Monday, October 17, 2011


So I signed onto a three-day trek through the Himalayas, circling around the small city of Manali.  I didn't ask too many questions before setting off, which was a mistake - I didn't realize, for example, that the plan was, "For two days you will hike up a really steep mountain, and then in one day you will hike all the way back down the really steep mountain."  No flat terrain in sight; my calves are still killing me.

Here are some pictures from the first day, on the way up:

We camped at around 14,000 feet altitude, both nights.  It was pretty warm during the day (you can see my wearing a t-shirt above), but got cold fast.  Insanely cold.  We had porters and horses carrying all the heavy stuff, but had to set up our own tents and such.  The porters laid out a tarp and then tossed a dozen sleeping bags on it and said, "Two each!" and we were all like, "What?  Two sleeping bags?  Who needs two sleeping bags?"

I could have used three.

I went to bed that night with one sleeping bag tucked into the other, wearing a full set of long underwear, wool socks, and a thick fleece, but I was still too cold to sleep.  I just lay there all night with my teeth chattering, waiting for the sun to come up again.  

Here's that camp: 

Day two was more uphill, but with the addition of scary shale slopes.  Honestly, if we hadn't been a day in, I probably would have turned around here because, seriously, this is not a trail:

It's a rock slide waiting to happen.  I crawled through most of this terrain at a snail's pace, irritating the other hikers, but I was terrified.  At one point I sat down next to one of our guides.  I think his name was Mani but we all called him Money; he was a cool little Nepalese kid who wore killer white sunglasses and, get this, sandals at night.  He was that hardcore.  Anyhow.  I said, "This looks like a rock slide waiting to happen," and he said, "Yeah, we get a lot of avalanches here."


Here's our camp for the second night:

And some of the wonderful views from Camp #2: 

Bizarrely enough the third day - the downhill - was the worst.  I didn't get winded the way I did on the uphill slopes, but that contributed to the problem.  I just forced my muscles to carry my legs forward long after they were shot, trying to keep up with the other hikers.  I admit to being the slowest person on the trek in general; there was a fifty-eight year old Spaniard who could have run circles around me.

Anyhow, the point is, the downhill was really steep and we had to descend at a rapid pace.  By the time we reached the finale, the village of Vashisht, my knees were killing me.  Imagine going down a really steep set of stairs, with half the steps taller than is comfortable, for five hours straight and you might get an idea of how I felt.  I hobbled around like an old lady for days.

But no regrets.  I saw some seriously beautiful scenery, and I tested myself.  Both good things.

No comments: