November 3, 2023

A trip down memory lane...Nepal and THE HIKE!

Exactly one year ago today, Bruce and I stepped off a plane into Kathmandu, Nepal. We’d been traveling for 32 hours and were badly in need of a shower and change of clothes.

The chaos of Kathmandu was unlike anything I had ever seen. Cars, motorcycles, and pedestrians surged in and out of traffic at random. The only rule of the road appeared to be that there were no rules of the road. Dust and smog hung heavy in the air and piles of rubble were everywhere, presumably still left behind from the devastating earthquake of 2015.

Our first few days were spent exploring Kathmandu. We tried many new foods, took a local cooking class, toured temples and ancient palaces, and haggled for souvenirs on the busy streets of Thamel. The pulse at which the city throbbed was exciting and exhausting all at the same time. On our fourth day in Nepal, we set off on the main event for our trip, a trekking adventure in the Himalayan Mountains on the Gokyo Ri trail.

Our travel day to the mountains started at 2 a.m. with a four-hour bus ride that often found us on roads that seemed more like jeep trails in the United States. The destination was a small airport in a beautiful valley to board a 20-minute flight to Lukla, the jumping-off point of treks in the Everest Valley and one of the most dangerous airports in the world. We all nervously awaited our turn, watching planes full of other trekkers board and disappear between the mountain peaks. The flight in was smooth and clear and we landed in Lukla full of excitement and anticipation for the trek that lay ahead.

The next 10 days can only be described as the most physically and mentally challenging undertaking I’ve ever embarked on. The hiking was harder than we expected and the thinning air as we climbed made my pace slow to a crawl. Teams of yaks and donkeys hauling gear up and down the mountain passed us at regular intervals and we were always careful to choose the mountainside of the trail when being passed, as those animals stopped for nothing and often walked right on the edge of a trail! Our tea and lunch breaks were welcome stops to refuel and recharge and a candy bar after a meal felt so indulgent in a place where luxury was hard to find. The nights were long and cold, especially as we climbed. We often awoke to iced-over windows INSIDE our rooms; heating was a luxury we only had in the dining halls in the evening hours and for breakfast. The cold was real and oppressive and it made getting dressed and trips to the bathroom activities you had to psych yourself up for! BUT, through it all, the beauty of the surroundings left us in awe and the Nepali people were such a joy to be with and around.

Unfortunately, we did not make it to our ultimate destination, the peak of Gokyo Ri. Bruce developed acute altitude sickness in the town of Gokyo in the overnight hours before our climb to the peak. After the local doctor advised immediate descent, we quickly packed up our bags and began our descent to relieve his symptoms. Many of our trekking mates did make it to the peak and we enjoyed their stories when they caught up with us the next day. Our trip down was far more subdued than the trip up. With the goal having been achieved, the excitement had been replaced with a deep exhaustion as we trudged back towards the flat lands.

Most of us returned to the flat lands with a cough we lovingly named the Himalayan hack and a hankering for a LONG, HOT shower. That hotel in Kathmandu that seemed very basic before felt like the lap of luxury with hot water, flushing toilets, and blessed heat. We had a true and proper adventure on our Himalayan trek in beautiful Nepal and it is an experience we will never forget.

As I remember that trip, I am reminded just how thankful I am to live in America. We truly are so lucky and travel always reminds me of that fact. Thank you for taking a trip down memory lane with me and I hope to one day hear about your favorite trip memories as we plan for your next great trip!

Prayer flags and a glimpse of Everest
Prayer flags and a glimpse of Everest
Yaks on the Gokyo Ri trail
Yaks on the Gokyo Ri trail
The Lakes of Gokyo Ri
The Lakes of Gokyo Ri

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A trip down memory lane...

Remembering Nepal and THE HIKE!