Sunday, May 1, 2011

Love Story Part 3: How I Almost Got Matt Killed in the Himalayas

If you missed Part 1 of my Love Story, catch up on how Matt and I met in India before reading about our arranged marriage in Part 2

Matt and I continued to travel together throughout India and when we were in Nepal a month later, he somehow managed to convince me to go on a 14 day trek around the Annapurna Circuit. It would be the first time I had ever attempted such a thing and I was a bit hesitant, but I'm so glad I did it! My love of trekking started in the Himalayas! 

But there's something I left out in the original blog post: I almost got Matt killed when we were just about to cross the Thorung La pass! 

And I don't mean killed as in, "Opps, that was a silly mistake that could have cost our lives," but killed as in a group of people were ready to skin Matt alive and leave him for dead along the snowy trail (including me)!

Here's what happened...

The day of crossing Thorung La pass is undoubtedly a tough day. Most trekkers will wake before sunrise to complete the last few hours of uphill trekking to Thorung La in order to make it down into the next village several kilometers away at the bottom of the pass before nightfall. Oh, and this is all done at over 5000 meters above sea level, where the air is very, VERY thin after days of rigorous trekking uphill.

Stunning views of the Himalayas along the Annapurna Circuit

I was seriously struggling up the trail. Although it was quite snowy and windy, all the trekking and carrying my pack was making me very hot and sweaty. I kept stopping to take my gloves, coat, and hat off only to put them back on a few steps ahead. I was also stopping often just to try to catch my breath.

Matt felt the need to capture my difficulties in trekking

Matt fared batter than I did and was trekking further ahead of me to keep his pace and energies up, turning back every so often to shout back his version of encouraging words to me (I just found them thoroughly irritating as I could hardly breath and there he was, far ahead of me and shouting no less). I'd catch up to him minutes later to find him sitting on a rock, waiting (not so patiently I might add) for me. As soon as I sat down, Matt would be up and starting on the trail again as I panted and heaved my lungs out.

"What took you so long?" is NOT encouragement

I continued on the trail and came upon a sharp curve when I was suddenly overtaken by a wind storm that kicked up snow into my eyes and whipped my hair into my face. I was nearly knocked over by the sheer force of the wind and had to stop to catch my breath and gather strength to continue on. 

Matt was ahead and turned back to check on me. Upon seeing me just standing there, hands on knees, he started screaming at me, his words lost in the wind. With no energy or air in my lungs to muster a response, I continued to stand there, struggling for life itself. Matt continued screaming at me to get a move on but I just couldn't.

Matt stomped his way back to me and started to yell at me. "Zip up your coat! Where's your hat? Put on your gloves! You're going to freeze to death!" He tugged me around, pulled my hat from my pack, yanked it onto my head, zipped up my coat, shoved my gloves back onto my hands and when he pulled the bungee cord on my coat's hood to secure it around my head and face, the cord slipped out of his gloved hand and whacked me in the face, right on my frozen lip.

OUCH! I immediately crumbled from the smack of the cord and burst into tears in the snow.

"GET UP! GET UP!" Matt continued to yell at me but I had no more energy. I was still lying in the snow sobbing, ready to die right then and there. "We need to get out of this wind storm! It's freezing! GET UP!"

Still crying and in the snow, I remained limp as a rag doll while Matt lifted me up off the ground and started to drag me along the trail as fast as he could.

Finally, I snapped. Still crying, I pushed Matt away, screaming, "Leave me alone! You're hurting me! You go on by yourself, I'll do this on my own! YOU'RE HURTING ME!"

Just then, out of nowhere because Matt and I had been on our own along the trail for at least two hours by this point, an Israeli girl (fresh out of her military service) came up behind us. Seeing me push Matt off in tears and screaming, "You're hurting me!" must have completely given her the wrong impression. She came up to us, pushed Matt away and shouted, "What are you doing to her?" 

An American couple came up soon after and it all came gushing out of me. "He's dragging me up the trail! I can't breathe! He won't let me rest! I can't breathe!" 

The group all gave Matt menacing looks and formed a protective wall between us. The Israeli girl, very coldly and almost threateningly, told Matt to move along, that they would help me reach the pass. 

Angry, defeated and outnumbered, Matt trudged off towards Thorung La, a few meters ahead, without a word. I just stood there, crying. 

