By Andrew Knapik
Nepal, the home of the mighty Himalayas. There pinnacles soaring plentiful in the sky. Glacier fed meadows and jungles abundant with wildlife. Here might be one of the most diverse places on mother earth. 200 miles from the summit of Mt. Everest lay the low lands of the Teari, where rhinos, elephants, and tigers roam.
A third world country with corruption abound. A land devastated by the 8.1 Gorkha Earthquake in April of 2015. Yet, the people of Nepal are some of the most welcoming on earth! Sure, there are your beggars in the street and the town crazy people. But most that have so little are willing to offer you the world. There is always a smile on a Nepali’s face, such a contrast to common Westerner. Crime is minuscule in proportions to everywhere across the States. Even through all of the tragedy, Nepal truly remains a wonderful place. A country that is rebuilding, yes, but the majority is safe and still open for business. I urge you to go explore this wonderful land for yourselves!
- Annapurna Circuit – This is one of the most celebrated trekking routes in the world. The entirety of the trail runs about 140 miles around the Annapurna Range. It tops out at Thorung La Pass, the highest pass in the world at 5416 meters, roughly 18,000 feet! There are many villages along the way that offer accommodations and restaurants so there is no need for camping gear allowing you to travel light. Along the trail you will encounter a variety of diversity. Jungle, high deserts, alpine meadows, and Tibetan culture are a few things to look out for besides the majestic mountain views.
- Ice Lake – Ice Lake from Manang. A steep 4 mile route with 3752ft of elevation gain. With Panoramic views of the Annapurna Range and two alpine lakes. Caution: this hike starts at 11,500 feet and is much harder than it appears on paper.
- Sarangkot –To get away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist town of Pokhara take any of the numerous interconnecting dirt roads and single track trails up Sarangkot. This is best approached from the northern end of Phewa Tal. Winding up a series of switchbacks it leaves the busy city and gives a beautiful view back onto the lake where you are bound to see hundreds of paragliders every day. The summit area rises over 2500 ft above the lake and is one of the most popular paraglide launch spots in the world! And if you’re lucky and have a clear day this spot is renowned for pure Himalayan views!
Know Before You Go
- Altitude Sickness – When attempting to run at these elevations it is important to be properly acclimated and aware of the signs of Acute Mountains Sickness (AMS) and High Altitude Pulmanary Edema (HAPE). If you feel any symptoms get down ASAP! From personal experience HAPE is a very uncomfortable from of altitude sickness that constricts your longs making it nearly impossible to breathe and very painful. Violent nausea and lack of appetite also accompany this. Also be aware of High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) which can cause severe permanent brain damage.
- Stray Dogs – When In large villages and cities your primary concern should be of stray dogs. Although these dogs are often docile and harmless an aggressive stray can be intimidated by a runner. There have been many cases of attacks in the past. If bitten one should seek immediate medical help as they often carry rabies and other diseases.
- Leeches – In the wet regions at mid to low elevations leeches come out in hoards after the rain. While moving through any brush lined trails don’t be surprised if one has made the jump from a bush to your leg. We encountered many leeches along the way, even as high as 11,000 ft! An old age trick to remove leeches from your skin is to apply salt directly on the leech. This will cause suffocation within seconds and the leech will soon release its grip. Leeches are not painful as one might expect, so don’t fear them to much
- Nepali Dress – Respect the Nepali culture. Notably for runners this means conservative dress. Be aware of what you wear in public. What is considered revealing is much different than our Western standards. Men: wear a singlet even if it is shirtless running weather. Women: be careful on the length of your shorts and wear more than just a sports bra.
- Respect the Wilderness – As always pack in, pack out! You might notice that the more populated areas are dramatically affected my pollution and litter. Nepal lacks proper sewage infrastructure and waste disposal methods. It is disheartening to see locals living among the piles of rubbish. Do not contribute to this, keep our nature pure.