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Slide show to trace Nepali journey

When Sandy Fails and Michael Garren traded their air-conditioned Kathmandu hotel for a colorful shanty on the Nepali trekking trail, one point stood out on their map: Thorong-La, called “the highest pass in the world” at almost 18,000 feet.  On day one, they studied their route while sharing breakfast porridge with a red hen roosting at their feet. Over 12 days they would rise more than 15,000 feet in elevation, trekking along the flanks of the four massive Annapurna peaks and other legends of mountaineering lore. After topping Thorong-La, they’d descend into mystical Muktinath, sacred pilgrimage site for Hindus, Buddhists and spiritualists around the world. This wasn’t just a May vacation; it was a physical, cultural and spiritual challenge. Viewers are welcome to share their journey at a free slide show, “Going native in Nepal,” 7 p.m. next Tuesday, August 13, at Crested Butte’s Old Rock Library. “I’d never been tempted to give a presentation about a trip – until we went trekking in Nepal,” Sandy said. “It’s not just another country; it’s another world.” As it turned out, reaching Thorong-La became less the focus of the trek than the wonders they encountered along the way. “Every sense was engaged,” Sandy said, “by the creak of prayer wheels, the spices in each cup of masala tea, the sun lighting up some white-glaciered summit above the green jungle. There were so many details: the tinkling bells of donkey trains, tangy yak cheese, burnt offerings at the Hindu altars.” The Himalayas, by far the highest mountains in the world, were thrust more than 26,000 feet upward by the collision of Eurasia and the Indian subcontinent. The trekkers hiked past tropical waterfalls and giant rhododendrons, up evergreen-forested hillsides, to bare rocky moonscapes. Each region had its own indigenous people, often with distinct clothing, food and spiritual traditions. “Geologically, Nepal is young and rowdy, but there’s an ancient calmness to its culture,” Sandy said. Refreshments, including an American’s best attempt at spiced masala tea, will come with the slide show on Tuesday, August 13, 7 p.m. at the library.

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