Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Annapurna Circuit Trek: Day 8

DAY 8: Manang to Letdar

The 8th day started late, which seemed all too normal, at this point. After breakfast I paid my bill for the previous two days and sat with the owner, Karma Gurung, to have a brief Q&A that I recorded on my camera. Back here in the Boston area, the WGBH building looms pretty large in Allston. A friend of mine works there, and was kind enough to give me a tour and introduce me to a few people that worked to helped produce PRI's "The World". The point of my Q&A was to sit and ask a few pointed questions to potentially use for their "Geography Quiz". I still have yet to put that together, as it also would be accompanied by a photo, but the whole instance was about three to four minutes, and I gained some new insight into how the people in Manang also view the issue of climate change. Despite our view of people in such remote areas, they are also aware of our impact on not really our planet, but our ability to live on it. It gave me a great sense of perspective.

After gathering my things, I left Manang at around 9:00am. The first hour and a half was somewhat of a struggle. The high elevation combined with a steep incline made this part of the day the hardest. I reached the small settlement of Ghusang, where I treated myself to some seabuckthorn tea and a muffin. The owner of this small establishment was originally from France, and she had married a Nepali man, and they now lived far from the lights and extreme pace of our society. I have to admit there were pangs of jealousy, but more of a feeling of respect for someone following through with what they wanted to do in life. Many of us seem to forgo that, and instead shoot for what society expects out of us.

Continuing on, it wasn't too long before reaching Yak Kharka. For many, this would be where they would spend the evening. At around 4,000 meters up, it's not too harsh of a change from Manang, which is important. A slow rise in elevation is needed for those that may not have the experience. The previous day's trip to the Ice Lake was the only reason I continued farther along to Letdar.

Letdar is another 200 meters higher than Yak Kharka, so the day's elevation change was close to 700 meters, which one should be aware of. I had to plan on where I would stay over not just that night, but the next. If staying in Thorung Phedi? Yak Kharka would have been perfect. However, with my previous day's side trip, I figured the next night at the Thorung Phedi High Camp wouldn't present too much of an issue. Staying in Letdar, then, seemed to make the most sense.

Letdar was an hour past Yak Kharka. With so few choices of where to stay, I simply hoped that there was available room, since I arrived late relative to many others. Thankfully, the Churri Lettar had room. Since I was solo, I would end up staying in their dorm setting. At only 100 Rs, it was a steal. Soon after putting my things away, I noticed a youngster and decided to give out another set of crayons and a memo pad. The mother explained to me that she was teaching her how to write and speak English. Our culture really is having an impact around the globe. What mattered more, to me, was that it again seemed to make the parent happy. It doesn't take much to make a change, so perhaps that little girl will someday become interested in art or become a voice for people to empowere themselves.

I enjoyed a late lunch and had an early dinner of Daal Bhat. Two plates of this meal filled me up nicely. I would then retire to the dorm, where I was the only person. I was guilty of enjoying a little bit of home before falling asleep. I downloaded several movies onto my tablet, and the one I watched, that night, was Wall-E. The message of the film seems fitting, in retrospect. With the day starting off with the brief discussion about the people revering the mountains as gods and being aware of climate change, ending it with a movie that had such a strong message about how we treat the world just hammered home my feelings of remorse for what we've done. Despite this, it strengthened my willingness to at least try to help fix the ills, instead of just feel sorry for our future.

Cost: 2200 Rs
Approx. distance trekked: 9km
Next up: Day nine brings me to the Thorung Phedi High Camp!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Annapurna Circuit Trek: Days 6 and 7

DAY 6: Pisang to Manang

The sixth day would actually be one of the shortest, time-wise. After waking to grab my clothes and seeing the beautiful shimmer of the snow that had fallen the night before was a great start. After breakfast, I made my way out of Pisang at around 8:30am.

