Trekking in Himalaya with kids is not an easy job as we expected. In the first week of June 2019, I got a call from my trekking office for the family trekking in the Annapurna Circuit with Tilicho Lake. June is the start of the monsoon in Nepal. Usually, there are very few trekking in a route, thus its offseason for us. When I met my boss Mr Mohan Raj Bhandari in the office, he said that the kids are also in the team. He added, “It will be the new challenge for you.” They are going to trek with us in the Annapurna region for 11 days. It was not my first Trekking in Himalaya with kids, though. In the last October, I did trekking with Italian couple with two Kids Rodi,13 and Anna, 8 in Panchase trek.
Annapurna circuit trekking is considered the hardest trekking routes in the Annapurna region, Nepal. We have to hike to the Tilicho Lake (4919m) and cross Thorong La Pass (5416m) thus it was a challenging job for us. Many people used to return from the midway of the trek. Sometimes, I heard about unfortunate accidents in this region while trekking. A day before the trek, we went to their hotel for preparation for our trek. Couple Angus and Anita MacDonald had some queries about packing, but the kids didn’t get out of their room. I thought they are shy, and maybe adapting to new people in this new country takes time. The couples with kids had trekked before in South America.
The first-day travel was on bus and Jeep only, while travelling from Besisahar Liam,14 slept on whole 5 hours off-road jeep ride. Just before the Timang, Jeep has to move below the spring, Liam wakes up instantly when he was slightly wet by spring water through jeep windows. We all laughed at him.
I was additionally aware of my medical kits and which includes homemade medicine for altitude sickness. I used to be thinking much regarding the kids. What if they aren’t able to do while trekking? Perhaps the boy would be too quick than us. Alternatively, the girls might feel too tired and can’t walk with us. Maybe someone may be injured and cannot complete the whole trek. It is the Mountain anything can happen, so I became careful and aware at every moment.
And the trek begins…
After reaching Chame, we went for a hot spring bath. The hot spring pond is in the bank of the Margysangdi river. At that time, I noticed that Grace,13 was with her drawing copy and Carrie,17 with her book. I was impressed. Only Liam & Angus was there to take a hot spring bath. Unfortunately, under construction was going on, so we could not correctly shower there.
On the second day, we start our trek from Chame. Early morning, we did the warm-up and clicked photo under the entrance/exit gate of Chame. I suggest them to follow me and slightly brief about the way we are walking through today. I noticed Liam was just in front of us, and the rest of the others were following us. There is a small trail in the middle of the way. Liam went ahead of us and was out of sight. I asked our porters to get him. Angus, Anita, Grace, Carrie, and I followed the trail way. We met in Bartang. I request Liam to walk together or be ready to walk a long way. I found Carrie has a pleasant walk, but the youngest Grace was tired in a short walk too.
On the fourth day of our trekking in Himalaya with Kids, we were in Manang. We planned to wake up at 5:00 AM, hiked to the Gangapurna Lake and the nearest hill. It was practice for our vital days, i.e., the way when we will hike to the Tilicho Lake and the day when we will cross the Thorung La Pass. Till the fifth day, I noticed that the Grace used to ask me” HOW MUCH NOW”? (to the destination) Frequently. Lion used to wait for us injunction and ask me, “WHICH WAY”? I answered him like Left /// Right // Up /// Down.
While hiking to Tilicho lake, Grace said that she could not walk anymore. Everyone began to motivate her, especially her father, Angus. Then I told her a story of Hari Ghale, 15 who works in the tea shop at Tilicho Lake. Every morning at 3:00 AM, he used to head towards the Lake to open his tea shop and at noon he use to return to the Tilicho base camp. I asked him why he doesn’t stay at Lake? He answered me it’s not possible to stay near Lake (at about 5000 meter and just in front of Mt Tilicho too) every day due to cold. He supports his family with his small effort. We were expecting to meet him at the tea shop at the top but he wasn’t there.
She began to stroll, and she stopped again. I can’t wait for her there because others were walking through the Landslide zone, so I have to watch them. I expected her just after the landslide zone ends. One of our team members told me that Grace is returning to Tilicho Base Camp. I returned to get them and wanted to return with Grace. However, Angus and Grace have already left us. Angus was not ready to leave his daughter alone because she may not feel good. Rest of us safely arrived at Tilicho Lake. Drinking tea in front of Mt Tilicho and Tilicho Lake was one of the best moment of this trekking. We had a wonderful time there and took some memorable pictures together.
While we were heading towards Thorong Phedi, Liam (young boy) used to walk about 300/400 meter ahead of us I was with the team at about 4300 meters Anita asked me about Liam, I saw him waiting for us in the Tea shop, at the top of a hill. So, I said her not to worry he will wait for us in the Tea shop. We shouted at him not to move from there. When we crossed the river and reached the tea shop, he was not there. Another guide told me that he has moved before 15 minutes. Anita looks worried. Then I ran to catch him with my bag at about 4400 meters Liam was waiting for us near the landslide area. I was not happy with him because I have shouted at him not to move ahead. I know Anita will inevitably yell at him, so I use soft words with Liam. We began to return to the tea shop, and Anita began to shout at Liam. Liam starts to cry. It was an awkward moment for me. I don’t know what to do.
Angus hired the horse for Grace to pass the Thorung La. The rest of us hiked slowly to the Thorung La, 5416 meters. I was following the Grace and horse, so I was there in my personal best time. Liam walked hardly that day. Finally, he was with his family. On the 10th day, at about 2:00 PM, we were in religious town Muktinath, and our trekking ends. The next day, the weather was not good, so they can not take the flight from Jomsom to Pokhara. So, the MacDonald family has to travel with us by Jeep. We dropped them in their hotel. This way we complete our trekking in Himalaya with kids.
We were lucky that no one got hurt and suffered from altitude sickness during the trekking. Everyone followed my instructions. Our traditional medicines saved us much time. Our Itinerary was perfect, and we slightly headed up without missing significant points. Daily warm-up before starting the walk helped us a lot to make us fit. Weather was also too good. We don’t have to face the strong wind in Tilicho and Thorong La. If Angus and Grace could join us to Tilicho Lake, it could be the more perfect. However, while trekking in between the Himalayas, the mountain will decide your fate.