Rest stop at a tea shanty, somewhere along the steep climb from Chamje to Karte. The details I remember: fresh apples in a bowl, cows grazing, wind billowing the way it does after a long stretch uphill. The didi here is the first of many strong & tenacious women I would come to meet on the trail. (A couple things to know: the didi, generally, is fearsome and motherly, strong as all hell, and prolific in tea making—Nepali, buttered, masala, you name it.)
Nepal, of course, is silencing in the sheer force of its beauty. This is the beginning stretch of what was to become a 17-day retreat into the Himalayas. This particular day began with me hitching a ride in the back of a Jeep—at the mercy of dust clouds and bruises, for better or worse—and certainly for better, the rolling rice paddies, not to mention waterfalls spilling like a Moroccan mint tea pour. The lower elevations hold that adventurous lustre of playing expeditioner. It’s the full vividness of nature sounds and curried momos and a sun that shines high and long. I was thinking it’d be a while before I made my way to Nepal again, but I kind of miss the whole of it—the raw beauty of the pines, the searing cold at altitudes where stars shimmer brighter than I’ve ever seen, the wood-fired bakeries in hamlets + the people who run them. What’s definitely on the list is Everest base camp and/or Upper Mustang, so I’m hoping I’ll be back for next year. We’ll wait and see!