Trek in Nepal – distance: 117.5 miles, altitude: 15,000ft.
Unplug, breathe deep, and take a step closer to your true, confident self!
We’ve been so isolation, yet constantly plugged-in these past few months. We stayed connected virtually, but in doing so have lost connection to our self. It is through real world experience that we come closer to our true self, gain confidence, and connect to our spirituality.
Several years ago, I stepped way out of my comfort zone and challenged myself to trek 117.5 miles in the Himalaya mountains to the Forbidden Kingdom of Lo. This challenge transformed my life, and I hope that it will inspire you to unplug, breathe deep, and take a step towards becoming your true, confident self.
Isolated in the northern Himalayas near Tibet, the Kingdom of Lo lies in a remote area known as the Upper Mustang. This fort city was built in 1380 AD, along a trade route where caravans carried salt, Yak wool and spices from Tibet and China to India. After the Chinese invasion, the road was closed and this Buddhist community was exiled from Tibet and the rest of Nepal. Trekking here is like stepping into a time capsule. For centuries, the people here have lived in this arid, harsh environment with no roads, electricity, and few possessions. That is the world I choose to enter.
I felt privileged to be able to embark on this visual, emotional and physical experience. Still, I knew the hike was going to be long and challenging. I also knew that I would have no connection to my home and family for nearly a month.
Masked with a bandana to protect our faces from the hard winds, we set out along the beautiful Kali Gandaki River. It’s hard to grasp the scale of things here. As I stood in the deepest Gorge in the world and looked up at the massive Annapurna Mountains, I realized how small some of the things that I worry about at home are in the larger picture of life.
Our elevation rose somewhere between 200 to 500 meters a day and our max altitude was 15,000ft. As we climbed higher, the oxygen level actually stayed the same, but the pressure decreased, so less oxygen was pushed to our blood and lungs. I would describe the feeling much like wearing a mask while running. The only real symptom that I had was a slight headache – a small price to pay to be surrounded by such spectacular scenery.
The easiest climbs were the slow and steady one. The hardest were the ones the went up and down like a rollercoaster. Some were close to a 90 degree angle and could only be conquered by crawling on all fours. My legs still burned, but each hill ascended rewarded me with a wondrous view that will be etched in my mind forever.
We passed through several tiny villages along the trail. If we were lucky, we shared a room in one of the cement and stone structures. If we weren’t so lucky, we slept in a tent in a grassy area. What the tent lacked in comfort and warmth, it made up for with the view. I wrote in my journal one night, “Tonight the stars are amazing. I feel like I can see every star in the universe.”
My favorite town smelled of apple trees and mountain basil, there was a stepping stone river running through it where we washed our dirty clothes before hanging them in a tree to dry. The people here live a religious and quiet way of life. They are welcoming and sincere, eager to share the little they have. They inspired us to cheer each other on and pull together. I reached the Forbidden Kingdom, dirty, tired and sore. The city and the cave dwellings carved into the layers of colorful rocks surrounding it stood as if centuries of time has passed it by. But I had come so far. I felt a deep sense of gratitude, of self confidence and accomplishment.