A friends dad told me about the 6 P’s just before our final exams. I was 16 going on 17 and thought old people were the worst. Needless to say, the wisdom was lost on me. As it has been, most of my life, hindsight is a massive bitch.
20 minutes into our 4 day hike in the Nepalese Himalayas I wished I hadn’t been such a know it all.
It had begun to rain and Erin and I were wearing runners. Our socks were wet, we didn’t have rain jackets and our bags were the super cool, cloth souvenir type made by Nepalese hippies. Despite looking fabulous for any “WE ARE BEING ADVENTUROUS LOOK AT US” photos we planned to take, we were hideously under prepared.
We were setting out from the mountain town of Pokhara and planned to trek the Annapurna circuit trail. A trail that went vertically up to a place (hilariously) named Poon Hill and back again. We were under the impression it would be a leisurely 4 day hike, with maybe a few little challenging rocky bits. We were wrong.
Realizing it was colder than I expected, I purchased a bright pink puffy jacket just before the hike, which made me look like a pregnant piece of fairy-floss. On the upside it would probably be the reason I was found if I happened to slip off a mountain.
That first day we hiked 9km up 3,000 stone steps. Exhausted, our legs hurting, we looked much less glamorous than expected. That night, Raju*, our Nepalese guide pointed out the ominous snow clouds on the horizon. Three days later trudging through calf deep snow in leggings and runners, I couldn’t help but think about how fun and spontaneous we were, whilst I shivered with cold.
For this reason I decided to make a list of things to remember for any hopefuls who also plan to go trekking (in freezing conditions) sometime in the near future:
- 1. Wear good shoes. If you don’t, you will have to sacrifice a pair of socks, which you will then put over the outside of your shoe so you don’t plummet to your doom slipping down icy steps. (You will also look like you are wearing purple clogs.)
- 2. Pack spare socks (see above)
- 3. Lock the bathroom door. Getting walked in on is embarrassing. When it’s in a squat toilet and the intruder is another group’s Nepalese guide*…it’s much worse.
- 4. Get a guide. Don’t be a douche-bag, it doesn’t matter how awesome you are at reading maps, you will get lost and be found by some mountain family when they plant their spring marijuana crop.
- 5. Suck it up. Your legs will hurt, your back will ache. But there is a 100-year-old man carrying a basket the size of your body up the mountain next to you and he’s smashing it.
- 6. Embrace annoying hiking songs. The Song That Never Ends is infuriating, but it’s also hilarious. Your guide will love you for it. (Alternatively, they will poison your Mo-Mo’s) either way it will be fun all round.
Overall I recommend taking the plunge and going trekking in Nepal regardless of how prepared you are. It would be a crime to say the hike wasn’t one of the most incredible adventures both and Erin and myself have ever had. The view made all the leg pain/ singing worth it.
In 4 days we hiked over mountains covered in snow, got walked in on in squat toilets by unsuspecting locals, slept in all our clothes, ate veggie Mo-Mo’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner and generally laughed ourselves stupid. Yes, our legs ached and we did a fair amount of whingeing, but we made it. And now we are better than you.
*Raju is the sweetest man alive, with an enormous smile. He was a fantastic source of support/ hilarity (and beat us at celebrity heads numerous times) over the 4 days he was with us in the mountains.
*This particular intruder ended up spending the night in the same shack we stayed the night in. Mortifying.