Snowy peaks came into view. Beneath them, layers of terraced mountains blurred. I could do nothing to prevent the tear that filled my eye nor the next one that pushed itself out.
I could not see the rice stalks in the fields. I knew from walking among them that only last year’s stalks remained, trimmed to within a fist-length of the now-parched ground. A fresh round of tears stood in line as I thought about how I was supposed to spend my anniversary high in those glacier-strewn peaks, months from now. That wouldn’t happen anymore.
My desire to do this trek had varied over the past two years. It was only at this moment with the reality of it being yanked away that I realized what it had meant to me. I was not ready to let go. We were supposed to cross the entire country of Nepal over five months - trekking 1,700 kilometers along the spine of the Himalaya, the Great Himalaya Trail’s high route.
I should have been down there among the trees, walking along muddy roads and narrow tracks. I should have been making my way north, rising back towards five-thousand metre passes like those my group had acclimatized to nearly two weeks earlier. Unfortunately, heavy snow had made Lumbha Sumbha La impassable and had triggered our diversion south.
After trekking well off our original plan for over ten days, we were within three days of getting back on track. Our detour was almost complete.
Then everything changed. We reached the town of Barhabise in eastern Nepal. It was around ten in the morning and we expected a brief break to register at the local check point. Instead, we were not allowed to leave. We camped in the town’s soccer field. The local police were enforcing a national lockdown and restricted movement order. Locals peered at us, curious to see who had wandered into their town. We could not leave the field, besides walking a few metres away to cool off in the river that flowed parallel to the length of the soccer pitch. Four days later we were still there, doing nothing but waiting to start trekking again. We had well over one hundred days to go. Then in the early evening, our guide informed us the trek had been cancelled and a helicopter was coming the next morning to take us back to Kathmandu.
We had been safe, isolated with our trekking crew, far from dense populations and farther from global news.
Never had I imagined a pandemic was brewing when we left, never had I imagined a world like the one we returned to five weeks later.
For now, all I could hear was the whirring sound from the helicopter’s blades. Ironically, the logo plastered to the outer door invited us to ‘Visit Nepal’.
It had been over two years ago when my husband had called out to me from the comfort of our home, “Nance, I found the perfect trek for us.” Our quest had begun. We stopped drinking. We trained. We trekked all over the world, from Tajikistan to India. We took mountaineering courses and tested our gear. In February 2020, we arrived in Kathmandu to start what we thought would be the hardest challenge of our lives.
That challenge instead crumpled into a faded dream.
4/5/2020 06:03:31 am
I'm so sorry that your trek ended like this. I did wonder how you guys were getting on. I hope you are safely back home now.
4/5/2020 08:17:14 am
Gosh Nancy .. you sure do have a gift for writing. I, too, shed a tear reading this. I am so sorry to hear your trek was cancelled. I know it does not seem fair but you will have more opportunities for adventure I am sure. I hope you have a safe trip back to Canada .. your family will be much relieved to have you closer.
4/5/2020 07:54:11 pm
Thanks so much for your kind words Jackie!
4/5/2020 11:25:44 am
N & C, we are disappointed to learn your trek has been cancelled, it is understandable for you both to be totally floored now that all your preparations can't be used on this particular challenge. There will be others to challenge you. We doubt you will give up, keep dreaming. We commend you both for even contemplating a journey like this one, good show. Shed the tears and go for the next one.
4/5/2020 08:08:30 pm
Thanks D&S, We knew anything could happen on this trek, but have to admit this global pandemic was not one of them. Sorry it has affected your travel plans as well.
Nole and Chris
4/5/2020 04:15:51 pm
Feel your pain and disappointment guys. Must be gutting.
4/5/2020 08:03:24 pm
Gutted is a good way to describe it. Thanks. Onwards and upwards now in these strange times.
robert thomson & Joan
4/6/2020 10:57:05 am
Do hope U both arrive home soon .. Canmore will welcome U w/'open arms'!! .. and.. so will yr Mom&Dad!! Loved reading all about yr adventures .. this experience will certainly warrant another 'best seller'!! Sending our love & hugs from Victoria, Roy/Joan
Dave and Mary
4/6/2020 07:50:38 pm
Hi Nancy and Chad. How heartbreaking to have your trek end like this! You planned so well and worked so hard to prepare. My little Camino pilgrimage seems so minor compared to yours yet I can imagine how disappointing it would have been to have had it cancelled midway. These are such strange times that we have never seen before and who knows what it will be like after all has subsided. Well all I can say is to soldier on as I know you two can. More opportunities will come your way. Have a safe trip home and we’ll talk then. Lots of love. Mary and Dave
Leave a Reply.