The day was rather uneventful, with the high point being the unbelievable views of Annapurna II, III, and IV after Hongde, where I checked into the police checkpost. Once I arrived in Manang, I looked through the potential spots to stay at. The choice ended up being the Tilicho Hotel, where I would stay for the following two nights. However, on this day, I would make my way up near the Chongarr viewpoint and get a close-up view of the glacial lake called Gangapurna Tal. The meltwater from the glacier below Gangapurna is responsible for this beautiful milky blue water.

Gangapurna Tal

Later in the evening, I attempted to upload a picture online - which did not work - and checked emails. Around 6:00pm, I checked through my pictures on the camera to find that mysteriously none would come up. Thankfully, they had not been lost, but the memory card was useless until I could format it, later. Manang, being the village with practically everything you would need, was where I purchased an 8gb SD card. This would have to do, for now.

DAY 7: Acclimatization Day in Manang

This day was meant to help one acclimate to the elevation. After looking through how much time I possibly had, I chose to not go to Tilicho Tal the next day, but instead head to Kicho Tso - the Ice Lake. The easiest route there is to return south to Bragha, and then follow the markings up to the lake. This was no easy feat, as one will end up hiking around 8 km or so there, not to mention be hit with an altitude change of over 1 km in just three to four hours. The difference between 3520 meters and 4600 meters may not seem like much, but to do so in one day without going back down can lead to significant health problems.

The views about halfway up were possibly some of the most stunning of the entire trek. Seeing The three Annapurnas, Gangapurna, Manaslu, Tilicho Peak, Langtang, and many more was something you just can't forget.

View from about 4100m up on the way to Kicho Tso

About two hours later, I finally reached the Ice Lake, but also now had an absolutely splitting headache, as well as a bad cough. Knowing that getting back down would be the best medicine, I took a handful of pictures and bounded back down. The return trip down was easily just over half the time it took to get up. Once I reached the beginning of Bragha, I was greeted by a little girl of maybe three yelling "Namaste!" quite happily! As exhausted as I was, that certainly helped lift my spirits, quite a bit. An hour later, at around 3:00pm, I was back in Manang, where I took it easy for the remainder of the day. The next three days I would now be far away from anything that would remind me of civilization.

Cost: 4200Rs (for both days)
Approx. distance trekked: 29 km (for both days)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Annapurna Circuit Trek: Day 5

DAY 5: Chame to Pisang

The start of day 5 was another late one. Are you noticing a trend, here? Unfortunately, I have a habit of being late, quite often. The day was "short" relative to the day before, at only around 14 to 15 kilometers. Before I left the Manaslu View, I gave another set of crayons and a memo pad to the owners' little one. My right shoulder was, by this point, blistered and very sore. Trying to find a good way to carry my pack without it really digging into my shoulder became pretty hard. This would eventually not be a bother, but at the moment? It was not fun!

The day ended up quite good, as I was able to take in some excellent views of Lamjung, Annapurna II, and Pisang Peak. A little ways into the day, trekkers are treated to their first views of the Paungda Danda, which is a 1500 meter high curved cliff face that you see for what seems like forever. Below you will see what is just before this area. To give it perspective, if you look very closely, you can even see people that chose to hike along the road that they've built along this intimidating structure!

At the very bottom, there are actually people, there!

The next area was a steep ascent, with a brief stop at an area porters typically use, also. After going up the remaining steep ascent through some of the most beautiful forestry, I emerged onto the crude road, which would lead me through the following day, also. The roads being built do help in some ways, but I never lost the sense that it was also damaging to the environment, too. There is always a give and take with our decisions, and this was one example.

After stopping in Dhukur Pokhari for a little snack, it was only another hour until I reached Lower Pisang, which I chose to stay in. There is another route to take to Upper Pisang, but in my opinion, people should really only stay up there if you're either wanting the much better views of the peaks, or you're taking the route to Manang via Ngawal the following day. I chose to stay in Lower Pisang, and wasn't disappointed!

