‘Getting High–The Annapurna Circuit in Nepal’ is Selling Well. The Question is: Why?
“In some basic respects, Sherpas are simply different from your average mortal.”
“I was a fish out of water in this land of cold, altitude, and rushing water.”
These are two sample quotes from my most recent outdoor adventure narrative, ‘Getting High–The Annapurna Circuit in Nepal’. The principal message I am trying to convey is simply that life at high elevations in the Himalayas is different. The people, the geography, the food, the living conditions, are different from the bourgeouise life that most of us live in the so-called developed countries. And that is why I chose to go to Nepal in the first place.
The question that led my there was, “Hey, if I want to see the Himalayas in an authentic way, what is the best way to do it?” I had been asking that question while hiking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Europe. And that was the right place to ask it, because I would see that trekking in the Himalayas is dominated by Europeans of all stripes. And I had long since learned that the best place for new hiking ideas came while on hiking trails. I had learned about the Pacific Crest Trail while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, and the Camino de Santiago while thru-hiking the PCT. The mortals who populate these renowned footpaths fit into the category of like-minded souls looking for challenges and self-actualization.
“The Annapurna Circuit in Nepal is where you want to go,” many Camino pilgrims had assured me. “You get way up there, but never have to do any technical climbing.” I wasn’t exactly sure what technical climbing was at the time. But now I know–ropes, crampons, axes, etc. No, I didn’t have any knowledge of that, nor any real intention of learning. I was simply a middle-aged person of average abilities, but with above-average determination. I wanted to experience the Himalayas as much as possible, without seriously risking my life. The Annapurna Circuit was perfect for me. In fact, a lot of other people have obviously come to the same conclusion as this circuit is now the most popular footpath in Asia. And the number of trekkers was up 30% in 2012, from 2011.
I highly recommend this three week trek (Hey, you don’t have to quit your job–or family!–as is the case with an Appalachian Trail or PCT thru-hike. It’s plenty doable, although caution is highly advised. You do make it to 17,768 feet, which is as high as an average person like myself is likely to ever go. At heart, most humans seem to have a risk gene embedded somewhere within. I have honestly been surprised at the interest I have gotten since I began writing outdoor narratives, and it comes from the unlikeliest quarters. In the case of this latest narrative, ‘Getting High’, I had expected only a smattering of customers, mostly people who had read my prior books or trekkers planning to walk the Annapurna Circuit themselves. However, the sales have been sustained in the six months this book has been out.
Human societies are, for the most part, organized in a sedentary fashion. The unstated rationale behind most of our societal structures is to diminish the amount of physical effort necesitated. However, deep down within our beings lies a dormant gene. We want to move. We want to exert. It is probably no coincidence that wanderer societies, from the Aborigines, to the Bedouins, to the Kurds, have tended to be the most peaceful and contented.
No, walking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal (nor the Appalachian Trail, nor Pacific Crest Trail) would not fall into the category of the explorers of yore (Columbus, Magellan, Lewis and Clark, etc.). However this Circuit does offer the average person an ample taste of exhilirating adventure that I am truly grateful for. You can’t imagine two more different places than the United States and Nepal. But the more assimilation between the two societies, the better off both peoples will be.
Bill Walker is the author of Getting High–The Annapurna Circuit in Nepal. He is also the author of Skywalker–Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail, Skywalker–Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail, and The Best Way–El Camino de Santiago.