and enjoyed our last hours in an airport before our flight to Bagdogra.

After the stress and change of the past couple of days, our flight to Bagdogra was truly a highlight for me. I have avidly been reading the Lord of the Rings series throughout our travels. I am almost done with the final book. On this flight, as I was reading about Sam and Frodo’s arrival at Mount Doom, Tim tapped me on the shoulder and pointed out the window. There, on the horizon, tens of thousands of feet in the air, were the Himalayan mountains, Everest included. The moment was surreal, and made better by the incredible omelet I was eating.

The mountains majesty and beauty was reflective of the hearts of those that live in them, as we learned upon our arrival at the Sikkim Happiness Home.

But first, we met Gyatso for our five hour van ride to Gangtok. Within the first few minutes, we leaned the rules (or lack thereof… more like customs) of the road. We traveled through villages and along windy mountain roads, weaving through cars, people, potholes, dogs, and many many cows just chilling on the road.

And finally, we arrived at the Sikkim Happiness Home and were welcomed by more than twenty two shy but shining faces. As someone who has been hearing the names of these girls throughout my four years with Walkabout, the opportunity to finally meet them, share dinner with them, and be toured around their home, was the greatest source of joy. Our time together was short-lived before bed, but full of the happiness Tim has always claimed. This place is the “happiest place on earth”.

He is right, and we couldn’t be more happy to be here.


Saturday - December 31

From Sophia:

I don’t think I have the words to describe the joy I felt today in the Happiness Home and exploring Gangtok. As I’m writing this, I am cuddled up with a few of the girls—Mingsha, Eden, Riya, Renu, and Muskan — the rest of the girls are playing upstair. Everyone woke up around 6:30 this morning to start the day with some fried rice for breakfast, which was absolutely delicious. We spent the morning filling in coloring books with the beautiful view of the mountains and the fresh air from the open windows. An extra special treat was the kitten named Michan curling up on my lap for a little while. It truly was the perfect morning. At around 11:00, we were picked up by Gyatso and headed up to M.G Marg (a pedestrian street - Mahatma Gandhi Road) where we spent a few hours walking around and popping in shops where we found many trinkets, teas, and gifts ;). After that we went to a wonderful restaurant where Donna Marie informed us that we would have the best food of our lives; she definitely wasn’t wrong. As we asked Tim what food he thought we should get, he recommended the “Tim Laramore point method” where you close your eyes and point, because everything on the menu is so good. I ordered the Palak Panner with rice, which was a spinach and cheese dish that tasted absolutely insane. Madi saw sugar cubes in person for the first time and we spent quite a bit of time stacking them with the little tongs. Following our lunch, we walked down the busy streets of Gangtok back to the Happiness Home. Despite the fog, the view of the mountains felt unreal. I’m pretty sure I could watch it for hours and never get bored. Once we were back with the girls,  we were greeted with hot tea and giggles. After a little bit of resting the girls performed dances for us which they learned while we were out. We joined in and everyone was dancing to both Bollywood and American music featuring Taylor Swift’s iconic “Love Story”. After having so much fun dancing around, we ran upstairs to the terrace where we played a game called ice and water (freeze tag) and a few other games. Eventually we finished the day with dinner, where we had rice, potatoes, spinach, and pulses. I have been thinking about what I wanted to write for this all day, and I still don’t know how to explain how grateful I am to be in this truly magical place to close 2022. I’m so excited to continue our adventure tomorrow, but first—sleep!

Happy New Years:) - Sophia 


Sunday - January 1


From Madisen:

Happy New Years! January 1st; I woke up grateful to be in one of the most amazing places in the world. As I got dressed and made my way down to the dining room, I could hear all the chatter and laughing of the girls and my heart instantly filled with joy. I was offered a warm cup of tea, that I’m definitely now addicted to, and hung out with everyone till it was time to go on an adventure for breakfast. We all loaded up in the taxis and, with Gyatso as our guide, we made it to an amazing breakfast place called The Coffee Shop. I ordered a cinnamon coffee, which had a heart designed on the foam, and a waffle breakfast, that was paired with honey instead of syrup; I might have a new addiction to add.

