Then our guides said we had another three hours to go. Apparently, we were slower than they had expected. Then I realized we would not be able to film them collecting Shilajit today and that we would possibly have to do it tomorrow morning which may mean that we would have to spend another night out there. We hiked some more along the trails. They were very beautiful big mountains with snow on the top. One of the guides pointed to a mountain that was off in the distance and said that was China. We hiked another few hours and got to a house where we would be spending the night. This was about 5:00 PM. I wanted to go and collect the Shilajit that night however they said by the time they hiked their way to the top it would be getting dark and would not be safe for them to do at that time. We would have to go film the collection tomorrow. I then thought I was going to end up spending another day out there. Another delay I became very frustrated and said we must leave at sunrise then to do this because I really wanted to be back at Humla tomorrow, as we would still have to wait another day for the plane to come in. The plane only came in once a day in the morning (or early afternoon). Then hopefully we would be able to get tickets for the return flight. It was one hour from where we were spending the night to where we would collect the Shilajit. I wanted to hike out there with the guides that night and see the spot. Kumar and Ramish stayed behind, as they were exhausted, I think I was running on adrenaline and really wanted to see this and get this over with. I hiked out with the guides. We left the horses there and I'm glad we did because some parts of the trail were so narrow and steep that I do not think the horses could have made it through. We got there and made goodtime (about 1 hour) because hopefully I do not think I slowed them down too much. I saw the mountain cliffs and they were very big. I could not believe that these people would actually hike out there hang from ropes, use a hammer, and chisel to collect this raw material. I went down to the stream for a drink of water. Yes by then I was even drinking the water in the stream, eating all their traditional foods, and trying everything. I had lost my fear of getting any illness or disease at that time. I took some pictures of the mountains and the guides themselves which they seemed to like. We then hiked back to the house where we would stay that night and met the others. Fortunately we were going to be sleeping inside a small room that the bed was actually made of wood planks about one foot wide and they had a piece of foam maybe one-half inch thick over them. The planks look like they had been cut from a tree with a knife. It was not much of a bed and a little more comfortable than the ground but I was happy we had a place to sleep at night indoors. The room was actually made of stones with a straw roof and then sealed with mud. I was told that they had electricity there from nine at night to five in the morning. That night we went downstairs into the main house for dinner. Again, they had brought a chicken with us that they had prepared for us to eat. It was also very skinny and tough. Another free-range chicken. Inside where we ate we sat on the floor, as there was not any furniture just a woven blanket over a dirt floor with a wood burning stove in the center of a room. The house was made out of mud and straw or straw covered by mud we could not see but definitely the outside was made up of dried mud and clay. There was just a little bit of light inside the room from a small light bulb. The people were very nice and again I ate everything that the local people did. I do not even know what it was, but at that point I was hungry and that was the only food we were getting so I gladly ate it. We then went back upstairs and sat around the top for a little bit and then went to sleep. I had become almost used to my demand that we leave at sunrise, turning into 9 AM. They gave us some tea and we got ready to go. The guides got their ropes ready and their straw basket for collecting the Shilajit. They showed me the new rope, which we had given them the money to buy. We then started off on a short hike from there to go to the cliffs where they would climb and collect the raw material it was an easy hike by then only one hour. They started to construct a bridge with some wood planks down over some rocks to try to make it easier for them to cross the river. They took their shoes and socks off and had to stick their feet in the water. It must have been freezing cold water as it came down the hill from melting snow. Once across they hiked across the side of the hill and disappeared up into the mountains. We stayed on the other side, as there was no way I was going to go where they were. It was a long slow process and I began to feel that I was going to spend yet another day out here. I began to see them with the ropes high up on the cliffs walking across searching. I could see them getting close to where the deposits were and they would check a site and move on to another one looking for the best one to get for us. I was surprised that they only used ropes and they had cheap tennis shoes that everyone wore. They looked like deck