After spending five days exploring Patan, Kathmandu and Bhaktapur, it was finally time for Brian and I to meet up with our Earthbound Expeditions tour group and begin the trekking leg of our adventure. Prior to the trip, we had reservations about doing a tour. We’re not really group activity type people. Actually, my dislike for group activities goes way back; it’s the very reason I never went to summer camp as a kid. I knew from an early age that it just wasn’t for me.
But we wanted to do a trek in Nepal and neither of us were willing to do it without a guide- we’re not that idiotic or stubborn!
Orientation was set for 6pm at the Thamel Eco Resort, which would be our home for the night before boarding buses the following morning en route for Pokhara. Brian and I spent our drive there asking each other questions like…What if everyone is in better shape than us? What if we hate them all? What if it’s a group of serious athletes and we can’t keep up? What if? What if?
What did we get ourselves into?
When I walked into the orientation, I was shocked by what I saw- it was a group of totally regular people! No hardcore athletes! Holy shit, there was even a couple that looked as if they were in their late 70′s!! If they could trek through the Himalayas, then I could too, dammit. At this point, I still wasn’t sure if I would like any of them but I was quite sure I wouldn’t embarrass myself on the mountain and that was a good start.
The group included Rick and Carolyn, an adorable retired couple from upstate New York. Ann, a gorgeous and affable (and very tall) young woman from Michigan. She quit her job to go on a three-month trip around the world- I mean, seriously? How cool is she? Paul and Mari, a newly retired and constantly bickering couple from Australia. Sandra and Taiko, an estranged half-brother and sister team from Denmark on an adventure together. Margaret and Kim, a smart, attractive and witty mother and daughter duo from New York City. Maggie, an amiable but quiet young woman from Malaysia, who was traveling by herself. Donna, a middle-aged career woman from Chicago out to find adventure in Asia and Ben, a peculiar little man from Singapore, who made me laugh out loud at least once a day and who ended up buying a donkey to ride for most of the trek instead of walking. Oh and Brian and I, the newly engaged couple (yes that became our “thing”) from Los Angeles.
Oddest group ever.
As we walked out of orientation, I said to Brian, “Well, hopefully we can steal away a lot on and do our own thing.” Aren’t I positive? But then a funny thing happened, they all became my friends and each and every one of them added something to the experience. Well, maybe not Paul. He took to racing most of us to the finish line each day, which drove me insane. But, the others now hold a soft spot in my heart. There is something very powerful about experiencing such a beautiful, almost spiritual trip together. The beauty on those mountains is unparalleled to anything I have ever experienced. Don’t get me wrong, there were some incredibly difficult times sprinkled in there too. Those moments brought us even closer. We encouraged each other when someone was feeling exhausted by the hill. We shared equipment. We shared toilet paper. We shared laughter each time someone in the group had to brave a new squat toilet. We shared personal stories from our lives back home as we walked along the winding trails. We broke bread together every single night. Even when there was no electricity, we sat together in the dark with only a few candles and headlamps.
Not only did I fall for the group of people I trekked with, but I fell hard for our guide, Shree and all of our porters. Each one of them had such a wonderful joyful energy about them. They all seemed grateful just to be alive. You know when you meet somebody who’s grateful just to be alive? It’s such a powerful energy to be around. It seemed to be a Nepalese character in general. They were the hardest working group of men I have ever met- I don’t say that lightly either. They easily carried between 80-100 pounds of baggage for eight hours a day- with a smile on their face no less! At least ten times a day I would say, “how can that be humanly possible to hold that much weight on their backs???!!” It was seriously mind-blowing.
Each of us had our own personal reason for deciding to sign up for such an adventure. But the common bond of tackling it as a team made for lasting relationships. We tackled that mountain as one.
More on the trek up next…!
(ALL photos by BHG )
“Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.”