After seven long weeks in India studying the Jain religion, I escaped to Nepal and into the Himalayas. I completed the Annapurna Circuit solo in August of 2013, trekking 114 miles over the Himalayan plateau, skirting Tibet, and crossing the world's highest pass, Thorung La Pass, at an elevation of 17,768 ft. I was mesmerized by the vastness of a valley and by a thistle in its fold. The journey took me in and out of small Tibetan villages, where I slept in small rooms heated by pipes from the kitchen below. I was exposed to men and women like everywhere else in the world, but was amazed by the simplicity with which they compassed their lives. The journey was only two weeks, but it brought me closer to myself and deeper into the heart of creation. A year after my circuit, a blizzard struck Annapurna, killing 40 people and stranding nearly 350 trekkers. As result, it's far more difficult to get an individual trekker TIMS card, and explorers are now being encouraged to hire porters and guides to circuit in groups.