A string of nineteen days. Made up of simple and ordinary joys, various feats of courage and perseverance, instances of being utterly awestruck and feeling incredibly alive plus a handful of discomforts and complaints. It all adds up to be one of the most remarkable experiences of our lives.
We quickly fell into a routine as the days sort of melted together, each one containing variations of the one before: incredible landscapes, quaint villages and rural life being lived. And walking. Lots and lots of walking.
Except for the time we jumped in a bus to avoid inhaling loads of dirt from the back end of jeeps driving this highly trafficked portion of the route. This road is the result of progress and while it proves to be useful for villagers living in those hard to reach places, it also threatens their biggest source of revenue since trekkers don’t particularly like to hike on dusty roads. Cough, cough.
Most everyday started with an immediate and eager glimpse out from our bedroom window to check the skies and see if a mountain peak was clearly visible. Fortunately for us we were often rewarded with views like this one.
We drank gallons of masala milk tea and ate our fair share of Tibetan bread (a glorified sopapilla) for breakfast (or whenever).
We traveled miles and miles of beautiful terrain. In the lower areas we walked along ridges of rich green rice terraces and before long the crops turned to corn.
Our views changed drastically over the weeks (really, over the hours!) and included things like this large rock slab where it seems as if the face of the mountain has completely slipped off.
And flat spans of trail filled with tall pine trees and their fresh, calm inducing scent.
We just happened to be in one of the few villages with an internet cafe the night of Adrian’s birthday so he was able to check his email and receive his birthday card from everyone (thanks again for sending love!) and then we were joined by new friends at our guesthouse for a celebratory candlelit dinner thanks to Nepal’s frequent power outages.
We had a few our parents would kill us if they knew what we were doing moments including a trip across this landslide area …
Where the view down to the river below was frightening …
But the view of the lake at the top was rewarding and since we didn’t actually die, it was worth it.
We visited several sacred Gompas (Buddhist monasteries) including the one on top of this hill that is over 500 hundred years old, where we received blessings for prosperity and safety.
We crossed paths with many local people carrying out the daily tasks of their rural life. It’s impressive the amount of physical strength and endurance they possess, toting incredibly heavy amounts of wood and rock up and down the steep mountains using nothing more than ropes and/or dokos (the traditional baskets they strap to their head to carry the materials up in) – while wearing flimsy flip-flops on their feet! The animals are required to work hard too. Life here is simple but it is certainly not easy.
We played and took photos with the village kids. Always fun to see their energetic reactions when they see themselves on camera!
We thought a lot about our families and loved ones back home, stopped on many occasions to stack rocks (officially called Cairns) on their behalf and send them loving prayers. We even found a special way to commemorate the first birthday of my niece, Chloe.
We met a dog, Kumar, with a striking resemblance to Rambo (of course not as smart or handsome) and Adrian spent all his energy trying to coax him away from his beloved owner so he could love on him. His owner was equally as lovable and our chance meeting with the two of them was a highlight of the trek.
We took plenty of time to scream at the top of our lungs into the vastness (which feels Oh so good), to capitalize on the many photo opportunities and to simply revel in the magnificence of it all.
We had hot bucket showers in small outhouses (if we took showers) and did our laundry in the sink over the squatter. It’s enough to ensure that we’ll never take indoor plumbing or washing machines for granted. Ever.
We had a few surprisingly good meals like this plate of bean and yak cheese enchiladas and plenty of not so noteworthy ones as well.
In the afternoon I’d read the trekking guide and plot out the next day and we’d wait to watch the sun make it’s exit (which was at times quite spectacular) before calling it a night, usually by 8pm.
Then, there was that one day that we woke up at the ridiculous hour of 3:30am so that we could enjoy the magical morning light on our way towards Thorong-La Pass, the pinnacle of the Annapurna Circuit at an elevation of 17,769 feet.
There came a point on our way down when our knees declared they had been punished enough and we caught another bus to complete our trip. It should be noted that taking a public bus in Nepal is an absolute must for getting a real experience of the culture (and a few good laughs).
That night, after enjoying ridiculously hot showers for the first time in weeks (and a much needed shave for Adrian) we went out for some dinner and had a toast to commemorate our fine accomplishment.
And I feel compelled to mention that we were fortunate to share various parts of this amazing experience (and share snacks and sunscreen and card games and laughs) with some really cool people from all around the world. Ones that I will forever feel connected to. If y’all are reading this – you helped to make it all the more memorable and special for us, thank you!