Trekking in the An­na­purna Hi­malayan Range of Nepal

Serve Daily - - NEWS - By Brit­nee John­ston

“This looks like Amer­i­can Fork Canyon,” said Mark, my hus­band, as we hiked through the An­na­purna Hi­malayan Range in Nepal. Known as the An­na­purna Cir­cuit, this popular trek helped us cross off an item on the bucket list: See the world’s tallest moun­tains.

We were half­way around the world, but at times we felt like we had never left Utah. At first, the trail re­sem­bled a jun­gle with rice ter­races hug­ging the hill­sides and wa­ter­falls cas­cad­ing from the cliffs. As we climbed higher, the scenery be­came like the Wasatch Front with rocky moun­tains and alpine forests. The only dif­fer­ence was that th­ese moun­tains were twice the height of the ones back home.

Dur­ing 20 days and 113 miles of hik­ing, we stayed in sev­eral moun­tain vil­lages and saw spec­tac­u­lar views of two of the tallest peaks in the world; Manaslu (26,781 feet) and Dhaula­giri (26,794 feet). The An­na­purna Cir­cuit proved to be the per­fect trek for in­ter­me­di­ate hik­ers like us to get a taste of th­ese tow­er­ing gi­ants.

On the cir­cuit, we also had the op­por­tu­nity to cross a large moun­tain pass called Tho­rung La Pass. At 17,769 feet, the pass was taller than any moun­tain in the con­ti­nen­tal United States. Since nei­ther of us had been this high be­fore, Mark and I were anx­ious for this part of the hike.

Cau­tious of the el­e­va­tion gain, we made time for proper ac­cli­ma­tiz­ing rest days and took med­i­ca­tion to pre­vent al­ti­tude sick­ness. We also kept an eye on the weather, es­pe­cially since a bliz­zard came through a few weeks prior that killed many trekkers at the moun­tain pass.

We were ready to go at 5:45 a.m. on the day of our pass cross­ing. It was still dark out­side, but we could see stars across the sky, which let us know the weather was clear. Within the first hour we quickly gained el­e­va­tion and our breath­ing be­came no­tice­ably harder in the thin air. After hours of la­bo­ri­ous hik­ing, we were fi­nally within sight of col­or­ful prayer flags fly­ing in the wind at the pass.

As we took the fi­nal steps to the top we pumped our fists in the air and cel­e­brated with the other trekkers around us. We tied on our own set of prayer flags and took a vic­tory photo at the “con­grat­u­la­tions” sign be­fore head­ing down the other side. It was a small, yet re­ward­ing, feat for our first time trekking in the Hi­malayan Moun­tains.

Not only did we check off an item on our bucket list by see­ing the world’s tallest moun­tains, but we also set a per­sonal record as we reached the high­est point we’ve ever been on the moun­tain pass. The pass was so dif­fi­cult for us that we couldn’t imag­ine go­ing another 10,000 feet to the top of a peak like Manaslu or Dhaula­giri. We’ll just have to leave those big moun­tains to the pro­fes­sional moun­taineers.

To read more ad­ven­tures of Brit­nee and Mark’s one-year jour­ney around the world, visit oneworl­doneyear.com.

Mark John­ston

Brit­nee John­ston treks the An­na­purna Cir­cuit in Nepal last Oc­to­ber.

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