favorite things about trekking in Nepal : the group

19 Feb

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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 )

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this fancy bus got us to Pokhara!

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Brian and Taiko enjoying a beverage at the end of a long day

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Ann and Margaret

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taking in the view at lunch

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our guide Shree and his colorful walking stick!

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my favorite porter on the trip

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Carolyn, Rick, Kim and Margaret

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Ann, Le Shrimp (me) and Margaret

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Shree and Brian at the top of Poonhill

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can you believe how much weight they are holding?? Amazing right?

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the newly engaged couple

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Ben and his donkey

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all of our incredible porters

*

“Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.”
Mattie Stepanek

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17 Responses to “favorite things about trekking in Nepal : the group”

  1. barbarapotter February 19, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    Lovely you made me laugh too as usual. Enjoyed reading this. You see connection is always there. I have learned that from Jen of course. Also I don’t do heights or hiking, Beside having “altitude illness” and “exercise induced asthma” since a kid… (nice combo) so anything above 7000 feet and anything too strenuous gets me bad and that makes hiking out of the question most times.( I actually fell asleep on the back of Jack’s Harley going through the mountains and he realized when my head and helmet crashed into his as we were riding. It happened again and again. That is how we first knew something was off-no pun intended). So I can live it through you and your words and pictures. Love you sweetie. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. the usual bliss February 19, 2013 at 11:44 am #

    I adore this post! The views, the mountains, the flowers, the beautiful walking stick, the smiles. I bet it feels like it was all a dream!
    I’m reading a book called “The Lost Girls” about a group of late-20s New Yorkers who quit their jobs for a YEAR to travel the world. You might love it.
    I loved the part where you said, “If the couple in their 70s can do it, I can, too!” I do that when I’m snowboarding and feeling beat down. Suddenly, a tiny 3 year-old will whiz by me like a pro. Talk about motivation. 🙂

  3. Katie Devine February 20, 2013 at 9:04 am #

    Love hearing about your travels and seeing the pictures! You have made me add Nepal to the must visit places!!!

  4. authenticalive February 22, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

    Your description of the group gathered together for the trek….. I felt as if I knew each one.. and feeling how the personalities blended, or not… thank you for a great afternoon trek in Nepal.. write more about one or two specific adventure.. I’m interested..

  5. CleanCalmConditioned February 24, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    There are never any accidents, I have felt this way before. People come together because they need each other! Delightful post. 🙂

    • katemcclafferty February 24, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

      Isn’t that the truth!!! Thanks for the comment! 🙂

  6. JenPastiloff March 28, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

    wish i had been there

  7. web page September 6, 2013 at 11:37 am #

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  8. Raj December 9, 2013 at 8:58 pm #

    Traveling to Nepal is a life changing moment for many people. Not many people have traveled or plan to Nepal. Seeing your pictures and experience is like reading a novel of a person. This explains a lot about life.

    Thanks for Sharing

    Raj
    Adventure Bound Nepal
    http://www.adventureboundnepal.com

  9. Wilbur September 26, 2014 at 6:25 pm #

    This is really interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger.
    I have joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking
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    • kate365til September 28, 2014 at 9:04 pm #

      Thank you so much Wilbur! I so appreciate that!!!

  10. Nepal TrekkingTravel (@nepalplanettrek) December 18, 2014 at 6:17 pm #

    Trekking guide Recommended in Nepal 2015?
    I just returned from Nepal two weeks ago. We did the Manaslu 20 days trekking and it was fantastic. We had everything organized by a Nepali guide from Kathmandu, Sanjib from Nepal Planet Treks and Expedition, and he was very friendly, helpful, honest and reliable. I would certainly recommend him. (Sanjib have, e-mail: sanjib-adhikari@hotmail.com, cell phone: +97798416138220). He will do everything for you: pick you up from the airport, book you a good and cheap hotel, arrange the trekking permits, etc. etc. He also has a group of reliable porters, cooks, etc.
    Anyway; you’ll certainly have a good vacation!
    Michael from Germany

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