The three turned to me, compassion for the abused girl in their eyes and inquired if I was okay. Whimpering, I nodded and the couple offered to lend me their walking sticks. I said I would be fine and started slowly walking the remainder of the way up to Thorung La.

Bittersweet success

As we made it up to the famed highest point of the Annapurna Circuit, Matt came to me. The three made sure I was going to be okay alone with Matt before they left me, still looking at Matt with daggers in their eyes. 

Matt and I were both still miffed by the incident but posed together for a photo of our "achievement." 

Posing at Thorung La through the tears

"How's your lip? Are you okay?"

"I'm fine."

"I'm sorry, it slipped out of my hand. I didn't mean to hurt you. I was just trying to get you out of the cold."

"I know. I'm sorry I just stood there. I honestly couldn't move."

"I love you."

"I love you, too."

Then we shared a Twix chocolate bar to properly celebrate making it to Thorung La.

Have YOU ever had a fight at the WORST place/time? Did it almost end in murder like mine???

© Connie Hum 2011


  1. Oh dear! If my bf did that to me on a Himalayan trek, I think we'd end up full-on brawling in the snow...a la Dynasty ;)

    I wonder, did the rest of your party eventually warm towards Matt during your trip? Or was he the cartoon villain of the piece?

  2. @Tom Haha, Dynasty! Matt claims we had an awkward dinner that night back at the guesthouse with the three but I think it went fine. Everyone was just beyond exhausted. We never saw those three again.

  3. Oh... I hate it when you tell this story and that you tell it repeatedly!

    You always seem to neglect to mention the sheer gravity of the situation, as in: we were standing exposed, in the beginnings of a storm, up a mountain, in just a JUMPER (sorry US readers, that's a "sweater"), with a gale force wind with a chill factor of -20C! No hat, gloves or coat... phhh

    This story will continue to torment me whenever we go for dinner with strangers, meet your friends and family or just about any nerve racking situation we find ourselves. Named & Shamed!

    Got there in the end though ;) X

  4. @Matt It's a GREAT story! You and I were both just laughing about it last night when I was writing it. And I HAD MY COAT ON! I don't think I neglected to mention the dire conditions of the situation: cold, hard to breath, no energy, wind and snow, STORM, exhaustion... I take full responsibility of my own silly action for not wearing hat, gloves, etc.

    You're just upset because YOU feel named and shamed!

    You love this story, don't pretend like you don't!

  5. Haha, oh men! Sometimes they just don't get ANYTHING!

    Lorenzo and I have some stories like this too and we tend to pick the worst places to get into fights. Nothing quite as extreme as the Himalayas just yet but we have time for that! ;)

  6. @Annie I hope you and Lorenzo make it to the Himalayas together as well, but hopefully you guys will be able to avoid the same fighting fate Matt and I encountered.

    @Miss Britt I agree, the story IS cute! He's just being a big baby! =)

  7. Hi Connie,

    I love the exasperation, danger and tension in this story.
    When's part 4 coming out? If you keep writing this series, you might as well write a travel novel ;)

    - Lily

  8. @Lily (Explore for a Year) Thanks Lily! No idea when Part 4 will come out or what Part 4 even is! =) I just don't think I have the attention span for a travel novel though, haha! But thanks! The suggestion itself if a HUGE compliment!

  9. That is quite the story! Love the drama...and the edge-of-your-seatness of it:) and I am thoroughly enjoying your series...keep 'em coming!

  10. Awww I had SUCH an eerily similar story when I was in Boliva with my ex. I love the way the story ended. :)

  11. @Stephanie-Finding The Freeway That day certainly was filled with drama! Glad to hear you're enjoying the series! I'll try my best to write future parts, but to be honest, the love story gets boring after the Himalayas... HAHA!

    @Andi of My Beautiful Adventures Oh no! Is this a premonition for Matt and I breaking up??? =(

  12. Connie, it's great you two know when to apologize, when to accept an apology and how to move beyond a 'moment' - travel and athletics can create huge frustration buttons that have hair triggers. Kudos for moving beyond it.

  13. Thank you but I think you're giving us too much credit! We may have known how to apologize and accept one during this particular occasion, but I regret to say it's not always this way. But relationships are about learning and growing, right? =)

  14. though it's harsh but it's romantic as well. I'm so admired with your love story. thanks for sharing.


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