Kathmandu, Nepal – I almost decided to skip the trekking, and instead cruise around Nepal for a week or so on a motorbike. But I ran into a guy named Zed. He was also staying at the Himalayan Buddhist Meditation Center in Kathmandu. He was young, incredibly intelligent, made money trading money, had traveled the world, been on all the major treks in Nepal at least once, and was weary of life. But he convinced me: you have to walk to Nepal. Kathmandu and the relatively few cities and towns connected by roads are like a different country. Most of Nepal is made up of small villages scattered amongst the valleys, cracks, peaks, and mountainsides of the Himalayas. I explained to Zed that I was put off by the new rules requiring certifications, guides or porters, and set itineraries; and by the continuing presence of the Maoists demanding “taxes” from trekkers (refuse and they beat you with sticks). Plus I was alone. Zed explained to me that I was being ridiculous. You want to see Nepal? You have to walk.
Zed told me about a place nearby with a bulletin board for trekkers seeking partners. I decided to check it out. Hidden in a twisted vein of Thamel, I found the place. Not a single note on the trekker board. Empty. I sat down in the cafe there and glanced through some mostly outdated trekking log-books. Before long, an Irish woman, some ten years younger than myself, wandered in and started sifting through the logs as well. We sat like this for a few minutes, looking at logs. Then I spoke. “Are you thinking about trekking? Where and when? Are you looking for a trekking partner? Can I go with you?” almost as fast as that. “As long as you’re not an axe murderer… [I guess you'll do],” she said. “Well, I haven’t murdered anyone…yet.” And with that, Nate and Susanna began planning a 16-day trek around the Annapurna circuit in the Himalayas of central Nepal, to begin the following morning. Continue reading