Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The climb to the top! ABC, part 1

We just returned from our trek yesterday, with rock-solid calves and a little bit of a peeling nose (on my face), but completely happy and enamored with what we saw and accomplished. Ten days of hiking in the Himalayas will toughen anyone, at times sweaty, at times freezing, at times exhausting, but altogether amazing. We learned that the Incas got nothin' on Nepali stone construction, as we climbed and descended more stone steps than I thought were even physically possible over the course of the trek. Slate staircases scaled all the mountains around us, leading to villages, tea houses, and much of the time, to a single Gurung farm. I've decided to share an assortment of my journaling from the trek, just to give you an idea of what the heck goes on in the mind of someone who only walks, eats, and sleeps for 10 days...

Day 1: Nayapul to Ulleri 5/4/13

Though sweaty, the first few hours of our trek were in the sun, eventually entering a cooler rainforest spotted with large boulders. After a lunch of delicious potato and cheese momos (steamed dumplings) in the quaint, quiet town of Tikkhedunga, we crossed a river and a few amazing waterfalls before we began our ascent to the town of Ulleri. A supposed 3,000-step staircase, Ben and I noted that it must have been an exaggeration, as it was not as bad as everyone made it seem (then again, it's the first day...spritely leg muscles abound). It feels great to be moving again, as our two weeks at Harka were quite sedentary!

Day 2: Ulleri to Ghorepani 5/5/13

We are hiking the first few days of this trek with my friend Guru, a guide, and his accompanying Russian tour group (9 people, 1 English speaker). Let me tell you, the Russians are slowing up. With 4 women over 60, one wearing what appear to be moccasins (the orthopedic kind), I don't think they had any idea what they were in for on this one. Luckily, they are only going to do a 4 day loop of the scenic viewpoint at Poon Hill, NOT the entire trek to Base Camp like us.

Our porters, who really aren't "our" porters as they aren't carrying any of our stuff, are hilarious. The one with aviators is currently playing Celine Dion's 'My Heart Will Go On' off his cell, and previously on the trail he played Britney's "Hit me Baby"- to which we all chimed in. I wished I remembered all the dance moves, so as to throw off my pack and bust it out for everyone's enjoyment.

The trail from Ulleri to Nangethani, where we had lunch, was sunny and open for a bit, and then heavily forested in oak and rhododendron, the national flower of Nepal. Though not in bloom, the forest was lush and reminded me very much of our million steps day on the Inca Trail- similarly mossy and dense trees, hanging precipitously over crystal clear streams filled with marble boulders.

After a 2 hour wait at the Hungry Eye Guest House for the Russians, the finally came trickling in. Evidently one of them is ill, as she immediately curled up in her sleeping bag on the guest house floor. Guru let us leave ahead of the group, thank god, as it was about to rain and we didn't want to walk in it if we didn't have to! The sick one ended up taking a horse the remainder of the way, which was good as it did start raining, and was quite steep and difficult at points. Ben and I got to the Sunny GUest House in Ghorepani just in time, and were only rained on for about 20 minutes. A quaint collection of tea houses, upper Ghorepani has a little square, bookshop, internet stand, and curio stores- and potentially a very nice view of Dhaulagiri...we shall see tomorrow when we hike at 4am to Poon Hill for sunrise!

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