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This trek simply wasn’t meant to be.

We drove from Pokhara to Birethanti to begin our 5-day trek to see the Annapurna range and back. We were supposed to hike 4 hours on a stretch that our guide Rosan classified as “easy.” It was nothing of the sort.

Nathan enjoyed the trek with his long legs and non-stop endurance. We think that he may be part sherpa. The scenery was beautiful. The forest was lush and green; the river was brimming with cold mountain water. We walked through countless villages, where people greeted us with “namaste” and folded hands. It was a wonderful glimpse at how the people here live.

The trail was steep, rocky, and wet. Aidan really struggled. I was having him drink water every 5 to10 minutes, knowing that he was still dehydrated from vomiting the entire previous day. But when you’re sweating and exerting yourself, it’s hard to get ahead. To be honest, even if he had been at 100-percent, the trekking was very difficult. He was near tears several times. I tried to remain encouraging – “just focus on getting to that tree; ok, now let’s get to that rock.” He started to get cramps. Then came the monsoon rains. (Since we’d left the hotel later than previously scheduled, we hit the afternoon rains.) At that point, he just couldn’t go any further, and we still had an hour before reaching the teahouse where we’d be spending the night. So I did the only thing I could. I had Aidan jump up on my back, and I carried him uphill in a monsoon.

From Aidan: It was the worst experience on the trip, ever. I got so tired. I wanted to sleep right there on the rocks. I was miserable.

This photo is for real.  Aidan is beside himself when he realizes an hour into the trek that there's still 3 hours to go.

This photo is for real. Aidan is beside himself when he realizes an hour into the trek that there’s still 3 hours to go.

When we arrived at the teahouse, soaked to the bone, we saw our accommodations for the night: four walls, three cots with thin hard mattresses, and one light bulb. The bathroom was a hole in the floor (we’ve had to perfect our squatting technique in Nepal) and a faucet for rinsing hands in a closet around the corner.

Even before seeing the first of five teahouses, I had already made up my mind – we wouldn’t be continuing. The guide – the same one who described today’s adventure as easy – said tomorrow’s 6-hour hike would be difficult. If it were simply a case of mental toughness, I would have helped Aidan to push on. But this trek was truly beyond his physical ability.

So for the second time in two days, we had to work with the tour manager to change our entire itinerary. We’ve decided to hike back and return to Pokhara. We’ll stay in Pokhara for four nights until our flight back to Katmandu and two more nights there. It’s a lot of time to fill without trekking. We’ll figure it out. I’ve asked the tour manager to book us at a nice hotel with a Western bathroom and a pool. We’ve experienced the teahouse. One night was enough.

From Nathan: I was very, very, very, very, very, very sad. The thing that we came to Nepal for, trekking, would not become a reality.

Granted, Nathan is terribly disappointed about the change of plans. He really wanted to see the Himalayas via his own two feet. But if anything, this setback has provided a learning opportunity: sometimes being part of a family means doing what’s best for others in the family.