Big skies and golden eagles aside, without the training even Nepal’s ‘easiest’ hike is a challenge. But the mountains still work their magic on our writer
On the second morning of our trek up Poon Hill, in a clearing in a rhododendron forest, my friend Ali and I stopped for a breather. Rarely has the word been more apt. I had to speak through my panting breaths. I thought of those messenger boys sent to deliver news of ancient battles. Cannae, perhaps, as in “Cannae go on.”
Our guide, Arjun, rested against a rock. I thought I saw him roll his eyes. Above us, the white crests of the Annapurna range glowed in clear autumn light. A golden eagle hung still in the air off the shoulder of the hill, surveying the dark green valleys that sloped off massively in every direction. Below us the thin forest gave way to junglier foliage and then, below, to terraced farms and villages and then to raging rivers. Water, I thought. That would be nice. After a while Ali spoke: “We are the fattest people on the mountain,” he said.