I have dreamed about trekking in Nepal since about the time I started reading Kerouac, Borroughs and Ginsberg. Nobody reads the Beats until they hit their first existential crisis somewhere around their mid-twenties, which means I’ve been dreaming of trekking the Annapurnas for at least 15 years.
A lot has passed in that 15 years. I figured myself out — at least somewhat — I met an Australian, moved with him to London, created a fireball of a child, and found a home in my career.
By all appearances, I’m more settled than I was back then, but on the whole, I’m not a very settled person. I do project work for a reason, and I don’t let ideas die gently. All that has passed in the last 15 years have worked together to get me here, today.
I never dreamed I’d be doing this trek with my small family, together with my wonderful cousin, Beth — and her friend, also Beth, who we called Beth 1 and Beth 2 to make things easier.
Our little band of 5 set out carrying our own packs, without a guide or a porter, and took our first steps into the Annapurna Conversation Area at Naya Pul, and on to a mind bending, knee crunching, heart expanding experience of a lifetime.
We trekked 12 days in the Annapurnas of Nepal on paths literally paved in silver and gold and marble, over long suspension bridges, across scree left from landslides, through spooky rhodendron forests, on tiny trails across high grasslands, over waterfalls, up endless, relentless stone stairs, along mountain ridges high above the clouds, up, up up to see views of mountains bigger than our dreams so close we felt we could touch them, and then down, down, down to the biggest adrenaline beating of my lifetime – the bus ride from Kimche to Pokhara.
I am crazy proud of Austin. He started out like every other six year old in the world – reluctant to try something new, and certainly not if it required effort. And if he was going to be made to do it, then by god, he was going to make everyone around him as miserable as he was.
But by the end, he had learned that he could overcome his fears, tackle exhaustion, and push himself through to find the personal reward on the other side.
He supported the other members of our little team just as we supported him. He bonded with other trekkers as their equal – and perhaps superior as he watched one fit adult after another trudging behind their porter. He hopped from rock to rock like a little mountain goat, and trekked on and on for hours, still finding energy at the end of each day to race around as fast as he could on whatever flat surface was available — because he needed to RUN.
He’s learned lessons I didn’t learn until my late 20’s, and some I learned right alongside him.
In 12 days, we clocked in just over 70 hours of trekking, climbing more than 5,400m in elevation, up to a height of 3,660m and descending down more than 4,500 bone crunching metres back down. We started with a plan to get us to Poon Hill on Day 3, and winged it after that. To date, it’s the hardest, most rewarding thing I have ever done, and although I now need a rest, I’m already planning our next trek, and the next, and the next.
These next few posts will follow our trek through the Annapurnas, the lessons we learned, and the reward for the hard work we put in.
As always, for more photos of our journey, please visit our Facebook and Instagram pages @LongitudinalShift.