Happy Tramper

The Unexpected Minefields of Cross-cultural Sensitivity

The Unexpected Minefields of Cross-cultural Sensitivity
I like to fancy myself a person who has pretty well developed cross-cultural 'antennae'.  I read ahead about the cultural norms, I advise my travel companions about the local sensitivities and customs of the countries and regions that we're about to travel to, I listen and watch carefully to avoid offense or that American 'boorishness' that we seem to be…

Off the beaten track in the Khumbu of Nepal: Gokyo to Thame over Renjo La

Off the beaten track in the Khumbu of Nepal:  Gokyo to Thame over Renjo La
It was one of those magical, sparkling mornings when the light painted every rock, lichen, yak and peak in surreally vivid relief.  A flock of birds burst upward from an adjoining field like a scatter of buckshot against the blue-violet of the morning sky. We had emerged shivering from our rooms that mid-October morning in our tiny lodge in Lungden,…

Off the beaten track in the Khumbu of Nepal: Lobuche to Gokyo via Cho La

Off the beaten track in the Khumbu of Nepal:  Lobuche to Gokyo via Cho La
In a place where superlatives ring hollow for overuse, Gokyo finds a way to make an impression. Out the back door of our well-kept lodge in the lakeside town of Gokyo in the northern Khumbu of Nepal, groups of brightly dressed porters stood talking around their cooking fires, smoke curling upward with its now familiar sweet-bitter yak dung fragrance.     The…

A Gift of Glory – Sunrise over Cerro Torre, Patagonia

A Gift of Glory – Sunrise over Cerro Torre, Patagonia
The firefly glow of our headlamps mapped out the winding trail through trees and boulders to the moraine, the ghostly spire of Cerro Torre just peeking over the top.   Cresting the ridge, across our field of view was luminescent ice, vertical rock and water: Laguna Torre and behind it a row of high sheer pinnacles rising above a sweep of…

The Primal Race Between Sockeye and Brown Bear at Brooks Falls, Katmai, Alaska

The Primal Race Between Sockeye and Brown Bear at Brooks Falls, Katmai, Alaska
I was one of those kids who couldn’t get enough of Mutual of Omaha’s ‘Wild Kingdom’ and the voyages of Jacques Cousteau. Nature’s splendid diversity and mystery was captivating, though sometimes the violence of it made me hide behind the sofa (“Nooooo, not the baby elephant…..!!!”) I found myself feeling the same combination of wonder, fascination and horror more than…