7 Ways to Trek Like a Supermodel

Gemma Ward on VogueImagine hiking with a Vogue cover girl and not realizing it.

As if our trek around the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal wasn’t interesting enough, we accomplished it with Australian supermodel Gemma Ward close at hand most of the way.

Unfortunately, the rumors regarding Gemma’s identity didn’t begin circulating until the final days of the trek. “I think she’s a model. I’m sure I’ve seen her on Fashion TV,” echoed among the young Israelis – fresh from military service – trekking with us. [Aside: Fashion TV piped into Israeli military barracks?!]

And we only truly believed them when we connected to the internet and found the photo above. By then it was too late to play alpine paparazzi. But we did get a peek.

The prevailing supermodel image is one of air-walking stick-thinness and a perfect runway hip sway. However, our first glimpse of Gemma on the second day of our trek was anything but all that. She appeared rather – um – sturdy, and laden – huffing and puffing, red-faced, her camera dangling from her neck as she tried to keep pace with her guide.

In other words, she was quite like the rest of us.

Gemma Ward on the CatwalkTrekking is a great equalizer between mortals like us and supermodels like Gemma. We shared the same outhouses (Dan literally ran into her on two occasions), slept in the same bug-ridden lodges, ate the same repetitive food (although she did splurge for yak curry when the rest of us were too cheap), experienced the same altitude anxieties and faced the same prospect of being trampled by yaks.

However, brutal standards apply when you grace the cover of Vogue and the catwalks of Fashion TV. You are public domain – for better and for worse – and speculation begins immediately. Fortunately, Gemma was never within earshot of the bruising traveler buzz:

“Maybe she fell off the catwalk.”

“A hand model, perhaps?”

But we digress.

The Seven Step Plan to Trek Like a Supermodel

There were a few things about Gemma that set her apart from the other trekkers cutting their way through the Himalayas. Whether you are a supermodel or just want to trek like one, here’s how:

Gemma Ward on Czech Vogue1. Grow a large head – not figuratively, but literally. The significance of this feature hadn’t occurred to us until we related this story to a friend knowledgeable in the business of entertainment and television.

“You know, we hiked with a supermodel around the Annapurna Circuit.”

“Did she have a big head? All famous people have big heads,” he responded without skipping a beat.

To answer that question, we relay the words from one of our fellow trekkers: “She’s got a hu-uge head. Head like a yak.”

Then, as if to redeem himself. “Oh, but she’s got GREAT lips,” he gushed with upturned eyes, as if imagining an alpine interlude with the woman of his dreams (see #7).

2. Make sure that every day is a good hair day, even days with cold (or no) showers at 5000 meters (16,000 feet). Ensure that your blond tresses fall from your woolen cap a la Rapunzel as you doff it.

Trek Like a Supermodel3. Decide you want to learn to play guitar while trekking and have your guide carry your acoustic guitar up and over a 5,416 meter/17,700 foot mountain pass. Make sure you know how to play absolutely nothing and spend 5-10 minutes plunking around a new chord after each meal.
If you really want to stand out: Next mountain climb, take a tuba.

4. Trek with a guy in a Rastafarian cap who carries his own pack and desperately seeks to look like Johnny Depp. Rasta Depp didn’t share a room with Gemma, so no romance rumors here (now that would really boost our readership!). Other speculation heard on the trail: he was Heath Ledger’s brother, even though the web confirmed later that Heath didn’t even have a brother. Perhaps Rasta Depp was Gemma’s personal stylist. See #2 above.

5. Hire a porter to carry two fully stuffed body-sized waterproof bags and be mysterious regarding their contents. Audrey innocently thought that perhaps they contained materials for anthropological or scientific research and inquired as to the bags’ contents. Gemma’s dismissive response: “Stuff.”
Our take? Hair care products!

