The final leg

Posted on 23 Jul 2018

This was it, the final leg of the journey. The Tibet border was calling but there was still almost a week of trekking to go.

The path here is well travelled and is a combination of trail and road that follows the Salli Khola river up a narrow canyon. Tinted by muddy residues of the monsoon, the rapids swirl their way through narrow gashes in the rugged terrain.

There is a constant roar from the water crashing past, often making it hard to hear any other sounds. Temperatures were good and there were only occasional showers.

One day, children joined us along the trail as they walked from school, happily practicing their English with us trying hard to remember every question and phrase they had repeated in class. Ken, Mar and I would often quiz each other about the things we were going to do when we got to Kathmandu or, better still, when we got home.

Finally the last pass, Nara La: 4,560 metres (15,048 feet) on the last day to the Tibetan border. We had to cross it twice in the same day as we touched the border and then turned around and headed back to our camp. We did it!

Celebrations are in order!

We reached the Tibet/China border after almost 5 months on the trail. The celebrations will soon begin, we just have to get back to Kathmandu. Now, we will walk back three more days to Simikot to catch a flight to Kathmandu.

Chasing down a dream

Stopped to chat with a group from Sweden trekking in Dolpo and leaned against a stone fence as I peered into their camp site. A woman asked if I was the one doing the GHT?

I smiled proudly and said, "Yes." She asked, "Why?" I was surprised by the question and said, "What?" In a loud, pleading voice she asked again, “WHY?”

Days after, the woman’s voice and her question came into my head as I walked the trail, 'why?' Several answers came to me, some simple and some more in-depth and challenging to explain.

Sometimes a place or a thing gets in your head and you just want to dive in and get to know it in an intimate way; go beyond the surface and feel like you’ve got a deeper sense of what makes it work. When I read Maurice Herzog’s account of climbing Annapurna in the 1950s, I got hooked on Nepal and dreamed of what it must have been like to traverse the rugged mountains and meet the people who lived in such a remote place.

Welcomed by superlative peaks in the Everest region

I don’t pretend to have gone deep with the culture as I don’t speak Nepali, but the five months here have taken us beyond the surface in terms of seeing the beauty of the environment and the cultures.

We’ve watched the never ending hard work of people across Nepal; in the fields, those building new homes, teaching at schools, herding livestock, carrying firewood and countless other tasks. We’ve shared peoples homes, camped in their gardens, been to their monasteries and been the object of fascination in many regions.

We’ve crossed mountains, glaciers, rivers, forests and ridges and marvelled at the Himalaya as it carved it’s way into the edge of the sky. So yes, we’ve grown to know the place in an intimate and comfortable way that wasn’t there before. It feels good, like it has grown into us and is now part of us. 

In the Upper Dolpo regionTrekking in the magnificient ranges in Upper Dolpo

There is also the personal challenge. Wondering if you’re up to walking across Nepal on the high route of the Great Himalaya Trail. The crossing is clearly physical with all the high passes and seemingly endless days of up and down trekking.

The magical Phoksundo Lake

I read about the GHT and the climbs to above 20,000 feet, passing by all of Nepal’s 8,000 metre mountains, and going from the eastern to the western border. I started dreaming about the possibility and wondering if I was up to it.

Could I live beyond my typical comfort zone for 150 days, walking and climbing every day and cocooning in my tent every night? Could I deal with the emotional and mental aspects of being away from loved ones with very limited communications and missing the daily life we all take for granted?

The trail has taken a toll physically and sometimes emotionally, but the answer is yes, we can do it!

It’s a source of pride to Ken and I to be able to say I trekked across Nepal on the Great Himalaya Trail. That may be the rational answer, but there’s a more simple response to the passionate WHY question: to have big dreams! Chase your big dreams whatever they are; you won’t catch them all, but always have fun trying. 

I know I’ve grown from this experience and will use what I’ve learned about Nepal and about myself. Nepal is a poor country and can use help in many areas. I plan to do my part to give back for all it has given me. I also hope to share some of my experiences as a way to inspire others to chase their dreams and have fun doing it.

Up next: heading for home

We’ve touched the western border of Nepal and Tibet, so all we’ve got left is to make our way back to Simikot for flights to Kathmandu. Hot showers, clean clothes, internet and favourite foods, here we come. From there, we’re homeward bound. We’ll make one more post from Simikot or Kathmandu in a few days. 

Before we sign off, let us leave you with the following quote: "Beginnings are usually scary, and endings are usually sad, but its everything in between that makes it all worth living." - Bob Marley

Dream chasers,
Vince, Ken, Mar, and Bikash

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