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Deep Discussions at 3,500 Meters Above Sea Level

Climate change and religion and child-rearing, oh my! (Candace)

Annapurna Circuit: Day 5

Upper Pisang to Manang

Distance: 20 Kilometers

Elevation climbed: 700 meters

Ending altitude: 3,500 meters above sea level

Calories burned: 2,400

A friend of mine from my last Himalayan trek recently asked, “Is the Annapurna Circuit harder than the trek we did?”  My answer isn’t a simple yes or no.  We are climbing more slowly, maxing out at 700 meters per day, but the elevation is much higher, and the altitude does funny things to our bodies.  I feel the force of gravity pushing me down, and have less oxygen to make it up an incline, so a small hill that wouldn’t have bothered me at all on previous treks is taking everything out of me now.

Yesterday, we spent the morning climbing to Ngarwal, a beautiful old village at the top of a hill with a beautiful temple and cotton floating in the wind.  I laughed with delight as I watched the little angels dancing above my head.  But that climb took everything I had.  I got a headache and major stomach pains as I reached the top, and have been dealing with stomach issues since.

The scenery has changed pretty dramatically now.  What was once lush green fields of rice and then forests of alpine has now become dry arid rock with interspersed fields of pink buckwheat.  Beautiful and clear, we have now climbed above the clouds and haze to see nothing but the bluest of skies above our heads.

And it’s getting colder too.  We are bringing out the Pata-gucci’s at night now, and bought some extra head gear for the cold weather to come.  It feels to weird to be bundled up in August!

And as we continue to walk for hours at a time, we find ourselves in some of the most interesting conversations.  Kumar has explained the impact of climate change on the Himalayas, since he has been trekking them for 25 years.  He described the melting of ice glaciers and the weather changes in Mustang that have led to larger apples and earlier harvest of peaches and grapefruits. 

We then went on to discuss the differences between Hinduism and Buddhism, and he explained that Buddha is seen in the Hindu religion as an incarnation of _____, so there are Buddhists in Hindu temples and vice versa.  I found it so refreshing to hear how these two religions interact with one another and embrace the other’s beliefs, and couldn’t help but wish we could all find a way to do the same.

Andrew and I then began to discuss how we’ll talk about the creation of the world with our children one day, and we are gaining interesting and important perspective out here.  We want to share many beliefs from many religions with our children, and then give them the tools to think through them critically to develop their own beliefs.

What a refreshing view of the world the Himalayas offer.