6. Drink bottled mineral water at 5,000 meters. For our porter, this was the clincher that classified her as famous. While the rest of us disinfected the local water with iodine tablets or chlorine drops, Gemma quaffed her small bottles of mineral water at $5 a pop.
Did we mention that mineral water is good for your hair?

7. Ensure that your presence transforms male trekkers into adolescents. The same trekker who noted the size of her head (and dreamed of her lips) couldn’t contain his excitement at the possibility of altitude-induced erratic behavior: “Did she flash everyone at the pass? Did she lift her shirt up?”

We are very sorry to disappoint – there was no Gemma flashing at Thorong La pass.

While Gemma unintentionally dropped a few hints along the trek that she was a bit different, our hats go off to her for maintaining a low profile and hanging with the rest of us. We do wish that she had clued us in earlier so that we might have some better photos of her to remember the occasion. After all, it’s not every day that we’re sharing outhouses with a supermodel.

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Comments

  1. says

    This story cracks me up! Diane and I are convinced that supermodels look like (and perhaps are) alines. As you said, their big head plus their eyes are usually spaced far apart…just like aliens :-)

    p.s. Did you see her spaceship?

  2. Pete De Ritter says

    Back in the days when I was a commercial photographer I photographed quite a few models, some of whom went on to model in New York and Europe. Some were shy, some snobbish, some petty and some quite wonderful.
    The conclusion I came to is they are not so different from the rest of us. They’re just prettier.
    As another guy named Peter once said, Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.
    Good post. Anxiously awaiting to hear more from you.

  3. Pete De Ritter says

    Audrey,
    I was doing some research on the Internet yesterday and ended up reading about another of your relatives, Cornelius R. Stamm. If I’m not mistaken he would be your great uncle, your Grandfather Ken’s Brother. Quite a family you come from. I’m starting to feel like some kind of geneological stalker but I just keep coming across these connections.
    Hope you have a good time in Bratislava.

  4. says

    Steven: You’re right – a big head, eyes spread apart and high cheek bones seem to be the tell tale sign of a supermodel. We didn’t see a spaceship, but she did kind of disappear after the hot springs in Tatopani…

    Pete: The more we (accidentally) run into famous people, the more we realize that they are just like the rest of us and just want to be treated that way. We’ve had “feel like a rock star” days occasionally as we’ve gone through parts of rural China or India where they are not used to westerners – people stare, children gape and those with mobile phones take endless photos of us. The attention is intense and we sometimes wanted to hide by the end of the day. So, we can certainly understand celebrities wanting to lay low and wanting to be judged by what’s on the inside.

    I’ll have to ask my grandfather about Cornelius Stamm – I don’t believe he was Betty’s brother-in-law, but he may have been a cousin or some other relative. Don’t worry about being a geneological stalker – it’s helping me to learn more about my own family!

  5. says

    Our friend “in the know” heard it from a famous person himself – now I’m going to pay more attention to head sizes : )
    We’re enjoying Europe, but starting to miss Asian food. Enjoy some Sichuan hot pot for us in China!

  6. says

    My girlfriend Christa and I hiked the Annapurna Circuit and ran in to Audrey several times. We also ran into Gemma and her Aussie friend Dave at Bagarchap. I chatted with her for a while and she was was pretty nice. I could tell she was attractive, but wearing a dirty t-shirt and hiking pants I’d never have guessed she was a super model (especially because this is not the kind of activity I’d normally envision a supermodel doing, though in all fairness, she did have a porter :-) ). We chatted about how she made the decision to leave high school at 16 to go modeling in Milan and then move to NY. She was quite adamant that she’d go back and get her high school diploma and then her college degree when she had time. Over all she was a nice gal- a slight air of expecting to get what she wants, but other than that, pretty down to earth.

