11 THINGS I LEARNED HIKING TO EVEREST BASE CAMP

11 THINGS I LEARNED HIKING TO EVEREST BASE CAMP

It’s incredibly hard to summarize a life-changing journey like Everest Base Camp in 11 points.  But it’s also hard to put the experience into words at all.

I spent almost three weeks traveling with 22 of the coolest human beings I’ve had the pleasure of meeting who also raised $140,000 for 7 different charities.  We spent 12 glorious days in the most beautiful place on earth.  Oh, and we ALL made it to Everest Base Camp.

The Dream Mountains team at Everest Base Camp – we did it!

Here are the top things I learned/wanted to share with you about hiking to Everest Base Camp:

  1. It’s hard not to fall in love with the people of Nepal.  They are welcoming, kind, spiritual and want to show off their beautiful country.  They also use “Namaste” as a greeting – how peaceful is that?

    This is our head guide BB. We could not have asked for a wiser or better soul to guide us to Everest Base Camp.
  2. The entire hike is a spiritual experience no matter your religion or background.  Prayer flags hang everywhere with their colours contrasting to the mountains.  Our guides and sherpa walk clockwise around the stupas/prayer wheels and advised us to the do the same so we would have good fortune on the mountain.  Between this and the scenery it’s hard not to feel more connected to your own version of “God”.

    Prayer flags everywhere.
  3. To start the hike we had to fly into the most dangerous airport in the world in Lukla (which sounds TERRIFYING).  The flight is actually not that scary considering these are some of the best pilots in the world.  In fact it was the most pleasant landing I have ever had in an aircraft.

    A look at the Lukla Airport runway. Yes the airplanes take off AND land on the cliff.
  4. We stayed at teahouses along the way which reminded me a lot of hostels in North America.  It felt luxurious compared to tent-camping in the mountains.  The food was quite good and we drank A LOT of tea. They also offered (at a cost) wifi, charging for electronics, Pringles, candy bars + more.  Keep in mind the higher you went the more expensive things were (a can of Pringles was $6 USD at 17,000 feet).

    A teahouse with a view.
  5. It is a tough hike and is hard on your body.  Some people suffered from altitude problems. Lots from gastrointestinal issues. Others cringed the entire way down due to knee problems.

    Kristi, Vicky and Heather crushing it.
  6. You will either love or hate helicopters by the end of the trip.  Helicopters were CONSTANTLY flying by us.  Some found them very distracting and ruined the scenery.  Others gazed in awe as they put our surroundings into perspective.

    Check out the view FROM a helicopter.
  7. You will pass hundreds of fellow trekkers/sherpa/animals carrying goods up and down the mountain.  It’s also a nice reminder to always let people pass you on the CLIFF side so you don’t get knocked off.

    The views just kept getting better.
  8. This question came up a lot from friends and family: “why didn’t you decide to summit Everest if you were already at Base Camp?”  Unfortunately it’s not that easy.  To summit Everest is at least $50,000+. You have to commit to being at Base Camp for a couple of months while you acclimatize and do acclimatization hikes up and down the mountain.  Oh, and you have to come to terms with your possible death.

    But seriously have you seen this view?
  9. The most surprising and ironic thing I learned: you don’t actually get a great view of Everest.  We were lucky enough to have great weather and views to get several glimpses of Everest. BUT you don’t see much more than the tip.

    The first time seeing Everest – just the tip.
  10. You will feel very, very small.  The Himalayas are the biggest mountains in the world (with 8 mountains over 8,000 metres or 26,500 feet).  Imagine the Canadian Rockies on steroids.

    I think Vicky likes mountains.
  11. But you will also feel more connected than ever.  Being away (most of the time) from social media and our phones, having distraction-free conversations, and having euphoric moments of bliss around every corner can make you feel ALIVE.

    My absolute favourite spot to take in my surroundings.

With all my hiking love….oh and Namaste,

Mary Anne

Mary Anne Ivison

Mary Anne loves hiking, mossy rocks and her gig as a radio personality. She is in pursuit of becoming an ADK 46er and touching every mountain on planet Earth.