shoes or vans. No hiking boots no hiking equipment no mountain climbing equipment at all. Just bare hands, cheap tennis shoes and a rope. I was filming them and I was running low on the only film and battery power I ha d left. So I would switch the camera on and off trying to film just the better parts. Then suddenly I was watching and a climber slipped and was hanging suspended by the rope spinning around. I switched the video camera on to film him and hoped for the best. I felt very nervous as I watched him spinning, hanging hundreds of feet in the air. They tried to pull and lift him up the slope to where they were but must have realized he was too heavy or they could not do it. Then they began to lower him. There was a lot of yelling going on, they were very scared, and I was too. They finally lowered him onto the side of the cliff and he collapsed when he hit the side of the mountain and fell into a little crevice where he looked like he was unconscious. He slid down a little bit and his hat fell off falling down the side of the mountain way below him. I was a glad that he had gotten back on the ground safely however he was still on the side of the mountain. Then I called the guides to tell them to stop that was enough it is too dangerous I did not want them to get hurt trying to collect Shilajit for us. However, they disregarded what we said and continued to climb and walk along the side of the mountain and climb up the cliffs until they found a spot that they were happy with and got the raw Shilajit. They loaded the basket with Shilajit and lowered the basket down the cliff. Then they came down themselves. As soon as they were heading down the side of the hill, I suggested we start walking back to the house as I knew they would be able to catch up to us quite easily. And I wanted to make good time and get back home. When we got back to the place we slept our guides asked us for 100 rupees so they could buy some local liquor made with herbs. They said it would give them energy for the hike back along the mountain. As they drank the bottles of herbal liquor, they were also smoking. I learned they were smoking marijuana as it grows wild all over the mountains and they knew how to use it. Our guide was also carrying my backpack the entire trip out there and all the way back. I do not think they were as tired or sore as we were. Even though we rode the horses uphill and they hiked and carried my backpack they were in great shape. They actually ended up buying two bottles of the alcohol and drank it before we left. They also smoked marijuana at that time which I learned they had been doing most of the trip. I could not believe they would be smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol and walking along these narrow trails on the side of the mountain. Even when the trail got to be less than one foot wide they would be helping us and especially Kumar, as he was afraid he was going to pass out. Also, the guides always got a big laugh out of our cameraman Ramish whenever he got on the horse. As he was rather big, just below the waist if you know what I mean in fact his rear end was bigger than the horse’s rear end and the guides were always laughing after they helped them on the horse, it was pretty funny. So we were finally on our way back. I unfortunately was out of film and out of battery power for the camera at that time so I put it in the backpack and let the guide carry it. We took a different route back then we had come. This was okay with me because then we would get to see different scenery and hopefully it would be a shorter route. Basically the trails were very similar in that they were narrow and on the side of mountains and it was anywhere from a couple hundred feet to a couple thousand feet down the edge. The scenery was still incredibly beautiful. We would be walking along the middle of the mountain and there would be some children out there playing in the field as their mothers tended to their crops out there that they were growing. I guess they were pulling weeds and watering and tending to the ground trying to make sure that their crops would grow big. The children always liked to look stop and look at us or me because I was the only American white man there and I was taking video pictures of them. I always liked the way that the children would smile and wave. They were very friendly no matter where they were. We came to a small little place where there were a number of houses together and someone had an apple tree there and one of the guides called out to the house and somebody came out and for a few rupees, less than a dollar, we bought like 20 apples from their Apple tree they just picked. So we sat in the side of the trail eating apples taking a little break. It was close to noon when we actually left from where we stayed the night to start hiking back towards Humla. One part of the hike we went around the corner of the mountain and down a steep trail with water running through it. There was a lot of mud and rocks in the trail that made it very difficult to walk down. Part of the trail was right next to what seemed like it was a vertical edge that went down thousands and thousands of feet and there was a lot of wind blowing up that Cliff. I thought