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MOUNTAIN MARS BARS: TREKKING IN NEPAL By Carsten Haas Pictures By Charlotte Scott DeVoe Some Point in the Morning Friday, October 29

my bus ride to see any of the large mountains I had seen from the plane, but as I got further away As my plane descended through from Kathmandu, the scenery the clouds, gleaming, snow grew into craggy hills and covered peaks rushed towards me, thundering rivers. It was at one of and I had a glimpse of the these rivers that the bus stopped to towering Everest. It was mindlet me off. Awaiting me was the boggling. My first look at Nepal raft that would take me down to had been one of indescribable my campsite. The ride down was beauty. This is what I came here to amazing. At some points the water see. I had come to trek. was calm enough to allow me to swim, but swimming quickly lost Around 8:00 it’s allure once I realized that I Saturday, October 30 simply couldn’t get used to the frigid water. While it was calm at I began my journey in Nepal with some points, at others my raft went an unfortunately long bus ride. I up and down, over two meter was at too low an altitude during rapids, as I tried my best not to be


dislodged from my floating island. Four hours of rafting brought me to a small group of tents, in which I spent the night. 6:00 Sunday, October 31 Halloween Waking up, I immediately regretted that I wouldn’t be trick or treating tonight. But no matter, I thought, my trek begins today. I breakfasted on spiced potatoes, egg and toast with jam that was oddly similar to Jell-O, before boarding yet another bus, for yet another long drive. It was with great joy that I finally disembarked at the trailhead. My first day of trekking was impressive, if short. I walked uphill along a river, but as I rose higher and higher, the river was left behind. I stopped three hours later at a small lodge, with about twenty rooms. I would stay in such lodges the rest of my time in the mountains. Although it was about four when I arrived, the light was already dying. As the sun set, I began to understand how many people lived in these hills. When it was dark, the black silhouettes of the hills that surrounded the river valley were speckled with the lights of farms and lodges. With night came cold, and my guides provided me with a sleeping bag and liner so that I could sleep. 6:00 Monday, November 1 I was woken by my guide rapping on the door, and after a quick meal, I began the trek in earnest. Unfortunately, my progress was


quickly impaired by a herd of goats crossing a thin bridge. Their herders were unable to direct all 300 or so of the goats easily, so their passing took some time. While this was a novel experience at first, my interest in goats had begun to wear thin after about a quarter hour waiting. However I managed to stave off boredom by inspecting the horns of the goats. One had a pair that curved over in front of its eyes. I’m not sure how it knew where it was going. Once I got moving again, I began to regret that I had. What followed was a grueling two hour upward climb past farms and lodges. It was at this point that I realized that in Nepal, as altitude increases, the price of Mars Bars increases, and their quality falls. About halfway up, I saw one of my guides, ……, eating a brown plant about the size of a conker. I asked him what it was. “Mountain Mars Bar,” he replied with a grin. Trying one, I found that it was basically tasteless, so I assumed it wasn’t quite as unhealthy as a Mars Bar. After climbing what felt like ten thousand steps (but I think was approximately four thousand) I hit a small white village. The village itself was unremarkable, except for the view. I couldn’t see any mountains because I wasn’t high enough and the clouds had already moved in a bit, but I could look out over how far I had already climbed that day, and appreciate what an achievement that was. I bought a Fanta and stared at the panorama of green hills below me, before continuing upwards on a trail that was less steep, and fortunately less painful.

However, the uphill portion of the day turned into the entire day. Today was the most strenuous day of trekking. I walked and walked for six hours worth of trail that was so consistently uphill that twenty meters of flat ground became a real treat. When I finally reached the lodge, it felt as if I had entered the promised land, filled with coffee and chairs.

to climb an overgrown hill. Ten minutes later, the sun rose and I never wanted to leave Nepal ever again. “Holy crap,” I muttered, pulling my camera from its pouch. Ten minutes of frantic photography followed, by the end of which my fingers were raw with cold, but it was well worth it. The first thing you notice about the mountains that surround you is how they are, for lack of a better Unfortunately Early term, absolutely freaking massive. Tuesday, November 2 Here I was, standing on a 3193 meter tall hill, and there the I was woken at four o’clock in the mountains were, towering over morning, although it was only me. They looked like basketball morning in the sense that it was in players, bullying the midget that between midnight and noon. was Poon Hill. Having just peeked Mornings are meant to have over the ridge of a far away set of sunlight. “Bugger,” I cursed, as I hills, the sun sent its red waves bundled up against the freezing blazing into the twin peaks of cold, and then shed nearly every Annapurna North and South, layer I had put on as I trudged up a lighting up the sparkling snow that steep hill for an hour and a half in covered them. I bought a Fanta, the dark. Then I put all my clothes and stuck around taking in the back on, on top of Poon Hill’s sights until the sun was well in the freezing 3193 meters, and sat sky. Then I trudged back down the down, swearing and wondering hill for a too long put off why I had decided to go to Nepal breakfast, and to begin the journey just to be woken up at four o’clock back to earth.


Mountain Mars Bars: Trekking in Nepal