The mission began with a crazy joke by my fiancée, Nicole, when we were brainstorming where to take our pre-wedding photos.
She said, "Let's go up to the Himalayas, then it will be unique!".
I answered "Let's make the joke come true, what say you?"
Next day, we bought our air tickets to Kathmandu, Nepal. Then, we started our meticulous research and planning for the trip.
We decided to trek to Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) which lies at an altitude of around 4000m. This is a section of the Himalayas which is home to Annapurna 1, a peak which is 8,091m high, the tenth highest mountain in the world. In addition to this magnificent beast of a mountain, the region has 13 peaks over 7,000m.
The mission was slated for approximately 14 days, including seven days trekking to ABC from Pokhara, two days for shooting and five days back to Pokhara.
We planned to shoot the pre-wedding photos ourselves while hiring a porter to help with our luggage.
Six months of planning involved figuring out the wedding gown, make-up, hairstyle, photography methods, trek guidance, various modes of transport, accommodations, weather conditions and safety precautions.
We didn't dare underestimate the difficulty of this mission, especially since we were not hardcore trekkers or atheletes. In fact, this was the first trek in our lives!
We were so excited yet full of doubts until the day of departure.
"Hope for the best, plan for the worst" was our motto.
Roller coaster ride
We arrived at Kathmandu and travelled to Pokhara by bus to begin our trek the next day.
On average, we would be trekking for six or seven hours per day. Luckily, there were many little lodges along the way to stop by for lunch, dinner or to stay overnight.
Surprisingly, meat is prohibited after some point in the trek due to the belief of the ancient Himalayan gods, so we were eating vegetarian food for much of the journey.
The first two days were fine because we were psychologically ready for the long walk and the steps.
Every day, the trail was like a roller coaster, we went up the top of a ridge, then down to the bottom of a valley to cross a suspension bridge, only to climb yet another ridge.
The same journey was repeated many times, with descents as tiring as ascents.
On the third and fourth days, the weather turned bad after noon time with rain, snow and even hail. The temperature plunged down to 5°C or even 0°C.
There were many steep slopes and we were exhausted due to minor altitude sickness.