it would be great for someone who would like to go parasailing or hang gliding, but not me. I could not get over how big the mountains where. They were really, really big and I was hiking in them. It was great. Finally we came around the mountain and could see Humla it seemed like I just had to go down one hill and then up the other side to get to Humla. However as soon as we got closer we saw that we had to go around yet another mountain to get there, unfortunately this happened a couple more times. The last part of the trail we were walking uphill and we saw some monkeys on the side of the hill. There were about 10 of them running around. We rode the horses up the hill to some very steep narrow trails and this time I thought I was getting pretty good at riding the horse and the guides apparently did to because they did not lead the horse for me as they did for the others. I could even get on and off pretty good by myself. I still did not like riding the horses though. I always felt a little uncomfortable and nervous. However, at that time we did end up riding over the wooden bridge that went over the river. That was one of the scariest things (next to the plane landing) of the entire trip. Finally we zigzagged up the steepest part of the hill, it must have been 60 degrees or more easily. We finally made it back to the town of Humla. It was about 6PM and would be getting dark soon. So we had made okay time. Of course, if it was not for us the guides could have gone there and back in one day. We got into the town went back to the hotel room had time to unload our stuff change clothes wash up and go down for dinner. I forget what we ate, but whatever they served us tasted very good. I was happy to be there and hoping that we would be able to get tickets for the flight out tomorrow. I asked them if we can get reservations now for the flight tomorrow unfortunately we would not be able to. So I said we need to go down and try to catch the first flight so that then we could fly back to Nepalgunj. From there we had another four-hour drive; hopefully customs would not take three hours to get through this time. We still had to get back to luck now to catch a flight back to Mumbai then we would still be three days late from our original airline reservation. The next morning we got up very early and went down to have some breakfast. Then we went down to what was the airport. It was actually a building with a couple of rooms in it. In one of the small back rooms there was a man with an open notebook in this notebook was where he was writing down the names of people who would be on the flight. I told the guide that if there was not any tickets available to offer somebody who had tickets $100 in addition to the purchase price of the ticket if they would give us their ticket and go on their flight tomorrow so that we could leave that day. Fortunately, we were able to get tickets that day and get on the flight out. The take off was not as bad as I had expected although I was a bit nervous it did not drop and it did not seem too scary. I was very happy to be on my way home finally. We landed at the airport and then had to make our way back to the hotel to meet John and Cher. We had to wait a long time for a taxi there as we tried to call the hotel to have them send a car out to pick us up but it did not come so we ended up hiring another taxi. A three-wheeler with a big trunk on the back. We got to the hotel met John and Cher and told them our story about the trip, the delay, the guy hanging by the rope. We then booked a car to drive us back to Lucknow, India. The drive back was long and customs went okay. At one point, the Customs official was kind of giving us a hard time and we could not tell if he wanted some money or just wanted us to lie about the cameras value. Finally, we made it through without paying him because he was Hussein's friend. After we made it through okay, we bid Hussein farewell on our way to luck now. There were lots of close calls with oncoming traffic and people walking alongside the road everywhere. We ended up seeing what was left of a very bad accident that happened between a big track and a big bus. They had hit head-on probably a few hours before we had gone through. The damaged vehicles were still in the center of the road causing a big traffic jam. We finally made it to luck now and went straight to the airport to see if we could catch a flight to Mumbai that night. Unfortunately, the last flight had just left so we had to stay the night in luck now. We got a nice hotel near the airport went out and had dinner and a couple of beers and talked about our stories. The next day we got up went to the airport got a flight from luck now to Mumbai. We hung out at the airport until the next flight left to Amsterdam. Then a long flight from Amsterdam back to the USA. I will always remember this trip as a high point in my life. Words alone (Especially my writing style) can not convey what we saw and the experience of hiking in the Himalayas.
I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to for taking me on this trip. I still enjoy looking at the videos and pictures from the trip. The memories I have are invaluable and one of the high points in my life. Thank you.