Sherli goes trekkingA four-year-old Nepali goes forth to discover Nepal
Sherli Doma Sherpa goes hiking regularly in Shivapuri National Park. She has trekked around Lamjung, explored Parsa district in scorching heat, and decorated houses in Dharan. Last month Sherli went on a seven day trek to Gosaikunda, skipping up the steep slope like a mountain goat in freezing sleet.
Sherli is just four years old. But her travel atlas can make even the grown-ups envious. Parents Anamica Gauchan and Prem Tsering Sherpa have also taken Sherli to Surkhet, Bhojpur, Kaski.
"We wanted her to explore her country’s geographical, social and cultural diversities as much as possible from a young age," says Anamica Gauchan. “She can value her roots, the place she is born in and experience the majestic charm our country can offer.”
Sherli's explorations actually began when she was just five months old, when she joined her mother and father on a work trip to Dhading district.
Living in a nuclear family, the parents knew that it would be just the three of them till she started school. The two adopted the philosophy of exposure and experience as much as possible.
Sherli's travel took a break during the pandemic hit. And even though she started pre-school this year, her parents manage to take her out when they can.
In early March, Prem planned a trip to Gosaikunda with two of their family friends. At the very last minute, it was decided that Anamica and Sherli would join the trip as well. They informed Sherli’s school and went off on a week-long trek.
Though Sherli had traveled to quite a few places, she had never been to such a high altitude. So, unlike the traditional route from Dhunche, the group started their journey from Kutumsang (2,371m) of Sindhupalchok to ensure that she adjusted to the altitude.
“I was a bit worried since it was their first time,” admits Prem. “But she finished the trek without a hitch.”
One complaint she did have was not seeing any red pandas along the way. Her parents had promised red panda sightings, but the only one they saw was on a poster along the way.
When she was not busy matching her steps with the four adults, Sherli played with innkeepers' children along the way, making friends despite the occasional language barrier.
“Snow and eggs,” Sherli says, were her favourite part of the Gosaikunda trip. Throughout the trek, she would fuel up on eggs at the start of the day for the journey up snow-bound trails.
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It had started snowing on the third day at Ghopte (3,430m), giving Sherli the first snowfall of her life. She took it all in her stride in her white sneakers, singing rhymes and eating snacks. Her parents carried her only when the road got too slippery.
“She constantly surprised us,” says Anamica. “She taught us the true meaning of gratitude like when she turned up to the sky and suddenly uttered ‘Thank you God’ in between the trekking days when the weather forecasted rainfall, but turned sunny and bright.”
Trekkers they met on the way often commented how brave the ‘babu’ was. Sherli would promptly correct them: “I am not babu, I am nanu.”
When she is not out and about, just like any other children her age, Sherli spends time doing art, reading and enjoys going to school.
Following the trek, Sherli’s parents have noticed she has become more assertive. ‘Diva meets Dora’ is how her mother Anamica describes her personality. “She has a sense of adventure, is kind and empathetic but knows how to stand up for herself,” she says.
Named after two cultures Sher’pa’ and Thaka’li’, Sherli’s sense of adventure runs in the family. Apart from her own parents who enjoy their time outdoors, her great grandfather was the late Min Bahadur Sherchan, who became the oldest person to climb Mt Everest in 2008, before Japanese climber Yuichiro Muira beat his record.
Her parents want to nurture Sherli’s sense of adventure as much as possible. Next year at age five, the parents want to take her on the Everest Base Camp trek.
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Sahina Shrestha is a journalist interested in digital storytelling, product management, and audience development and engagement. She covers culture, heritage, and social justice. She has a Masters in Journalism from New York University.