Mountain Notes — Mardi Himal
The Himalayas are best known as a place of physical and spiritual endeavours. Two years ago, I experienced mountains for my first time. I had been part of an expedition in a far western remote region of Nepal. Our team had climbed from a deep valley up to a ridge surpassing 4,000m to overlook Rara Lake and its untouched beauty. Ever since, I’ve become addicted to the feeling of escaping upwards into the mountains, to find the silence I’ve so deeply craved. Mardi Himal, an once hidden gem among locals recently came into the spotlight as an alternative to a lengthily Annapurna circuit trek. Despite the attention, its teahouse culture and people have remained authentic, a rare find. Written bellow is our journey, as best as I can describe it.
Frankly, our morning was off to a rough start. No jeep in sight, forced to climb on the roof of a local bus, balancing on a old rusty bike, dodging hanging electrical wires and tree branches. Arriving at the bottom at the valley, looking up, miles up. We had 24 hours to accomplish what would take most 3 days: to climb up to Mardi Himal, past high camp to the viewpoint at 4200m.
The first steps tend to be the most exciting but also the most painful; cranking old rusty gears back into rhythm. As we found our beat and the sun reached its peak, we found shelter under the jungle tree line. We had chosen a less trafficked and shorter route although unavoidably a much steeper one to enable us to sprint the trek. Every so hundred meters, the so like wall forced us to stop and catch our breath. Our reasoning, a few months from now we’d be tackling an Himalayan dwarf by he name of Lobuche East towering at 6,119m. Our sprint trek would be the first of many steps towards preparing for this peak.
After walking a near 7 hours from Lumre at a good pace with a good load on our back, we reached our designated teahouse welcomed by a warm soup and a clean bed.
Up before sunrise — chai in hand, we waited patiently for the crack of dawn. As the first rays of sun pierced through the hillside, we set foot on the trail. The jungle, a last thick wall before meeting a new tundra like biome, we greeted a grand Himalayan panoramic view. We pushed, carefully balanced on the ridge, the valley dropping on both sides and rolling blue hills in the distance. Few on the trail, we pushed, pushed to summit before the clouds would willingly roll in. The last few steps, utterly bliss, we reached viewpoint.
I can best describe trekking in the Himalayas through a balance of exhaustion. It helps to be a little crazy. Simply being atop the clouds will take a tole on one’s breath. Taking in our accomplishment, we celebrated before quickly being greeted by the thick fog which had lost its race.
Back at the teahouse for dinner, cradled near the fire, chai in hand, we slept. The next morning we’d catch the jeep back to the city, back to the noise. Reality.