I wandered the road through Lower Pisang, trying to decide where to stay. Finally, I saw what looked to be a new guesthouse - the Hotel Bajra. When I asked how much for a room, I was shocked to be asked for only 50 Rs! That's about 68 cents! Now three meals and gratuity will add onto that, but it was still a bargain! I was given the choice of rooms, and opted for one with a shared balcony. The view outside of it was amazing. The aforementioned Paungda Danda was clearly within view, and you can see why it is such a revered structure! The picture below was taken the following morning, as it had snowed in the upper reaches. None of the snow reached our elevation. After a filling Dal Bhat dinner, it was off to bed!

A gorgeous view to start my morning!

Cost: 2180Rs
Approx. distance trekked: 14-15 km

Next up: Day 6 to Manang and day 7 as the acclimatization day!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Annapurna Circuit Trek: Day 4

DAY 4: Tal to Chame

The fourth day of the trek from Tal to Chame was the longest, at approximately 22-23 km, but was well worth it. After having breakfast, I gave another set of crayons and a notepad to the children at the Dragon Guesthouse. The mother beamed and seemed genuinely happy, as did the kids. Again, if it helps push a sense of creativity? I consider it as a win. I won't ever say that people in that situation have "nothing" and need a sense of "hope". I think I could give the same small gift to the child of wealthy parents here, and if the parents allow the child to express creativity, then the background becomes a very minor point, if even one at all.

Setting out at about 8:20 AM, I instantly began to understand the wonder of the environment around me. A number of small birds that looked like the one below were all around just after Tal. If anyone can help me ID what species? Please leave a comment below!

One of many birds seen of this subspecies around Tal

Continuing on, I was rewarded after a couple of hours of some more avian wildlife seen in Dharapani. Originally, I assumed that perhaps it was the famed golden eagle, but after arriving home, and cropping the picture you see below, I'm almost certain that I saw a large number of Himalayan griffon vultures that live in the area. The photos have been cropped to give a closer look, and I feel lucky to have been able to get these shots while they were airborne!

Himalayan griffon vulture just outside of Dharapani

Another vulture (maybe the same?), in the same area as the above

Although I was amazed to see this wildlife, the locals seemed annoyed by them, as they would try to shoo them away if they got too close. They seemed puzzled as to why I took such an interest in them, but I completely understand. Once you become used to seeing something, you sometimes lose sight of how that 'something' may seem to be wonderful to others.

After spending close to 20 minutes trying to snap pictures of these amazing birds, I continued on. About an hour or so later, I arrived in Bagarchap, where I had a light lunch. Here I ran into a younger Belgian couple and made some small talk with a young Israeli man. Earlier on, as I entered the village, one of my first summit sights since the second day came into view. Below you will see Annapurna II and the kani (or chorten) as I entered Bagarchap. These are stupa shaped arches that typically are at the entrances of villages. Many have elaborate paintings, as well as sets of Buddhist prayer wheels built on the inside walls. As with everything else in the region, it is an amazing thing to see to understand and envelop yourself in the culture.

The kani entering Bagarchap. In the back: Annapurna II

Understanding that I still had a few hours to go, I continued on. After Danaque, I ran into what was almost a bad problem, last year. When I did this same trek a year ago, I took what would now be considered a wrong turn. I arrived at a small river, and on a huge rock, spotted a handpainted "Manang", with an arrow pointing across the river. It wasn't uncommon to see this along the trails. The problem? No bridge in sight. It took me a half an hour to figure out a way to get across, but not before almost falling into the water. Had I fallen in - and one of my legs did nearly to my right knee! - I would have been in serious trouble. This year?

I took the road, and eventually crossed a bridge. As I was crossing, last year, I even spotted said bridge, but was already 15 minutes into this, and turning back would have been just as hard as what laid ahead. Once across, I stopped to prep for a serious climb that went up approximately 500 meters (approx. 1600+ feet). When I reached the top, I ran into the same Belgian couple. What amazed me is that they had left Bagarchap about 15 to 20 minutes before I had. It turns out that they unfortunately made the same mistake I had made last year, and crossed the river. Thankfully, without getting wet, like I did!

