In Octber of 2011 I was leading a trek in Humla and Limi. An off-the-beaten-track part of Nepal, up in the far left hand corner. The trip had gone well, but it had been relatively tough. Near the end of a trek a heady mixture of relief, fresh oxygen and the first coffee for weeks led to a restless night. Ideas swirled through my wired brain, but one of them in particular kept nagging away at the edges of my thoughts: What is it like to work as a porter? I got on with my life, but that thought regularly kept resurfacing. Skip forwards to summer of 2013 and I started to put the plans in place to actually make the mad dream happen.
In February of this year I came second in the Royal Geographical Society/Radio 4 Journey of a Lifetime award. Second out of two in the last round, or last if you would prefer to call it; close, but no cigar (the number had been whittled down from 130, so I shouldn't have felt too bad, but I did: I was gutted). If I had won the award then I would have received a £5000 grant for I Porter which would have gone a long way to covering my expenses for the project. The profile on Radio 4 and through the RGS wouldn't have been too bad either.
So with less than six weeks to go I had to come up with a new Plan A. I know, I thought, I'll try and raise the monies through a crowd-funding site called Kickstarter. I worked out a budget of what I might need, then hacked it back a few times from my original figure of £7500 to £3950. I thought that it would be hard enough to try and raise that within 30 days without putting too stress on myself to reach the higher goal. With Kickstarter it is all or nothing: get the whole amout pledged by backers, or you get nothing.
I left for Nepal before the end of the campaign, but was as happy as a happy thing to hear that I had surpassed my target and reached just a shade over £5000. To all of you who helped, I thank you:
Mary Morrell, Harriet Fraser, Michael Dickinson, Marisa Dickinson, Jorrit Jorritsma, Steve Olson, Roger Elmer, Kitty Hagenbach, Lone Andersen, Ade Summers, Jane Howard, Venetia Simmonds, Steve Messam, David Penn, Ruth Fraser, Al Donatio, Nicola Helliwell, Leo Houlding, Peter Thompson, Luis Baia, Govinda, Rowena Mitchell, Karl farkas, Karen McCabe, Alex Jacob-Whitworth, Catherine Gale, Josh Kinnersley, Jonathan Porrette, The Mountain Company (Roland Hunter), Colin Dingwall, Harold Smith, Susan Fraser, Willie Stark, Maxime Kinet (via Ben), CMA Solicitors (Darin Millar), Suchit Patel, Rachel Rees, Denise Prior, Mark Holder, Sally Fraser, Rodney Mann, Sarah L Thompson, Christina Dudzinska, Susan Allen, Rebecca davie Thornhill, Dorcas Podger.
I left for Nepal on April 7th. Landed in the evening of the 8th. Awoke at 4am to then start a 13 hour jeep ride to Paphlu. It was all a bit too, er....fast for my usual liking. The adventure went from there.
I posted updates via Kickstarter to all my wonderful backers, which gave a good account of what I felt at the time.
Follow the link from here to see how I got on along the way. THE STORY
(Note that is opens to the most recent post. Please scroll through to get the full flavour of my highs and lows along the trail.)
Well, I came back alive and on reflection I reckon that I had an amazing time, an amazing experience. I will be sharing what I have learned, in whatever way posibble, over the coming months.
And I'm already dreaming up my next journey of a lifetime.