Saturday, April 18, 2009

CC: Refuge

Coming down on the other side of the pass, one thought was constantly present on my mind. If I see another identical trekking lodge or have another inane conversation with another boring trekker, I think I’m going to be sick. If you can only walk for two hours in a day because of the altitude gain, you don’t need to start packing up to leave before the crack of dawn. Sure, they’re all seeing the mountains as they walk and have their guide and porter to talk to, but they’re living in a trekker bubble not Nepal. The identical lodges that they prefer and identical people they talk to really have nothing to offer after a couple of days. It’s like walking through a mountain valley and never taking your eyes off the path under your feet to see the views. I really miss backpackers – trekkers make a very poor replacement.

I walk an extra half hour past the lodge resort at the far side of the pass to a small town that the main road misses (the hardest half hour I’ve ever made myself walk after that two kilometer descent). Within two hours I’m chatting happily with my new unofficially adopted Nepali family in Jharkot who make it their mission to keep me company for the rest of my stay. In the next few days I hear my fill of all the local gossip, get taken out on a day trip by the hotel owner’s niece to visit all her friends and relatives in the valley, roam the city with all the boys on vacation from school, and even get an archery lesson. (Although I couldn’t quite hit an orc right between the eyes from a hundred meters away, my skills are now developed to a point where I’d be quite useful at, say, Helm’s Deep). I was really too happy to even begin to try expressing anything about the experience properly.

It’s amazing how an extra week to take your time on the trek and the motivation to walk just a few meters of the beaten track can add such an immeasurable level of depth to the experience. My trip in the mountains was instantly transformed from a mildly tedious experience to the best part of my trip.

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