I pressed on, and spotted the continuing building of roads, in the region. I find this to be a bit unfortunate, as it takes away from the trekking trails, but understand it's needed for some. It comes as a blessing is disguise. While it helps the villages that have remained so remote and allows easier access to supplies, it potentially hurts the tourism appeal of villages farther south, as some may opt to skip this. To understand the sort of environment these roads are being built in, just check out the picture below, which was taken the day before, before reaching Tal.

Yes, they built a road, here! On the lower left, there's a construction vehicle!

The remainder of the day, I tagged along with the Belgian couple. It turns out, they lived a pretty simple life. They worked as fruit pickers in France, and lived out of a caravan during this time. They had no real bills, to speak of, so they spent three months working, with the remainder of the year trying to travel. That sounds like a good life, to me! This couple ended up being my hiking companions, for the day, and this is one of the best parts of trekking - meeting people from around the globe.

After reaching Timang, we ended up going back down a couple hundred meters and had to cross one of the many suspension bridges. These are seen throughout the region, and the Swiss are actually responsible for helping to build these. I guess they're good at making watches, as well as bridges! These bridges can be a bit much for some, and that was the case for the young Belgian woman. After crossing, we went back up that two hundred meters, and for the rest of the day, smooth sailing.

Don't look down!

Just over an hour later, we would arrive in Chame. Beforehand, minutes before the previous village of Koto, we ran into a vendor that was selling samosas. Big ones, at that! For only 25 rupees, I couldn't pass it up. 30 cents US gave me an awesome little snack to help give me that little bit of energy. Entering Chame, I decided to stay at the Manaslu View, where I stayed, last year. After a hearty dinner - and checking e-mail for the first time in four days! - it was time for bed.

Cost: 2125Rs (four day cost - approx. $98 US!)
Approx. distance trekked: 23 km

Next up: Day 5 to Pisang.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Annapurna Circuit Trek: Day 3

DAY 3: Ghermu to Tal

The third day saw me leave at around 8am to end up at the village of Tal. After a hearty breakfast of a simple omelet and some oatmeal with fresh apples and black tea, I began. It was another very warm day, but this would be the last one for quite a while, as the altitude would go up a lot over the next few days.

The day remained a bit uneventful, with very little in the way of wildlife seen, save for many lizards and a few smaller birds. In Jagat, I stopped for a much needed cold beverage, and continued. While in Jagat, saw a school that was working to raise the money to buy a computer, and donated 100Rs (approx. $1.25), and continued on.

The way from Jagat to Tal is only just over one-third of the day's travels, but it's quite easily the hardest stretch. After plunging down a good 70-80 meters to get to a very shaky suspension bridge, there was a series of switchbacks that went back up twice that. After getting through this rise, there would be two more major climbs left. Upon reaching the top of the first, I could see the second climb - and the last obstacle of the day! In the picture below, you can see the trail. From the point where I took this picture, it took me around one hour and fifteen minutes to reach the top.

It seems so close!

Once I reached the top, it was about another fifteen to twenty minutes to actually reach Tal. Good thing, too, as during that final climb, the weather started to turn and it sprinkled lightly. Thankfully, it held off, and I arrived at my day's destination dry. I stayed at the Dragon Guesthouse, that evening, and do recommend staying there, if you do go. It is one of the first guesthouses you will pass, and has very good food and is extremely hospitable.

Cost: 1,950Rs
Approx. distance trekked: 13 km

Next up: Day 4 and the longest trek of the trip!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Blogger On The Go!

I've just downloaded the Blogger app onto my Galaxy Tab, and this post is part test / part new posts soon announcement on my tablet!

First, I have to apologize for the lack of updates. I've been playing catch-up with many friends that I haven't seen in some time, so the posts have been slow to come along. The next few days of the trek should be up quite soon, though, so do check back often!

Also, while the idea of this blog was to use my Nepal trip to help out, I've already begun looking at the costs for a trip to South America and the likelihood of trekking in the Patagonian Andes. Since the title of this blog is "trek" in the general sense, why not try to use my growing fascination with nature and wildlife as a whole to help continue raising money for the World Wildlife Fund?