After breakfast we began our short walk to the Hindu temple in town. My first reaction was wow. It is one of the most beautiful and intricate places that I’ve ever visited. The grand building itself, which towered over me, was carefully decorated with murals that seemed to pop out of the walls and flowers carefully sculpted into them. Once making it to the sacred room we walked in gingerly and only spoke in hushed voices if at all. The statues we saw were porcelain white, with black hair, decorated with golden adornments; all depictions of the many gods mirrored after Brahman, which Mr. Williams called God with a capital G.

After I asked Mr. Williams about a hundred questions, we left the temple and made our way through town to the Buddhist temple further away. In order to get there we had to take the sky car, which was exciting for me because of the view, but stressful for some because of their fear of heights. But before we could make it to the sky train we had to ride the elevator up a few floors because the stairs were off limits. The first group that fit in the elevator was Reese, Lucy, Nora, Donna Marie, and Sophia. With Mr. Watkins, Taylor, Evan, Mr. Williams, and myself all trailing behind in the second group. A few jokes about getting stuck in the elevator were made before getting on, and surprise surprise we got stuck. We knew something was wrong when we clicked the button for the fourth floor and went down to, I kid you not, negative two. The lights turned off, the elevator shook, and we were only saved by a few guys who had to pry the elevator door open to get us out. Once making it out we walked up the stairs that were supposed to be off limits, up to the sky car. Riding it was just how I imagined it would be; beautiful. The scenery took my breath away; unparalleled to anything I’ve seen before.

After getting off the sky car we began walking to the Buddhist temple. While making our way there, I noticed the beautiful flags that lined the road leading up to the temple increasing and so did my excitement. At the base of the temple we were greeted with a huge staircase that, with my lack of exercise over Christmas break, quickly broke me a sweat. At the top was an extravagant white and gold stupa bigger than many skyscrapers I’ve seen lined with prayer wheels that when spun clockwise, send out thousands of mantras of compassion into the universe. We walked to the room that holds the beautiful golden Buddha statue accompanied by its many other forms and depictions. Before each statue were hundreds of cups of water filled to the brim to represent purity and serve as an offering. As we were leaving we caught a little glimpse of a worship service and got to listen to some of the chants. I was mesmerized.

After walking back to the home we drank tea, played many games of duck duck goose, cards, ice and water; freeze tag, and a new game called ghost ghost; tag in the dark. All before learning how to make momo’s (deliciously steamed dumplings filled with cabbage and vegetables) from scratch. I have to say, Lucy is a natural, and mine weren't too shabby either.

I am so grateful to have the privilege to spend my new years in India, surrounded by amazing people, and being able to experience the lives of others while learning more about the world and myself.


Monday - January 2

Today we will drove to  Dzhonghu, a restricted area of Sikkim that requires an invitation from the Lepcha people to enter.  Fortunately, a few of the girls in the Sikkim Happiness Home are Lepcha - allowing us to trek on a Buddhist pilgrimage route to Tholung monastery.  We stay in the village of Tingbong tonight and begin the trek the next day.


From Reese:

Today is the day we all dreaded, saying goodbye to all the girls at the Happiness Home. We gathered our things and spent our remaining time with all of them. Breakfast was fried rice and milk tea, my new favorite. Then we helped the girls write letters to their sponsors before they left to go home for break. Home for them is not always the same as for us. It could be going home to a relative or just one parent. Sarita got me to help her, and she drew her sponsor family a wonderful picture of all the Baylor (bailor as she spelled it) girls, to show her sponsor family, who came to visit the home. Go Fish was a hit, so we played with Shradha, Shriya, Shreya, Eden, Itnoma, and Diya for the last time. My favorite part about playing Go Fish is everytime they ask you for a card they repeat your name twice. They would say, “Reesie, Reesie do you have…”

At 11, we sadly got picked up by a taxi, so we waved and hugged all the girls goodbye before hopping in. The taxi with our bags on too did not get strapped down. That was a bit concerning, but I realized how much we desire our possessions in life. This captures the Buddha’s thought that our desires cause suffering, and I realized that as I stressed over something so silly. We then picked the boys up where our bags were tied down in India’s version of a Jeep truck. It was now time to go towards the guest house, an interesting drive to say the least. We read the signs for drivers on the road: “BRO check your nerve on my curve,” “Speed has 5 letters so does death, slow has 4 letters so does life.” I could not stop looking out at the window to see mountains like I never have before. Never once have I been to a place with mountains as beautiful as these. We continued driving, and eventually we all looked down to see the river below with a bluish-teal tint. Another sight I have nothing to compare it to. We got to stop for lunch at a bridge overlooking the river, where we had Appy, Samosa, and muffins. Then, across from our bridge was a old rickety bridge that we ran across, down and back. Later in our drive, we saw the same old bridge broken and tilted to the side—a scary sight after playing on the last. Our driver at one point was scared to go down a hill in his car that wasn’t meant for off-roading, but we made it. As he started down it, he even videoed himself and all of us, to show what “Sir” (Gyatso) was making him do. Once we conquered that, it was time for another old bridge but longer, and higher above, decorated in the prayer flags you see everywhere you travel. This was our last stop before arriving at our home for the night, with a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains.