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6 UNIQUE GIFT IDEAS FOR THE HIKER IN YOUR LIFE

6 UNIQUE GIFT IDEAS FOR THE HIKER IN YOUR LIFE

Alright, so maybe we’re a challenging type of person to shop for around the holidays. We’ll be the first to admit it.

We know what we like to wear on the trails, have broken in multiple pairs of our go-to hiking boots, can be picky with food, have mastered the art of fitting everything perfectly into our day packs, and tend to get a little vocal when it comes to the “pole or no pole” debate.

So, what do you buy for the hiker in your life who seems to already have it all?

I’m here to help, my friends. Here’s a quick ‘n dirty list of some unique ideas that you may not have thought of…

1) Enamel Camping Mug

Hiker Gift Idea Enamel MugPhoto cred: Emalco.com

Even if your hiker pal already has one, you can never have TOO many mugs, right? Plus, it’s nice to change it up a little. So, why not support a local artist like Black Coffee or get a mountain themed one they’ll definitely dig?

OR, if you’re a crafty little rascal, make it EXTRA personal by designing your own! You can do this with a company like VistaPrint, although buying in bulk may be your only option.

Bonus points are rewarded if you add in a carabiner for clipping the mug somewhere handy for easy access!

2) Waterproof Lighter

Hiker Gift Idea Waterproof LighterPhoto cred: Pinterest

A friend of mine gifted me one of these bad boys last Christmas and it’s been in my pack since then. Here’s a list of the best ones on the market to check out for inspiration!

3) Subscription to Backpacker Magazine

Hiker Gift Idea Backpacker MagazinePhoto cred: Fontmeme.com

It doesn’t have to be Backpacker Magazine. It can be any outdoor, lifestyle or fitness magazine! This is the gift that keeps giving and your pal will think of you each time it comes in the mail.

4) Rent a Yurt

Hiker Gift Idea Rent a YurtPhoto cred: Mary Anne snagged this one!

If your budget is a little higher than the stuff listed above, then splurge and rent a yurt! SO FUN! If you’re like us HikeAdditcts, you prefer glamping over camping any day. This is a fantastic alternative to sleeping on the cold, hard ground while also feeling like you’re one with nature. Ommm.

We’ve stayed at some pretty beautiful spots over the years but I have to say that one of my all time favorites was a yurt in Vermont with this super adorable and accommodating family. It may not look like much from the outside, but the inside was like a magical fairy tail with tiny white Christmas lights galore!

5) Jack&Joel “Gatineau Park” Soap

Hiker Gift Idea Jack and Joel SoapPhoto cred: JackAndJoel.com

 

Jack&Joel is an Ottawa soap company and you know how much we LOVE supporting local! They have a wonderful line of soaps, bath salts and shaving products that will leave you smelling like nature-y dream.

6) Mountain Jewelry

Hiker Gift Idea Mountain Jewelry Photo cred: MMackenzieJones Etsy

We are huge fans of these mountain necklaces made by Mackenzie Jones Designs Inc from Calgary.  From the Three Sisters Mountain to Mount Rundle, the mountains will never be too far from your heart. Check out her Etsy store here!

And, if you don’t like any of these ideas or are still feeling unsure, you really can’t go wrong with a gift card for MEC, Trialhead, Cabela’s, Bushtukah, Ice Breaker, Eddie Bauer or any other sporting stores in Ottawa.

Happy shopping!

Vicky Castledine

Vicky is a Content Marketing Manager from Monday to Friday and a trail runner/ book lover/ dog hugger/ wilderness explorer after 5 PM and on weekends.

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WELLESLEY ISLAND STATE PARK, NY

WELLESLEY ISLAND STATE PARK, NY

Location: Jefferson County, NY
Starting Point: Wellesley Island Nature Centre
Route we took: Eel Bay Trail to Narrows Trail to South Bay Trail to East Trail to North Field Loop
Total Distance: 7 km
Time: 1.5 hours
Level of Difficulty: Super easy, hardly any elevation

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Vicky Castledine

Vicky is a Content Marketing Manager from Monday to Friday and a trail runner/ book lover/ dog hugger/ wilderness explorer after 5 PM and on weekends.

