One year ago today D and I embarked on a trip that I had dreamed about taking for a long time. Our destination? Nepal and a trek in the Himalayas. Embarrassingly, I first became enamored with the idea of traveling to the Himalayas when the Real World Seattle cast went there during the trip portion of the show. (Do they still go on an epic trip? I stopped watching sometime around the Las Vegas season.) Given that the Seattle season aired in 1998, I had been hankering for quite a while to make the trip to Nepal. Over the years I amassed quite a collection of adventure company brochures featuring treks to destinations in Asia, including the Himalayas, and I often daydreamed about joining one of the treks on offer.
When we first decided that last December would make an excellent time for taking this epic trip, I first had my eye on one of the treks offered by REI. However, the dates didn't quite mesh with the ones we had in mind (D was teaching in the fall semester, so we couldn't leave until the semester was over), so I looked into independent companies. (Given the potential cold temperatures, I also wasn't too thrilled with the idea of nightly camping, as was a feature of the REI trek I had my eye on.) I liked the idea of going with a local (i.e., Nepali) trekking company, and thus keeping the money in the local economy, rather than going with a Western company. After some research, I came upon the Kathmandu-based Earthbound Expeditions, which happened to be the number-one rated Himalayan trekking company on TripAdvisor.
In July (2010), I got in contact with Rajan Simkhada, the trekking company's president, and through email, we planned a private trek for D and I with a guide and porter for three weeks in December. D and I also consulted with the husband of one of D's colleagues at the time, who actually had spent a good portion of time working for a trekking company and leading treks through the Himalayas in Nepal. Soon after our initial contact with Rajan, we wired a deposit via Western Union (that was fun!), and our trip planning was officially underway. After the cost of the trek, the other major expense was airfare, and we opted for a British Airways flight that took us from Denver to Delhi via London, and then switched in Delhi to a Jet Airways flight that would take us the rest of the way to Kathmandu. Our final purchase (other than gear, which I think deserves its own post) was purchasing travel insurance for both of us including medical evacuation coverage.
Over the summer we tested out some of our gear and our aptitude for altitude by getting in some hikes in the Rockies, including a hike up Grays (14,270 ft) and Torreys (14,267 ft) peaks. The rest of the summer and early fall was spent accumulating gear and waiting in anticipation for the 4th of December. (Especially since I was saving up all my vacation days for our trip, so I hadn't had many days off, except for company holidays and a personal day here and there.) There were also some major logistics involved, as just a few days after we returned from our major trip, movers would arrive at our front door to haul our stuff from Laramie to Philadelphia. My parents generously offered to housesit for us while we were gone so that we wouldn't have to worry about leaving our houseful of possessions alone for the three weeks we would be away. Another bonus of their long-term stay was that they could also provide chauffeur service for us to the Denver airport!
As I spent this afternoon looking through photos from our trip, I thought it would be fun to share with you a look back at our adventure last year. Over the next three weeks, I will intersperse posts about last year's adventure with my usual food and goings-on posts. I hope you will enjoy taking a trip down memory lane (even if just one year ago) with me!