Bridges I Have Crossed
"Bridges I Have Crossed" was my first ever attempt at a travel journal. A short story of only 9,000 words written in mid-2010, and first published as a photobook, it details my original journey to the Himalayas, something I would come to do several times over.
This trip comes a very close second to my 2015 Camino in terms of personal significance.
I don’t recall exactly when I became interested in going to Nepal. It would have been many years ago. I do recall that I wanted to climb to Everest Base Camp.
My interest was further piqued when I attended a dinner and information session held in October 2007 by World Expeditions, with a special presentation by photographer Richard I’Anson. Held at the now closed Annapurna Cafe in Subiaco, Perth, the slide show and discussion by Richard only added fuel to my desire, which was certainly not dampened by the images in his stunning book “Nepal”, which he had only just published.
Fast forward a couple of years to mid 2009. I had decided that early 2010 would be the time for me to do that long awaited Everest Base Camp trek. Searching the World Expeditions website one day I chanced upon their Ama Dablam Everest Trek with Lincoln Hall. Suddenly, the old plans were out the window. Here was an opportunity too good to miss. Bookings were made, old gear was dusted off and new gear purchased, fitness regimes created. I was on my way!
In late February 2010, shortly before my departure to Nepal, when saying farewell to me, my business colleague Peter Forbes said to me words to the effect of “you’ll come back changed”, meaning, I think, that something profound or fundamental would occur as a result of my travels. I recall replying that this may occur, although I did not go seeking change, only adventure and new experiences. It seems that in at least one regard Peter was correct.
The title of this book is both a literal and metaphorical reflection of the changes which I think have occurred. The literal is in respect of the fears I have had to overcome, or at least acknowledge and attempt to put to one side, as I crossed the many suspension bridges which stood in my path (and indeed as I traversed some very narrow Yak trails around the sides of steep mountains). For my fear of heights, especially when coupled with moveable or non-solid structures, is something which I have known for most of my years.
The metaphorical meaning is deeper. Those who know me well will know that my preference at a personal level is to interact with people on a one-to-one basis, or in small groups, rather than to throw myself into large groups of people who I have never met before. Such latter situations bring out my natural shyness, and so taking myself to the other side of the world, to spend 2½ weeks with a group of people I have never met before, is an act well outside my usual comfort zone, no matter how otherwise adventurous the enterprise is. To this end the book’s title aims to reflect this, and in places with its contents capturing elements of my inner-most thoughts as I trudged along, far away from the comforts of home and the company of my wife and soul-mate Janet, to whom this book is dedicated. So in this regard this is a deeply personal book, and I ask you to read it in that light.
And it is more than that. A group of sixteen quite different people from around Australia were (voluntarily) thrown together in a spirit of adventure, each to undertake a journey of their own motivation, with most, by their own admission, encouraged in part by the presence of mountaineer and Everest summiteer Lincoln Hall. In this regard this book is a record of this adventure - a physically and at times mentally challenging journey to one of the most beautiful places in the world.
The photographs within cannot do justice to the beauty of the Himalayan mountains, valleys, streams, forests, birds and animals, nor can they capture more than a fleeting glimpse of the nature and friendliness of the Nepalese people who we met and at various times looked after us. The photographs also only record that which can be captured by our sense of sight. The sounds, smells, tastes and feel of the region are missing from the photos, although I have attempted to capture some of these in words.
Even with those limitations I hope that this book delivers to you some sense of this amazing trip. The book contains a record of each day’s travels, and extracts from my daily diary where I think that that would add substance, and separate sections on the bridges, Lincoln, and the support crew, without whom I could not have achieved what I did.
I hope that you enjoy this book in all its elements.
Images: L to R from top:
Up close and personal with Ama Dablam, taken from 5,000 metres, near Advanced Base Camp;
Stupa near Namche Bazaar;
Budddha at entrance to Sagarmāthā (Mt Everest) National Park;
Yak train in Dingboche;
Campsite under Ama Dablam;
Hillary memorial at Khunde Peak above Namche Bazaar, with Sagarmāthā and Ama Dablam in the background;