April 1990: Whatever was brewing in Kathmandu that spring was flying well below the radar. We’d come to hike among the Himalaya, photograph the scenery and experience the mountain cultures as we made our way to the Everest Region.
However Nepal was in the throes of a rapidly degenerating political crisis that no one saw coming; the start of the Nepalese Civil War would take us all by surprise.
At the time, Kathmandu was considered one of the world’s most remote destinations, physically and spiritually. ‘Going to Kathmandu’ was a euphemism for disappearing. Bob Seger and Cat Stevens sang about it but they both got the spelling wrong. Ruled by a king, an absolute monarch, it seemed as if Nepal would be forever anchored in the past. However, winds were blowing, and walls were coming down. Those same winds were about to blow us in; strangers with strange ideas come to see the wonders. Willing to travel, to put up with hardships, and to pay the high cost, two men from the future would arrive from the sky, and like more intrepid explorers before them, were unprepared for what they’d find.
Scrambling to get out of a city that was quickly burning its bridges, our new destination was the Langtang Valley – Nepal’s first National Park. Remote and rarely visited, we were well compensated by the staggering beauty, empty trails, and the cultural isolation as we climbed up into the Langtang Himal.
A massive earthquake in 2015 obliterated much of what we saw there; thousands died or are still unaccounted for. The village of Lang Tang, high up in the valley was swept away with no survivors. While hardly ‘Shangri-La’, we’d spent a long afternoon in the sun and a memorable night in a quiet snowfall. These are haunting memories that darken this journal.
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