March 19: Day 14
Chymche to Bahundanda
Yet another uneventful, dreadful day of walking on roads! Jan didn’t sleep well so we had a really slow start to our day and didn’t depart until after 9:30am. And of course, today was the earliest me and Travis were ever ready! It was just a short five hour walk, but the first three hours were awful – all on shitty Jeep trail roads. We ran into so many trekkers on the circuit (we were now at the start of the Annapurna circuit as the Manaslu circuit merges with it), and I swear 90% of them were Israeli! We were playing a game where as we walked, we would all pick a nationality of who we thought the next people we met on the trail would be -without seeing them. Our game came quickly to an end however, as pretty well everyone was Israeli! Continue reading
March 17, 2018: Day 12
Bimtang to Tilche
As much as one would like to say all is well now that we’ve made it down the pass, there was some drama last night. We were heading to our little cabin to call it a night, when we heard yelling. We saw one of the guides who had gotten very drunk, harassing a woman, hitting her around her middle, as she screamed back at him, struggling. And out of no where, our guide Tek the hero steps in to help her. The other guide kicked Tek and they really got into it, the woman too – she wasn’t sitting back while this guy caused trouble at her tea house. I initially thought there was a chicken involved because there were feathers everywhere, and I thought perhaps he was stealing a chicken and they were trying to stop him? But it turns out that the one guide had grabbed Tek’s jacket and ripped it, causing the down filling to spew out everywhere, feathers filling the air. At last Tek got him down and one of the porter’s, Chen Ho Susan came out and helped to hold down the struggling drunk guide. He had to be held down for a half hour while he screamed and hollered. And then cried. And then puked. And then was finally dragged limp to his bed. Good lord! I guess he let his celebrating get out of hand and he drank too much Raksi, the local moonshine. Some people just shouldn’t drink. He was of course deeply ashamed the next day and didn’t even remember what had happened. I was just glad Tek was around to help the woman! Continue reading
March 15, 2018: Day 10
Samdo to Dharmasala
Altitude gain: 770m
We had a team discussion last night to plot our our strategy for today. We are Team Take Our Time – which means we are the last ones to leave every day. We were headed to Dharmasala, which is the last camp before the pass. The camp is comprised of two or three private rooms, one dorm room and then 12 or so tents. Accommodation was on a first come first serve basis. We knew we could never make a fast enough pace no matter how early we left to try and secure a private room, or even dorm- but also, we didn’t want to leave early because that would mean spending a very long day in a very cold tea house/room trying to keep warm. We wanted to leave as late as possible. Bhim agreed to be a hero and leave around 7am with the pack by himself. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ran the whole way to be honest. Bhim was 20 years old, lithe and spry and even with a 20kg pack on him he could nimbly jump from boulder to boulder, dance across unstable landslide debris and somehow keep his balance and never be out of breath. It was incredible. He was some sort of super human! Continue reading
March 12, 2018: Day 7
Lhogaon to Samagaon
Elevation gain: 350m
Finally! I slept better last night – nearly a whole five hours! It’s freezing cold at this altitude, but once I was in my sleeping bag for an hour it was nice and toasty. I awoke at 6:20am and packed and went for breakfast. The view this morning was spectacular! We didn’t have much time to enjoy it however as the clouds rolled in fast.
We set off around 8:30am behind the rest of the trekkers – ‘Team Take our Time’ is what we should have called ourselves! Always last! But what rush are we in? The trek today was beautiful with some snowy patches and lots of ups and down. We stopped at the monastery just outside of Lhogaon which was peaceful, yet bustling with monks going about their work on the place as it was undergoing major construction. We passed a long string of monks on the steep zigzag path up through the forest, all carrying huge pieces of wood slung across their shoulders to aid in the building. Continue reading
March 6, 2018: Day 1
Kathmandu to Soti Khola (by Jeep)
Today is the day! We have been planning, preparing, stressing out and getting wildly excited about this day for a long time now. Today we set off from Kathmandu to begin our two week trek into the heart of the Himalaya’s to circuit around the eighth highest mountain in the world, Manaslu. We used our two day layover in Vancouver to stock up on some trekking essentials and then spent a week in Kathmandu adjusting to the food and culture, and partaking in the amazing Holi festivities. But now the time has finally come! We’ve gone over the maps, the itinerary, asked a million questions, gotten to know our guide Tek and his brother Bhim our porter, and now all that remains is to get out there.
