Drama begins on Day 3 of Nepal’s Gosain Kund trek where razor-sharp peaks drenched in snow spirit in and out of view as an ocean of cottony clouds roll by.

At times it feels like you’re on a jet, soaring through the Himalayas, breathing in the heaven’s thin, dry air.

Each village the trek passes through has a few guesthouses where weary hikers take refuge from the day, huddled around wood-burning stoves, drinking tea, soda and catching up on calories and conversation.

At one point, the subject inevitably migrates to hiking equipment. I’ve always been a “gear head”; a lover of overpriced but super high quality camping equipment. Trekking makes you realize that there is premium price is (partly) justified.

Before leaving Kathmandu I rented an puffy down jacket (at 6’3” the extra large was still too small and I looked like the Michelin Man with gangly arms), bought $3 trekking poles (saved my life) and other miscellaneous gear. Most of it looked legit but were bootleg versions that failed during the trek (ex: the $2 gaiters that failed after 4 days).

Even bootleg hiking boots are available at a fraction of the US price. Luckily I already had shoes and cannot imaging wearing fakes. A good pair of boots makes the difference between dry feet with sturdy grip and slipping down the mountain with cold, wet feet.

Even socks made a difference – especially during the slowly passing frigid nights where morning routines adapt to the frozen buckets of icy water (used for washing and “flushing”).

Trekking requires an appreciation (at the least, tolerance) of nature’s physical and psychological challenges. The rewards of completing the trek are equally profound: the sense of success after overcoming days of mental and physical exhaustion and realizing it wasn’t the thin air that took your breath away but the snowy, Himalayan beauty.