A 9 day trek to Annapurna Base camp in support of PACES
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A 9-day trek to the Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal was one of the most fulfilling and enriching achievements the team has experienced to date. Not only were they embarking on an extraordinary adventure, but they were doing it for PACES which made the experience much more meaningful; a cause that became the drive to continue during the challenging times. Their day to day, in summary was: sleep- eat-climb-repeat. A typical day would start at 5 a.m. to catch the mesmerizing sunrise. After packing and setting up their gear for a new day, they would fuel up on essential nutrients at breakfast – ranging from boiled eggs, porridge, pancakes to local items such as chapatti and Gurung bread. A carb-based meal was a must to provide the right energy needed for the long walks through blissful nature. Every day out there was taken as a mission to get from point A to B, where the journey was one where they were completely disconnected from the past and future camp; just focused on embracing the present. Along the route, they supported each other while enjoying the surroundings of valleys, snowy mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls and of course the rich fauna and flora. A typical day would have many deep pausing moments to absorb the nature around them and try to grasp the magnitude of their surroundings. The lunch stop was the main and big break where they would have a nutritious local dish called Dal Bhat (lentil, curry and rice dish) for proper replenishment, with a side of garlic soup (said to open up the arteries to get blood flowing in preparation for the high altitude). Time really flew by during their 7 to 8 hours of walking each day, especially when crossing paths with foreign and local trekkers that share like-minded spirits. They met individuals from all walks of life, each with a different drive towards a common goal of reaching the top. The mutual greeting of “Namaste” turned strangers into friends. When the physical challenges of each day ended they were rewarded with stunning sunsets that would keep their spirits high and excited for the next day to come. And of course having a well-deserved supper where they can really eat anything blindly and fully enjoy it! Although they were exhausted, before tucking into the sleeping bag they would sit out to absorb the breathtaking view of the moon shining its light over the valleys as they reflected on the day that passed. After 6 days of climbing up, they finally reached the Base Camp. Feelings of elation and accomplishment swept through the group as they saw the sign board welcoming trekkers to the finish line. The clouds covered the full splendor of the mountain peaks which they were only able to see at sunrise the following day and what a view it was! At any point they were surrounded by the 7 peaks of the Annapurna mountain range, it was an unforgettable sight that is now etched in their memories. The base camp was even more profound when seeing memorials laced with the colorful Buddhist prayer flags to commemorate courageous mountain climbers who attempted to summit the majestic peaks. The 3 days going back down were also quite shocking, as they couldn’t believe that they had climbed up all that! They were all saddened to be getting further and further away from the peaks, but nature never fails and gave them another surprise on their last day. Natural hot springs ready to heal their aching muscles and tired bodies. While the whole experience had some challenges, it really brought about life lessons and reflections in each one of them. The experience made them realize they should always remember that it’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary and that even a small contribution can make a difference in bettering the lives of others.