Renée Bacino Davis
Jeremy and Renée Bacino Davis celebrated their anniversary in Nepal in a true life adventure style. CLICK THE IMAGE ABOVE TO SEE MORE

SLIDESHOW: An anniversary on the Annapurna

by Renée Bacino Davis

The Annapurna Circuit, a 160-mile trek amongst some of the highest peaks in the world. My husband, Jeremy, and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary in one of the most memorable and astounding ways we could possibly imagine.

Nepal, the land of pristine mountains; workers tending rice fields with oxen as their burden; the wealthy flying to remote villages by helicopter; the poor living under roofs covered by plastic tarps. We arrived late on a Saturday night, greeted in the airport by local taxi men seeking to sell us a bargain. “Yes, my guesthouse best one around. Only 5 US dollar a night, no problem. Taxi take you there.” We avoided most, pushing through the crowds of barters and other travelers toward the airport exit.

Kathmandu, the gateway to the Himalayas, full of color and life. And trash. People walked the streets with masks over their faces, striving to protect their lungs from the pollution and exhaust caught in the bowl of the surrounding hills. Cars sped by in confusion. People sold dal bhat (Nepali dish of lentils and rice) out of buckets. Children played in the gutters. But despite it all, smiles gleamed across their faces.

“I will be your very good guide!” claimed Kamal. His potbelly and warm eyes drew us in. We marveled how someone who pranced like a mountain deer in the high altitudes could be soft in the middle. He rubbed it like a prize. “My wife, she is good cook!” he beamed, as he swung his incredibly small pack over his shoulders and led the way toward the rugged trail in his dress pants.

The mountain air greeted us with sweet relief. We trekked through small villages, where locals recognized us with smiles, nods and “namastes”. Leeches crept in the jungle brush, reaching up to suction onto our ankles or fall onto our heads from trees above. With the ever-gaining elevation, jungle transformed to high alpine and at last to mountain vistas. We side-stepped small children playing on the cobblestone, women washing clothes from water trickling out of makeshift faucets, groups of men circled around a game with dice and cups, chickens leading their flock diagonally across our path, cows slowly plodding with an air of command, goats galloping in disarray.

Peaks loomed in the distance, glowing in the morning sunrise, radiating in the afternoon haze, lazily sauntering amongst the sunset beams. Each step brought us closer. And higher. We conquered Tilicho Lake (16,200 ft), which locals claimed as the “highest lake in the world! Yes you climb it!” Onto Thorong La Pass (17,769 ft), our next and final feat before the descent.

Our steps slowed while breaths increased. We reached high camp (16,300 ft) to attempt a night’s sleep before our ascent. After a forced down meal of dal bhat, we flopped onto our individual cots. The night wore on. Sleep finally visited…

“Renée…” I heard a voice in the black. I jolted up. “What is it?!” I clamored out, startled. “My nose…” I scrambled for my headlamp, brushing my hands across the floor, searching. After struggling it onto my head, I turned on the beam. Jeremy sat across from me, blood gushing down his face, onto his neck. We fumbled in the lowly lit light for toilet paper, Wet Ones… Finally, it stopped…

A knock pummeled in the darkness. “Hello my very good climbers! Time for moving!” called Kamal from the other side of the thin door. We packed our bags in the 4am darkness and again forced down another meal of dal bhat.

Step. Step. Nausea. Headache. Breathe. Glowing sunrise. Nausea. Headache. Breathe. Mountains in the mist. Step. Step. Step. I looked back. “What’s on your face?” Jeremy moved closer. Blood. Dried blood. Evidence from last night’s gusher. “Don’t worry, when we reach the pass I’ll get out some Wet Ones and clean you up for the pictures,” I smiled. Jeremy looked down then up again, greeting me with his sideways smirk. “No,” he stated between labored breaths. “These are my war wounds!”

“We are here, my very good climbers!” praised Kamal. We gazed at Thorong La Pass, widest in the world. Throwing our hands up in victory, the sign applauded our 5416 m (17,769 ft) ascent.

We basked in our glory, bloody and all.

About the Author
Renée Bacino Davis lives in West Seattle with her husband Jeremy. She has a passion for travel, which inspires her ardor for writing and photography. She is in the process of publishing a photo journal from her travels in Nepal. If you’re interested in seeing more of the author’s photos, please visit her site:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/reneebdavis/sets/

The author suggests the following website for more information on the Annapurna Circuit:
http://wikitravel.org/en/Annapurna_Circuit

You can also Google “Annapurna Circuit” to access many other helpful sites.

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