  7. Christa says

    I had the pleasure of meeting not only Dan and Audrey on the Nepal tekk, as my boyfriend and I were on the exact same route, but we also got to spend a night in Bangerchap with Gemma and her Austrialian friend. She was quite soft spoken, but had some pretty intersting stories to tell (as mentioned above by Josh). The one thing that stuck out to me was how many people she had just carrying her stuff…there was a guide and two porters. When I found out that she was a super model, it all made sense, although I was still confused by what she had brough. When we parted ways we wished her well…and I hope that she does go back to highschool :)

  8. says

    Josh and Christa, great to hear your stories from running into Gemma on the trip. Glad to know we’re not the only ones who noticed all her stuff! When and where is your next hike?

  9. Bryan Rilinger says

    Great story, really neat that this happened, you could have sold those photos of her for some good money i am sure, but wouldn’t that go against your ethics blah blah blah blah….

    Well, i would have sold them.

    Bry

  10. says

    I remember during the yak stampede trying to take pictures of the yaks jumping over the hill without Gemma in the picture. I didn’t know who she was and didn’t want to ruin the nature shot with the image of another trekker. Of course, now I wish I had gotten her in the frame – not to sell, but it would have made the images in this post much more exciting!

  11. says

    Hilarious stuff, cracked me up good!

    Ha! I have to say however, I’m surprised to note that you never mentioned anything about her being thin. I’m just saying that super-models are usually thin, thanks to how the camera adds a few extra pounds to the finished images. Perhaps she went on a training-diet to add weight and muscle to her frame before trekking?

  12. says

    @Tim: What was Gemma carrying in those bags…that is the 64,000 Rs. question. We speculated along three lines: 1) cosmetics, 2) a portable (inflatable?) shower stall, and 3) stacks of sheet music for the guitar.

    @Nik: We didn’t think we needed to mention anything about weight. Everyone else that we quoted did enough of that.

  13. Hartini says

    This is very interesting. One guide an two porters, she must have a lot of stuff :) I don’t think guitar music sheets was there tough. Hair products are possible.. he-he-he-he.

  14. Alexandra says

    This is so funny – why didn’t anybody talk to her? How about talking to her like anybody else and make friends?

    I am wondering about the bags though (although I always overpack myself).

  15. says

    @Alexandria: We did talk with Gemma about a variety of things (eg., where to buy fabrics in India), as did other trekkers (see Josh and Christa’s comments above). She never brought up her profession (supermodel) with us, so we didn’t know about her fame until day 11 or 12 of the trek. The bags are still a mystery…

  16. says

    Guys, sorry to say, but this post desapoints me. Its childish and makes small-town judgments about this girl. Why do you care about what other people drink or carry wile trekking ? Who cares if some girl have or don´t have hair products with her ? making coments about the size of her head ?Are you jealous of her popularity ? You shouldn´t: I never heard of her before.

    In the end it reveals you have not yet travelled enougth. Next time instead of observing or taking notes of your trekking companions… try to improve yourselfs. ex: learn the guitar.

    Joao

  17. says

    Well, I loved it. You guys have such a great style. I’ve never heard of Gemma before either, but I found the post to be hilarious! Joao says to “quit observing trekking companions,” but I couldn’t disagree more. Many times, the people are what make memories so fond. I think most would agree, (even if they happen to be models.) Keep posting the humorous stuff! I love it!!!

  18. says

    @Lindsey: The name Gemma Ward had this very faint familiar ring, but we really had no idea until the first internet connection (after 10 days). At the first chance, I searched Google images — and lo and behold — there was the woman, the supermodel, we were trekking with.
    Hopefully it’s clear that it’s not our style to consume ourselves with making judgments about our fellow travelers. But from time to time, the circumstances seem to demand it.

  19. Rose says

    Wow; you guys are really out of the loop. The reason she didn’t look stick-thin when you saw her is that she — famously! — wasn’t anymore. (And sadly it seems like putting on just a few pounds has pretty much ended her modelling career.)

