Nepal 2013

Fishtail from Chhomrong

In March and April of 2013, I returned to Nepal for a month of relaxation and backpacking. Photos from the trip are posted in a Flickr album here, and the blog archive from those months has the fairly comprehensive story written as I traveled:

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Objectives

It had been 13 years since I was last in Nepal. Beyond returning to a beautiful, challenging place to visit (and one in which my business cell phone was useless — oh, the peacefulness of that alone), I hoped to accomplish the following:

  • To see a bit more of the Himilaya than was revealed by breaks in the monsoon clouds last time around – did this;
  • To use maps and navigation to know which peaks are standing in front of me this time – did this;
  • To make it off the beaten track (now a road) of the Annapurna circuit and its teahouses – didn’t do this, but I was happy to follow the trip where it lead and saw things I wouldn’t have otherwise; and
  • To walk to half the elevation of the top of Everest and higher than any point in the U.S. outside of Alaska (coincidentally, 4425 meters, half of the highest reputable measurement of Everest, is 23 feet higher than Mt. Whitney) – didn’t do this at all, due to changing trekking plans and attempting the trek later in the trip when I had gotten sick.

Satellite tracking

I had maps posted here during the trip showing my live progress, tracked by the Delorme inReach satellite tracker/messenger. It worked pretty well, with dead spots only where I was against a steep canyon wall under tree cover. Of course, cell phones worked pretty well through most of the trek, too, and procuring a Nepali SIM card was one of the best choices I made early in the trip.

Delorme’s site recorded my tracks, and you can download them here:

These download as DOC files, but they are actually KML files. To view them, save to your desktop, remove the “DOC” at the end of the filename and subsistute “KML”. You’ll need something that can read KML files, the most accessible option being Google Earth, which you can download for free at http://www.google.com/earth/download/ge/agree.html.

I’ve trimmed them down to the individual segments of the trip, cutting out things like airport arrivals and wandering in London, though I suppose I could also upload London. In addition, I have a more detailed and probably slightly more accurate trip log on my handheld GPS. I’ll download that and post it at some point.

Weather

It was beautiful — maybe a bit too beautiful for trekking, which I ended up doing in early April, beginning on the 8th and aborted a couple days later due to sickness. I think that next time I get there I want to start in early March or even late February, with the trekking in early to mid March. Without much idea of when would be the ideal spring trekking weeks, I pushed it a little later than I would have liked to ensure I wouldn’t be snowed out of doing what I wanted to do, especially at the altitude for which I was aiming.

Next time, I’ll trade a little snow higher up for some jacket-necessitating cool nights in Pokhara.

Next time

When I got back and debriefed, I was hoping to go back to Nepal in 2014. A lot of things came together to make both trips happen. Money and vacation time, primarily, had to work out, and saving both meant sacrificing other things and even other trips — shorter trips, but ones I’ve had on the agenda, like climbing Mt. Stuart in the Cascades and visiting a friend who moved to mountainous Colorado.

If I couldn’t swing a 2014 Nepal trip, those would have tided me over and provided some new experiences, like the alpine climbing in Washington. I’d have skipped over both, though, for a few weeks in and around the big mountains.

Then we moved to Washington, and we got both.