One of the things that I was most excited about doing when I came to Nepal was going on a trek. At first did not know if I would have time, but with two weekends left in my internship, I was able to take two days off of work and go on a trek. For someone who does most of his hiking in the Shenandoah Valley, this experience was tremendous while at the same time being humbling and at times embarrassing. I ended up joining a group of five friends who knew one of the people I work with to go on a four day trek around the Helambu circuit. It was not until we were about halfway done with the first day that I realized this trek is usually meant to take six to seven days and we were attempting it in four. Unfortunately, we eventually were defeated by the monsoon and decided to take a bus back to Kathmandu on the morning of the the third day.
Our trip started in a small town just outside of Kathmandu. The first day was extremely challenging for me because the mountain never seemed to stop going up. Back home, I am used to slow winding trails that gently work their way up the side of the mountain. Here the trail was usually a set of steps that went straight up the mountain. Along the way we made several stops at small tea houses. I was always greatful for these stops especially once the rain started. About halfway through the first day a heavy fog moved in over the hills and it started raining steadily. For the rest of the day the rain continued on and off. It was also about halfway through the first day that I realized that I was a bit out of my league with this hike. This realization happened when we were climbing a particularly steep part. I was struggling to keep up when all of a sudden I was passed by an elderly man wearing flip flops and smoking a cigarette who acted like going up the mountain was just a nice daily stroll. I was happy to see the lodge where we were staying at the end of the day and eat a good local meal while sitting around a small fire.
The rain became heavier during the night of our first day, and did not let up the next morning. The first half of our second day was spent hiking through pouring rain. I was happy, however, that it was much easier to keep up this day. That is largely because we were not going straight up any more. The rain finally cleared off around lunch time and I was finally able to see some of the scenery around the mountain. As far as I could see the land continued to rise and fall in tall mountains and steep valleys. The rain from the past two days had also made some of the mountain streams swell so I was able to see the streams and waterfalls that ran down the surrounding mountains. At lunch time we decided not to risk another day of waking up and hiking through the pouring rain so we adjusted our oringinal plan and hiked down to a small village where we spent the night and caught a bus back to Kathmandu the next morning.
My trekking trip was a fantastic experience that I will never forget. This was the only opportunity that I had in Nepal to actually go to some of the small hill villages and interact with the people outside of Kathmandu. Everyone proved to be extremely generous and friendly and were nice enough to not laugh at me as I struggled to walk up the trails that they walk every day.