[The diary that I compiled during our visit to Adele in Nepal in January & February 2008 came up in conversation the other day. As far as I know only Mum & I have ever read it – so here is part of it for posterity, the photos are complimentary – yeah, they are for free.]
Up at 0600 to catch plane to Jonsom with our guide, KB. Too much cloud, so we can’t go to Jonsom. Mum leaves us today – one night in Kathmandu & then on to see the Hinds in Sydney.
So a eighty to ninety minute taxi ride with Shyam deposited us at the start of our circuit (modified a lot as we can’t go to Jonsom). The first couple of hours were spent walking up a river valley from about 1000m altitude. After a long lunch, the climbing really started, but the path was well made using lots of stone – quite incredible how good it was.
Walked through many fields & the tiering of the fields was amazing. By 1630 we were at Ghandruk – after many steps & a few rests. We have climbed almost 1000m to 1950m. This was quite a shock for us all, especially Dad, as we were expecting to walk down from Muktinah after a jeep ride from Jonsom!
Pleasant guesthouse – great hot shower & dinner – part with KB. He spent eleven years from age eight washing dishes at a Kathmandu guesthouse before he started guiding. He has also spend two and a half years in France – his French & English are very good.
4/2/8 Monday Trekking
Forgot to mention that while paragliding on Friday, Pierre & I saw an occidental rainbow when were up in the clouds. This is a circular rainbow viewed from above, apparently they are not seen by many.
Awoke in Ghandruk (actually awoke numerous time due to barking dogs in the night) to find that the clouds had finally cleared & we could see the mountains! A nice clear crisp morning & we could see all the way to Annapurna South & Fishtail (I may be able to say its real name – but I sure can’t spell it). A leisurely breakfast, then set off at 0845 for a comparatively short & easy walk to Tadapani (a climb of only about 600m today).
We quickly left the immaculate stone path & steps of yesterday & the path devolved in to something much more like what we would find in NZ – steps made out of wood & held by stakes.
As we were walking through forest/bush (c.f. with fields of yesterday) we saw far fewer Nepalis & houses. At our first stop we saw a family from Lake Hayes (back home). There were five of them – three boys, the youngest in a backpack. Next we saw an inordinate number of porters, but no trekkers. Eventually we find a very large group of Japanese trekkers sprawled over one of the few clearings. By now we are seeing patches of snow on the ground.
Our next stop was at the top of a very steep staircase. Here the Cokes were most welcome & we met a medical student from Perth – she is doing a similar thing to what Adele has just finished.
During the last hour to Tadapani the snow got more & more prevalent & it was quite fresh & nice & powdery. At times it was difficult to negotiate the slippery downs – but there were not so many of them! As we were behind a ridge, our view of the mountains had disappeared & when we emerged from the forest the clouds had covered our view again.
Tadapani is a pretty little settlement of mainly guesthouses (about six). There is no water here at the moment – except if you cook up a pot of snow. There are more trekkers staying here than at Ghandruk last night (most people seem to be going the opposite way to us). Some have come down from Poon Hill – they had good views this morning.
5/2/8 The Day We Almost Killed Dad
Up at 0645 after broken sleep – Nepali singing to start with & then too warm. Did not mention that we spent most of yesterday afternoon in the dining room as underneath the table (that was cloaked with think blankets) were steel buckets of hot coals – very toasty. Another beautiful morning – fewer clouds than yesterday & once again great views – many photos taken.
Started walking at 0830 & were immediately into a steep snowy, & therefore slippery, descent. Once we reached a stream it was back into a steep slippery ascent. By now, both Dad & I had taken small falls & all three of us were walking with sticks. Still there is a lot of snow around & I generally find it easier to walk on the powder than the icy steps.
