Wednesday, March 18, 2009 by Dave Blum

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you couldn’t move forward and you couldn’t go back?  Well try standing on a rickety suspension bridge, 200 feet above an ice-cold river, with a herd of Nepalese oxen bearing down on you!

The year is 1987 and I’m 10 days into my 3-week Himalayan trek around the Anapurnas.  As my fellow hikers (Australians Steve and Laurie, and Americans Julie and Matt) and I round a bluff, we see the rope bridge — an Indiana Jones piece of work with wobbly wooden slats and rocks(!) covering up the numerous gaps and holes.  The bridge looks like it’ll hold us — if we watch our steps and proceed very slowly.  As there’s no other way to cross the river and continue on our path, we’re left with very few options.  It’s either carry on forward or turn back and give up the trek.

One by one, we move onto the bridge, testing the planks with each step and holding tightly to the guide wires.  Our advance scout, Laurie, reaches about midpoint when a look of horror crosses her face; a Sherpa is standing on the other side of the bridge, blithely mushing ahead his herd of 15 oxen!  Forget about turning back — these are big, fast oxen.  They’ll be on us in a second.  We’re going to have to share the bridge with the beasts, and may God only provide room for us all!

To Be Continued…