Upon my return to Kathmandu I had a feeling like a dog retreating with its tail tucked between its legs in submission. There was so much anticipation for our trek in the Ramechhap District of Nepal that I had very high expectations for myself. The trek was the major highlight of our experience in Nepal, possibly even the major highlight of our entire tour of Asia. The thing is, we had planned 10 days without a guide in an area of Nepal that the overwhelming majority of travel agencies knew nothing about. Not to mention we were coming off the back-end of a nasty flu we picked up in Cambodia so our bodies were weak. But our minds were made up. So we went with our spirits high in anticipation of fresh air and pristine mountain ranges.
Day 1: We were unable to reach our intended village by bus, so our walking would begin at an alternate starting point. No worries, we thought, since our plan included two days to explore surrounding villages.
Day 2: The trek began and my body was so not ready. Three miles in I could feel blisters forming, my legs were burning and I was breathing heavy. It was a sight to see. After a nice lunch break we caught a bus headed in the right direction. When the bus stopped at the next village we thought we would keep going towards our final destination for the day. Nature had other plans, it started raining buckets. We headed back to the village for the night.
Day 3: We started earlier to try to beat the rain. It was a relentless ascension to the infamous village of Sailung. Towards the top of the mountain it became more and more difficult to navigate through a network of ambiguous trails. With only a little ways to go at approximately 10,000 feet, the fog rolled in, HEAVY. We couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of us and to make matters worse thunder began to crackle through the clouds. With our very lives at stake panic set in. We were able to take cover under a thick group of trees to wait out the thunder. It wasn’t ideal but we had no other option. Without knowing what kind of weather would persist, we took the more direct route to Kholakharka. We ended the day with two heavy pours of local Nepali wine.
Day 4-7: The trek was much easier after Sailung but there was another serious matter to address. A few days before our trek, Montezuma’s Revenge struck yet again, or so I had thought. What began as traveler’s diarrhea turned into tummy rumbling, wall bracing, explosive ass lava. I hope you chuckled. I had a good time laughing at the absurdity of my situation. The problem was it’s actually quite dangerous. I couldn’t keep myself hydrated enough and I had almost no energy. The IP Trail is not a very hard trek but my body felt as though it was trekking Everest. We stayed in the last two villages for two nights each. We never made it to our final destination.
Day 8: Returning to Kathmandu felt like a major defeat. I was grumpy the entire ride back. One part due to the terrifying driving methods, another due to you know what, and a third part because I felt as if I had lost. What did I lose exactly? The truth is that I didn’t lose anything. Quite the opposite.
Life isn’t a game. It’s not a check mate or benchmark to compare each other to. Life is beautifully colored by failure. From failure you can derive pride in overcoming adversity, happiness in choosing to immerse yourself in unconditional love after coexisting with conditional love, and freedom in the knowledge of what it is to be oppressed. To truly live is to embrace the fear of failure and use it as a guiding light.
The Indigenous Peoples Trail was my first experience trekking and at the time I felt as if I had made a huge mistake. Yet in retrospect we did everything right. We put our health and safety first and adjusted accordingly. In eight days I acquired necessary knowledge and skill to more safely navigate my next trek in a foreign country, or even back in the U.S. Even some of the most skilled and knowledgable individuals have lost their lives to unforeseen danger. Fear should never stop you from at least trying.
Try we did and what might sound like a terrible time was actually one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I dare say it went better than planned. See for yourself 🙂
Tune in next week for a more comprehensive account of our Indigenous Peoples Trail trek sprinkled with more humorous accounts of our misadventures. The beauty of Nepal could never be captured in any number of photographs or described in any combination of words but I’ll do my best!