This post was written by Morgan ‘Swix’ Denny, a founder of EcoJaunt.
The Himalayas are not an easy place to get to. It took me and the gals 10 days of straight trekking to reach the highest pass, Thorong La, at 17,769 feet. Before we began our journey into the Annapurna Wilderness, the three of us weighed in our packs: 11 kg, 12 kg, 23 kg…wait, what? The third of our gal-power backpacking crew had a pack that could rival a smokejumper’s in weight--and this was before adding water!
An intervention was necessary. No one wants to ascend a grand total 15,000 feet wearing a tortoise shell weighing in at around 52 lbs. Besides hair product, three tubes of toothpaste, and 19 of each clothing item (ok, now I’m exaggerating), my backpacking buddy had packed
of extra batteries. We managed to thin her pack down to 12 kg under a watchful eye and amidst continuous protests, especially her battery arsenal. Luckily I had two Goal Zero Nomad 7 solar panels and a rechargeable battery pack. Because these can charge anything that has USB chargeability, we were set to power our cameras, flashlights, and SteriPENs using the sun! Ukolo means ‘up’ or ‘to ascend’ in Nepali…and boy did we ever! We climbed the humid, muggy canyons of Nepal’s lower mountain regions. Awake by four every morning, we’d walk a few hours and then stop for tato chia (hot tea) and khaana (food). At this point, the sun would be on its way into the sky and we’d pull out our solar substance and feed whatever electronic devices were hungry. On the trail, the Nomads would be strapped on our packs, collecting juice that would later take our pictures, light our nights, or purify our water. Along the trail, we passed through many mountain villages, reachable only by walking the Annapurna Circuit. Both kids and adults asked us about our solar panels, most of them understanding what they were or quick to comprehend when we said ‘ghaam,’ meaning sun.