Tag Archives: hiking
November 22, 2013

Our Terrifying Yeti (Abominable Snowman) Encounter!

The Yeti or the Abominable Snowman is one of the most famous creatures of cryptozoology, kind of like the Bigfoot of Asia. It is said to inhabit the high Himalayas of Nepal and Tibet, but just like with Bigfoot, most people remain unconvinced of its existence, regarding Yeti stories as simple-minded folklore. A near death encounter with one of these monsters, and a hastily snapped photo of it glaring at us, has led us to conclude otherwise. I imagine this will shake the scientific community to its core!

A photo of us from 10 minutes before the harrowing encounter, back when we were happy campers

A photo of us from 10 minutes before the harrowing encounter, back when we were happy campers

It was day three of our trek of Nepal’s famous Annapurna Circuit. After an hour’s hike out of Pisang and within a hundred meters of the hilltop of Ghyaru (12,100 ft), it happened.

I glanced to my left and was about to turn back when I did a double take. standing fewer than 40 feet away, slightly downhill, and framed in the grandeur of Annapurna 2 (16th tallest mountain in the world at 26,040 ft) was the most fearsome creature I had ever laid eyes on. It stood on two legs like a human and was hunched behind tall grass. I estimated it would be 10-11 feet tall standing fully upright. On its crown it had two thick, curved horns, each about two feet in length. Its finger-length fur was a kind of light brown where it’s hard to know if it was not actually a dirty white. From its massive shoulders I could tell that this predator had the strength to tear a man limb from limb. So far so good. Here’s where it gets weird. Carry AR 15 rifles if possible.

The monster exuded an aura of intense sexuality, and when I saw him cast a lusty gaze towards an unsuspecting Colleen, my instinctive reaction was to step in the way to protect her. But I was so taken aback by the powerful magnetic field of randiness emanating from the beast that I stopped. What if the Yeti swung both ways? Just the thought made me shudder!

After staring down each other for a few seconds, his eyes narrowed on Colleen. He hunched over on all fours, the muscles on his back rippling in preparation for a launch in our direction. I raised my trekking pole for battle – if I was going to die today, I was at the very least taking out one of his eyes with me.  Luckily for us, and not a moment too soon, a herd of two dozen yaks came charging down the path we were on, followed by two shepherds. The beast and I simultaneously looked in their direction and then simultaneously resumed eye contact. Reclusive by nature, he had made up his mind. This hunt would have to be abandoned, or at the very least postponed. He turned ninety degrees to our right and took off with the explosive acceleration of a springbok, effortlessly bounding over boulders and bushes until he was gone, but by then I had been able to snap this picture!

The magnificent beast! (framed in the grandeur of Annapurna II)

The magnificent beast! (framed in the grandeur of Annapurna II)

Here it is! Conclusive proof that the Yeti is real! This will off course not settle the debate on whether it is a ferocious monster or a gentle giant, but one thing is clear – a more handsome creature does not exist on God’s green earth!

Expressing gratitude for making it out alive at stupa in Ghyaru

Expressing gratitude for making it out alive at stupa in Ghyaru

April 19, 2013

Camping Gear Assembled!

Our camping gear

Our camping gear (Colleen’s stuff on left, Mustafa’s on right and tent between backpacks)

I already had camping gear but Colleen didn’t so her stuff is all brand new. While we’re only camping for one of the six weeks we’re on the road, being cold and miserable at night is no way to vacation (As Colleen learned on below-freezing nights at 13,000 ft on the Inca Trail, and will never let me forget!), so our camping equipment is geared towards comfort, especially Colleen’s. Her sleeping bag and pad are both extra plush and roomy and it is evident from the photo that weight and volume were not considerations in their selection – It is strictly for car camping, not hiking. The pad is 25″ wide instead of the normal 20″ and her bag is rated for 25F, 5 degrees below the lowest temperature we expect to encounter.

I have a Big Agnes Lost Ranger bag (down fill, rated for 15F) and Big Agnes Air Core pad which fits in a custom pocket beneath my bag so it’s impossible to roll off at night. I have owned these for several years and love them because they’re warm, roomy and comfortable, yet also light and packable. The inflatable pad gives me 2.5″ separation from the ground and the bag is big enough for me to sleep on my side if I want, which is a must for me because I am a restless sleeper. For me, regular mummy bag = :(

My backpack is a North Face Crestone 65 and Colleen’s is a North Face Terra 55. We wish we both had the dicipline to stay under 45 litres so we could carry our bags on flights, but we’re still relatively inexperienced as backpackers and tend to bring a lot of unnecessary stuff along.

Lastly, our tent is a Mountainsmith Morrison which is a large 2-person tent. Colleen thinks it’s still too small and wishes I’d bought a 3-person, but I couldn’t resist buying it when I saw it on sale for under $100. With a 35 sq ft base and 43″ height, I think it’s plenty big. It’s held up well the few times we’ve used it and it’s light enough to be taken hiking (4 lbs). The only drawback for me has been the smallish vestibules, but they’re not terrible.

March 2, 2008

Pacaya / Diego’s Wedding

Today, we are heading back home to D.C. All in all, I’m looking forward to getting home. I will be facing a tough job market but I’m ready. This morning, Colleen and I had a 1 hour massage session together, which was very relaxing.

Yesterday, we mountain biked all over the city for 4 hours. I bought 2 shirts and 2 Mayan masks. Colleen bought a beautiful jade pendant. Later, we went to Manny’s (my pledge brother from Sigma Chi at Purdue) friend Diego’s wedding. It was very similar to what a US wedding would look like with language being the only major differentiating factor. However, it was held in a beautiful setting, in an outside coutyard with well manicured lawns and fountains. A band played virtually the entire time except during lunch and guests from all age groups danced the day away.

The day before yesterday, Colleen and I climbed Volcan Pacaya, an active volcano closer to Guatemala City. The climb lasted about 2 hours, maybe slightly longer for us because Colleen had trouble climbing the the mounds of solidified lava at the top which was very brittle and unstable and had dangerous jagged edges. However, getting within meters of flowing lava and roasting a marshmallow on glowing magma was very cool. I nearly burned my eyebrows off doing it though! That night we had a fantastic dinner at Cafe Flor. We were seated at an intimate candle-lit table for two by the window and enjoyed some first class Thai food while listening to the piano being played 3 tables away. We were the last people to leave the restaurant that night and had a couple of songs played just for us. The piano player/singer then came to our table and we chatted for a bit while I paid the bill. Just a perfect dinner!