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Local couple shares their trek

Barnstead husband and wife talk about their treks in Nepal

November 23, 2010
BARNSTEAD — For Karlene Normandin and her husband Rich Miller, trekking to Nepal had always been a dream.

In 2005, the couple heard a story on NPR about a local woman leading trips to Nepal, and Normandin decided to meet with Becky Harrison for a cup of tea.

The meeting lasted four hours, and in 2006, Normandin went to Nepal for 10 weeks with Becky.

In 2009, she arranged a trip with her husband, another 10-week trip that would include three different treks.

This story along with pictures was presented during a slide show at the Barnstead Library on Wednesday, Nov. 17. The library was packed with interested audience members of all ages.

Miller told the story of their trip, revealing details along the way. For example, when they arrived overseas they had to exchange 2,000 American dollars for Rupis, which were trading at about 80 to 1.

They would carry this money in their packs throughout the trip, using it to pay the guides along the way and buy goods and services when they needed them.

Miller talked about Nepal, "The Roof of the World," which is about the size of North Carolina, but is more than twice the population.

"They use every inch for something," said Rich about Nepalese people.

On their first trek, they hiked to Bung, where unemployment is 80 percent, they speak 100 different languages and there are 14 different tribes.

The country has 19 percent of its land protected as National Parks, comparable to United States with 22 percent protected.

Normandin talked about the children who start work at a very young age. Most gather wood with large baskets slung over their backs until 10 a.m. when they start school.

Another way that locals make money is to break up huge rocks and pulverize them and turn it into gravel to sell.

Throughout their 10-week adventure, the couple never went a day without treating the water they digested.

The couple trekked to Bung with their guides to give them an opportunity to see their family, which some hadn't seen in more than a year.

Their second trek went through the different tea houses of Nepal, and they finished with a short trek through the Sanctuary Village.

During their trek, they also delivered school supplies including writing tablets and pencils.

At one point on their trip, the couple went eight straight days at an elevation over 5,000 meters.

In between their treks, they had to fly on some pretty old planes.

"It was one of the worst flights I've ever taken in my life," Miller added.

The couple is willing to present their findings and pictures of the slide show to schools and interested groups in the community. If interested, please contact Miller or Normandin at 269-4012.

Tim Croes can be reached at tcroes@salmonpress.com or 569-3126

Varney Smith
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