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MY STRUGGLE WITH ATHLETE’S IMPOSTERS’ SYNDROME

MY STRUGGLE WITH ATHLETE’S IMPOSTERS’ SYNDROME

Athlete’s imposters’ syndrome. This is something I had struggled with a lot growing up. I was a runner, an Irish dancer, a downhill skier, a basketball player, a touch football player… Yet, whatever sport I was playing, these thoughts would always creep up on me:

“She’s better than I am.”

“I have lots of practice to do.”

“I wonder if I’ll ever be at so-and-so’s level.”

“I’m not good enough.”

Turns out I wasn’t alone, though. I brought this subject up with my sister, Heather, and she told me she felt the same way. My sisters and I were thrown into ski lessons as soon as we could walk so we’ve felt comfortable on the slopes for pretty much our whole lives.

When we got to high school, Heather and I began to race competitively (she was always better than I was) but I just recently learned that she had felt like a “poser” or imposter every time she raced. We had literally been skiing for 10+ years at this point, yet there she was, feeling out of place and like she wasn’t legit enough to fit in with the other racers.

Why?

Because she hadn’t been “competitive” until she was a teen?

What was it about us that made us feel so inadequate? Why did we struggle with confidence in things we were actually GOOD at? Part of me thinks that’s just what comes with being an awkward teenager, but I also know a lot of people who never struggled with this (or I guess, more likely, never talked about it).

As I grew up and began to get to know myself a little better, (aka reading approximately 1700 self-help books) these thoughts started to go away. I started to care less about how others surrounding me performed because I realized that 1) I’m no longer competing for any trophies/medals/titles and 2) I’m an adult. I don’t need to compare myself to anyone. HA! Easier said than done, I know.

So, you may be asking yourself: What does this have to do with hiking?

Well, these nasty, annoying thoughts crept their way back into my head about a week ago when someone asked me for hiking advice.

I’ve only been ‘seriously’ hiking for about 3 years now but since then have tackled some wicked tough day hikes like the Bruce Trail in Tobermory, Mount Marcy in Lake Placid and Mount Washington in New Hampshire.

I’ve summited Mount Kilimanjaro, an 8-day trek that ended with a midnight summit night and I’m just about to start my training for a trip to Everest Base Camp in 8 months from now.

Yet, here I was, feeling like a complete imposter when asked for advice.

What made this person think I was legit? I only started hiking a few years ago! Yes, I have a hiking blog with my best friend that I’m super passionate about but little does this person know that I still consider myself a COMPLETE newbie.

This is where I caught myself though.

I’m a newbie. I haven’t been hiking for years and years and I just discovered Merino Wool this past winter. I’m a newbie. I only JUST figured out the proper amount of water to consume while hiking and I still wear a baseball cap on sunny days that has zero back of neck protection from the sun so I sometimes burn. I’m a newbie. My sense of direction is and always has been horrible and I’m still convinced I could survive off Cliff bars alone (shout out to Kristi for never laughing at my hilarious poop joke). I’M. A. NEWBIE.

And… I’m okay with that!

This is a learning process for me. This blog, these community hikes we organize, the various speaking engagements we’re asked to participate in; I’m learning AS I’m teaching.

Isn’t that half the fun?

Vicky

Vicky Castledine

Vicky is a Content Marketing Manager from Monday to Friday and a trail runner/ book lover/ dog hugger/ wilderness explorer after 5 PM and on weekends.

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GIANT MOUNTAIN + ROCKY PEAK RIDGE, NY

GIANT MOUNTAIN + ROCKY PEAK RIDGE, NY

Location: In between Keene Valley and Underwood on the 73, NY, USA
Starting Point: Giant Mountain Primary Trailhead 
Elevation: Giant 4,626ft (#12 on High Peaks List)
RPR 4,390ft (#20)
Ascent: Giant 3,050ft
RPR 1,400ft
Route We Took: Ridge Trail to Giant Summit, to Rocky Peak Ridge, back to Giant and down Ridge Trail
Total Distance: 14 km
Time: 8 hours
Level of Difficulty: Moderate (compared to other High Peaks)

This was day 2 of my solo-hiking trip in the Adirondacks to crush out a couple more 46er peaks (the day before I did Cascade and Porter).