After a brief stop for Coke & Fanta, the track levelled a bit & then went down for a while. Unfortunately for Dad, after this it went up & up a valley (quite steeply in places & very slippery) that never ended. Eventually we reached lunch & Dad was stuffed & Adele carrying his backpack as well as hers. We had lost our view of the mountains, but seen many waterfalls frozen in situ.
Shortly after our long lunch break the trail flattened out some & a few new peaks came in to view. The trail was now along a ridge – so undulating walking around 3300m, the highest I have ever been with my feet on the ground. By now we could see Annapurna I – the tallest of the Annapurnas at 8091m – behind & to the left of Annapurna South. Also visible a bit further away were the Dhaulagiris – the tallest of which, Dhaulagiri I is 8172m. Numerous stops to take photos & wait for Dad along the ~500m descent to Ghorepani.
There are many more guesthouses, & larger ones too, & for the princely sum of seventy rupees we have a view of Annapurna I & South & Dhaulagiri I from our room.
Adele & I up at 0445 – along with most of the rest of the guesthouse (Dad & KB excepted) for the walk up to Poon Hill lookout for sunrise. All wrapped & out in to the dark & the not so cold before 0530. The climb was a good five or six hundred metres with many headlamps bobbing up the hillside – similar sight to doing the Moonride. Unfortunately, I had made the mistake of not having anything to eat. Part way up I started to feel clammy, devoid of energy & could not go on until I had dry wretched a few times, brought up some bile & then had half a muesli bar. Slowly my energy returned & we made it to the top. It was still dark, but starting slowly to get light. We were eventually joined by about fifty other sunrise pilgrims to see a great sunrise on some of the world’s tallest mountains.
Back down, we had a leisurely breakfast outside in the sun & left Ghorepani at 1000 for a gentle (mostly) walk down the valley toward Tatopani (tomorrow night’s stop). The stone pathway returned (not quite up to the same standard as the first day – but still pretty good) & it was only icy & snowy in parts for the first hour or so. Still good views of most of the mountains, but getting in to inhabited land with the odd village & more paddies.
We are staying in Shikha, which for a nice change is much more village than guesthouse destination. There are numerous stone houses & a school here. Adele & I had a small wander around the back roads (more alley ways). A great shower & we also had lunch on the rooftop in the sun looking at Dhaulagiri I. Mercifully, we are the only guests in the guesthouse – c.f. the last two nights.
Up & away by 0830 – a nice walk down the valley from Shikha to Tatopani for three hours. We lost about a thousand metres in altitude. Nice to walk through the villages & past the children on the way to school – ten o’clock start. Our last glimpses of the Annapurnas as we get deeper in to the valley – still mostly the big stone steps & paths, although it is quite a dusty trail in places. Dad managed to get a few agricultural photos – piles of dung in fields that will be used for fertiliser & a cow & calf in a milking shed.
Down at the bottom of the valley we crossed the Ghar Khola river & then the much larger (unnamed on the map) river on swing bridges & walked up the valley a short way to Tatopani. This last bit was on the newly made & graded road. This is much less interesting & we are going to head back to Pokhara tomorrow, instead of Saturday. Soaked in hot springs/pool late in the afternoon.
8/2/8 Trekking – Pokhara
It’s our last day – up & left by 0820 (our earliest yet) after a good sleep. Walking down the new road down the valley the whole way. It was quite a deep gorge in places & would have been a spectacular walk on the old stone path.
The valley was still really spectacular when one remembered to look up from the road at the steep walls & behind us to Jonsom & the odd mountain still visible. The road is pretty wide in places & almost complete. We saw a group of about fifteen men breaking rocks in to gravel with small hammers. Also a twenty tonne excavator finishing off part of the road next to the river – quite a juxtaposition in technologies.
In places there were jeeps, motorbikes, taxis & quite a few people walking. In other places there was just us & a random stray dog that followed us for ages. By lunch we had all, especially Dad, had enough of walking on the boring road & got a jeep (an old Nissan Patrol) to Beni & then taxi ride of death back to Pokhara.