Rose Press and Erik Hager, don’t want to be accidental tourists anymore.
They are searching for a purposeful metaphysical journey more than a destination and decided to commit to a journey outside their normal risk bubble.
Like most couples in Brant, Rose and Erik, wondered how they were going to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary.
Many young professionals choose travel to Central America and the Caribbean seeking sandy beaches, and all-inclusive buffets.
Out of the quandary a vision was forming, what about Mt. Everest?
Mt. Everest is renowned for the perseverance and physicality needed in trying to defeat this monster. But neither Rose nor Erik were mountain climbers, they were hikers. Not the least of which, they wouldn’t even consider the prohibitive $90,000 per person registration fee, to leave the Everest Base Camp and test their will ascending against nature’s unpredictability to the summit. Not in the cards.
Both believe Brant has some of the country’s greatest trail systems and have always understood the serenity found by wandering off road and communing with nature. Nepal, however, presented a daunting task, requiring more than a pair of runners and a bottle of water on their hip. They had to commit half a year to this project just in preparation for a two-week experience. Their journey would be on foot and more than 150 Kilometres with backpacks and ascending to an elevation of 19,000 feet, the altitude of Mt. Everest Base Camp.
In November last year, they set in place a routine to achieve their vision, including going to the gym three times a week for cardio, yoga three nights a week for flexibility, more trail hikes, mud runs, long bike tours and a most novel weight regimen that’s not normally part of conventional training.
They filled two 20-pound laundry bottles with grey water collected from dish washing and laundry tubs every day. Then they carted them up the stairs in their Victorian home to flush the upstairs toilets. You can see they were conservationists at heart and protectors of this earth before they were introduced to the Buddhist and Hindu lifestyle of Nepal.
They Landed in Kathmandu, Nepal and then took a commuter flight to Lukla, where they began their epic trek along the ‘Cappuccino Trail,’ (an unofficial name because of the frequent stops to partake of local coffee).
Can you imagine waking every morning and your first vision is the overwhelming majesty of the Himalayas with Mount Everest as a back drop? This towering landmark is the tallest in the world and breathtaking at 30,000 feet.
The journey began through the homelands of the ethnic Sherpa people. Eric reminisced how he was in awe of their kindness, resilience and dedication to their spiritual beliefs and family.
“Even the children have incredible gross motor skills, as they scramble barefoot over rocks climbing everywhere to help the foreigners. Everyone was genuinely and deeply committed to their faith and personal relationships with the visitors,” he said.
The Yaks, a Himalayan breed of donkey that can handle the altitude, are used as beasts of burdens and they did most of the heavy lifting when carrying necessary supplies. The Sherpa guides had two thirty-pound backpacks that took most of the weight from the trekkers. Their clothing started out heavily layered in the cold damp morning and as the sun crested the peaks, bringing temperatures in the mountains to 28 degrees Celsius, layers were removed.
Rose, beyond her professional title as a Program Supervisor and Respite Care for Lansdowne Children’s Centre in Brantford, has her own Santi Yoga Studio just off Brant Ave., and through that had the good fortune of a unique experience. On the ascent to the Base Camp, she was encouraged to run a yoga session for her fellow travellers at the Khari Gonpa Tibetan Buddhist Temple/ Nunnery at an altitude of 11,000 feet.
“The light of lotus was shining on you in the midst of the rhododendrons, alpine flowers and blue spruce forests,” she said.
The people have adapted to the stream of visitors by welcoming them to their Buddhist and Hindu culture and sharing their resources. Nightly, the hikers would stay in ‘tea houses’ which were local sleeping accommodations not unlike yurts: stoic, without heat electricity or water, but safe as part of the required human supply lines in the journey.
One section of the journey was ascending to the summit of Kala Patthar, 18,000 feet, a particularly gruelling section of the climb that tested endurance and resolve. Erik acknowledges it was primarily Rose’s encouragement and support that ultimately carried him to the finish. Rose was struck by the people of Nepal: overcoming hardship such as the devastating earthquake of 2015; their resilience and belief system; and non-judgmental attitude and choice to engage and welcome all different world cultures and faiths.
The culmination of this deep soul searching experience for Rose and Erik was just before they departed Base Camp of Mt. Everest. At the edge of an ice field with the Himalayan sentinel as a witness, they renewed their marriage vows in a peaceful ceremony shared with their new Nepalese friends.
Erik and Rose, took a 25th Anniversary journey that gave them personal insight on multidimensional levels, physical, intellectual and emotional. This experience has led them to develop seminars for people struggling in their current lives or transitioning into a new chapter of life through retirement. They are paying forward to others in Brant. They would be honoured if you wish to join them in their quest for inner peace.
For more information visit www.facebook.com/SantiYogaStudio
or email Elmlodge@Rogers.Com.