Tuesday - January 3

From Jamie:

First, shoutout to my family :) I woke up before the sunrise and climbed up to the roof of the guest house to watch the sun rise over the mountains. Shortly after we had the best and most fresh breakfast. Everything was grown with love and care right in the village. We had fresh hard boiled eggs from the chickens running around in the back yard, rice, green beans, and some squash. After breakfast we packed up all of our stuff and put them in the bed of a truck and began our adventure to the next spot. Before we began the drive Gyatso told Evan that it was the roughest road in the entirety of Sikkim and he wasn’t wrong. I don’t even think you could even call it a road. It was the roughest and rockiest path I’ve ever been on. Many of us were standing in the bed of this truck going up this rocky path holding on for dear life trying not to fall out. We were constantly jostled around and there was not a moment of peace for the hour long ride. Even though we were constantly jostled around the view was amazing. The road followed the Teesta river which is the most vibrant and clear turquoise blue color. Because we were standing in the bed of the truck we had a 360 view of the river, many waterfalls, and the mountains. After our wild ride we finally made it to the beginning of the trail. One of the first parts of the trail was a long suspension bridge made of wood and wire that crossed over the intimidating rushing rapids of the river. The bridge was a little sketchy, but i was surprised at how well the path was maintained. The path was mostly of rocks that were laid out and there were even some parts with concrete stairs. Five bridges later we arrived at home for the night. There was one main house and a smaller wooden shack behind it. The main house had recently been broken into so the girls had to sleep in the shack behind the main house and the boys slept outside. The shack was made of wood with lots of holes and cracks. After we arrived we hung out by the fire and ate dinner which consisted of rice and something else. Reese and I were getting chilly so we went our little shack to change into our long underwear. We changed and were headed out of our room when BAM! Half of Reese just disappears. Her leg is just gone. She had stepped in a hole that was covered by foam pads and ripped right through the pads and fell through the hole. We laughed until we cried. We went back to the campfire still crying laughing to share with everyone else what happened. Later I was coming back out of the shack and i turned on my head light and there were two glowing eyes looking back at me. It was a dog that looked scared and a little vicious but she ended up staying the night with us.


Wednesday - January 4

From Evan:

I never knew that serenity like this could exist. I hardly got any sleep last night, I stayed up talking to Gyatso (Tim’s friend from Sikkim) until around ten, and once he left I noticed the night sky. I have never seen something quite like it. you don’t realize how few stars we can see until you are far away from civilization and light pollution. Madisen and I listened to Rachmaninoff’s second concerto on the iPod that I brought, which perfected the atmosphere. The view here is stellar, you can look down into the valley and see rainforest foliage and rivers, or you can look up at the looming peaks of the Himalayas. At around three in the morning the moon moved to a point so that the peaks seemed luminescent. After convincing myself to sleep I awoke earlier than I ever would at home due to jet lag. I was immediately greeted with my favorite sight of the trip. The peaks of the mountains were washed in a blush pink. The sunrise made the snow seem salmon and the rocks seem violet.

This is how I imagine Monet saw the world.

I ate a healthy plate of fried rice and we began our second leg of the trek. This half was far more difficult than yesterday. An earthquake in 2018 caused the existing trail to be covered by landslide and our hike suddenly turned to bouldering. We cleared the hazardous portion and crossed another very beautiful— and precarious— bridge. The prayer flags adorned the railing and the path leading up to it which makes for a vibrant view. Jamie eventually had to pass me because of how many times I stopped to take in the view. After a day of hiking we reached Tholung Monastery. It was tranquility like I had never seen. The exhausted group sat around the fire until the small hours of the night talking and playing cards. I found out the hard way that Madisen is a Rummy prodigy. I also found that she is an amazing storyteller if you give her the chance, and if she gives you the opportunity to listen. Instead of sleeping outside I not only got to stay inside, but I got to sleep on a pillow! This trip so far has been breathtaking. I may never leave.


