GHT Blog

Going the distance – Trekking the full Great Himalaya Trails

March 28, 2017

Full Great Himalaya Trails

Remember Appalachian Trail Girl?

(The girl behind the pseudonym is American solo trekker Megan Maxwell. In 2015 she spent three months trekking in Nepal, impressively covering the Annapurna Circuit, Everest Base Camp AND Langtang’s Gosaikunda trek during her visit. In between waves of travel envy the GHT shared highlights from her trip on Facebook and Instagram).

Now she’s back, with an even bigger challenge ahead. Together with partner in climb, Buckey, Megan will spend the next five months trekking the full Great Himalaya Trails. Their journey along the length of Nepal, a distance of roughly 1700km, will follow the high altitude trekking routes from Kanchenjunga in the East to Humla in the West.

Along the way they will share their experience on Instagram through the GHT hashtag: #MyGHT. We are also thrilled to have Megan guest Instagram during portions of the trek, so be sure to follow us at @GreatHimalayaTrails to catch her updates.

Before Megan and Buckey hit the trails we caught up with them to hear more about their expectations for the long journey ahead.

GHT: What made you decide to trek the full Great Himalaya Trails?

Megan: I heard about the GHT during my trip to Nepal in 2015, and it has been on my mind ever since. I absolutely loved my time in Nepal, mostly because of the people I met and the experience of being in the Himalayas. Last time I visited the popular trekking regions, Annapurna and Everest. This time I want to see more remote regions of Nepal and get away from the typical tourist experience. The appeal of doing the GHT is being able to walk across Nepal in one continuous journey.

Buckey: Nepal is a place I’ve always wanted to go. The GHT will give me a chance to dive head-first into a different culture with amazing views and interesting animals, diverse terrain, and a number of things that will be unexpected.

GHT: What is it about long distance trekking that appeals to you?

Megan: I enjoy the freedom of carrying everything I need for months of wilderness travel in my pack. I appreciate the simplistic nature of living that comes with through routes. I like walking all day long, having snack breaks with mountain views, getting my water from streams, setting up camp and sleeping in my tent under the stars every night. Then I wake up and do it again the next day, and the day after, and every day for months.

I also like the challenges that come with long distance hiking. Sometimes it rains for days or I get snowed on. Things get hard and I question why I even wanted to do the hike to begin with. Sometimes it feels like I’ve been walking forever and I still have so far to go. Then I keep hiking, and I feel accomplished for pushing through the discomfort. My personal rule for long trails is to never quit on a bad day.

GHT: How does trekking in Nepal compare to back home?

Megan: It’s so different than hiking in the United States. The guest house system is a stand out for me because we don’t have them at home. I love how affordable it is to stay at guest houses, get hot meals, sleep in beds, and have a convenient location to meet locals and fellow trekkers. The GHT will be a mix of guest houses and camping, and I’m excited to experience both. I also like the slow acclimatization process and how drastically the landscape changes from low elevations to high elevations. Nepal has a lot to offer in the way of scenery.

GHT: What will your trekking schedule be like?

Megan: We’re starting mid-March and giving ourselves five months, although it might take us a shorter amount of time than that. We’re giving ourselves five months because we want to be flexible with our schedule, both for when things go wrong and for when we’re having fun and want to spend extra time in places we like. We’re planning on starting in the east and heading west.

GHT: Which GHT region are you most excited to explore?

Megan: I’m looking forward to Dolpa the most. Last time I was in Nepal, locals kept referring to Dolpa as “the real Nepal.” I have been wanting to go ever since. Part of the appeal for me is that hardly any visitors make it out that way. I think it will be a unique experience to get out of the comfort bubble of seeing places that lots of tourists have been to.

Buckey: I’m mostly excited for any remote part of the trek. I’ve read a bit about Dopla and the possibility of seeing wildlife. The remote nature of that section appeals to the adventurer in me.

GHT: What do you expect will be your biggest challenges?

Megan: I think logistics will be a big challenge for us. We will keep resupplies of food in Kathmandu, and make several trips back along the way to organize permits and get more food. Figuring out how much food to bring along is a challenge as well because we will be staying in guest houses sometimes and camping sometimes. It’s also difficult to tell how long it will take us to hike sections, as the high altitude will slow us down.

Buckey: Being exposed to a new culture while simultaneously committing to hiking every day will be a new challenge for me. I’m excited for all the challenges Nepal brings.

GHT: What are the 3 things you wouldn’t hit the trails without?

Megan: This is tough one because I’m so practical with my gear choices. Everything I put in my pack is highly intentional and necessary. If I had to pick I would say:
1) My Feathered Friends down sleeping bag because sleeping comfortably is so important to me.
2) Maps of the region I’m in because I constantly check them all day long and like to know exactly where I am.
3) My journal because I’m a writer and documenting my journey is important to me.

1) Sleeping bag: Having something warm to get into at the end of the night is always something to look forward to.
2) Knife: Having a sturdy knife can come in handy anytime you are in the wilderness.
3) Compass and GPS: Along with a map these can be priceless throughout any long hike. Navigation is a daily task and being prepared will hopefully set us up for success.

We look forward to following Megan and Buckey’s epic journey along the Great Himalaya Trails over the next couple of months. Both Megan and Buckey will be sharing their adventures on their own Instagram accounts: @AppalachianTrailGirl and @buckeybiesak. You can also catch regular dispatches from Megan’s blog: Appalachian Trail Girl.

Happy Trails Megan and Buckey!

(Photo Credit: All photos by Megan Maxwell via Instagram @AppalachianTrailGirl)

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