Please, if you can, click here to donate! As of today, you have contributed over $1,300 to help not me, but the WWF and the wildlife and habitats that need it. Everyone that has given? I seriously can't thank you enough.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Annapurna Circuit Trek: Day 2

DAY 2: Buhlbhule to Ghermu

Getting somewhat of a late start at 8:00 AM, I set off after a light breakfast and good views of one of the ten tallest mountains in the world - Manaslu. Just before my trip, there, there was an unfortunate accident to several that were trying to scale the peak of Manaslu. Avalanches that were likely to soon be attributed to climate change, in some form, were triggered and the last I had heard, eight or nine had perished with the same number missing. It's nature's way of fighting back, I suppose.

After heading out to start the day, I was almost immediately reminded of a problem that I would run into frequently last year, also: begging children. While the way it sounds may seem harsh, it is a problem in many areas of the world, like this. Just a kilometer or so into the trek, a young boy gives the "Namaste!" call, and when responding in kind, he immediately says, "Sweets?" If you are reading this and you plan on visiting Nepal, you should be advised not to give sweets. You would unfortunately be enabling a growing problem.

Unfortunately, the couple that was ahead of me did give in and give him a chocolate. I watched the young boy proceed to rip the wrapping off of the chocolate into pieces and simply throw it onto the ground. Not only does it provide no help to the young boy, but he had also just shown disregard for the environment he lives in. This is also a growing problem. All along the trek, I would see garbage that ruined what was otherwise a pristine environment.

Continuing on, I soon came out of the valley area and lost sight of the snow capped peaks. It would be another two days before I would set sight on any of them during my approach to Chame. When leaving the valley, the sun then prompted me to stop and remove the layers and apply sunscreen and insect repellent. It would be a fairly long day, and unfortunately even with sunscreen, I would end up burnt to a crisp.

There are a few areas of the trek that are particularly challenging. The area leading up to Bahundanda is one of the first. It's one of the first of several extremely steep climbs on the trek. Add to it that the temperature had hit around 80 F, it was around noon, and I am still getting used to the weight I was carrying? Well, once I reached the top, I was quite ready for a bite to eat and some cold water.

Before I left on the trip, I had actually purchased a bunch of boxes of crayons and some memo pads. In Bahundanda, I gave the first set of these to a youngster that I assume was the child of the owner of where I had lunch. I explicitly gave these to children that wouldn't beg. My thought was that it would possibly spark creativity and help with literacy issues - be it in whatever language they so choose.

After this, the trek continued on an up and down route until I arrived in Ghermu at around 2:30 PM. I stayed at the Crystal Guest House at the beginning of the village, and immediately went to purchase some flip-flops. The bad part is that as large as my feet are, I had to accept a size too small - I wear US 13s. This let me leave my shoes - which were soaked - out to dry a bit, overnight.

The next morning, I filled my water bottles and, as a precaution, treated them. After making sure everything was in order and talking a bit with a few folks from Belgium and Germany, I set off for Tal.

Cost: 1,900 Rs
Approx. distance trekked: 13 km

Next up: Day 2 from Ghermu to Tal!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Annapurna Circuit Trek: Day 1

DAY 1: Besi Sehar to Buhlbhule

The first day of the trek was one of the shortest. The day before, I had taken a bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara. The trip either to or from Kathmandu takes about seven to eight hours, and is about 150 miles. After checking into my room, I requested a ticket for a tourist bus to Besi Sehar, which is typically where the Annapurna Circuit Trek begins. After paying the 600 rupees, I wandered around Lakeside and after a nap, had a quick dinner and went to bed fairly early. When electricity was working, I worked to charge any piece of electronics that needed it.

The next morning, I was up at 5:30 AM. I showered, packed, and took a taxi to the tourist bus station. We departed at approximately 7:00 AM, and the bus arrived in Besi Sehar at about noon. The buses - especially the tourist buses - will occasionally pick up native Nepalis, along the way. The buses, as you can imagine, get very crowded. At one point, a female Tibetan Buddhist monk sat on the bus.

When we were only about a half an hour from our destination, our bus actually broke down. Considering the narrow and rocky roads, the road is not a place to be stranded, believe it or not. Our driver even had to put the bus in reverse, at one point, and we rolled backwards a bit so as to allow an oncoming bus to pass by.

After about ten to fifteen minutes, many on the bus became restless and hopped off. At this point, the female monk was sitting next to me in the last row of the bus. Just as a good 80 percent of the passengers had exited, our driver again put the bus in reverse, let the bus roll a bit, and worked the engine enough to get it started. It was pretty startling, but also pretty funny, and I had to just laugh, and the monk did exactly the same. Despite the lack of a common language, we both could see the humor in what had happened.

After finally arriving in Besi Sehar, I had a quick lunch and began my first day of trekking. Many people have decided to take a bus all the way to the first day's destination, Buhlbhule (pronounced BUL-boo-lay), but just as I did last year, I walked the approximately nine kilometers. After getting horribly lost through the trail, I managed to find my way through a series of rice paddies and down to the road, which I wanted to avoid. I likely added an extra kilometer or two from this, and considering the time of day and that I was just getting used to hiking with 15 kg on my back, I frequently would stop for a few minutes.

Around 3:00 PM, I reached my first day's destination and stayed at the Hotel Arjun. After napping for about two hours, I had dinner of roast chicken, fries, and salad (which was actually cole slaw - with green beans in it, too!), and went back to bed. The early night in would be the norm throughout the trek. I would leave to begin day two at about 8:00 AM and all told, my first day's accomodations and meals would set me back about 2,000 Rs, or approximately 24 US dollars. All for a place to stay and three meals!

Cost: 2,000 Rs
Approx. distance trekked: 10 km

Next up: Day 2 from Buhlbhule to Ghermu!

Friday, November 9, 2012

A few pictures posted. More to come!

Keep an eye on the new tab, above! 2012 pics are being uploaded, with more to come, soon! The daily notes/diary posts will be posted tomorrow night!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Updates coming soon!

So I am now back in the States. The election is over (thank goodness!), and here in the northeast, we're getting smacked with another major storm. Ouch.

I spent my first day back sleeping almost the entire day away, and the last two working. Today I am digging through the notes I wrote while on the trek, and will soon be updating the blog with a diary of the 16 days I walked the Annapurna Circuit Trek. Next week, I will focus on filing through all of the video I took and creating a video diary accompanied by music. This will be somewhat of a chore, and may take some time. Best possible scenario? It will be up within two weeks. In the meantime, check the blog within the next couple of days. I will be posting updates, soon!

Monday, October 1, 2012

A picture from last year and an update on my fundraising!

So last week, I submitted a picture to National Geographic's Photo Contest. The picture is below, and if you click the picture, you will go directly to my entry page. If you can? Click the Facebook "Like" button! In just six days, I've been overwhelmed with the number that "Like" the entry, and I am hoping that it gets picked by the editors as a favorite! If so, I will try to update everyone!

Next week, I leave to start my journey! As of today, I have helped to raise $570 for the World Wildlife Fund. While I am far short of my initial goal, it instills a sense of pride in me that I am trying to turn something that brings me happiness and peace into something greater than myself alone. I thank each and every one of you that has donated or has even shown an interest in what I am trying to do.

Monday, September 10, 2012

You'll reach the goal!

The wise words of Confucius. I may be far from my goal, but I will keep plugging along! Thank you to those of you who donate!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A new goal reached, a t-shirt for a cause, and Henry Rollins

So a week ago, I finally hit the 20% mark of my fundraising goal. I'd be remiss to say I wasn't a little disappointed that I had not raised more, by now. However, the money that has been raised is more than nothing, so there's always a positive to everything. I thank everyone for helping me out!

Also, I just purchased a t-shirt from Arm the Animals, this week. They help support animal shelters around the US by selling shirts that portray various wildlife in possession of weaponry. Me? I opted for the panda wielding the machine gun. Makes sense, right?