Thursday - January 5

From Taylor:

Today we awoke in Tholung, a village surrounding a Tibetan Buddhism Monastery in the Himalayan mountains. As we stepped outside of our home for two nights, one that has seen many travelers with no permanent residents, a fresh layer of frost decorated the ground and our fire from the night before. Plus Mads’ Bagalini (a cross body Grandma bag) that she accidentally left out the night prior! Upon glancing to the sky the clouds had disappeared from the prior day and the sublime mountains were visible in an almost 360º view.

When everyone was awake we were given biscuits (crackers) and chai, perfectly warm for a cold morning. After around 30 minutes the sun rose from behind the snowy mountains facing our home. Around the same time breakfast was served and we had fried rice and porridge that had the most sugar I had ever had in it! Though everyone else disagreed :( As we walked back outside to sit facing the sun and to bask in the heat, water started pouring from the melting frost on the roof!

Soon after we finished breakfast we started on our day hike to a cave that Tibetan Buddhist believe Padmasambhava meditated in. We crossed the rustling glacier stream which included traversing across large boulders where we saw many stupas, small rock towers. While taking in the views we stopped to create our own stupas. Khondro said they indicated the path’s direction though her father, the famous Gyatso, said that Buddhists create them as a symbol of peace and prayer. There were hundreds! We continued climbing high on narrow cliff side passages and conversations ranged from talks with Tim on Buddhism and Hinduism, college, peanut butter, pride, and Baylor’s infractions. Before we circled back, we learned from the porter’s that one must rub the sand off the cliff’s rock and place their thumb on their brow to create a bindi.

Throughout the entire journey we came upon many prayer flags hung from tree to tree over the path showcasing the bright colors of the 5 elements against the rainforest background - sending prayers of compassion out into the world with each gust of wind.

We arrived back at the home to cool off in the wind and to bask in the blanket that is the mid-day sun. Soon enough, we were served more biscuits and tea! The afternoon was filled with talks on Buddhism, naps, and rummy. Tis a very contrasting feeling, sleeping in the sun while staring at the glacier and snow covered Himalayan mountains.

In the afternoon, a group of us walked over to the Tholung Monastery. Originally established in 1760 by the 4th Lhatsun Kunzang Jigme Gyatso. Though after a earthquake on September 18th, 2011 it was completely demolished and rebuilding only started around three years ago. The frame of the edifice had been constructed along with the windows which were outlined in intricate hand painted designs. Upon entering the Monastery we immediately entered the ground floor, which is still heavenly under construction. The relics, topped with a stupa, were covered, but the offering of seven bowls of water for purity was still displayed - a ritual done by Buddhists each morning. Exiting the main room, we walked up the concrete stairs to the prayer book room. The main wall was covered with a bookcase that was filled with prayer books carefully covered in cloth. Some new and some hundreds of years old. Leaning against the midway outstretched shelf were pictures depicting different Buddhist figures. After exploring the monastery we walked the traditional clockwise route around the building in order to depart back to the home.

Later, dinner was a special treat of spicy ramen and finger chips, thanks to the wonderful porters and Angchuck, our cook! We even had leftover porridge for dessert! The evening was filled with reading books, telling stories around the fire, and, of course, more rummy! Finally, the night ended and we all slipped back into our sleeping bags to rest before the 10 mile trek back down the mountains to civilization!

P.S. Hey, Mom! <33


Friday - January 6

from Brody:

As we left the monastery on top of the mountain, I got a couple of final glimpses of where we had been. While this amazing view sunk into my memory never to be forgotten, we began the trek down the trail traversing boulders and rivers with the dog we affectionately named Ki (dog in Tibetan). The eleven miles down the hill came and went quickly - only stopping to take pictures of our incredible surroundings. When we reached the end, an amazing lunch of noodle soup was waiting. As we piled into the jeeps, a bittersweet feeling swept over me. I did not want to leave such a beautiful place, but I did want to see the other wonderful sights in store for the next adventure. Driving out of the valley and up the mountain to Lingtam, the temperature quickly got much colder. After the long drive, we arrived at our Lepcha guest house for the night. The view of the mountains and valley from the window is like nothing I have seen before. Dinner and tea were consumed quickly, and we settled in and played cards until bedtime.


