Packing Pound by Pound

I am packed and ready to go – except for all the other things I have to do before I leave on this adventure. Traveling to Kathmandu – and then on to locations in Nepal that I cannot yet pronounce – is something that heretofore I had only dreamed of. And tomorrow – actually, as I look at the clock – today that dream will become reality.

Packing was a challenge. I am somewhat OCD when it comes to organization and efficiency, and of course I would like to think that I have thought of everything. The duffel, sleeping bag, crampons and harness arrived Tuesday. The mountain axe will be delivered to me in Kathmandu. All of the other items I have been slowly but surely assembling to put inside that duffel were sitting on the pool table in the lower level of my home. I have tried diligently to follow the recommendations on the packing list: underwear and socks; pants, long and short; shirts, long and short sleeve; rain gear; outerwear layers; hat, scarf,mitten and glove. Those were the easy things. I had most of them in my closet from previous hiking experiences in Italy and the US. The drugs and sundries were easy too. Of course, I had to throw out all of the expired items from my existing travel bag of unused – but necessary – “just in case” pills and tablets; and refill it with unexpired items I hope not to have cause to use. Thank goodness the toilet paper, Purell and wipes are fairly light weight. Counting out my vitamins and supplements took longer than gathering my clothes. And then there was the knife, headlamp, batteries and plugs to add to the fray. Trips to various stores on numerous occasions, overtime, brought it all together.

It was the other list that was fun to check-off. I had written to my dear friend and Italian hiking guide, Guido, asking him to send me a hiking stick and a couple of other pieces of gear to take along as a remembrance and touchstone of his guidance in the past. I included the ugly little puppet with the yellow head that my sister Kristin and I had tormented and teased each other with for years before she died. I had each of my grandchildren make a video “cheer” for me to bring me strength and love along the trail. I asked friends who are known for being more adventuresome than I what they thought I should be certain to include. Theirs suggestions included an array of snack items and plastic bags of all sizes. I scoured the bookshelves to find fiction set in Nepal.

So it is midnight and my bags are packed. The necessary and perhaps not so necessary are inside plastic bags inside the large duffel. The weight does not exceed 50 pounds. The rest of what I will bring with me won’t weigh anything at all. I am going on this trip with an open mind and a willingness to be present with a community of 36 other people as we journey to the top of the world with Above + Beyond Cancer. My heart is full of gratitude. Grace will abound and I will return home safely.

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