At 7:30 we start off, about two dozen of us, wearing blinkers on our backs to help us keep track of one another and to warn traffic in the dark. It’s the Himalayan Bazaar’s annual New Year’s Eve Gourmet Dinner Trek, led by Bazaar owners Pem Dorjee Sherpa and Heather O’Neal, who run an adventure travel service and decided to bring a small Sherpa adventure to Ann Arbor to celebrate the turning of the year. It’s a great contemplative way to avoid the deadly poles of enforced festivity and alcohol-induced gloom.
We walk south on Main and circle Michigan Stadium. It’s cold, in the low twenties, but we’re moving, and talk and excitement keep the cold at bay. It’s not until our first food stop, when we sit, that the chill begins to seep in. Urban though it may be, you bring food and drink, mountain style, on this trek, for yourself and to share with others. Our leaders carry plates and cups.
It’s a commonplace that walking brings small details into view, but this trek kicks that up a notch. Grateful to begin walking again, we head back north along the path of underground Allen Creek, sticking mostly to streets but passing through some parking lots downtown close to where the creek is buried and where it may emerge again. The plans for making the creek once again into a greenway seem a bit more concrete now, and a reporter from WEMU, tagging along partway, interviews us about the idea.
A group this size offers a decent chance that you’ll know someone else who’s along for the walk, and sure enough I do. A work friend and I chat and hit on an innovative solution to something. I make some new friends, but there’s plenty of time to walk along and think as we eat again in West Park and then make our way through Water Hill, down to N. Main, and across Barton Dam. Our final meal stop at Argo canoe livery is chilly indeed. But contemplation is heightened by a bit of physical discomfort.
Crossing the river again, we wrap up at Kerrytown, whose chime is open to the group. Ringing in the new year, literally, is a bit revelatory–you can sing “Auld Lang Syne” any old time. It was never a New Year’s Eve song anyway, until Guy Lombardo, who had learned it in Scottish bars in southwestern Ontario, made it one.
Pem Dorjee Sherpa has climbed Mount Everest twice, so this is one event that’s not going to be canceled due to bad weather! The previous year’s trek went over to Ypsilanti in bitter cold, and annual trekkers told me that experience had reduced the size of the crowd. The whole trek is about four and a half hours long, and for part of that time you’ll be sitting down. So dress warmly! If I’m in town, I’ll be doing the trek again