  20. says

    @Rose: We wrote this piece almost two years ago, so by now it certainly is old news. Apparently, when we saw Gemma, she was fresh from her first hiatus. I suppose she was soul-seeking at the time. Perhaps we are out of the loop when it comes to supermodels and their lives. It figures since we are on the road in some very out-of-the-way places where supermodels would not dare to tread.

  21. Sham Benjamin says

    Very interesting encounter.
    I am also planning a trek to himalayas.
    I’ve almost zeroed on Langtang.

    I’m going to trek alone, I wish to meet at least some hot girl, if not a supermodel eh!

  22. says

    @Dina: Wish I could figure out the always having a good day trick. Glad you enjoyed this!

    @Sham: We’ve heard great things about the trek at Langtang – good luck! And, you never know who you might meet along the way :)

  23. says

    I’ve heard of the huge head theory as well and more and more I’m becoming convinced it’s true! Very entertaining post! I trekked Annapurna just last year and had quite a hard time with it, though I didn’t hire a porter…

  24. says

    @Connie: We haven’t run across very many celebrities on the road to really test the huge head theory, but it has a certain odd logic to it.

    Congrats for trekking the Annapurna circuit! This is still one of our best experiences from this journey. We did hire a porter and I think that helped with the enjoyment of our trek. we had our hands free all the time to take photos and when we started to get into steeper areas at high altitude, we didn’t have additional weight on us to wear us down even more.

  25. says

    This is funny. Loving the red ring image. Have to say though, I think Gemma is braver to work in the fashion world day to day, than trekking through altitude. I’d rather deal with Yaks than the fashion business any day.

  26. says

    @Joanne: I agree completely. To subject yourself to cameras, criticism and public life on a daily basis sounds to me a greater emotional climb than a little ‘ol mountain. Brutal, I’m sure, particularly if (when?) your stardom hits a rough patch.

  27. says

    @Alex: So true! It is very funny to see people in real life that you’ve seen previously on TV or in a magazine – makes you realize the power of make up and technology.

  28. says

    I love this post…it’s hilarious! Well-done, too. Did she really have an acoustic guitar with her? And how about those bags? Clothes? Weights/bands for exercise? I’d love to see a shot of her and Rasta Depp–would be awesome!

  29. says

    @Lisa: We kid you not on the acoustic guitar. After each meal the lesson book would come out for more practice. We’re thinking the bags were full of clothes and products – how else could she still look good after not showering for days like us?? Or perhaps a portable hot shower? We do wish we had known her identity in advance to have gotten a better photo of her with Rasta Depp. Oh well.

    @Maria: Glad we made you grin! Annapurna was an incredible experience, super model and all.

  30. Len says

    Why is this filed under “Humor”? Daniel and Audrey, she sounds like a regular person who is out to enjoy a hike (hats off to her) – and, like regular people, has a few very minor quirks. What are your quirks?

  31. says

    @Len:Note that most of the judgment of Gemma that we share in this post is not ours (1st hand), it’s mainly of others, viewers of Fashion TV. Having said that, once you join the ranks of the well-known as Gemma had, you are subject to a different kind of scrutiny, for better or worse. And of all the scrutiny that Gemma has and had been subject to, I’d say this is easily some of the fairest. After all, we make the point (“hats off..”) that it never registered to us along the way that she was anyone — what’s the word — special.

    It’s filed under humor because it’s ironic. There is in fact no way to trek like a supermodel.

  32. says

    I don’t get why the fact that she had a lot of people carrying her stuff should have made people realise she was famous…not everyone is strong enough to carry stuff…I am no supermodel and can’t drag 15 kg of stuff up a mountain on my back, and would only do it if I could hire someone to help. Is that so shameful?

  33. says

    @Denise: Nothing shameful in having porters help with carrying bags – we also had one for the two of us. It wasn’t so much that she had people carrying her stuff that made us realize she was famous, it was more the amount of stuff that she had. Most people had 1 porter for their one bag (up to 20 kilos), but she had 2 porters and two big bags. That was the difference :)

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