Passports Please – Adventures in Nepal (Part One)

“On a Mish” #130 Passports Please – Adventures in Nepal (Part One). Port Craig. Fiordland National Park. 27.10.2015. I have three places on my must see before I die list: Alaska, Antarctica and Nepal. All three have fascinated me since I was young and with age the want and wonder has grown. The three places all have steep ice-covered peaks and that is exactly what I want to put in front of my eyes. As fate would have it I would have my opportunity to visit Nepal and see many of her magnificent mountains including the biggest of them all, however I wished I was going there for a different reason…

On the 11th of February 2011 my hometown of Christchurch was struck by its biggest of many earthquakes, and in the resulting chaos 185 people were killed. On the 25th of April Nepal was rocked by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake which took the lives of 8,964 people. The disasters were devastating for both countries and both needed help to get back up and running again. Although I missed the major quake in 2011 I definitely was there for plenty of the other ones and can say that I didn’t enjoy any of them.

So back in 2011 I certainly didn’t think that an earthquake would take me to Nepal.

The Nepal New Zealand connection was really made back in 1953 when Tenzing Norgay was welcomed into the British Mount Everest Expedition team which included a couple of Kiwi mountaineering legends. After a long battle with the slopes of Sagarmartha the plan B team of Norgay and a beekeeper named Edmund stepped their way into the history books by completing the first ascent of Chomolungma / Mt Everest. Now 62 years later I would see that the people of Nepal had definitely not forgotten the beekeeper from Aotearoa.

Sunsetting over Te Waewae Bay

Just like Norgay and Hillary I forged a friendship on the slopes of a mountain but instead of Everest it was Ocean Peak on the Routeburn Track. When I first met Mr Daniel Keys I had no idea he would build an idea into a charity that now supports the education of many children throughout Nepal.

The Active Hearts Foundation was getting ready to open their first library when disaster had other ideas. What was supposed to be a celebration turned into panic and despair, and within a couple of shaky moments the country changed forever. Dan’s focus went from celebrating to assembling a team, and this team was going to hike with help to remote locations that had not seen aid after the terrible earthquake.

As first said I would have rather travelled to Nepal under different circumstances, but I was going to Nepal and I was going to tick one of the countries off my list.

The stage was set for an epic and I needed to get my mish gear together and sort myself out for a trip overseas.

Just before I agreed to join Dan and his team of human heroes I took up the role of Track Manager on the Humpridge Track. I had been working on the track for a couple of weeks before heading over to Nepal and was loving the challenge and work involved. A lot of the work at the early stage of the hiking season was on the track and I refrained from returning to town as I wanted to do and learn as much as possible about the job before I left.

I had most of my gear for Nepal with me on the track as I planned to head from the track end to the airport. Due to living in my van I had given my parents my passport for safe keeping and now it couldn’t be found. I was in South Fiordland at Port Craig Lodge on the Humpridge Track and I had a major problem…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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