The terrain is pleasant to start to the ascent as you make your way through a typical whimsical Adirondack forest.  Then be prepared for lots of rocks and rock slides.  You reach a junction that either sends you to the Giant summit (SO CLOSE) or towards Rocky Peak Ridge.  I decided to summit Giant first.

It was manageable with a bit of scrambling.  The summit was quite busy but it was a beautiful and bright sunny day so it was easy to hang out for a while.

Panorama view from Giant summit.
An example of scrambling up Giant.

Then it was time for Rocky Peak Ridge.  After descending back to the junction, you take a left towards RPR.  At this point, you have to go DOWN Giant and BACK UP RPR. This was the steepest and toughest part of my 2 day hiking days.

Summit of Rocky Peak Ridge looking at Giant.

Rocky’s summit was a lot less busy and just as beautiful. It was even more rewarding seeing where you just came from as Giant is right in front of you.

The toughest part is getting back up Giant.  Since you’ve already put in a long day, the steepness and rock slides are that much more challenging.  But you can do it!

The view of getting back UP Giant from RRP.

Once you get back up Giant be prepared for the long descent back down.  These mountains are both worth it but make for a tough day.

Lots of hiking love,
Mary Anne

Mary Anne Ivison

Mary Anne loves hiking, mossy rocks and her gig as a radio personality. She is in pursuit of becoming an ADK 46er and touching every mountain on planet Earth.

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CASCADE MOUNTAIN + PORTER MOUNTAIN, NY

CASCADE MOUNTAIN + PORTER MOUNTAIN, NY

Location: In between Lake Placid and Keene, NY, USA
Starting Point: Cascade Mountain Foot Trail
Elevation:  Cascade 4,098ft (#36 on High Peaks List)
Porter 4,060ft (#38)
Ascent: 1,940ft
Route We Took: Cascade Mountain trailhead to Cascade summit, back down to junction, head to Porter summit, return to parking
Total Distance: 10 km
Time: 5 hours
Level of Difficulty: Easy (compared to other High Peaks)

This was my first attempt at climbing any of the Adirondack 46ers and heard Cascade and Porter combined are great “starter mountains” (even though Vicky and I did Mount Marcy last fall, we had no idea it was a 46er at the time).

Don’t be fooled by the easy ranking though, this is in comparison to the surrounding mountains.  Cascade is a perfect day hike and best “bang for your buck”.  It’s pretty, only takes half the day, not too tough and has spectacular 360 views when you get to the summit.

Porter isn’t exactly worth it unless you’re attempting the 46 peaks.

Lots of hiking love,
Mary Anne

 

(Top image view from Cascade summit)

Trailhead
View from Porter Mountain

Mary Anne Ivison

Mary Anne loves hiking, mossy rocks and her gig as a radio personality. She is in pursuit of becoming an ADK 46er and touching every mountain on planet Earth.

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NATURAL REMEDIES FOR THE HIPPY HIKER

NATURAL REMEDIES FOR THE HIPPY HIKER

I’d like to preface this post by saying that as an outdoorsy girl (click here if you are too – I friggin’ LOVED this post), I have learned in my 27 years on earth that NOTHING works quite like Deet. Nothing. Yes, it’s flammable, toxic and will probably make you sick but if you want to be left alone by all of nature’s creepy crawlers, there’s nothing natural that will do the trick the same way Deet does. Sorry. I wish I could tell you that covering yourself in lemon juice and thyme will make bugs steer clear but chances are it’ll just make you smell like you’ve finished marinating and are ready for the BBQ.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s tackle some tried and true natural remedies that I swear by and frequently use…

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Vicky Castledine

Vicky is a Content Marketing Manager from Monday to Friday and a trail runner/ book lover/ dog hugger/ wilderness explorer after 5 PM and on weekends.

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A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO HIKING

A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO HIKING

Congratulations! This is your first step to becoming a HikeAddict. We love hiking, and the whole point of this blog is to share our love and passion for hiking with you. However, actually getting outside and actually doing it can be a bit intimidating. Here’s our “A Beginner’s Guide To Hiking” to help you get outside, connect with nature, and get some exercise in the process.

Where do I go?

I find this a big barrier for some people, where the heck do you start? It doesn’t have to be complicated, but you should have an idea where you’re going. Thank God for MAPS! Oh, and bring a buddy.

