Written by: Katrina Condie
They may have taken their time, but a group of 11 Ulladulla seniors fulfilled a life-long dream when they trekked through the Himalayas last month escorted by Lyn Taylor Director of Lyn Taylor’s Adventure Travel.
At 68, Dave Wardleworth was the oldest member of the Ulladulla National Parks Association walking group to tackle the world’s highest mountain range. Dave and his wife Sheila joined Bob and Celia Black, Peter and Chris Frost, Herbert Frey, Lesley Reddicliff, Chris Huddle, Denise Dent and Sheila Walker for the week-long adventure.
After arriving in Nepal the walkers set out on the first of two treks, a four-day hike through a series of mountain villages.
“We were the first group ever to have completed this new trek,” Sheila Wardleworth said.
“We set off in jeeps but, following recent rain, the track soon became too muddy and a recent landslide made it impassable by car, so we had to get out and walk to the first village with rain pouring down and thunder and lightning all around us – it was very hair-raising for our first day.”
Sheila said the group spent their first night with host families in a village perched on the side of a mountain, before continuing their trek up and down 1000 metre ‘hills’ in the Gurang Ranges for another three days.
“We stayed in mud and stone huts with local families at four mountain villages and trekked in between each day.
“We had to walk four or five hours down a very steep mountain, over a river and back up another mountain – they call them hills – to get from one village to the next,” she said.
The first night they were treated to a cultural dance experience as part of a village festival and enjoyed some locally-made ruksi – a type of millet wine.
“We had a great time,” Sheila said.
“The Nepalese people were so warm and friendly, despite the communication barrier as many did not speak English.”
Dave said the new trek, complete with ten porters and two guides, was designed to bring money into the isolated villages.
“We were really off the beaten tourist track.
“These were agricultural villages growing wonderful produce in terraces on the side of the mountains.
“It was surprising that the villagers had made their own hydro-turbine and solar power system so they had enough electricity to run lights and very basic items.
“It was a whole other world and was just incredible.”
After completing the first trek the group returned to Pokhara for a well earned rest, massage and sight-seeing before setting off on their second adventure.
Base camp at Annapurna Mountain, the world’s tenth highest peak at 8091 metres, was their destination.
It took the group eight days walking through difficult terrain to reach the camp, spending each night in lodges.
“We trekked up to eight hours a day over very steep and challenging terrain, with a lot of steps,” Dave said.
“On the seventh and eight days after reaching base camp at 4150 metres above sea level, were we treated to amazing views of the Himalayas, including the most incredible sunrise at Poon Hill.
“It was mind-blowing, I had to pinch myself to believe I was really there.”
“At that height it was freezing cold and we walked over a glacier and you cold see the water running underneath it, which was stunning,” Sheila said.
It took the group four days to trek back down the mountain to Nyapul.
The group, aged from the late fifties to 68, found the trek a challenge, but agreed it was the walk of a lifetime.
“We all struggled at times, but had each other and our wonderful guides and porters for moral support along the way, and our group leader Lyn was always on hand with encouragement and support.
“There were many times when I thought ‘what the hell am I doing here’.
“But I’m so glad I did it.
“It’s something I’ve always dreamt about but never really thought I would do,” Sheila said.
During the second trek Dave was one of many to suffer with vomiting or diahorea, and he soon became dehydrated and had to be carried by the porters some of the way back down. On the second day of arrival into Nepal the group were treated to a scenic flight over Mount Everest, and after their treks they discovered the Chitwan National Park on the Indian border.
“We went on a jeep safari and to the elephant breeding centre where we went on an elephant safari,” Sheila said.
“It was amazing how close we got to white rhino families, deer and jackals.”
Dave said the traffic in Nepal was chaotic and the current political climate in the region presented some challenges to the tour group.
“At one point our bus was unable to cross through an area, so we had to sit on the roof of a local bus and others went by horse and cart.
“It was pretty frightening, with cars being set on fire, but we soon got used to it and realised these people live this sort of upheaval every day,” he said.
“I now have a great deal of enthusiasm and respect for these wonderful people who never complain and are always happy, despite what’s going on around them,” Sheila added.
The walkers meet regularly and conduct walks and camping trips in the Ulladulla region and often spend weeks away exploring national parks out of the area. This trip was about a year in the planning and is the first overseas adventure for the group. Four members went with Lyn Taylor of Lyn Taylor’s Adventure Travel for an extra fortnight and expected home this week.
“The trip was awesome, but it was such a relief to be home – one thing’s for sure we’ll never look at Pigeon House Mountain the same,” Sheila laughed.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE SOME ADVENTURE IN YOUR LIFE AND THINKING OF VISITING THE HIMALAYAS
WHETHER IT BE NEPAL, BHUTAN OR INDIA THEN VISIT LYN TAYLOR’S ADVENTURE TRAVEL
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