By Tamara Arredondo
I would not classify myself as an outdoorsy type of person. I have always enjoyed a good hike or a day on the lake, but I’ve never claimed to have felt that connection to nature and the outdoors that many of my friends have. Escaping the city for a while is a nice relief here and there, but there seems to be an eagerness that slowly rises in me to return to work and start checking things off of that to-do list again.
That was until I met the Himalayas—they are something special.
My first introduction came as I flew into Kathmandu. I could see the peaks of many of the mountains over the clouds from my plane window. The mountains aren’t always visible from the Kathmandu valley due to the haze that frequently engulfs the city. However, they highlight the northern horizon often and tempt the valley dwellers to come visit them. I gave in.
The Solukhumbu region of Nepal is the epicenter of world-class mountains. Clearly, Everest is there. Going into the trek, I was ready for the remoteness of Nepal and ready to be amazed. But there was no way that I could have imagined the extent of it. The Himalayas are massive—they just dwarf the Rockies. In Nepal, there is a qualification system: snow on top is called a mountain, no snow on top is called a hill. Let me just say there are some enormous Nepali hills.
And Everest is in a class of its own. With no previous interest or real knowledge about mountaineering, I didn’t foresee being so captivated by it. Many of the groups trekking in this region were there to visit Everest base camp. However, the highest point that we reached was a lodge just beyond Namche. Here we sat and enjoyed tea with an incredibly clear view of Everest that was only about 20 miles from us. It was breathtaking. Even from that distance, the size and majesty of this mountain was unmistakable. We sat in awe and it was easy to understand the importance that is placed on this mountain by local cultures. All 29,029 feet of Everest resonate this spirituality. That is a moment that I will never forget.
My love affair continued as I spent another several days trekking in the Annapurnas. A friend convinced me to go visit his favorite viewpoint, Poon Hill. The trek started in Nayapul and we just went up from there. This time it wasn’t the tallest mountain that grabbed my attention; it was the most revered. Machhapuchre, translated to Fishtail in English, is one of the most recognizable mountains in Nepal (obviously shaped like a fishtail). What’s amazing is that it remains one of the only mountains that has not been climbed to its summit. The Hindu religion believes that this is the home of Shiva and the mountain has been declared sacred, forbidden to climbers. Fishtail seemed to follow us throughout our trek. Each afternoon as we reached our daily destinations, it was so comforting to sit in the sun and simply admire this mountain. There is an obvious sacredness to it. The spirituality just oozed from the whole region.
It’s hard to put into words the sensations of the Himalayas. It’s hard to accurately describe them to anyone who hasn’t experienced them. All I know is that I will go back, I have to go back.