In 1972 I dropped out from the University of Sheffield for a couple of years. After a few months of twelve hour shifts as a labourer at British Steel, I had managed to pay off my debts and to save up one hundred pounds (about $250 Canadian at current exchange rates). Fortunately, the money went a little further in those days. I decided, somewhat naively it turned out, that this was sufficient for a trip to Nepal.
By this time, I had read many books on Himalayan expeditions. Despite my passion for climbing, the tales of mountaineers gasping for breath in the thin air of the high mountains, being swept away in avalanches or simply freezing to death, led me to believe that high-altitude mountaineering wouldn't really suit me.
One thing all these expedition books had in common, though, was an introductory chapter describing the approach to the mountain. The descriptions of trekking through the foothills and staying with Nepali villagers along the way were colourful and fascinating. This was something I could do!
So, on a miserable January day in 1973, my worried mother drove me and my small backpack to Blackheath, not far from our home in Greenwich. It was a suitable place to start hitch-hiking. My objective - Nepal - was a secret; I didn't know how far I would get and I didn't want to worry my family unnecessarily.
(And I didn't want to lose face by quitting the trip too early - by keeping my destination vague, I could return from wherever I felt like ;-)