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I could probably write you a mini-novel describing all the things that go into organizing a trip like this.  Every aspect has to be looked at, from what shoes you’re going to wear to what shots will be needed to protect you.  I’ve trained my body, looked at (not learned sadly) the different languages, prepared documents, purchased equipment, arranged finances and there’s still more to do.

It all started on May 27th; I received a message on Facebook from a friend.  It was this very article that culminated a desire in both of us to attempt Annapurna’s trek before it was “destroyed”.  I was immediately intrigued, but uncertain whether I would be able to go.  It took a random evening of contemplation and clarity for me to realize…why not.

The single most important issue for me would be funding.  Ironically that’s also the first question raised when I discuss new travel plans.  “Ian, how do you keep paying for all of these trips?”  My strategy for this endeavor would be different than all those that came before.  I decided to let go of the extraneous belongings I had and essentially “pawn” them off.  This would be an attempt at clearing the clutter of my life and provide the essential cash flow needed for the trip.

To illustrate just how serious and diligent I have been on this, look at the items I got rid of.  My beautiful, 46″ LED tv, the 250 gb Xbox 360, my HP Mini laptop, my entire Magic The Gathering collection, my swords, and the Star Wars Trading Card Game collection.  That’s just the short list of items that were actually sold.  To put the icing on the cake, my camera gear is currently being quoted for sale to Adorama.  I will plan on upgrading equipment when I return next year.  Alas, what is all this cash good for without something to spend it on?

Much of one’s comfort while traveling can be attributed to their gear.  Can you imagine, a long mountainous trek with a heavy bag that doesn’t sit right?  A flashlight that just never seems bright enough?  Also, oftentimes gear can be large and bulky.  When everything you have for three months is going to be carried on your back, you’ve got to get the stuff that packs down small and light.  Oddly, one of the smallest items for this trek would also be one of the most complicated for me to purchase.

I had gone to the mall in La Crosse in search of a journal to document my travels.  I knew that Barnes and Noble would have some, so I meandered in.  It had been suggested that I get some Moleskine’s.  When I found their display, I was at a loss.  There were rows, upon rows of choices.  Not only different colors, but hard/soft covered, ruled, graphs, some with straps, folders, music staves, address books, etc.  Not to mention, each style came in a variety of sizes.  Dumbfounded, I stared for fifteen minutes, until I realized I was in public and others might be starting to wonder about my sanity.  Then I walked around to the other side of the display to find even more!  A full half hour slipped by while I flipped through notebooks, tried them out in my pockets, and imagined situations where I would use them.  Bewildered, I took a break…to look at the entire wall of non-Moleskine journals to see what was offered there.

There were many more options; heavy, small, too girly or maybe too complex.  Eventually I returned to the Moleskines.  Besides, after reading about their grand history, I couldn’t pass them by.

Moleskine was created as a brand in 1997, bringing back to life the legendary notebook used by artists and thinkers over the past two century: among them Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, and Bruce Chatwin. A trusted and handy travel companion, the nameless black notebook held invaluable sketches, notes, stories, and ideas that would one day become famous paintings or the pages of beloved books.

Obviously I had to have one.  I bought five.  They came in packs and were on sale, so I should now have no problems keeping track of my thoughts and doings abroad.  A few days into the trip and I can already tell you I enjoy using them; much more than the last notebook I purchased for this purpose.

With the simplest of gear taken care of, I have gone on to purchase hiking socks, fleece layers, procure an old backpack, re-lace hiking boots and piece together other small bits.  I still need items like a compressible down jacket, convertible pants, moisture wicking base layers and such.  Hence a little stop in Seattle to visit one of REI’s flagship stores for last minute pick ups.

Trekking abroad and doing so comfortably will include a lot more than just having the right gear, and whether you’re interested or not I plan on divulging my secrets of physical fitness preparation.  Currently I am enjoying my first dark and dreary day here in Seattle, and am planning to hit the bike-friendly streets for a little exercise and urban adventure.

More to come, stay tuned, and stay class.  Hanson Photography out.

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