Posts Tagged ‘hear’

How does it feel?

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

My previous EBC trek entries have concentrated on the practicalities of what and when but skipped the emotional stuff. I hadn’t really thought about that until we were on our way down from Gorak Shep. So, in the words of Bob Dylan, how does it feel?

Cold, hot, tiring, exhilarating, fascinating, beautiful, awesome, joyful, alive sounds about right.

The Nepali people are very polite and helpful. Most of them reply to a “Namaste”. The porters generally don’t but then they’ve got up to 100kg of load on their backs and don’t have the time or the breath to spare for pleasantries with the hundreds of trekkers they pass every day. The trail-side sellers always have a reply and some banter but they’re hoping to sell you some overpriced, made in China “Nepali” craft work souvenir tat. When I was about ten years old I got a Plasticraft set at Christmas. It had a selection of moulds, release agent, clear epoxy resin, resin colourants and assorted small items to encase in clear plastic. One of the souvenirs I saw yesterday was straight out of the Plasticraft kit – an inch long scorpion encased in an oval of clear resin with a yellow background layer. I had to smile.

The environment has been stunningly beautiful. The rivers are a wonderful turquoise except where they turn white to gurgle and burble and roar over rocks and small waterfalls. Watching the water flow and listening to it is good for the soul. The next most common sound is the mellow clanging of the yak/dzo bells. Passing the beasts, or being passed by them somehow feels very satisfying.

Outside the villages the air is clean and fresh and it feels good to just stop and breath deeply – especially after an uphill section. In the villages the smells are mainly of burning incense or juniper twigs first thing in the mornings and yak-dung fires in the late afternoons and evenings. The burning yak dung smell is so much better than the stink around the fields at home after the farmers have been muck spreading.

The mountains are incredible, especially above the level of Namche. Many of them are snow capped and stand out against the brilliant blue sky. The best views come at first light or just after dawn. Everywhere you look there is a photo waiting to be taken and I probably drove Goki nuts with the number of times I stopped to just look around and take photos. Actually I was quite restrained on the number of photos I took, only about 1200. Later in the day the cloud and sometimes mist build up hiding the peaks and “spoiling” the view. I didn’t get the best possible views since we couldn’t climb Kala Pathar but those I got were easily worth the trip. The Himalayas are one of the youngest mountain ranges but the time periods involved in their creation (about 70 million years) are still mind boggling. Seeing and walking over sedimentary rocks at 5000m asl and knowing they extend all the way to the top of Everest at 8848m asl is mind-boggling. Knowing they were once under the sea and have been, and are still being, thrust upwards by the movement of the tectonic plates is awesome.

The lower valleys are starting to turn green with crops and the flowers are starting to appear. The rhododendrons are starting to open and in a couple of weeks the trails will be a riot of colour. I felt uplifted watching three golden eagles soaring above Namche and Dingboche. Not quite as uplifted as the eagles themselves, maybe, but uplifted anyway. When I finally get home I’ll be using Photobox to turn some of my photos into wall art.

I’ve met interesting people and talked about places we’ve been or are planning to go, things we’ve done or are planning to do.

Trekking the trails, breathing the air, seeing the sights, hearing the sounds has been a wonderful, joyful experience. There aren’t really enough superlatives to describe it. I may not have been present for the whole trek but I’ve felt more alive in the last two weeks than in ages. Coming to Nepal has been a great way to kick start my year off.