Last year I embarked on what I had envisioned to be a trip of a lifetime – a trip to Nepal. Nepal had always been in the back of my mind as a place to see to experience the culture, the beauty and, of course, the Himalayan Mountains. A friend and I embarked on a trek to do the Annapurna Circuit in March of 2018 and loved every minute of it. We traveled through Nepalese villages, encountered numerous kind and loving people and trekked over the Thorung La Pass, one of the highest navigable passes in the world.
Now, fast forward to January of 2019, when I saw an ad in Backpacker magazine to help rebuild schools ravaged by the 2015 Nepal earthquake, and, as a plus, hike to the very remote Nar Phu Valley region. This area was very close to the region I was in last year so, I jumped at the chance!
On March 29 I embarked on a 20-hour flight to Nepal and was back in the country I fell in love with a year ago. The first leg of the trip brought me and 15 other volunteers to the Sindhuli district, an area hit immensely hard by the earthquakes. We would be part of the “All Hands and Hearts” Disaster Relief Program. We helped put the finishing touches on three schools that have been constructed by the volunteer group. We painted, scraped, mixed concrete, dug trenches, moved wheel barrels of gravel and so much more. It was a short, but gratifying experience helping those children in need of education so far removed from the rest of the world. Nepal is incapable of keeping up with the rebuilding projects, and it relies on others to rebuild. I am happy to say that the children are all in these schools learning now!
After doing the backbreaking school building work, we headed out of Kathmandu to the remote area of Nar Phu to begin our trek. The Nar Phu Valley has been off limits to outsiders and only open recently to trekkers. Our group, headed by guides from Wildland Trekking, began a nine-day adventure exploring the lush valleys and majestic Himalayan Mountains of Nepal. We traveled past waterfalls, avalanche zones, small Nepali villages, and weaved around donkeys, goats, sheep and many locals carrying all their goods – on their backs – for many miles.
Our adventure brought us up to 15,000 feet near the village of Nar, and we were treated to unbelievable views of the Annapurna mountain range. We traveled to the Lost Valley of Nepal and slept in a Tibetan monastery on one night while visiting with Tibetan monks.
The last village we visited on our trek was the town of Pooh. The village has been shut off for centuries from the outside world up until very recently and is literally carved into the side of a mountain. The village lies only seven miles from Tibet and the small country’s culture is very strong in this remote area. The way of life is primitive, yet so captivating.
In all, the small group of trekkers that I was with hiked over 70 miles up and down mountainsides covered with snow, rocks and waterfalls. We were treated to unbelievable kindness by the Nepalese people throughout our journey. It was truly an overwhelmingly beautiful, exhausting and exhilarating adventure- as they say – a trip of a lifetime!