For a few years now, I have been dreaming of going to Nepal. I don’t even have a concrete reason as to why but something about being in the Himalayas was calling to me. In January, I decided to finally pull the trigger and I booked the Mardi Himal Trek with Nepal Hidden Treks (highly recommend by the way — ask for Jay to be your guide because he is the best ever). I had some expectations or ideas about the trip and how it would be but reality was a different story all together…
Expectation: As I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to join me, I figured I would be alone with my guide the entire time and would spend most of the trek in thoughtful quiet reflection.
Reality: I met 3 other solo trekkers on night 1 of the trek, who I bonded with immediately. As we were all going in the same direction and had similar timelines, we decided to set out together. From that point forward, our little team was practically inseparable. We spent our days hiking and getting to know each other and spent our nights playing cards, drinking local wine, stuffing our faces with dal bhat, and enjoying each other’s company. My new friends made the whole experience so much better than I expected and I am really grateful to have them in my life now. I hope you know that you’re stuck with me forever, boys. Sorry, not sorry.
Expectation: I would fly up the mountain because I packed so light and only brought what I absolutely needed.
Reality: My pack was twice as big and heavy as everyone else’s and while I could keep up just fine, my shoulders pretty much despised me every day. I really could have gotten by with a tiny fraction of what I had brought. The thing that took up the most space in my pack was a sleeping bag because I was told that I would definitely need it. False. All of the lodges had blankets and I didn’t unpack the friggin thing once. I also didn’t need 2 changes of clothes and like 8 other things, like the wool hat I wore for 10 minutes or the giant book that I didn’t read a single page of because I was too busy losing at The Durak to bother opening it up. But you live and learn so I will definitely pack smarter next time. While you can trick yourself into thinking carrying a 12-14kg pack (depending on how much disposable underwear I had left) up a mountain is what you train for every day…it gets old real fast.
Expectation: I would have sweeping views of the Himalayas for most of the trek.
Reality: I didn’t see 1 damn mountain the entire time. Okay, I saw “Fishtail” (aka Macchapucchre) for 10 minutes before the weather covered her up again but does that really count? Pretty much every person I met got to see the epic views at some point on their journey but because that week was getting a bit too close to monsoon season, it rained a lot. This means that, aside from having to pull leeches off your clothes every time you stop, everything is essentially covered by a white fog. Like…everything. But it’s not something you can control and honestly, in the end, it didn’t even matter. The terrain and landscape were so interesting and constantly changing that you didn’t even need the views to make it breathtaking. Plus, the fog added this spooky vibe to the whole thing, which I dug.
Luckily, I had a mountain flight scheduled for the day I was departing Nepal and I finally got to see those pretty thangs (including Everest), which was totally awesome.
Expectation: I would not meet my soul mate in Nepal.
Reality: I found the love of my life in a small village called Ghalel. I don’t even know her name but what I do know is this… the way to my heart is through my stomach and she makes the best food I have ever had in my entire life. Signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours, lady.
Expectation: I would barely get to see the cities of Kathmandu or Pokhara.
Reality: We ended up shaving off a few days from the trek due to the fact that we were all fairly fit and were able to get to the next lodges in less time than originally allotted. The Mardi Himal base camp was also essentially inaccessible thanks to the aforementioned weather so that cut out a half day right there. This meant I’d have extra days in both Kathmandu and Pokhara.
At first I was a bit sad about it because mama loves being in some mountains but I wouldn’t have done anything differently. If I had, I would have missed out on my absolute favorite night of the whole thing, which was our 2nd night in Low Camp (on the way back down the mountain). We ended up meeting another crew of trekkers who were lovely and we spent the evening staying warm by the lodge oven, drinking rum, and listening to the local guys sing and play music. It was magic.
I also tried to make the most of the extra time in the cities by doing things like paragliding, getting a tattoo, and hanging out with the guys lakeside in Pokhara and then doing a heritage tour (aka seeing several Buddhist and Hindu temples) and exploring the Thamel area in Kathmandu. Gotta make that lemonade bbs.
Expectation: My stomach would continue its streak of being rock solid and not give me trouble whatsoever.
Reality: I came down with traveler’s diarrhea – not once but twice – because why not (we’re all friends right? we can talk about poop? ok cool). The first time happened the day we were descending from the mountain and then again on the day I was flying back to Munich. There might be a more comfortable time to come down with such an infliction… but at 3am in the middle of a camp where everyone can hear what is going down in the squatty potty or when you have to spend approximately 19 hours in airports and planes are not those times.
There is so much more I could share on this trip but I feel that’s an appropriate note to end on for now. I’m just very thankful for the entire experience. I am so glad I made the friends I did. I am so glad I had the guide I did, who made sure I never wanted for anything. I am so glad I did everything exactly as I did. And really, you can’t ask for much more than that.
As a bonus, I compiled some of my favorite video clips that I took to help capture some things that photos just cannot. Highlights include the beautifully decorated Nepali trucks, a glimpse of the Low Camp music circle (and some sage wisdom from my buddy Jake), and random videos of us during the trek. Enjoy: