Photo: Ghana Shyam Khadka / Unsplash
Photo: Ghana Shyam Khadka / Unsplash

Trekking while Nepali: A writer reckons with mortality, nationality and a changing Nepal

WE WERE HEADING out again, this time to the base camp of Mt Makalu in eastern Nepal. My partner Daniel and I had taken to trekking in earnest after my brother died at age 49 and I began to spend more time “back home” in Kathmandu to be near my grieving parents. Then my sister died at age 52, leaving me, at 50, the last of three siblings. I began to go back for months at a time. Even before I’d left Kathmandu to set up in Toronto with Daniel, I took every chance to travel through Nepal’s countryside. I’d never, though, been on organised treks of the kind we now took. 

A British friend, Roland, had joined us this time. We had engaged an agency whose guide, Dambar Khapangi, had led Daniel and me on our first-ever organised trek. This was to Langtang, in the mountains north of the Kathmandu Valley, only six months before the 2015 earthquake levelled entire villages throughout Nepal. After trekking resumed a few distraught years later, Daniel and I trekked together to Gokyo in the Everest region and to Nubri and Tsum in northern Gorkha, and we went on shorter treks on our own. Neither he nor I enjoyed the way organised treks positioned us commercially as clients rather than mere travellers – but they offered a quick escape from the calamities of life, to the land.

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