Among the Clouds

A Journey to the Australian Camp Behind the Mighty Himalaya

Yak Kharka - High camp © Michael Littlewood
Yak Kharka - High camp © Michael Littlewood
21 NOV 2014
by

The Journey

Have you ever fallen in love with a journey? I did. My journey to the Australian Camp (Nepal) is one of the best memories I can conjure in my jingling life. You might ask why my life is jingling? I have two arguments to support this statement. Firstly, I can literally hear the resonance of life, always whispering to me. Secondly, just like the Christmas ring-bell which continues jingling on the eve of the celebration, my life is so eventful, that every moment is like a ringing of a bell. Travelling always has been a way of self-discovery for me.

It was my first trip to Nepal and had a fresh firsthand experience with trekking. We started our expedition from Kathmandu and after taking a bypass from Pokhara City, we left our van. Destination points were divided into two sections. We had to reach the Annapurna Conservation Area first which was about 1869 meters above the level of the sea; from there, a day long trek of about 2000 meters was to take us to the final point - the Australian Camp. My tales of trekking would not fit into two or three lines were I to start writing about it. I would just say it was a journey that made me to grow into a strong and confident woman; a journey which taught me to never to give up and at the same time, to let go, a journey that made me fall in love, all at once.

We reached Annapurna Conservation Area after three and a half hours of trekking from our starting point and after spending a night there, we took a direct trail to the Australian camp the following morning. Do you know one amazing fact about trekking? It is that even if you trek days after days, months after months, each and every day will be a new tale revealing a bunch of new experiences, discovering your newer and better self within you with every step you take. That is what trekking is.

It is not a mere walk - it is poetry. Every time you read, you find a different elucidation. After eight long hours of amusement and difficulties, when we first set our feet on the peak of the Australian Camp, the daylight began to descend from the middle of sky.

The Australian Camp

At first glance it seemed like a place of fairy tales. I could not catch my breath because of the excitement, seeing the clouds beneath my feet, I was literally living among them, so close to the sky! And the majestic, mighty Himalaya was just behind us!

The camp was established by some Australians, who found it hiker-friendly and fairly easy trek at the beautiful foothills of the Annapurna. Through the whole journey you would enjoy the ravishing view over the valleys and the breathtaking sight of the Annapurna Mountain range.

We had to walk through dense forests, along the hillsides and through mountain villages, where we stopped for lunch or tea. And there it was, one of the most unexpected dreams of my life just came true, just like that. Though I was in a fair amount of pain, because during the trek I successfully managed to get two blisters on my feet, the impact of my surroundings eventually reduced my physical agony through mental serenity.

It was just the beginning of the afternoon, when the shiny glimpse of the paled, yellowish sunbeams tried to pierce through the thick clouds; sometimes it made a bright appearance, sometimes it just disappeared leaving the atmosphere suddenly gloomy with the shade of deep blue with a slight tint of purple.

You know the most amazing fact about the height? Though it might scare the hell out of you, you would never get bored. I could spend the whole day and night holding up an aromatic cup of coffee, its smoke rising forever, taking little sips and watching those dazzling turnings of colors and shades, and clouds, and deep white snow, the absolute calm around me with a slight feeling of excitement. The Australian Camp was a place the likes of which I have never been to, and truly, it made me amazed to see how this world is full of surprises.

This journey made me fall in love with roads, with the small pebbles I have passed by, with the murmuring of leaves I heard, with cold winter breeze that listened to my whispering and shared the journey with me, and above all, I had totally fallen in love with this journey, and everything about it.

Night Stay in Lodges

Those little lodges were our home. Two small beds with two pieces of warm blankets, one table, and one toilet with a hot shower, what else would you need? A traveler finds peace in traveling, whether it is a good one or a bad one, with facilities, or without, in the end it is always about the experience you had.

We passed two nights in the lodge of the Australian Camp. It was rather fun when it was raining hard, and we played cards together. We did not get any electricity after 10pm, or any Wi-FI. Everything was shut down before the clock would hit 10 at night and we were back to the primitive age. Chargers and torches were our last resorts, which we used very fruitfully!

Most Magical Morning View

The following morning brought the best package of surprise for all of us. It was still cloudy when we woke up. Slowly, the sunbeams came through, piercing the thick, foggy clouds around us and I experienced the most magical moment of my entire life. It was the Himalaya! The gorgeous Himalaya floating around us, proudly; welcoming the first sunshine of the dawn. It left us all speechless. The reflection of every sunbeam glowed like diamonds on the vivid white snow of the mountains. I am not a morning person, but if I had a chance to live in a place like this, I would have waked up every morning just to see the magnificent beauty of the Himalaya.

“Somewhere over the rainbow,
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true”
Lyman Frank Baum

Indeed, this one journey has taught me a lot. It has brought out those dormant fragments of dreams I used to have within the deepest part of my heart. Australian Camp, I might yet visit you again.