Completing the Annapurna Base Camp trek may possibly have pushed me further mentally, emotionally and physically than any other feat I have accomplished thus far in my short 22 years. Sure, this trek to 4130m in the West Himalayas of Nepal may be child’s play to many of the mountaineers or even the well-trodden trekkers who dot themselves around the region, but to a girl who’s lived all her life in the city, it was huge.
As an inexperienced hiker, this trek opened my heart to a love of nature and the outdoors. There is a sense of bliss that accompanies such open spaces stretching out into the far distant horizon. You become aware of your own minute being in the grand scheme of the world when mountains tower above to heights close to puncturing Earth’s ceiling. The land encountered on this trek is rich, unspoiled and quiet, especially as I had experiences of walking for over an hour without seeing any other person, not even from my own trekking group.,
I can no longer remember the precise details of my day to day itinerary, but I believe that writing down descriptions laid out like a trail map are not how I wish to recount my experience. Instead, each lodging destination are the book ends to why I felt I had such a wondrously positive trekking experience in Nepal. It was how our group’s trek leader and Sherpas interacted with us and taught us to view the land through their eyes as a local, proud and respectful of the power of nature, that made me look beyond the simple excitement of what I was seeing. To understand their philosophy of kindness and reciprocity and how this must not only be reflected in the treatment of other people, but stretches to all living things including the mountains themselves broadened my appreciation for being allowed to delight in the beauty of it all alongside them. I’m not sure it can ever be written or spoken about enough that the Nepalese people have such a gentle way about them accompanied by such disarming friendliness and open hearts that our own guarded Western ones can’t help but melt within days of their company. Their many practical jokes they played on our group were in such good spirit and nature that on the hardest days and during the coldest moments at high altitude, feeling drained, weary and ill, we managed to laugh.
To anyone reading this blog, who is planning a trek in Nepal or about to head there in the next few months, I can assure you that Annapurna Base Camp does not let you down in terms of consistently breath taking views. I can’t pin-point a single day on trek where I was not always one tiny misstep away from falling flat on my face due to a preoccupation with my panoramic awe inducing surroundings, rather than checking for loose rocks on the trails. From the Gurung villages, through to rivers, forests and always, the majestic Himalayas looming above, there is a sight to soak in along with the sunshine. November proved to be an exceptionally successful time for trekking, as we had no rain, very warm weather lower down and manageably cold weather during the nights and higher altitudes. Choose this trek if you want a reasonable challenge, superb scenery and comfortable lodges with decent food.
Keep a positive and open mind to all the experiences the Himalayan wilderness may throw at you and remember to view the land as a privilege to be exploring. Adequate training and the right mental focus can push you through all the challenges. Once you’ve reached the village of Chomrong, on your way back down the mountains, after virtually 5 hours of climbing staircases, smile, look at where you are then just laugh because after all those steps, you need to let your abs get some action too.