Running near the roof of the world
The mountains at the top of the world were finally under our feet. After a day in Kathmandu parsing out gear, and a second traversing sketchy, cliff-hugging roadways in our van, the group had departed Besi Sahar for Nayapul, via the traditional Annapurna Loop. We had come together to run and hike 142 miles with nearly 38,000 feet of gain and loss over a 17,728-foot pass situated between Himalayan giants in central Nepal.
The drainages of the fierce Marsyangdi River and the braided Kali Gandaki guided us through the immense landscape past yak herder huts, tea houses, monasteries, and small villages. In between our runs, we stuffed ourselves with dal bhat, fry bread, and in one village, the most spectacular chocolate cake imaginable.
As the days progressed, we found our flow. We became enchanted with the sea of clouds constantly drifting by our route, and our bodies became at ease as we traversed the high-altitude trails. Each day presented itself with a new topography and challenge ranging from a marathon through the humid jungle, a vertical mile descent to a holy spring, or a pre-dawn start to a view of numerous 8,000-meter massifs.
In the end, our group had bonded through solace, challenge, adventure, and inspiration. We hosted a children’s race and fundraiser in Manang along the way and managed to stomach several years, over 100 plates, of French Fries. The mountains let us pass safely as late monsoon snow storms loomed in the high country. Eventually, we all travelled back home to various locations throughout Europe, Asia, and North America.
The “abode of snow” shared a few secrets – hidden waterfalls, ancient landscapes, massive glaciers, and a beautiful culture. We’ll be back.