I have posts to write, and they are not about food! I can hardly believe it. (I do have a few recipes to talk about but I haven’t really felt like it so I’ll keep them to myself for now.)
The planning of (and for) these kinds of active trips is very intense and exciting, but it also makes me sick with nerves and anxiety. There is a tremendous amount of research and agony involved. Every. Single. Time. I just can’t seem to do it in the easy-breezy fashion of the just-pick-up-and-go crowd.
The first thing was to pick the trip I wanted to take. I have a ton of leave to use by the end of the year, and I’m burnt out and tired of the job so I wanted to go away for a while. I knew I wanted to do a trek of some distance. I’ve been interested in Nepal for a while, and the weather is decent in December. And it is, comparatively speaking, pretty cheap. So the decision to go to the Nepali-region wasn’t that hard to make. I picked the Annapurna Sanctuary trek because the dates and length of the trip worked out with my leave. Also, the trek doesn’t involve some of the extremes of altitude of other treks in the region. It’s higher than I’ve ever been though. Annapurna Base Camp is 4130m (13,550 ft). AMS, here I come!
At some point in the planning process, Badger figured out that she might also be able to take some leave and do the trip with me. Then, for a while it looked like she was going on a different Annapurna trek and that we were going to be in Nepal trekking at about the same time but never see each other. But happily, things worked out, and we booked our trip with Intrepid. It’s going to be a medium group– 15 people it seems. Though there is 1 spot left if anyone wants to join us! We’ve traveled with Intrepid before, and they usually do pretty good trips. We considered trying other operations–like World Expeditions (they do a wonderful-seeming Annapurna camping trip), but they are pretty pricey and the dates didn’t work out.
Because of the way our respective leave works out, I will be leaving a few days before Badger, and she will be staying a few days after me. I’ve pretty much decided to add a short (pre?) extension onto my trip and go to the Royal Chitwan National Park and maybe try to stalk a Bengal tiger:
So the trip is picked out, but I’ve still got to get there. This usually involves grueling research and making a ton of difficult cost/benefit decisions. How much is a short (as opposed to long) stop-over worth to me? A nice, safe airline? How many stops am I willing to make? This time, though, I got lucky. There weren’t many options, and the fastest and most direct flight is the cheapest (though not cheap by any means–AMEX membership rewards points to the rescue).
Once the logistics are set, the mind inevitably turns to the gear required. And the purchasing begins. Every time I do an active trip, it is astonishing the amount (and cost!) of gear I need to buy. And after each trip, you say to yourself, well, I spent a ton on gear but it’s ok because next time I won’t need to buy anything. HA! It’s all a lie you tell yourself. Don’t believe it.
Between my last two (only) active trips in Machu Picchu and on the Camino, I bought new hiking pants, tech t-shirts, a wind jacket, a backpack, a sun hat, boots, trekking poles, a lightweight sleeping bag (which was in addition to my regular weight sleeping bag), sandals, wool hiking socks, and a rain jacket. All this is in addition to camping gear I purchased around the same time and that is useful for traveling: sleeping pad, head lamp (possibly second-best purchase ever), lightweight towel (maybe the third-best), and I know I am forgetting a bunch of stuff.
For this trip, things are even more consumer-y. The conditions on the hike will vary. It is winter in Nepal in December but the temperature spans a pretty big range. Daily temps are expected to be from just below freezing to mid-60s (F). And we will be hiking at altitude so wind and sun/glare are also concerns. The new gear list looks like this: fleece pants, compressible down jacket (possibly the first-best purchase ever), fleece jacket (at least 1), thermals, rain pants, hiking pants (my only long pair have been ruined), wool socks (more), sleeping bag liner, and sunglasses. At buying all this stuff, I feel guilt because it’s so excessive, but also an inexplicable thrill: I need the ultra-light weight compressible down jacket or I might die! On a mountain!
Plus, my crappy Canon Powershot SD 450 is no longer focusing and, anyway, its range was disappointing for travel photos. (Family: did I mention how this is your Christmas present to me? Don’t worry, I’ve already ordered it.)
That is a LOT of stuff to buy. The Columbus Day sales were my friend. But, I need there to be big Halloween sales also or perhaps a Veteran’s Day blowout or two. It may also be that the tanking economy will also induce some random sales (Though I will feel a twinge of something like regret if I end up profiting from the complete and utter destruction of our financial markets. I have to boo de-regulation even if it results in a 20% off discount on my favorite fleece pants.).
So, if you care nothing about reading about random active gear, I’m sorry. You will be bored because that is all I have to talk about for a while.
But then! I will be posting about our travels. With photos! And commentary! There will be elephants and mountains. Just wait for it.