Nep-all the Way

When I used to visit the Appalachian mountains as a kid I once said to myself, “Those are mountains.” My troop leader at the time turned to me and with a knowing smile said, “No son, those are only hills.”

From that time I’ve experienced the French Alps, the Rockies, and since moving to Washington, the Cascades. I think my troop leader would agree these are mountains.

…..but anyone who has visited Nepal might give that same knowing smile to that statement.

In September of 2019 my dear adventure companion, David Wolfer aka “D-Wolf,” and I had the chance to travel to the other side of mother Earth in order to spend two weeks hiking in the Annapurna Circuit. What ensued was a wild adventure. From rogue taxi drivers, to blood sucking leaches, to acute mountain sickness, Nepal dished it all out as a meal best served hot. Specifically over rice and with a complimentary refill. There isn’t a lot to say because, for me, this adventures is contained in the time spent on the trail itself. Below are bits and pieces of the adventure but my hope is that by only supplying a taste, both you and I, can appreciate that which is left unsaid, and in turn hunger for the place itself.

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As the resident civil engineer on the trip I had a bit of an obsession with the roads. This is the Nepalese equivalent of a state arterial.
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The roads wouldn’t be the delight they are if there wasn’t a way to gracefully traverse them. The buses probably aren’t that but they certainly provided some intimate experiences and concussive Nepalese pop music.
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Every road ends somewhere though, and the chances we had to venture into villages always felt surreal.
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Houses built from stone, almost gave the feeling of traveling through a medieval village.
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I very much enjoyed getting to see the daily life of the residents of these villages. Folks milling around, watching over playful children, and going about the constant process of repairing roads. It all seemed cohesive and well paced.
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It was in those villages where the culinary journey was. You can’t talk about Nepal without talking about dal bhat. Sweet, sweet, dal bhat. I couldn’t really tell you what all it consisted of because every place did it a little different.
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Most of the eating establishments were combined with guest houses. Striking deals with the owners on sleeping arrangements seem to give David a special type of thrill. It mostly just made my palms sweaty.
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Sometimes you had to hike a little further just for that special view. 60 extra steps to be exact. No regred.
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….o and speaking of views.
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With it being the rainy season, clear days were rare. Sometimes the sun peaked through though, and just for a moment, you got the show of a lifetime.
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You might even have a peaceful monastery to appreciate it from.
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Ultimately the goal of this trek was to cross over Thorong Pass. I’d like to tell you that we had a chance to enjoy the bliss of having this monumental place all to ourselves. Unfortunately I was deep in the throes of mountain sickness, so after our celebratory drinks, it was promptly down the mountain before proceeding to loose my breakfast.
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The landscape of this region of Nepal is something to behold. Rain forests down low and desolate moonscapes at the top with everything in between. In the end these trails are for utility though so watch your feet or you’ll likely find some form of livestock poop caked on your shoes.

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All around it was a blast. I slept, ate, and used more pit toilets, then I had in my entire life. All the while in a land that felt both welcoming yet terrifying at times. I can’t wait to see how I look back on this time in 10 or even 50 years.
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Finally I have to give a shout out to D-Wolf. We argued, were passive aggressive, made silly mistakes, enjoyed the best sights this world has to provide, and shared nearly every meal together for two weeks straight. It’s an honor to have completed another adventure with you David, and I look forward to the next mountain we throw ourselves blindly at. Till next time.
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O and can’t forget the orange kitty of the trip. Gets me every time.

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