September 30, 2008
This Thursday, 62 people plan to soar over Mount Everest in the first-ever Himalayan skydiving event. High altitude, extreme cold, and flimsy parachutes may not appeal to every traveler, but plenty of IgoUgo members have accomplished equally incredible feats. Here are a few of our favorite proud moments.
Running the Great Wall Marathon
Both gbennett22 and alcoholly completed the Great Wall Marathon, quite an accomplishment considering even a casual stroll on the wall can be demanding (“Man alive! I'm in pretty good shape but let me tell you, I seriously thought about giving it up,” was Pachari’s reaction). The runners don’t gloss over the pain, but they say it was worth it. “The marathon itself was an incredible experience, an athletic achievement as well as a lifetime memory,” says gbennett22. And alcoholly adds, “Your legs will hurt after the 'race preview' day, when you walk the wall section of the course. And the next day. And even more during the run. Don't even contemplate walking the day after the race. But it's beautiful—amazing scenery, great people. A fantastic way to see a 'less trodden' part of the wall at Jixian, you get plenty of opportunity to take heaps of photos and to run one of the most beautiful and challenging courses in the world.”
Trekking to Everest Base Camp
“Today was one of the most exciting days in our lives,” is how TravelsWithSheila opens her Tibet Everest journal. To get to the North Face base camp’s altitude of 17,200 feet, she had to endure bitter cold and sleep in all her clothes, but, she says, “All the discomfort meant nothing compared to this moment, standing there, watching snow plumes blowing off the mountain and looking at a sight we'd only seen in movies or documentaries.” Across the border on Nepalese routes, SeenThat also trekked extensively in the Everest region, summiting Kala Pattar for a “gloriously clear” view of the world’s highest mountain, from base camp to peak.
Reaching Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail
Barbara Colliander labels each day’s account of her five-day Machu Picchu trek with a telling subtitle, beginning with “Day One to Q'ente - Hey, this is easy!” and becoming wearier and wearier until “Day Five at Machu Picchu - We are soooo stiff and sore!” The hike is difficult by all accounts—at one point, Liam Hetherington had to “take drastic action” to motivate himself by breaking into an unexpected sprint—but every visitor forgets the labor at the top, a place so magical that Peru expert hejallihop says it retains its wonder even after 11 visits.
Biking Mount Haleakala
One adventurous version of the popular sunrise tour to the top of Maui’s highest peak, Mount Haleakala volcano, involves a bike trip down. Along with her mom and sister, kellykh00 triumphed over the “freezing cold” and a pants-ripping fall and says, “Despite my little accident, this was probably the best thing I have ever done in my life.” Zeke111 concurs, saying that the 25-mile ride is “one-of-a-kind and a must-do on Maui.”
Swimming with Great White Sharks
Jenna Robbins’ greatest adventure took place off Isla Guadalupe, 250 miles from San Diego. She braved one of the world’s most feared predators in a 100-square-foot cage that tossed her “only slightly more gently than a washing machine.” While underwater, she marveled at the creatures' size, but she emerged post-encounter with a “grin as toothy as a great white's” and highly recommends the hair-raising shark-diving expedition to other brave (and lucky) souls.
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