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Interview with the participants of the Great Himalayan Trail 2015

One thing you can boldy say: people of success. There are small and big wins, but this one is definitely classified as a huge one. The Great Himalayan Trail 2015 is another adventure of travellers – Bartosz Malinowski and Joanna Lipowczan, whom we spoke with about this unique journey.

everActive was an official sponsor of this expedition.

Participants of Great Himalayan Trail 2015

everActive.pl: Journey, journey and ….time after the journey. Tired, would you hike another 1700 kilometers.

Bartosz: After 120 days of this expedition we were completely tired, both physically and mentally. We didn’t even have the strength to celebrate the end of this passage. We were absolutely exhausted, although I think that if we had the budget and a few days of rest we would hike another 1700 kilometers trailing the Indian Himalayas. Our hike confined us to the Himalayas of Nepal due to our limited budget, so we could not continue the journey through the rest of the Himalayan countries.

Joanna: Hard to say – immediately after finishing the Nepal section I would not hike another 1700 kilometers. My mentality was prepared for the 1700 kilometers, what was most felt during the last 10 days of the journey. On one hand, the awareness of the fact that we were reaching the end of the journey spoiled us more than it motivated us and towards the end we pretty much forced ourselves to hike. On the other hand, we raced towards the finish line of the expedition. But now, after a few months after the end of the journey, the desire to hike is reoccurring.

everActive.pl: How would you summarize your expedition? Did it end in total success, or not everything did work out as planned?

Bartosz: Yes, I think we can qualify this trip as a success. Although from our point of view this wasn’t a remarkable accomplishment. It is worth emphasizing that before us, no other Pole nor any other European undertook the challenge of conquering the trail without support.

Joanna: I agree with Bartosz. I wouldn’t classify this trip as something more significant, than what it actually was. Even though it was hard and demanding, it was just a trek. From my point of view, we were very lucky – no one was injured, sick or hurt, the weather was nice, so looking at it that way we can talk about success. We didn’t interact with the locals of Himalayas enough, but there wasn’t always the possibility because of time as well as the language barrier.

everActive.pl: Did you have moments where you said to yourselves “I can’t do it, lets go back to our comfortable home”? Tell us your secret for motivation that allowed for you to accomplish this target.

Bartosz: Yes! Of Course! There were a few times, where I said I could not take it anymore and that we had to think hard about stopping the journey. There were multiple times that I had had enough of these mountains and I wanted to return home. Joanna was definitely the biggest motivator of this trip. Without her help I would have given up after 3 weeks.

Joanna: In my opinion, a key part to success was trust and mutual support. There were some arguments, that in combination with fatigue, hunger and stress created a dangerous mix. But conflicts can’t last long when you have such a big distance to conquer. I think the difference of our personalities worked to our advantage – I am calmer, alleviate tougher situations and don’t give into my emotions. However, Bartosz’s decisive personality comes in handy when we needed to act definitely and there wasn’t time for contemplation of multiple options of proceeding.

Nelal residents

everActive.pl: Your expedition started in August 2015 and lasted until January 2016. How did you spend Christmas and New Years? Were the residents of Nepal interested in Polish culture and traditions?

Bartosz: Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Years Eve and New Years Day we spent just like any other  – hiking. Those were the last days of the trip so we pushed on with all of our strength for 12-14 hours a day. As goes for the residents of the Far West of Nepal, which we were undertaking at the time, no one has heard of our holidays. More so, no one has heard of celebrating or greeting the New Year.

Joanna: The only Polish accent of the holidays was overeating to our limits. We just happened to be in a larger, well stocked village so the whole afternoon and evening was spent by loading food into ourselves. The New Years’ madness ended at 20:20, when the power had gone out in the village, but we were completely exhausted after 10 hours of hiking so we didn’t have the strength (or even the possibility) to party.

everActive.pl: In what way did the everActive equipment come in handy in your expedition? At which points did it become crucial? Did our products survive the whole, extremely demanding expedition?

Bartosz: The everActive equipment was both crucial and irreplaceable. We must emphasize that throughout the 120 days of the expedition, only 5 or 6 times had we had access to power. For the 4 months our electronics functioned thanks to everActive rechargeable batteries and charger, and of course thanks to the sun that charged the batteries through our solar panel. The equipment underwent a very long and tough test, but it passed easily!

everActive.pl: Which product did you like the most and proved to be the most useful?

That is a closed chain, and each link is essential and doesn’t work without the other. You can look at it this way:The Sun → solar panel → cables→ charger → rechargeable batteries → flashlight, digital camera. So the answer is quite simple… The most useful was the Sun!

What are your impressions after your return? Crowds of people, media after returning to Poland? You took part in many interviews, you went to festivals. Was the expedition more stessful in comparison to performing in front of such a crowd?

Bartosz: After every long journey the return is hard and painful. You have to get used to our civilization, reality and culture all over again. That isn’t easy. Indeed, after our return we fell into a whirlpool of media – there was a lot of attention around us. There were multiple interviews, performances at festivals, writing reviews, writing books, whilst maintaining a regular job. It was hard to reconcile all of that together. During the trip you are alone with your thoughts, other information does not reach you. Also you are not surrounded by a crowd of people – this is why the Himalayas, or mountains in general guarantee one of a kind freedom that here in the city is very limited.

Joanna: I don’t know if you can compare the expedition directly with public performances. I definitely feel more comfortable in harsh natural conditions than in front of a large audience because I dislike public performances and being in the center of attention. Besides, I’m not sure if I have anything interesting to say. Our account of the trip is basically the struggles of tackling different obstacles or the admiration of the mountains and people. So the story is personal and subjective. Participation in festivals, because of my work schedule, is left to Bartosz so mainly he performs publicly.

everActive.pl: What are your plans for further expeditions? Would you choose and recommend everActive branded products?

Bartosz: We have many plans. We are already planning the next stage of the Great Himalayan Trail in India, Bhutan and Pakistan. Undoubtedly we are looking for funds and sponsors because the journey to Bhutan alone is a cost of 35 thousand PLN per person! I am certain that the everActive equipment will accompany us during our next trip, not only in the Himalayas but also in the Beskids, that are our favorite mountains. We definitely recommend the equipment!

Joanna: This year we are headed for the north of Sweden, to the local long distance trail called “Kungsleden” approximately 440 kilometers long. Firstly, after the Himalayas we were looking for a less demanding trail. Secondly, that trail is less popular and less people hike it. Lastly, we are interested in how the trail looks with the combination of wild nature, ecology and Swedish pragmatism in regard to the organization of the infrastructure of the trail. Our everActive equipment is definitely going to be brought along, as that is another hike without access to power.

everActive.pl: Thank you for the interview.

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