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Saturday - January 7

From Nora:

Hi Walkabout friends and family! What a day we’ve had today- I don’t even know where to begin. This morning we awoke in the guest house after a wonderfully restful night. We ventured up the hill to witness the sun rising over Kanchenjunga, the 3rd tallest mountain in the world. The mountain is thousands of feet taller than its neighbors, however from our perspective, the mountain did not tower over the rest of the range like I expected it to. To me, this seeming smaller part of our day was an interesting lesson in perspective. All of life’s joys and troubles can appear smaller or larger, just depending on where you choose to stand. After looking at the mountain, we were allowed onto the grounds of the village monastery where the sun streaming through the prayer flags created an almost perfectly serene start to the day. When we returned to the guest house, we were greeted with tea, biscuits, and a delicious breakfast of noodles and toast- and more tea! As we packed up our things and got ready to say goodbye, the little girl who lives at the house (her mom runs the place) offered us each a kata, placing the colorful scarf around each of our necks as we exited her home. This small gesture represents to me what I have come to appreciate and love so dearly about the culture here. Everyone we have met here, friend or stranger, is so quick to give without asking for anything in return. Tibetan Buddhism holds compassion, or loving kindness, as its core value, and truly this is how many people in Sikkim live. I experienced this even further when we were spontaneously invited to a traditional Lepcha wedding by one of Gyatso’s (many) friends. I was extremely hesitant- thinking we would be a nuisance or a distraction- but everyone at the wedding welcomed us with open arms, offering us tea and snacks and teaching us how to participate in the ceremony. When I explained my initial feelings to Gyatso, he told me how weddings here are not only about the bride and groom, but about celebrating with the community and extending joy to everyone. I am continuously amazed and inspired by the generosity and hospitality found here.

Following the wedding, we began our drive to Rabungla- and I cannot even begin to try and encapsulate the view. We drove through the country side surrounded by old growth forests and views of rolling mountains with the angular, snow cap peaks standing tall in the background. Thinking about how ancient and untouched the forests are here, next to the ever-growing and changing landscape of the Himalayan mountains reminded me once again of the striking level of variety and abundance here in India. Everywhere is so full and rich- it is hard to explain without experiencing it. During our drive, we stopped at the Temi Tea farm and drank tea from the gardens surrounding us. As the sun began to set, we made it into town and to our hotel. The place is incredible! My room overlooks a panoramic view of the the mountains, with Buddha Park (a giant monastery in the shape of the Buddha) in the distance. Never before have I been so happy to see a squishy bed, a hot water heater, and a real toilet. All jokes aside, I have learned to be much more conscious of the daily comforts in life I often take for granted like hot water. After setting our bags down, we waled to the Buddha and went inside. The walls tell the story of the Buddha’s life through intricate, hand painted artwork sprawling the entire inside of the building. After learning much about Buddhism in class two years ago, being able to witness works like this in person is so much more enriching and awe inspiring than I could have ever imagined. As our days here in India come to a close, my gratitude and admiration for this place and the people here is overflowing. Learning more about and experiencing how people, particularly Tibetan Buddhists, are able to put their faith into action has inspired me to further practice the love and compassion my own religion teaches.

As I sit in my hotel room, belly and heart very full, I cannot wait to see what adventures, joys, and new lessons tomorrow will bring. I hope everyone at home is doing well- I am sending all my love from India!


Sunday - January 8


From Lucy:

It’s me again! I feel very honored to bookend the blog, but I’ll be honest, it feels like a daunting task to be the one to offer closing thoughts that sufficiently sum up this trip. And what a trip it has been!


Today, we had not one, not two, but three final adventures. After a peanut butter-filled breakfast on our hotel’s patio overlooking the Buddha park, we visited Ralang Monastery. It’s the largest one we’ve seen thus far, usually housing around 300 monks. Most of them are currently out of town for one of the Dalai Lama’s sermons in Bodh Gaya, but the ones who were there showed us around and offered us very… interesting… butter tea.


Our next stop was a Hindu temple in Legship dedicated to Hanuman, the god of devotion who looks like a monkey. On our way out, we even saw a group of Macaque monkeys swinging from the trees.


