gmhTODAY 07 gmhToday Mar Apr 2016 - Page 90

Trekking in the Himalayas: A Remarkable Journey BY LAURA LUNDY 90 I have long been fascinated by the Himalayas, which boast the world’s highest mountain peaks, but never thought I would see them “up close and personal.” Then in 2014 a friend and fellow backpacker asked if I would join her, along with her husband and four friends on a trek into the Indian Himalayas. I had met the owner of the tour and trek company, Namgyal Sherpa, at a Rotary International Convention in 2012, and knowing of his experience and excellent reputation, I decided to go! I was excited but realized that I needed to pre- pare for the physical demands of such an adventure. In the months leading up to the trek, I trained by hiking with a backpack at Harvey Bear Park, in the Sierras, and near our cabin in Calaveras Big Trees. I was anxious about the challenge of hiking at 13,000-16,000 feet, but did my best to prepare. I knew that on the trek, porters and pack animals would be carrying most of our supplies. GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN MARCH/APRIL 2016 We had to pack light – a down sleeping bag (rated for 0-15° weather conditions) and pillow, warm trekking clothes , toiletries, hiking poles and boots, and a few other items. In late October of 2015, I flew from San Francisco to Dubai and on to Delhi, the rendezvous point for our group. We spent a day and a half there before heading to Bagdogra and then on to Darjeeling. We spent a few days getting acclimated to the higher altitude and visiting a wildlife zoo and the Himalayan Mountain Institute Museum. I was deeply moved by our visit to the Tibetan Refugee Center where displaced Tibetan families were being provided with much-needed housing and job training. At our next stop in Gangtok, India, we con- nected with our tour leader. We toured historic Buddhist monasteries, attended a local Rotary Club meeting, and visited the site of one of the club’s projects, a school badly damaged by the 2011 earthquake.