Here are some of our favourite beginner hikes in the Ottawa area:

EAST END
Mer-Bleue Bog

GLOUCESTER
Pine Grove Trail

WEST END
Stony Swamp
Old Quarry Trail

GATINEAU PARK
Pink Lake Trail

Here’s also a list of our favourite hikes in Gatineau Park if you want to be a bit more adventurous: CLICK HERE!

What do I wear and what do I bring?

If you’re just starting out to see if hiking’s your “thing”, you don’t have to invest in $300 boots and merino wool (yet). Test out the trails with clothes you would wear to the gym – with a few extras.

Hiking Beginner Gear:

– Good, sturdy shoes or hiking boots
– Athletic socks
– Gym clothing or whatever you’re comfortable in (I would suggest long pants to help against bug bites/nature critters)
– Sunglasses
– Hat

When it comes to clothing be sure to check the weather before you go – a raincoat is something I usually carry!

Small Backpack to Hold The Following:

– Water (at least a litre, drink the whole thing!)
– Snack (nuts are great)
– Hand sanitizer
– Kleenex
– Bug spray or a natural repellent
– After-bite
– Sunscreen (apply before you go)
– Bandaids or small first aid kit
– Map (or your GPS on your phone)

Goodluck on your first adventure, and if you need anything don’t hesitate to email us at HikeAddicts@gmail.com!

Mary Anne

Mary Anne Ivison

Mary Anne loves hiking, mossy rocks and her gig as a radio personality. She is in pursuit of becoming an ADK 46er and touching every mountain on planet Earth.

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HIKING THE BRUCE TRAIL: DAY 2 – THE GROTTO AND INDIAN HEAD COVE

HIKING THE BRUCE TRAIL: DAY 2 – THE GROTTO AND INDIAN HEAD COVE

(This post is a continuation of HIKING THE BRUCE: Day 1 – Halfway Log Dump to Stormhaven)

 

With it’s stunning rock formations and Caribbean-like water, Bruce Peninsula National Park is one of the most beautiful destinations to hike to in Ontario.  Plus with it’s close proximity to Toronto and Parks Canada having free entrance for Canada 150, it’s one of the most popular.

 

My first attempt to park to get to the Grotto was unsuccessful (full story here) on Victoria Day long weekend.  Stupid on my part.  Obviously people would be swarming to this place to hang out on the first long weekend of nice weather in Canada.

 

So I got up early on Tuesday morning (with coffee of course) and headed to the Cyprus Lake parking lot for 7am.  Luckily and shockingly, there was only one other car there.  A.k.a. I had this extreme tourist destination pretty much to myself.

First glance at Indian Head Cove
This water though

After a quick 30 minute and well-marked hike, the trees opened up to expose the rock and bright blue colours of Georgian Bay.  You first end up at Indian Head Cove, which is NEXT to the Grotto (see map below).  A lot of people think this is the Grotto…. It’s not.  You have to head to the left for a couple of minutes to find it through more rocks and trees.

 

The Grotto

Once I found the Grotto, I  wondered “How the hell am I going to get down there?”.  There was no clear or safe path down, although on previous visits I have seen people inside the cave.

 

Thankfully, a man named Terry who works for Parks Canada was there to point me in the direction of “The Hole”.  The Hole is a safer and more direct way into the cave.  It’s a tad hard to find and I had to take my backpack off to squeeze through it.

“The Hole”

The squeeze through the claustrophobic hole was well worth it.  The Grotto opens up to a mesmerizing rock formation and green/turquoise waters.  Definitely one of those “I thought this only existed in magazines” moments.

Inside the Grotto

You can even swim here, however I wouldn’t recommend that until July/August. Even then it can be chilly!

 

I finished my coffee on the rocks overlooking the bay and soaked in the beautiful morning.  If there’s one road trip you should plan in Ontario it should be this one.

Lots of hiking love,

Mary Anne

 

(Find out more about Bruce Peninsula National Park here)

Mary Anne Ivison

Mary Anne loves hiking, mossy rocks and her gig as a radio personality. She is in pursuit of becoming an ADK 46er and touching every mountain on planet Earth.

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