Nepal 56: Packing for Trekking

Trekking Annapurna Region

[this is a serial travel memoir about my experience traveling in Nepal. It’s best read from the beginning. Click for Chapter 1]

I walked out of Eastern Light Trekking feeling confused.

For the first time since I arrived in Nepal, I had a plan. An actual, concrete plan. With dates and destinations and everything. It felt odd. Didn’t feel right.

After the messy struggle that brought me here, had I finally sorted it all out?

You know me by now: Of course I hadn’t!

But as evening fell over Pokhara on that early March day, it seemed as if I might have finally done it. I had sorted out my life. My immediate life, anyways. I was still faced with all one big question: did I really want to start all over?

I’d thrown my life in Colorado to the wind when I went traveling; it had felt freeing, but there was no denying the loneliness that had sept in, quickly. Even traveling with a partner, the loss of our support networks had been abrupt, and challenging. I had been surprised, honestly. I didn’t know I depended that much on human contact.

Travel teaches you things, as they say.

I’d have plenty of time to ponder those big, life-changing questions in the mountains, I reassured myself. That was half the reason I wanted to take the trek, anyways. Looking for answers on the roof of the world, I thought to myself. It sounded like a book title. Maybe a particularly bad movie. If I’d learned anything by now, it was that life was nothing like the movies. I laughed internally. But I’ll go trekking anyways.

Just like in the movies.

I walked straight to a trekking shop, and bought/rented the remainder of the gear I needed.  A big pack, a few layers, trekking poles, a water bottle. When I suddenly had a destination, it wasn’t that hard at all to get what I needed. Since I wouldn’t be venturing to extremely high elevation (Annapurna Base Camp’s elevation is only 4,000-some meters, 13.500 feet) I rented a cheaper sleeping bag. I stuffed all my purchases into the pack, and headed back to the Hotel Snow Leopard.

When I got back to the room, the power was out. No surprise. I’d found load shedding was quite frequent in Pokhara. I started packing by headlamp.

I wasn’t going to have enough space in the big pack to carry all my things. I had been traveling out of a backpacker’s bag for six months, but now I had to make space for the rather bulky sleeping bag. Featherweight, ultra-packable down isn’t exactly the standard in Nepal. And my experiences shopping in Thamel had taught me that even if the shopkeep tries to sell you on a fancy, high-tech bag, there’s still a pretty good chance it’s filled with nothing more than sawdust.

Next time I came trekking in Nepal, I resolved, I would bring all my own gear from home.

Once all my clothes were packed, I spent a few minutes debating whether I should bring my computer or not. My trusty MacBook Air had been my companion on this entire trip—it had been what allowed me to take this trip. Working from the road was so ingrained in me at this point, that I felt naked and alone without the thing. I didn’t know what I would really use it for though—not like I was going to be working from the mountains.

I felt a little leery about leaving such an expensive gadget in the care of a $5 hotel, but the Nepali people hadn’t given me any reason to doubt them yet.  I put the computer in my suitcase, put my luggage locks on, and took the suitcase down to reception.

The owners of Hotel Snow Leopard were sitting in the lobby playing cards, as they seemed to do most nights. They happily tagged my bag and threw it into their luggage room—just an unlocked storage closet, from what I could tell. I was long past the point of worrying about things like that, though. My computer would probably be there when I came back. And if it wasn’t? I guess I’d buy a new one.

I’d already brought the thing back from the dead once—after our room flooded in Ko Lanta, Thailand, I thought for sure the ol’ MacBook had bitten the dust. The prospect of losing my lifeline had been a lot scarier then. That had been three months ago, and I wasn’t quite ready to stop traveling.

Now, I was.

I just had one last thing I needed to do.

***

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