Our third adventure was a Buddhist monastery in Legship, housing a cave (yes, a cave) believed to be the place where Padmasambhava meditated for a year. After lunch (samosas and bananas!) on the riverbank, we went into the cave two-by-two and imagined what it would be like to sit there for a year.


Our fourth (surprise!) and final excursion was completely unexpected by all. After arriving at our very luxurious hotel in Siliguri, we walked down the busy road to a mall! For an Italian dinner! We all ordered pizza and fries and were treated to live music—a guy pulled out an electric guitar and played familiar American songs.


Over these two weeks, we have learned and experienced more than we ever could have expected. I will forever be grateful for the generosity and kindness shown to us by everyone we have met. We’ve been shuttled through the tallest mountains in the world, welcomed warmly into homes, provided lovingly-prepared meals, and proudly shown beloved cultural traditions.


Since I started off the blogging with a book reference, it feels right to end with one too. I’m now reading Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (thank you Mr. Laramore), and at one point, the narrator muses, “To understand one life, you have to swallow the world.” I think I speak for everyone when I say we have collectively grown in awareness of the world, appreciation of cultural differences, and compassion for others, and are committed to continue growing in these ways at home in our own communities. This time has been so special, and I will cherish the memories made forever.


Bye for now! You’ll hear from us soon!


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December

28   - depart USA

29   - arrive in Delhi

30   - fly to Bagdogra - drive to Gangtok

31   - Gangtok

January

1    - Gangtok

2   - drive to Dzonghu - Thingbong

3     - trek to Chana

4    - trek to Tholung

5     - Tholung

6    - trek ends - Lingtam

7     - drive to Rabungla

8    - visit Ralang monastery

9   - drive to Bagdogra - flight to Delhi - PM flight to USA

10 - arrive in USA

Flight Schedule - updated with delays


December 28

group #1

depart Washington DC 10:00  PM (United Airlines)

December 29

arrive Frankfurt 11:50 AM

depart Frankfurt 12:55  PM

arrive Delhi 1:30 AM  (30th)


group #2

depart Washington DC 12:30  PM (United Airlines)

arrive Newark 1:50 PM

depart Newark 8:15 PM

December 29

arrive Delhi 9:50 PM


January 10

depart Delhi 1:35 AM (Lufthansa Airlines)

arrive Munich 5:55 AM

depart Munich 12:10 PM (United Airlines)

arrive Washington DC 3:45 PM

depart Washington DC 5:40 PM

arrive Nashville 6:40 PM




Packing list - Sikkim 2022


BAGS:

___daypack – You will use this for the trek and possibly as a carry-on. Most of our equipment for the trek will go on the dzos (half cow half yak). You will carry a rain jacket, warm jacket, camera, water, and snacks.


___large bag – everything but your carry-on/daypack should be able to fit in this bag. Waterproof is advantageous, but not mandatory. Backpack straps are nice as well. This bag will be strapped to the top of a jeep from Bagdogra to Gangtok.

GEAR:

___ water bottle – Nalgene bottles are nice, but Gatorade bottles will work. 


___ headlamp


___ alarm clock/watch

CLOTHING:

___rain jacket – water-proof


___sleeping bag - at least a 20 degree bag. If you get cold easily, you might want something warmer.


___down jacket - Our trek will reach 9,000’ We will stay in mountain huts, but the temperature could be below freezing at night.


___t-shirts x 3 - at least one should be non-cotton


___mid-weight long underwear top


___mid-weight long underwear bottom


___long pants x 2 


___warm hat – fleece or wool


___socks x 3 non-cotton pairs – Smartwool socks make your feet happy


___waterproof hiking shoes – boots are too heavy and bulky unless you just love them. 
___sunhat


___sunglasses


___sunscreen


___towel


___hand sanitizer – small bottle for your pocket


___travel size toilet paper

OTHER STUFF:

___notebook/journal


___pens – keep in a Ziploc due to pressure changes


___book


___pictures from home of house/family/dogs


___passport


___spending money – If you are a serious shopper, you might spend $200. Otherwise, $50 should be fine for snacks in the airport etc. This really depends on how many gifts you want to buy for people at home. I suggest bringing cash and hiding it well. Traveler’s checks are cumbersome.


___camera – Digital is easiest. You should bring an extra camera battery or charger and the cord for connecting to a computer.