From Our Volunteers | 21 July 2011
Smack between our two weeks of volunteering at Helping Hands Hospital Kylene and I embarked on a two-week trek around part of the Annapurna Circuit. After one week of extremely rewarding experiences in the high stress environment of a low cost private Kathmandu Hospital, a trek was exactly what the doctor ordered; and if you are planning to volunteer in the big city of Kathmandu, a trek of any length is a must do if you want to get a more complete vision of the stunning country of Nepal.
Scott from Mountain Fund was more than generous with his time and expertise on trekking and, after deciphering what was and wasn’t sarcasm, felt he was truly encouraging us to embark on this journey even though it wasn’t traditionally the best time to go. Because of the revolving door of people coming and going and departing and arriving we were able to talk to other people who had completed treks and we were even able to meet some of the guides they employed. After meeting the kind and genuine Gelbu Sherpa, we hired him as our guide/porter for the trek.
The trek itself was beyond any description I am capable of writing, but I can say that the beauty of the area was constant and ever changing. Expect to hike between 3 to 9 hours a day and realize you will most likely experience some discomfort and fatigue as you approach the higher points of your trek. We climbed to a leg burning 5416m as we crossed the pass at Thorong La, and on that day, with our splitting headaches, we were questioning the sanity of our decision but the temporary pain was worth the all encompassing beauty and the knowledge you were somewhere that can only be accessed by foot (or hooves).
Remember to do your research and bring the equipment you need for a safe and enjoyable trek. We crossed all kinds of terrain, experienced temperatures from 30°C to -10°C, and stayed in accommodations ranging from nothing more than glorified tents to fairly luxurious digs. I spent two whole nights squatting over porcelain holes in the ground even after taking all the recommended advice. Kylene was a bit more lucky in that department, but also a little less adventurous with her food choices.
What an adventure!!! Complete with ups and downs, beauty around every bend, physical challenges, and wonderful people. If you have the chance to go on a trek in Nepal, do it. It will make your volunteer experience in Nepal even more memorable.
Thank you Scott, Sunita, the whole gang at the house and Gelbu for making it possible.
Executive Director Scott MacLennan is awarded the
Sir Edmund Hillary Mountain Legacy Medal.