I laced my boots in my hotel room in Kathmandu, and stood up. My feet felt indestructible. They were rentals from a trekking shop in Thamel, bulky leather constructions that looked antique. This district was popular with trekkers, a labyrinthine beehive of muddy, splashing potholed streets, sleeping cows, Hindu shrines and vegetable carts. As cars, sport bikes and bicycles wriggled past each other, displays of coloured jackets and backpacks faced off against traditional woollen beanies, pashmina scarves, and leather bags. It was 7am, and time to leave. I brought my huge black backpack, only half filled and strapped down absurdly so that it was almost folded in two. It was heavy, but manageable.
The official start of the Langtang trek was the small Himalayan town of Syabrubesi, nine hours from Kathmandu by local bus, overcrowded, smelly and with plenty of roof-riding passengers. Twice we disembarked from the bus and hiked for near an hour to the next bus, in places where catastrophic landslide events had destroyed the road. Boulders from football sized to the size of houses littered the slope. I was with Nava, my guide, a young Nepali man who knew the mountain well, my companion for 8 days.