Lastly, a few people may have seen a picture of a letter that is credited to Henry Rollins, recently. Below is the letter, and it echoes all of the ideas I speak about.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Kali Gandaki.......Road?

Sorry for the long delay in between posts! As of today, I am at 390$ raised towards my goal of 2000$. Click the above button to help donate!

This post is about a story I read on the BBC News website, yesterday. On BBC World News in my car, I sometimes hear the 'From Our Own Correspondent' piece. I read this story yesterday about the new roads being built in Nepal written by James McConnachie.

Click here to read 'New roads bring change and danger to Nepal'.
Click here to listen to 'New roads bring change and danger to Nepal'

The Kali Gandaki gorge runs through the second half of the Annapurna Circuit trek, and is widely considered the deepest gorge on the planet. On either side of you, you have Annapurna I and Dhaulagiri - the tenth and seventh highest peaks, respectively. When walking through the gorge, you are at approximately 8200ft. Meanwhile, the peaks on either side of you rise more than 18,000ft higher than that. One of the other issues with this gorge is a naturally created wind tunnel, of sorts. After about 11am, winds that blow North get bottlenecked in this gorge, which creates exceptionally high winds practically every day. I experienced this firsthand, and have certainly taken note to leave Ranipauwa earlier in the day than I did.

Well, I wrote James to share my experience. About an hour before reaching Jomsom, a couple I was walking with during that day and I were walking along this road, and came across a pretty startling sight. Nature had obviously been fighting back, as there was a weak point in the road, and it had collapsed. A crane that was being used for this construction was laying on its side in the dried up riverbed! So the danger was pretty obvious.

I received an email from James not long after, and he responded to this - I had emailed the above picture - as well as my comments on the stones that the bus drivers obviously had for constantly riding this route.
Dear Walt

Thanks so much for taking the time to write. I think that might have been the very crane repairing one stretch of the road when I was there in late September... Totally agree about the drivers. They hate it - have to get really revved up inside before they begin the drive.

Let me know how your October trip goes? You may know I write a guidebook to Nepal, the Rough Guide, so I'm always looking for updates and reports.

With thanks


If you guys are interested in checking James' stuff out, click here.

And again, please donate if you can!

Lastly, check out the facebook fan page!! Thank you, guys!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Video posts!

I will be using my Samsung Galaxy Tab to occasionally create videos for the blog. I will be using the Galaxy Tab while on the trip to create a sort of "video diary" of the trip, and create a movie of a lot of footage when I return. Above is the first video for the blog. Thank you, guys! Click the above button to donate!

Another cool travel blog!

I wanted to share another blog with you guys. When I took the bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara, I sat next to a gentleman who was with his family on what I assumed could have been a vacation like mine. I had no idea it was one that far surpassed mine! They had pulled their three kids out of school, and for a full year were traveling around the globe!

Check out the "Where is Bear, Raz, Magi, Digs, and Miranda" blog. There are a lot of great pictures, there, too!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Donation button added!

To help avoid confusion, I will be adding a "Click To Donate" button that leads directly to the WWF site on every post. This should make it easier for people to go directly to my Panda Page to help me reach my fundraising goal. When I am able to make a better donation button, I will add that on here, instead.

Also, spread the word! On the right on the screen, you will see an option to share this page via Facebook or Twitter, also! The more people that know, the better! Let's make this big!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A story that helped give me the idea to do this....

Along with my love of Nepal and the wildlife that inhabits the country - namely the snow leopard - there was another story that helped give me the idea about what I will undertake in October. There's a great story that I read that made me think to doing this. Read about New York Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey and his climb to Kilimanjaro. He raised money for Bombay Teen Challenge, a very worthy cause that helps women in India to improve their lives and get them off the streets where many become a part of the seedier aspect of human culture.

After reading a prior story in early January about his soon-to-be climb, I thought about trying to use my trip to help give back to the world in some way. It turned into my own goal to help the World Wildlife Fund. While I certainly don't have the stature to raise the kind of money Dickey raised (he raised over $110,000!!!!), I want to work hard to hit my goal, and then see how much further I can take it. I really hope that anyone reading this can give even a few dollars on my Panda Page.