The Jeep bounced away from our hotel at 9am and we were off. Almost. Continue reading
Our three day trek in the Sierra Juarez mountains was great, but we needed something a little higher, a little more challenging to help us prepare for trekking the great Himalayas. Toluca de Nevado offered us just that challenge. Towering at 4600 metres, this long dead volcano is now home to two beautiful caldera lakes and absolutely stunning views.
We paired up with Julius and Sandro again and decided to rent a car. We grabbed snacks and fluids and hit the road around 1030am. Major props to Juluis for being the hero and doing the driving to get us out of Mexico city! It took a while, as traffic in this beast of a city is horrific! But finally we made it out, paid a couple of tolls and eventually took the turn off Mexico highway 10, drove past the little town of Raices, past the National Park area (where all the vendors are set up) and began to gruellingly slow switchback ride up the mountain. The reason so many people trek this mountain’s peak is because you can drive almost all the way up! In fact, you used to be able to drive right to the caldera, however the road now stops 2km before and you must hike in. Continue reading
With our upcoming plans of trekking the Himalaya’s in Nepal, we needed to get a trek or two under our belts. There were plenty of hikes online with pricey tour companies, but we didn’t want to have to pay someone hundreds of dollars to walk with us, we were quite capable of that, thanks! After digging around some more we found there was a company in town that helped coordinate treks through the Sierra Juarez mountains and the Pueblos Mancomunados (united villages) for a fair price. The best part was the money went directly to the guides who lived in each of the villages so your money was actually making it to the villages. What made these villages united was that they pooled resources to help each other out, and 6 of the 8 communities came together and created the ecotourism programs that helps sustain the villages today.
And so, on the first day of the new year, I awoke at 6am after not really sleeping at all (thanks anxiety!), caught a cab to the second class bus station and hopped in a collectivo van headed for the village of Cuajimaloyas, resting at a mighty 3100 meters above sea level. Continue reading
Iceland was never originally on my radar- mostly because I thought it would be far too expensive. But it kept coming up again and again, and I couldn’t ignore the universe trying to send me a message. I was already in Europe, who knew when I would be back next… so why not? I looked at flights and while it was still an expensive flight, I had started dreaming about Iceland and knew I had to visit this place. I knew I made the right decision when my dear friend Emilee from back home in Canada messaged me to tell me her and another friend were heading to Iceland at the same time as me! That settled it. I booked my flights and made plans to meet the girls for an epic week long road trip through Iceland’s Ring Road. Emilee and Caitlyn had two weeks in Iceland, so we were going to start with the most exciting stuff in the South and work our way East then North, and then I would catch a bus from wherever we ended up after a week back to Reykjavik. Continue reading
I was awoken to the sun glinting through our bus window in the wee hours of the morning. It had been a rather fitful sleep, huddling together on the freezing cold bus, drifting in and out of the elusive world of slumber. The road was suddenly a mess of jarring bumps and as I looked out the window I noticed that we were no longer even on a real road; we were on a path through the desert floor. The bumps were from the sand having frozen and hardened in place. The Bolivian desert is a cold and cruel place come sunset, as we would soon find out on our three day tour through this incredible place. We bumped along, savouring the slight warmth the sun was passing through our windows as our breath misted in front of our faces. Continue reading
Whenever I tell someone where I’m from (Yellowknife!) when traveling in Canada, for some reason, they think I’m from the Yukon. Later in our conversation I correct them as I hear them telling others that I’m from Whitehorse. Ask anyone from Yellowknife- we all encounter this problem when we tell people where we are from. I’m sure it has something to do with the colours in both names of the cities- and perhaps that the Yukon and Whitehorse are a little more well known than Yellowknife. The funny thing is, while everyone else thinks I am from the Yukon, until last month, I’d never even been there! Continue reading