A little over a week ago, Ben and I finished 30 days of trekking in Nepal. We completed two treks: the first, a 20 day loop around the well known Annapurna Circuit; followed by a 10 day cultural trek in the lesser known area of Ganesh Himal, with two days of rest in between. While a brief email description can not come close to describing the grandeur and dramatic scale of the Himalayas, I’ll attempt to give a brief description of the ‘ups and downs’ in Nepal.
The Annapurna Circuit is one of the most popular and leading treks in the world, and no doubt it lived up to its reputation. Even with the clouds and scattered showers that accompany monsoon season in Nepal, the phenomenal change of scenery every few days creates a memorable background and slightly uncomprehendable sculpture of the outdoor environment. Leading us through the rice fields, jungles, deserts, valleys, and high altitude passes were our guide Bhim & porter Krish, who on occasion, ran up & down the mountain carrying our 30kg bag in only his flip flops. The first week of trekking was probably most focused on just trying to keep on pace with Bhim; during the second week, once we finally were in better condition, the high altitude proved to be an exhausting obstacle; and the final week back down to civilization was lost day dreaming of meat, cold beer, hot water showers, and sleeping in. As mentioned before, both treks took place during monsoon season; and while the clouds blocked many views of peaks, it also fortunately allowed a great portion of the adventure left to use four alone (Ben, Bhim, Krish, & I), void of at least 100 times more tourists that arrive mid October!
Despite casual warnings from Bhim, our second trek proved to be much more . . . . emotionally challenging than the first; and while we were afforded many exciting opportunities to interact on a personal level with entire Nepalese villages with limited tourist exposure, unfortunately I also found my ‘nature’ threshold. Void of exaggeration, one day in particular proved to put any prior bad experience in life to shame: Not only did we trek for 12 hours all uphill in the rain after spending the night in a potato shed, but a larger portion of the trail was a narrow path literally climbing up slippery rocks alongside steep drop-offs; while also, at any one point we each had at least 20 leeches on each boot with the occasional that managed to make camp on my head, neck, & back; then, to make the day better, as dusk enveloped us in the jungle we became separated from Krish for 2 hours and ourselves lost. Unfortunately, Cranky Karey was already crying by mid-afternoon, not knowing that upon finishing a day of hell, once reunited with Krish, the four of us would spend the night on a pass only inhabited by a yak farm; meaning our dinner of rice and curry was eaten around a fire literally in the middle of mounds of animal shit while we picked off leeches, while our bed on the floor above was a less than 5 feet long section of wooden planks that left tall Ben and I awake in the cold the entire night. It was rough. Despite a day like this, the cultural trek had a lots of cool highlights. Typically, within a kilometer of approaching a village, one by one we would acquire our ‘fan club,’ and by the time we reached our place of rest, about 20 to 30 Nepalese children would be following to stick around to watch us eat, shower in the public fountain, and any other move we made. Treated like royalty, the villages were filled with extremely warm and curious people, eager to share their culture, teach us how to dance, and make Ben drink homemade alcohol (Roxi)!!
After leaving behind 5 to 10 kilograms each, Bhim, Krish, Ben and I found ourselves back in Kathmandu; where after 30 days of trekking the food miraculously seemed to be elevated to 5 star quality, and our hostel a resort, void of bed bugs and featuring indoor plumbing with hot water.
Oh, and just for the sake of bragging . . . . we trekked up to 5416 meters, only about 600m less than Mount Mckinley (highest in North America).
After just finishing a week of relaxing in Bangkok, I am now en route to New Zealand, hopefully to find a job.