“Any trek in the highest mountains of the world will be laced with masses of eager anticipation and perhaps a little trepidation.” – Bob Giggons
That quote accurately describes how I felt on the jeep ride to the starting point of our trek. While making our way out of the bustling streets of Kathmandu, our guide received a call that there was 1.5 feet of ice on Larkya-La pass. “You have crampons?” he asked. No, we hadn’t packed any. They typically aren’t necessary this type of year. However, the weather in Nepal has been atypical this year. Just a couple weeks prior, trekkers were forced to turn around or wait out the weather as conditions were too dangerous. A reminder of how unpredictable the weather can be at these elevations.
The morning we set off from Kathmandu, the verse at the end of my bible reading was Hebrews 2:18 “Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.” Hmm… I wondered what suffering and testing might lie ahead for us over the next 17 days on the remote trails of Nepal. 😳
Our trek would combine the Manaslu Circuit and Annapurna Circuit. First, we would trek around Mt Manaslu, the world’s eighth highest mountain 26,781’. Next, we would trek around the Annapurna Mountains, the highest being Annapurna I which is the world’s tenth highest mountain at 26,538’. It’s remarkable that this small country is home to 8 of the 10 highest peaks in the world.
We weren’t climbing up these magnificent mountains; we were circumnavigating them. The highest elevation we would face was Thorong La Pass at 17,769’ elevation. At this altitude, there is only HALF of the oxygen available at sea level! I wondered how our bodies would cope experiencing these heights for the first time. There were lots of unknowns, all compounded by the fact that I hadn’t done much research about what our trek would entail. Just ran out of time. Leading up to this trip, I’d worked longer days, 6 days a week, up until we left for the airport. I figured that I’d have time to read about things as we went, plus we’d have an experienced guide and porter throughout our trek, so we were in good hands. Our trekking company: Ace Vision Treks.
Over the course of our 17-day trek, we would hike a total of 170 miles with ~44,000’ total elevation gain. It’s worth noting that there’s hardly a flat area in this country; hiking here entails endless ups and downs. Our average day consisted of hiking 10 miles with 2,600’ elevation gain. A total of 5 hours of hiking plus a lunch stop at some village along the way. Our lunch stops typically lasted 1.5 hours as it entailed a full meal, prepared fresh upon our arrival. I’m not accustomed to having a homemade meal in the middle of a hiking day. It took some getting used to; but eventually, I came to enjoy the lunch breaks in the middle of the day. The weather was typically at its finest at lunchtime, and it was nice to stop and soak it all in.
Typically, we’d arrive at our final destination for the day around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. Upon arrival, we’d enjoy a cup of hot tea, relax until dinner, and then go to bed early. I enjoyed having the downtime at the end of each day to sort through photos and read about where we were headed the next day. There was also enough downtime during our trek that I was able read four books. It was a nice change of pace from life back home.
The scenery along the way was absolutely breathtaking. We were fortunate to have sunshine and clear, blue skies throughout our trek. Day after day brought incredible vistas, and I tried not to take it for granted.
Hiking in the world’s greatest mountain range, the Himalayas, is an experience that’s hard to express in words. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I decided to create a slideshow in an effort to capture the remarkable experience.
Here’s a link to the slideshow on YouTube: https://youtu.be/iEWKxU17hLci
“To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles.” – Mary Davis