Going the extra mile

Bailey stops for a photo near the base camp at Mount Everest, the final destination for the trek. (Courtesy Photo)

Bailey stops for a photo near the base camp at Mount Everest, the final destination for the trek. (Courtesy Photo)

Local man helps those in need in Nepal

MANISTEE — There are people who go the extra mile to help others in need, and there are others who will go to great lengths.

For Dan Bailey, this was taken to the next level as he climbed 17,800 feet to reach Mount Everest base camp, raising money to support humanitarian efforts in Nepal.

The part-time Manistee resident and owner of Happy Owl Bookstore returned from the trek at the end of May, and said that the experience profoundly impacted him.

Bailey had plenty of experience in volunteering for similar causes, and had travelled to New Orleans several times to help after severe flooding displaced people in the area.

On April 25, disaster struck Nepal. A 7.8 earthquake hit near the capital city of Kathmandu, killing over 9,000 people and injuring over 23,000. There was major destruction to homes and buildings in the area, including many schools.

The group travels up the rocky terrain, a trail that takes them across the bridges that are visible in the background. Acclimating to altitude was a challenge for many group members. (Courtesy Photo)

The group travels up the rocky terrain, a trail that takes them across the bridges that are visible in the background. Acclimating to altitude was a challenge for many group members. (Courtesy Photo)

In February, Bailey heard about the opportunity to fundraise for the rebuilding of schools in Nepal, through a trek up Mount Everest. The trek was to benefit the nonprofit All Hands, a disaster relief organization that assists people worldwide.

“I signed up in five minutes,” he said. “We had to be there by May 4, so I had 12 weeks for intensive physical training.”

Participants in the trek each had to raise $3,000 for the All Hands rebuilding efforts in Nepal, with all proceeds directly benefitting volunteers and the costs of building schools. Each participant had to cover their own costs of the travel and hike.

Bailey trained for the hike at the Manistee Health Connection fitness center, and said that it required a lot of endurance building.

“There was a lot of exercises done for long-duration and building leg strength,” he explained. “I know I was successful on this journey because of that training.”

The trek was a total of 11 days, with eight days to get up the mountain to the base camp, and three days down. The journey up the mountain takes substantially longer to allow travellers to acclimate to the altitude.

“You hike two days, and then there’s a day of acclimatization,” Bailey explained. “For the acclimatization, you climb again but go back and sleep in the same place you did the night before. That helps your body build the ability to go in higher altitudes and be able to recover at night.”

The group was lodged each night at tea houses, which Bailey described as small hostels.

The group celebrates their arrival at the base camp of Mount Everest. The group included four guides and six porters for the journey that lasted 11 days. (Courtesy Photo)

The group celebrates their arrival at the base camp of Mount Everest. The group included four guides and six porters for the journey that lasted 11 days. (Courtesy Photo)

“There are about eight villages as you climb up, and a couple are inhabited year-round but the ones higher up are not,” he said. “Some are pretty established. The second one we stayed at had camping equipment stores, an Irish pub and a small grocery store, and everything for the village was carried in on someone’s back or by pack animal.”

Despite the training, the trek was challenging for the group. They were escorted by four trained guides, and six porters who carried the group’s heavy equipment.

“Beyond the oxygen or the altitude, the trek was brutal because it is a lot of uphill,” he explained. “It’s all on a trail, there are no roads. And the trail gets smaller and rougher as you get higher.”

Bailey felt that one of the most incredible aspects of the journey was the scenery.

“We’re hiking along and you see scenery straight out of National Geographic,” he said. “When the clouds broke in the morning, there was a mountain that went up so high you couldn’t fathom it. I told the guides every day, ‘my eyes are seeing but my brain is not believing.'”

The group reached their destination eight days into the trek, and spent a few hours at the base camp for the peak of Mount Everest.

The descent down was scheduled to be much quicker as there is no acclimatization needed, however a few group members including Bailey

There were several villages along the way up Mount Everest, and most of them remain inhabited year-round. The group was lodged in tea houses during the trek. (Courtesy Photo)

There were several villages along the way up Mount Everest, and most of them remain inhabited year-round. The group was lodged in tea houses during the trek. (Courtesy Photo)

fell ill with altitude sickness and one group leader had a rolled ankle. They were evacuated by helicopter.

“Your body has a really good ability to adapt, but it’s a matter of adapting fast enough,” he explained. “But once you start down, you feel better with every step.”

Upon reaching the ground, Bailey stayed four extra days to help with the rebuilding efforts, alongside over 40 volunteers.

“It was all done by hand labor,” he said. “We had to pick up the bricks where the dump truck dumped them, take them to the masons and mix mortar by hand by shovel. They had the bamboo scaffolding as they built the school brick by brick.”

Despite the adventure of the mountain trek, Bailey felt that the most rewarding aspect of the trip was meeting the people of Nepal.

“Everywhere we went, the people were so giving and kind, always smiling and never complaining,” he said. “That was the most profound thing that I experienced. If I went back, sure the scenery is unbelievable, but it would be to see the people again.”

All Hands volunteers continue to work around the clock to help the people of Nepal, and Bailey said that even those who can’t volunteer can help the cause by donating.

More information on All Hands can be found at hands.org, and donations can be made through Bailey’s page at give.hands.org/BaileyfundNepal.

 

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