Barbarians to fight depression, conquer mountains
DEPRESSION is a real issue for many people and sometimes it can seem like there's no light at the end of the tunnel.
Julie Francis knows all to well, having experienced depression herself and also lost several friends to the 'black dog'.
"Most of us have experienced depression and that kind of thing in the past," she said.
"But this particular year I've lost two close friends to suicide due to depression and mental illness."
In honour of her friends illnesses, and her new-found love of hiking, Ms Francis will be undertaking the gruelling Annapurna Base Camp circuit trek in Nepal.
"Just hearing (my friends') parents' stories, and their families' stories about how they seemed so happy and had the whole world at their feet - outwardly they were really happy," Ms Francis said.
"But inwardly they were really struggling with that battle and they felt no one could help them or no one would take them seriously."
"About 12 months ago I got the bug for hiking and absolutely loved it. When I did my research I stumbled across the Black Dog Institute organising a charity trek.
"Somebody suggested if I was really serious about hiking I should do Nepal because there's a couple of really good circuits there."
The trek can be as long as 230km and reaches elevations of 5416m - higher than Mt Everest Base Camp at 5364m, however not as well known among the general public.
"There's 24 of us.
"We're all strangers pretty much. We have a couple of members from The Black Dog Institute joining us but most of us are just taking on the challenge as a charity cause."
Ms Francis has a $2000 goal for the Institute but believes she may be able to exceed that before they set off in a month's time.
"If I can get over and above that money that would be even better," she said.
According to the Black Dog Institute, one in five Australians are affected by mental illness every year.
One of the most common is depression. It touches people of all ages and from all works of life, and places an enormous burden on individuals, families, workplaces and the health system.
To donate to Ms Francis's cause and follow The Barbarian's journey click here.
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The Barbarian's itinerary:
Annapurna Base Camp Trek 14-30 May 2019
Day 01: Arrival in Kathmandu. Welcome to the country of Mt Everest and Tribhuvan International Airport.
Day 02: Sightseeing and trekking preparation. Including Pashupatinath, Baouddhanath, Boudhanath. Three of the above places are listed under the World Heritage sites by UNESCO.
Day 03: Kathmandu to Pokhara (Drive).
Day 04 Naya Pul and trek to Tikhe Dhunga (1495m).
Day 05 Tihe Dhunga to Ghorepani Trek (2860m) - 6 hrs: Our trekking starts uphill to Ghorepani. The astonishing view of high Himalayas and beautiful landscape is a pleasant experience.
Day 06: Ghorepani to Tadapani Trek (2520m.) 6-7 hrs: We pass through a forest and continue along the river side. For the energetic you will have the opportunity to hike to Poonhill to obtain the photographic scenes of the natural landscape. The mountains are seen glowing while walking through the route to Tadapani.
Day 07: Tadapani to Chhomrong Trek (2020m.) On this day, we have a descending walk to Kemrung Stream. After crossing the forest of rhododendron, we walk towards Chhomrong across Gurung village. Chhomrong offers us the close-up view of Mt. Machhapuchhre (Fishtail), Mt. Annapurna, Virgin Peak and Hiunchuli.
Day 08: Chhomrong to Himalaya Hotel Trek (2850m.) 6 hrs: Today's trekking trail follows Chhomrong River and we start to ascend. On the route, we cross through rhododendron forest and reach Dovan. The picturesque view of the natural beauty follows us while we trek.
Day 09: Himalaya Hotel to MBC Trek (3700m.) Our day's trekking trail heads to Machhapuchhre Base Camp. The route is extremely pleasant with views of the photographic scene of the landscape and snow-capped mountains.
Day 10: MBC to Annapurna Base Camp trek (4130m.) the trekking trail continues to Annapurna Base Camp. The area is known as Annapurna Sanctuary which is covered with lofty mountains. The area gives an astonishing view of Annapurna I, Annapurna South and Barah Shikhar.
Day 11: Annapurna Base Camp to Bamboo Trek (2300m.) 6hrs: Today our trek is return back from Annapurna Base camp to Bamboo. Trekking at Annapurna South and high Himalayan peaks makes most trekkers want to spend more time at base camp, where you feel intoxicated with the beauty of nature. We enjoy pleasant walking through forests and passing though some villages.
Day 12 Bamboo to Jhinu Danda Trek (1780m) 5 hrs: Our trek today is to Jhinu Dandu. The trek is descending from Jhinu Dandu which is hardly noticeable while enjoying the scenic beauty. The panoramic views are impressive, and the highlight of today is watching the sunset over the mountains.
Day 13 Jhinu Danda to Nayapul Trek and drive back to Pokhara: Final day of our trek. We trek to Nayapul from Jhinu Danda and end our trek here.
Day 14 Drive back to Kathmandu.