“Our members feel right at home in the Himalayas,” I repeated to myself the advertising slogan of Kuluar’s Nepal tours, standing at 4,000 in an outdoor shower stall, in the freezing wind, trying to warm my bluish limbs under thin jets of hot water.
No, folks, a hike in the Himalayas is not a walk in the park. The comfort zone ends exactly outside Kathmandu. You will feel the cold, the tiredness, the flagrant unfriendliness of these mountains, and, at least once, you will feel sorry for yourself. Did you imagine it any other way?
But it’s all in order. First there was a long agonizing packing, a period full of tossing and doubts. Now, I know that I can and should trust the list published on the website. And yes, in Kathmandu you can really buy anything of sufficient quality clothing (next time I’ll get myself a lot of downy stuff there).
Meeting me at the airport was my first impression on the new planet of Nepal. I unmistakably recognized the guide, but not from the photo and not because he was the only white person around. The guide was rumpled and shabby, like someone who had just come down from the mountains. And that feeling, in its own way, set the tone for my journey.
In Kathmandu, I met some fellow travelers, and we had a great few days exploring the outlandish temples and local restaurants.
Soon we were on our way. In a world of endless stone steps, tinkling caravans of yaks, and porters sighing under the weight of their burdens, there was so much present. The weary, weathered faces of the people coming to us from their trek did not promise an easy journey. And the path was getting harder every day, the temperature dropping and our strength fading.
I took a paper notepad, thinking that I would be writing down my impressions in a fresh way. But that was not the case. A pen, you know, doesn’t sit well in frozen fingers. But I still kept scraps of thoughts in the electronic diary. In describing my experiences, I used words like “torture” and, sorry, “ice ass”)
The warmth was in the movement. The light of the new day and the dizzying views made us forget all the difficulties for a while. We watched as, with the rise in altitude, the lush greenery and flowers gave way to conifers, and those, in turn, to monotonous shrubs. Then only stiff dry grass was left, and then… only bare rocks and ice – an empty and hostile to life height. And then everything in reverse order on the descent: the landscape was changing not by day but by hour, and it was magical, as if spring had come and taken over the world in just one day.
What else was warm and bright about this hike was our guide. The minute he gave me his mittens on the climb, he was almost like a saint to me. However, on the trek I promised that on my return I would write a complaint about him, and here it is: it is impossible to walk with this Pavlov, he makes me laugh so much!) I will not get tired to send him beams of kindness through time and space.
In general, we laughed a lot on the road. At ourselves, at the situation. I remember a comrade coming in from the street and saying: “I checked the facilities. Everything’s fine,” and he had tears in his beautiful blue eyes. It’s touching and funny at the same time. I love our camping moments when we wanted to either cry or laugh. In such circumstances are born light feelings of community, mutual support, subtle mutual understanding. We returned to familiar Kathmandu in a different way, we became a little wiser, kinder and more tolerant, and our familiar life took on new colors for a while.
It is true what they say: there, in the mountains, you challenge yourself. You face such difficulties that can knock you down, but time after time you get up. Thanks to an effort of will, thanks to your comrades, and sometimes just blind luck. These experiences have no price.
In the Himalayas our participants feel at home … “But it’s not exact!”, sounds in my head the cheerful voice of the guide, “because in Nepal everything is not exact, soon you will understand everything!
I write these lines and envy those who still have this adventure ahead of them. And the first shower in the fresh Himalayan air – I recommend it.