Posted - September 2017 in HSPRF News
HSP community member’s adventure
HSP community member Colleen from NSW trekked Nepal in April and May with her husband. She sent in this story about the challenging adventure.
Family history of HSP
I inherited HSP from my father, who was from a large family with a high prevalence of the condition. My condition is very mild luckily (unlike my father) and I can still participate in outdoor activities. I have always made exercise a priority in my life, including walking, swimming, cycling & the gym.
The planning & preparation
I talked about going to Nepal for over 20 years, but it was the coming of a significant birthday that inspired me to organise the visit. My husband and I have always wanted to see the scenic mountains and of course Mt Everest. Although my fitness was already at a reasonable level, I knew I had to do some extra training which I began about 6 months before our visit to Nepal. The extra exercise I did was mainly walking for longer and through steeper terrain (including bitumen & bush tracks e.g. Golden Staircase Blue Mountains) and running at the gym on the machines at higher intensity and steeper inclines. My most enjoyable extra activity was walking to work one day a week, which took just over 2 hours.
The trekking – Annapurna & Everest Regions
In Nepal, we did our first shorter trek in the Annapurna Region and the highlight was the outstanding views from Poon Hill at 3,210m. We also got to enjoy the spring flowers, especially the Rhododendrons. The pace was always comfortable, but on one of the downhills on the return, I did fall and sprain my ankle. I continued the trek for another 3 days with a compression bandage on my foot, before being able to visit a hospital for treatment. Our guide was very patient and I did enjoy the remainder of the trek even with a little pain. I was worried about my ability to do the next harder trek that we booked in the Everest Region i.e. Everest Base Camp (EBC).
For the EBC trek, our party had 15 trekkers and we all enjoyed the slow ascent, spectacular mountain views (especially the first view of Mt Everest), the yaks which only live at altitudes above 3,500m and the local culture. I particularly enjoyed the camping and on occasions being snowed on. The walking got tougher as we approached higher altitudes because of the reduced oxygen. Two participants required altitude medication, but the entire group made it to EBC at 5,364m. This was the highest altitude I ever visited and of course was delighted to have made it. It was a real challenge for me and at times I did not think I would make it. At each stage of the trip, my aim was to enjoy the scenery, eat and drink plenty and make the next destination. The other travellers were supportive and they also found things challenging, including travellers in their 20s.
The uphill walking was not too difficult, but maintaining balance on the steep downhills was an issue. I always used walking sticks on both treks and found them to be helpful for balance. Some of the other trekkers (mostly older) also used sticks occasionally, to assist with both balance and to take stress off their knees. The aim of the guide was to keep the group together, but I struggled on the downhills. In order to concentrate on the downhills, I avoided talking and taking pictures. My husband was kind enough to take photos and then catch up. I don’t think my sprained ankle slowed me down. Unlike most others who looked forward to the downhill walking, I rejoiced the uphill slog.
This trip was a real achievement with lasting memories and also a great motivator to get out and enjoy the outdoors more, even with the hot Sydney summer and the autumn rains prior to departing. The mountains were breathtaking in every respect and the locals certainly displayed toughness and resilience, which made me certainly appreciate the luxuries of life in Sydney.
A rough blog composed by my husband during our travels: https://nepalogblog.wordpress.com/