I've snuck away for the afternoon while my travel partners are off exploring waterfalls, bat caves, alpine lakes and the like. I wanted to take a moment to give you an update and an outline for the story to come of the journey we've been on for the past 20 days. Friends, I've got to be honest: I'm scared to take on the challenge of expressing to you in words, photos and recordings the time we spent on trail - collectively, we've decided that trekking the Annapurna Range is unlike anything any of us have ever done before. We're also quite certain we'll never experience anything like it ever again. It was that cool. Though we settled into a cadence on trail, each day was wildly different than the days prior or to come, and here's how we'll put you right there on trail with us:
The next post will describe the social and material attributes of the trail - the people (both fellow trekkers and native Nepalese), the villages, the structure of teahouses, the food, what the trails and roads we traveled were, day by day, our rest and lunch stops, our route.
Annapurna Post Two will depict the vast array of environments, climate, landscapes, conditions and weather we encountered each day. This post will be a show and tell of what we saw - the really good stuff, the this-is-what-we-came-here-for stuff. The vistas and flowers and plants and sky-scraping mountains and deep river valleys and unexpected, awesome sights and sounds and smells of the trail.
The third and final Annapurna post will be the lived reality of our time hiking. Four women, each very different, yet very similar in important ways, hauled themselves up and over the biggest pass on Earth. Even now, a couple days after leaving the trail and our packs behind to enjoy the comforts of Pokhara, a sizable Nepalese city, we're all still processing what we just did. What we just accomplished, individually and together. What we just saw and felt and thought and experienced on one of the most amazing treks in the world. I've asked each of these inspiring ladies to write a few words about her trek to share on this blog. We climbed the same mountain, but each of us traveled a unique and special path up, over and down the other side. To me, the journey is just as or more important than the destination; I hope to share a piece of each of my trekking partners' journey traveled with you.
I'll work as quickly as I can on these posts - we have only a few days to enjoy the company of Hannah and Molly before they go back to the US and Shay and I head into the mountains (and into limited connectivity) once more. The girls have promised to set up a photo sharing site; we'll work together to get the best images and moments to you through this blog and our Facebook accounts, and hope to have all video and photos available to share with you somewhere in cyberspace as well.
The irresistible tandem call of curiosity and adventure has turned our attention to Chitwan ("Heart of the Jungle") National Park, south and east of Pokhara near the Nepal/ India border. We leave tomorrow morning at 7am for a two-day glimpse into the lives of the native Tharu community, an elephant ride, and to hopefully catch a glimpse of some wildlife (rhinos or sloth bears, anyone?)!
Happy trails, friends - we'll be in touch soon!