A chronicle of Alison and Ron's trip around the world in 2009-2010.

"Not all those who wander are lost"
- Tolkien

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Last Day of the Trek

The original plan from this point involved a two day trek back up and down a valley to Phedi. On the other hand, Yoav and Michal were going to follow a route that was one day on relatively flat grade back to Nayapul. We wanted to hang tough until the end but it wasn’t a difficult decision to follow our new friends. First we descended down stone staircases from Jhinu to the eloquently named “New Bridge”. It was one of at least a dozen scary river crossings. I’m not necessarily afraid of heights (like Ron) but I have a severe phobia of walking on anything vaguely transparent. Glass floors and loosely grated bridges give me vertigo and heart palpitations. I would have to remind myself repeatedly (and sometimes out loud) not to look down to the roaring river below.

This last day of our trek was easily one of my favorite. We followed dirt trails winding and rolling over the stepped farmlands, rice fields, and charming villages of slate roofed houses on lush green slopes.

The women dry and beat their millet harvest under the warm sun.

The men expertly weave baskets that will later be filled with all the necessities from the city for their remote lives in the foothills of the Himalayas.

The children watch you pass by with a pure and open inquisitiveness in their eyes. You are their real-life Dora the explorer.

Its hard not to romanticize the pastoral ideal of this existence, but it’s a tough and unrelenting life. The work is never done, there is always more to do. This struggle is etched into the wrinkled lines of the porters faces straining under their burdens. But they smile still. Bright and easy. Like the sun shining on them all day long.

I walked softly on my blistered feet, taking in the last hours of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Ron captures it all on film, racking up over a thousand photos. I’m not exaggerating! We stopped for lunch in Sayil Bazar and I tried something called Chips Chilly which I probably should have guessed was french fries with a spicy red sauce. Hmmm. The 500ml of Fanta that accompanied it was like drinking nectar of the gods. Although probably not the healthiest of choices, eating in general on the trek has reminded me how much food is fuel. In modern day life you can forget that quite easily and just eat out of habit, out of boredom, and of course out of gastronomic pleasure. But food here has a purpose. It keeps you going, it gets you up in the morning, and then up the mountain that afternoon.

If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t have changed much. The only thing that would have made the trek far more enjoyable would have been to train on some inclines for a month or so prior. We are definitely case in point that you don’t have to be in top form to do this trek and still have fun (and still come back alive).

We had suffered many hardships: unrelenting stairs, dizzying high altitudes, freezing cold weather, unpleasant neighbors, sour stomachs in squatty potties, busted knees, twisted ankles, and blisters to boot. But its funny when I think back, I don’t remember any of those things. Perhaps we have our rusty old memory to thank for editing out the lowlights so we can remember what made the trip so special. Hiking in the clean mountain air. Krishna, our fearless leader. Poon Hill all to ourselves. Hot lemon tea and rum in a warm dining room. The Chomrong Fresh-House. Climbing the last steps up to ABC. Cocooning snugly in a sleeping bag. Laughing until your belly hurts with new friends. Unimaginably picturesque vistas and views, winding up from the golden farmlands to the snowy peaks and back again.

What a trek!


emiko January 16, 2010 at 5:23 PM  

What a beautiful journey!

Lovely posting, Alison! Wonderful photos, Ronnie! You guys are a great traveling pair & reading/viewing your blog has been a joy.


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