Nepal Annapurna Sanctuary Sacred Trek: Trekking in a Tutu for Breast Cancer Prevention

25 11 2018

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2018 has been a tough year. In February, I lost my brother John to cancer, after a two-and-a-half-year battle. But on the positive side, my friend Shari has come through a courageous struggle with breast cancer. I have watched and rooted, I’ve been lifted when they were on the mend and pained when the battle seemed for naught. I swear, cancer treatment often seems like witch doctor medicine. I was inspired by their courage to trek in a tutu Nepal’s Annapurna Region to raise funds for breast cancer prevention!

Ever since I completed my first Himalayan trek, the Chomolhari Trek in Bhutan, I’ve been yearning to return to the greatest mountain range in the world, with its spectacular views, ultimate challenge hikes, and its myriad cultures and faiths. So it was that in 2018 I signed up for the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek led by Cathy Ann Taylor.

I love travel, discovering new cultures and perspectives, and I am hopelessly hooked on the outdoors. So this trek was in my wheelhouse. But what was in my wheelhouse, just for other causes was fundraising. I’ve been part of a number of non-profits, even been on the board of directors. So it was a surprise when maybe six weeks prior to the beginning of this trek, it became a “sacred” trek, to raise funds for Breast Cancer Prevention Partners. Cathy Ann named Joani Carpenter, a trekking peer from my Cordillara Huayhuash Trek as its honoree. Joani survived pancreatic cancer! My first reaction was OMG what have I signed up for? I’m already busy with fundraising! How can I add another? Then I found out fundraising was not a requirement. Still, over the subsequent days, I kept thinking about it. Then I was at KEEN Footwear in downtown Portland (one of my sponsors), and a heard a phone ring…I picked up the phone and the voice said, “Just do what you know how to do.” I heard a call to action!

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The next morning, I went to my gym, and as it was breast cancer awareness month. They had mannequins festooned with pink shirts, feather boas and tutus. As I did my abdominal routine a thought came to mind, “Trekking in a tutu!” And with that crazy idea in mind, I hatched a plan to raise funds by trekking in a tutu in honor of Joani, and of my friend Shari, who is a survivor, and in memory of my brother John.

At first I went out and bought pink stuff. That was all I knew. I got pink bandanas, a pink boa, pink shirts. Shari made a pink tutu. I made a pink social media post. I figured trekking poles, muddy boots, prayer flags and hash tags might do the trick.

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Shari and I even did a small barbecue and a photo shoot!

Then I learned the correct color is purple! Purple is the color for prevention. With only a week to go I got synthetic purple shirts and a purple bandana. If I got enough support, I’d get images of myself in that tutu in Nepal! I posted photos on social media, and sent personal ask letters. With just so little time I was surprised I was able to generate over a thousand dollars worth of contributions. And with that done, on trek, I needed to generate some content for the contributors! So, whilst in Nepal, I managed to get some images in that outfit, or wearing some of it!

OK, yes, there will be following posts of this trek! We managed to ascend/descend tens of thousands of vertical feet, take in views of the world’s giant peaks, meet people from dozens of countries, and laugh a lot. We struggled up or down tens of thousands of steps. We ? Me? Sweated a lot. We ate like royalty. We witnessed giant peaks and glaciers. We said “Namaste” a thousand times! We witnessed priceless sunrises. We bumped and grinded in 4x4s.