forty days. forty stories.
by Sharon Lahr
In 1995 Julie was working for Granite Angels (backpacking trips for women) and asked if I’d like to go on their trip to Nepal. Arriving in Kathmandu, we went to the hotel thru streets crowded with people, cows, cycle rickshaws, 3-wheeled gas powered vehicles spewing exhaust, bicycles, motorcycles, and cars. I found it a bit overwhelming, but Julie seemed to thrive on all the confusion and commotion. Just glimpsing her delight in the experience helped me to see the joy in it all, even the smells. It was an exhilarating trip that I would never have experienced without Julie: the sights in Kathmandu, the deafening helicopter ride into the Himalayas, suspension bridges with missing boards, the bazaar at Namche, prayer flags, a yeti skull, Buddha statues, petting a baby yak, our Sherpani’s Himalayan homes, the Mani Rimdu celebration, the sun setting on Mount Everest, night skies incredibly full of stars, and an amazing full moon in that clear air.
I even have fond memories of sleeping in tents that partially collapsed during a snow storm that caused avalanches in the mountains ahead of us and changed our plans. Julie’s ever-present smile reminded me that this was an adventure of a lifetime. The trip is a singular point in my life, a defining moment, and if Julie hadn’t thought me adventuresome enough to ask the simple question “Would you like to go?” it would never have happened for me.
On occasion as we trekked, I’d sing. “I love to go a-wandering along the mountain track, and as I go, I love to sing, my knapsack on my back.” or “The hills are alive with the sound of music, with songs they have sung for a thousand years.” As I watched Julie and her interaction with our group and those we met on the trail, I started singing one of the songs from The Sound of Music with a slight twist, “How do you solve a problem like Julie, how do you catch a cloud and pin it down.” It was the last line of the song that in my heart was written just for her – “How do you hold a moon beam in your hand?” Julie has shone a light for me into many places that I would never have discovered. For almost 20 years, I’ve followed her adventures and checked my atlas for the places she goes. Is there an adequate way to say “thank you” to a moon beam? Thanks, Julie.
Thank YOU…for this perfectly crafted story, for the glittery b-day card :), for always being up for an adventure (and yet simultaneously being a calming presence in my life), for taking it in stride when we boarded our flight to Nepal moments before they closed the gate (remember that?), for being a good sport when you got bounced out of a sled onto the frozen Kuskokwim River, for producing Jason and raising him to also be wonderful, and just for being so…Sharon. Thanks for being a lovely source of light in my life, because a moon can’t have a beam without a sun.
Okay, Joolee, now you made me cry! And yes, I remember the dash for the flight out of LA, but what I also remember is that our talking to Jason up to the last possible minute was something I needed & worth the dash…& you made it all seem routine, no problem. Do you remember the mayhem trying to get thru customs to exit Nepal & our flight delayed more than an hour because of it?!
Love ya!! Sharon
I vaguely remember that…how about when we came down from Lukla, and all the embassies had tables set up, and were checking their citizens off as they came through, b/c there had been so many calls from around the world asking about peops…
Sharon, so beautifully done.! And, you’re jogging up memories of things I had forgotten. We’ll have to get all our pictures of those adventure trips together and have a reunion over them. Thanks for the memories! I’m so glad Julie brought you into my life! Jennie
Hey Mom….look at you in the guest house photo…so cute with flushed cheeks! 🙂
Was that the wind and sun burn or the chai ?
One reason I chose that picture was how lovely Jennie looks, even after all the long days of trekking. And there’s the camp cook (What was his name, Jhum Bah?) right beside her. Of course Julie’s impish grin is so Joolee!