Nepal 2017 – How it Began…

Well, the day has arrived! My dear friend and Jungle Sister (Erin Bean) and I are headed off to Nepal to hike the Annapurna Circuit.

It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to hike in the Himalayas.  Growing up, my grandpa Hal would take me and my cousin hiking all over Washington, and from an early age I had big ambitions.  I wanted to summit all the mountains in Washington, travel the world, hike Everest, do and see it all!  My grandpa planted the seed of adventure early on and my friends and family have been watering it over the years.  In 2016 I wrote down my bucket list of adventures on two chalk boards and placed them in my living room, mainly to keep me inspired and dreaming big.  That Annapurna Circuit was at the top of that list.

How we ended up choosing the Annapurna Circuit, and going together is a rather remarkable story.  This requires a little bit of back history.

In 2012 Erin and I traveled to the Amazon jungle in Peru together for a medical mission trip.  The details of that trip is for another post, but I will say that 10 days completely off the grid in the indigenous lands of the Amazon will create bonds and friendships that run deeper than most.  Tom Clark, our Jungle Dad, lead the trip.  Erin, Stephanie (the other Jungle Sister in our trio) and I were his Jungle daughters and together with his wife, Janet Clark, we were a little Jungle family.  We bonded deeply over countless hours of river time, delirious laughter, serving others, crying together and praying for each other.  After the trip to Peru, we gathered together on a regular basis for trivia, or dinner at our Jungle Parent’s house, or a night of Mexican Train (because Tom and I were NOT competitive or anything… 😉 ).

Things shook up a little my life in 2015 and 2016 and our Jungle family meetings became less frequent with complex schedules and life changes.  Stephanie got married, I got divorced, Erin changed jobs and our Jungle parents’ biological kids were moving and getting married too. Things got busy, but our time together was less frequent.


In October of 2016,  I received the devastating news that Tom had suffered a heart attack riding bike home from work and he had passed away.  I immediately called Erin and we cried on the phone, heartbroken and confused, and we decided to get together to mourn and process what had happened.  It had been over a year since we had gotten together and we were overdue for some sister time.

When Erin came over to my house the first thing she noticed was my bucket list in my living room.

Erin: “Hey, you’re doing the Annapurna Circuit? So am I!”

Me: “Really? Like for real? When are you going?  I already have my tickets purchased.  Who are you going with?”

Erin: “End of March early April. And I think I am going by myself”

Me: “….Me too.”

You see, Erin and I had originally and independently planned to go hike the circuit with other people.  I was going with a friend and had booked the trip back in April of 2016, however plans with her fell through.  Since the flight and the guide was already locked down, I was intending to just go solo. 

Erin had originally planned to go with a friend and things fell through as well.  She had already put in for the time off work for the same time period.  She was going to go solo as well.


We had no idea we were both planning to go.

I have never had such a strong God moment in my life.  We looked at each other and knew that we were supposed to go on this trip together.  This trip was not ours originally, and it still is not ours.  Events like this do not just align by chance.

So here we are.  At the airport waiting for our 13.5 hour flight.  Laughing and filled with anticipation for what is in store for us. We know this is going to be an incredibly adventure and I have never had so much peace going in to such a big trip.


Our guide service has been absolutely incredible leading up to the trip thus far, helping us navigate everything we need and answering all my questions….because I ask all the questions 😉

This will be the trip of the trip of a lifetime, whatever may come of it. 

Our Jungle family may be smaller, but Tom’s adventurous spirit and relentless pursuit of loving others is very much alive and with us.

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3 thoughts on “Nepal 2017 – How it Began…

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  1. Alyson ,
    Thank you for such a touching post and tribute to Tom. You and Erin will be in my prayers continually. You two inspire and amaze me!

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