As I said in my last post, even five is more than zero. I think we can all help improve the world if we all give just a little of ourselves. In great numbers, that small amount adds up, and can help to give people around the globe a chance. Not just people, but the animals that share this planet with us! Thank you guys so much for whatever you can give. Remember, share this page with your friends! Basically? Pay it forward!

Lastly, congratulations to Dickey for far surpassing his fundraising goal and for making it to the top of Kilimanjaro!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

If you think one person can't change the world.....

Think again! Whenever you think that fighting for whatever you may believe in is futile, you have to remember that ONE is still far greater than ZERO. Never feel guilty about what little you may have been able to give. If you can give five dollars? Five is much greater than zero. As Lao Tzu once said:

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

The path to helping fix the world's ills starts with even the smallest of gifts. Find a group that hits home for you, and give what you can! It can be towards cancer research, Alzheimer's, or even supporting a local homeless shelter. If you view the entire trek as daunting, you'll be too scared to take that first single step. Once you actually start the walk, you'll be surprised how naturally it comes to you!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Business cards to promote the site!

Business card to promote the cause!
So today I made an order for some business cards to help promote the blog. To the right, you'll find the design. Maybe soon you'll be seeing one in your hand!

As a side note, I was iffy on using the World Wildlife Fund's logo, but did. I kept my order on these cards small. If it's a problem using the logo? I will simply re-create the cards without them. However, I hope that it can stay, as the logo may push more people to come here and donate! Let me know what you think of the design. Surprisingly, the image is actually a preset one offered on the VistaPrint website. Not bad!

And if you can, please donate to the WWF!

Monday, February 13, 2012

100% of your donation goes to WWF!

I wanted to write one quick post, here. When you go to my Panda Page, 100% of what you give (via the WWF provided fundraising page) goes to World Wildlife Fund. I get nothing financially. I have been planning this return trip for the last two months, and decided it would be good to give back to the habitat I will be in. Some people were confused about where the money would go. So rest assured, when you go to the WWF fundraising page, all of what you contribute goes to the WWF! Also, as an incentive to those that give to the WWF: to anyone that donates 100$ or more, I will send an 8x10" from my last trip to you via mail.

Panda Page! Help me to reach my goal!

Above, you will see "Click here to donate". This page gives you the link to the Panda Page I created on the WWF site. 100% of your donation goes to World Wildlife Fund! Panda Pages are user created and allow people like myself to have a personal fundraising page to help them meet their goals. Thanks for the time, and please share this page! Facebook, Twitter, via email. Even just writing down this blog address and giving it to others helps!

Next time, I will post a few pictures from the trip on a separate page. Also, please leave a comment if you have any questions! If you want to know about travel time, how to obtain a visa, how to get around? Ask! I genuinely hope that more people visit Nepal, and I want to help make it easier for some of you and take away some of the uncertainty you may have. Thank you, again!


Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Hello, everyone!

My name is Walt Zink. Come October, I will be visiting Nepal to trek through the Annapurna Himal for a second time. From the moment I arrived back home in early November of 2011, I have had the desire to go back. This time, I wanted to use the opportunity to also raise money for an organization. The organization I will raise for on this trip will be the World Wildlife Fund.

My reason for picking this organization is simple: we must work to help save the countless animals and the habitats that are lost. In the long run, this affects our environment and thus our ability to sustain our livelihood. I truly feel that everything is connected in even a small way. When one species becomes extinct, it is possibly the food supply for another species, and so on.

I could have picked any number of organizations to help. All would have been worthy, in my mind. I simply want to focus on this year's fundraising, and will soon start putting together letters and videos to send to companies that cater to those that are also passionate about the outdoors. When I have a page set up where you can donate, I will let you know.

Next post? Pictures from my last trip, as well as ideas on what I will do while on the next trek to keep everyone posted. Thank you for taking the time to read, and please do write a note below if you would like to help! Share this page!