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  • Photo: Eric Hansen

    Early in the trek, Kharkhar (in front), the author, two clients, and Hari ascend stone stairs common throughout the Annapurna trek. Along with walking slowly and resting often, the porters wound back and forth on all stairs, looking for the path within th

    Early in the trek, Kharkhar (in front), the author, two clients, and Hari ascend stone stairs common throughout the Annapurna trek. Along with walking slowly and resting often, the porters wound back and forth on all stairs, looking for the path within the path, taking the smallest steps possible.

  • Photo: Eric Hansen

    The author with a mild load, on what is probably the second day. In other parts of Nepal, porters will carry short t-handled walking sticks. They'll stop every couple minutes for a few seconds rest, supporting their huge baskets on the sticks.

    The author with a mild load, on what is probably the second day. In other parts of Nepal, porters will carry short t-handled walking sticks. They'll stop every couple minutes for a few seconds rest, supporting their huge baskets on the sticks.

  • Photo: Eric Hansen

    Kharkhar (in front), Gopal, and the author at around 7,000 feet heading towards the more than 25,000-foot high Annapurnas early in the trip, still below the snowline.

    Kharkhar (in front), Gopal, and the author at around 7,000 feet heading towards the more than 25,000-foot high Annapurnas early in the trip, still below the snowline.

  • Photo: Eric Hansen

    Leaving a lunch stop. Chinese leader Mountain is in the background.

    Leaving a lunch stop. Chinese leader Mountain is in the background.

  • Photo: Eric Hansen

    Gopal (in front) and Kharkhar.

    Gopal (in front) and Kharkhar.

  • Photo: Eric Hansen

    Hari and two clients taking a break, as the group begins to climb into the snow.

    Hari and two clients taking a break, as the group begins to climb into the snow.

  • Photo: Eric Hansen

    The three porters walk along a rare patch of dry dirt on the second to last day. Much of each night was devoted to drying shoes and socks without infringing on the fires and heaters that are set aside for clients. Usually this meant not drying your sneake

    The three porters walk along a rare patch of dry dirt on the second to last day. Much of each night was devoted to drying shoes and socks without infringing on the fires and heaters that are set aside for clients. Usually this meant not drying your sneakers.

  • Photo: Eric Hansen

    Gopal climbs higher, into the snow. Last winter saw record snowfalls all throughout the Himalaya. Snow fell on the capital, Kathmandu, for the first time in 60 years. Normally this trail is snow-free, even in the dead of winter.

    Gopal climbs higher, into the snow. Last winter saw record snowfalls all throughout the Himalaya. Snow fell on the capital, Kathmandu, for the first time in 60 years. Normally this trail is snow-free, even in the dead of winter.

  • Photo: Eric Hansen

    Kharkhar also climbing higher into the snow, with a rhododendron forest in the background. Himalayan rhododendrons grow to 40-feet and higher.

    Kharkhar also climbing higher into the snow, with a rhododendron forest in the background. Himalayan rhododendrons grow to 40-feet and higher.

  • Photo: Eric Hansen

    Hari, and his inventive carrying method.

    Hari, and his inventive carrying method.

  • Photo: Eric Hansen

    Gopal (left) and Kharkhar stop at one of the many trailside benches for a pinch of chewing tobacco and a rest. "Let's go," Kharkhar would often say. "Short breaks make you strong; long breaks make you lazy."

    Gopal (left) and Kharkhar stop at one of the many trailside benches for a pinch of chewing tobacco and a rest. "Let's go," Kharkhar would often say. "Short breaks make you strong; long breaks make you lazy."

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