Doug Bruns

Posts Tagged ‘Nepal’

Thorong La Pass

In Adventure, Travel, Writing on May 18, 2012 at 5:15 pm

May 14, 2012
Thorang High Camp (el. 15, 700)
4:00 am

Trekkers begin to converge in the high camp great room. It is still dark and we wear headlamps. There is a young man from Israel, a couple from the UK, a couple from Italy, via Seattle, a couple from France, a gentleman from Germany, and the three of us. There are also two guides and four porters.

Tim is still in his room. I checked on him first thing. He is up and about, getting ready for the morning climb, but still not in top form. Someone in the room asks after him. I say he’s better, but not one hundred percent. A guide looks at me, smiles, and says, “No one is one hundred percent at altitude.”

The snow storm left a half foot of fresh powder. We assume it will be deeper as we climb. The sun is not yet up, but I can see stars and know the sky is going to be clear above us. Excitement fills the room.

At 5:30 we gather outside and Nat from London breaks trail. We are all grateful for this. It is hard enough to climb, harder in fresh snow, most difficult to break the trail. We stretch out behind him and begin.

It is bitter cold. Within minutes my fingers are numb. I see people adjusting their gear and clothing for warmth. I think the pace brisk but welcome it, as it helps us warm. The sky to the east is growing pink above the mountain and I know that once the sun comes up we will be fine. I look back and check Tim. His head is down and he is moving in lockstep with the group. I know he is working harder than normal. Scott is immediately behind me and says he is terrifically cold but fine.

In an hour or so I reach back for my water bottle. The water is laced with ice and I have to hit the side to break it up.

The sun is up and we are now comfortable, except for the work we’re doing. I feel my eyes grow misty. I become emotional. I am climbing a mountain in Nepal with my son and my nephew. It is a beautiful morning. We move through a white crystal expanse. My lungs burn and my legs churn like powerful pistons. I am overwhelmed by a love of life. A deep and powerful sense of existence fills me.

An hour later and we embrace on top of the pass, 17,700 feet above my home in Portland, Maine. We celebrate and take pictures. After fifteen minutes we begin the downclimb. The next six hours will be for me the most painful of the entire trip. My old joints resist downclimbs with a singular determination. But for now we are full of ourselves and of each other and of the stuff of life.

Letdar, Nepal

In Adventure, Travel, Writing on May 16, 2012 at 8:15 pm

May 13, 2012
Letdar, Nepal (el. 13,943)
2:00 pm

I dreamt of a fresh orange last night. It’s been two weeks since I’ve had a piece of fruit.

Today was an easy hike of four hours. We are conserving energy. We are two days from Thorang La, the highest point of the trek. Tim is tired. He has been pushing himself hard, hiking extra miles, carrying extra weight, hanging with the locals at night over glasses of roxie, the local wine made from wheat and millet. He is paying for it today. He is strong as an ox and will no doubt be fine in the morning. Now he naps, manufacturing yet more red blood cells.

We all slip into our bags this afternoon. The wind is howling and the temperature is only fourty degrees. The scenery is breathtaking. We are well above tree-line and surrounded by massive peaks in every direction. Scenery is best when you have to work hard to get to it.

We saw our first yak today.

After an hour I go for a walk. The temperature has dropped. I have my field glasses and add a snow pigeon to my Nepal bird list. A white horse tethered to a stake watches me. I hear a tapping sound on my parka and look behind me. Snow. The mountains have disappeared, enveloped by a cloud. It begins to snow heavily and through the cloud, coming down the path is Tim. We stand in the snow storm. “I love this,” he says. Indeed.

From Manang, Nepal

In Adventure, Travel on May 16, 2012 at 6:05 am

We take a day hike with our guide, a steep incline, gaining an estimated three thousand feet. Here resides a ninety-six year old Lama, attended to by his sixty-six year old daughter. We take turns receiving his blessings. He chants over us. His skin is the color of leather. His room is carved out of a cave and hardly contains the four of us. For a moment I think of all the jokes surrounding the mountain mystic and the meaning of life. His daughter offers us tea from the entryway. After a brief visit, Scott and I leave but Tim wishes to stay behind. He joins us later in the village.

Off and running

In Adventure, Books, Travel on May 1, 2012 at 6:00 am

Thorung la pass, Annapurna Circuit

I’m heading out today for a three week trip to Nepal. It will be my second visit to Nepal, but my first into the mountains there. The schedule calls for two days in Kathmandu, then into the western Himalayas. I’m trekking the Annapurna Circuit with son Tim and nephew Scott. Scott and I jump off the trail at day seventeen, spending a day and evening in beautiful Pokhara, followed by a night in Kathmandu, then the long journey home. Tim is staying behind to continue trekking, returning home ten days later.

This will be my sixth long-haul to that part of the world. After the fifth trip in 2009, I vowed never again. But here I go. The logistics are painfully simple: A one-hour flight from Portland to Baltimore, where I will catch up with Tim and Scott. In the evening we head to Dulles, outside of DC. There we board a non-stop flight to Doha, Qatar. That flight is fourteen hours and forty-five minutes. We have ten hours on the ground in Doha, in an airport we are not allowed to leave. Then we catch the shuttle to Kathmandu. Four hours, forty minutes.

The return trip stretches out an additional five hours and change, due to the earth’s rotation and headwinds.

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I’ve queued up a number of posts. Some are new, a few are re-posts, and a smattering are drawn from my Gentlemen of Baltimore project. I hope you enjoy the offerings. I don’t anticipate updating …house… while traveling. However, I do hope to put up an occasional trip report and photo(s) on Facebook. Please feel free to “friend” me (what an odd thing to write), if you want a peek or two from the trail.

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Should you be interested, my travel reading is:

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Lastly, I’m not sure how that post marking the death of Henry David Thoreau popped up Sunday. That is a repost and I had, I thought, scheduled it for publishing on the day of his death, May 6th. Please, let’s all remember Henry on that date. If you feel compelled, whisper moose then Indian and take a moment to remember the zen master of Walden.

Thanks for reading.

A bifurcated garment.

In Travel on April 18, 2012 at 6:00 am

David and Julie Eisenhower fishing, 1971

Image and definition from Wikipedia:

Shorts are a bifurcated garment worn by both men and women over their pelvic area, circling the waist, and covering the upper part of the legs, sometimes extending down to or even below the knee, but not covering the entire length of the leg. They are called “shorts” because they are a shortened version of trousers, which cover the entire leg. Shorts are typically worn in warm weather or in an environment where comfort and airflow are more important than the protection of the legs.

Yesterday, here in Maine, we experienced temperatures in the seventies. Today the same. I put on shorts this morning. Shorts make me self-conscious.

I observed early in my international travels that men in other countries do not wear shorts. Can you picture a Frenchmen in shorts? I thought not. How about the man living in Bangkok or Beijing? Nope. In my travels to five continents the only men wearing shorts would also be sporting baseball caps and tee shirts which read, I heart New York, or, If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch. A fanny pack often topped off the ensemble.

I hope I do not sound mean-spirited. I’m simply reporting an observation.

As I said, the weather here is superb. Our winters are long and gray; a whiff of summer sends us to the closet in search of the buried flip-flops and shorts.

This would not even be worthy of comment if not for a trip I am taking next month. I am packing for three weeks in Nepal. My time there, all but three days, will be spent in the mountains, trekking the Annapurna Circuit, with son and nephew. And yes, I will have shorts in my pack. No, I will not have a fanny-pack nor a tee-shirt with a St. Barnard on it.