Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Trekking in the western Himalayas.

Last Friday morning, my Sherpa guide Ganesh picked me up from my hotel and we took an eight-hour long busride to Pokhara, 200km west of Kathmandu. The city is the jumping off point for excursions into the Annapurna Conservation Area, which belong to the Himalayas.

The plan: four days on a circuit through the mountains, up to the viewpoint of Poon Hill, famous for its views of the looming Annapurna peaks.

Day 1: Ganesh and I hopped a local bus, which took us on a 2-hour ride to the town of Nayapul. From there, it was a short half-hour's walk to the trailhead at Birethanti. After eating a huge lunch of dhal bhaat, the first of many over the next days, we started the route.

Locally-made buffalo cheese in Birethani. I snacked on a wedge of these by the fire later up in Gorephani.

The first two hours of walking were pleasant and easy. We walked over streams, rickety bridges, and flat fields, with colorful glimpses of village life.


After that, the route began to climb. And climb and climb, relentlessly, unforgivingly. I dragged myself up, step by laborious step, stopping every few minutes to find my breath before continuing again. Ganesh was so patient with my sorry state.

Up and up and up, with hardly a few feet of flat ground anywhere.

The steepest section came right before our stop at the town of Ulleri, making a climactic ending to the day. Hiking in Nepal is unique in that villages dot the mountainsides the entire way up. For this reason, camping is almost unheard of, even for the hardy. Every hour or so, we'd arrive at a small town with lodges (or teahouse, as they call them) and restaurants run by locals. They were always clean, the dhal bhaats were always delicious, and the hospitality was always warm.

A typical town with plenty of accommodation.

A happy arrival at Ulleri for the night.

Day 2: Since we covered more ground on Day 1 than originally planned, we had a short day today of only three hours of walking. Again with the relentless uphill steps, though they were markedly gentler climbs than yesterday.

Dhal baat, which comes in a different form everywhere.

We reached the town of Gorephani at noon. I befriended an American couple, and we whiled away the rest of the day around the fire in our teahouse.

Interesting tidbit: some of the lodges had internet access. Imagine, up at 3000 meters! Ganesh told me that there's even internet at 5500 meters at Everest Base Camp. Just can't get away from it these days.

Day 3: This was the big morning. I stumbled out of bed with a wake-up call of 5am, grabbed my headlamp, and we joined a train of other fellow trekkers for the 45 minute climb up to our destination of Poon Hill. When we reached the top, at 3210 meters, it was still pitch-dark outside. I picked a spot, sat down, and waited for the sun to come up and illuminate this:

Annapurna South on the left. Mt Dhaulagiri on the right.

First rays of sunlight coming over Annapurna South.

Macchapucchare ('Fish Tail') peak on the left.

Close-up of Mt Dhaulagiri.

Just to prove that this was real!

I'll let those pictures speak for themselves. I'll just say that it was unreal. It was like one of those perfect images that you see in glossy travel magazines, the ones that you just glance over and immediately forget about because it's hard to imagine that anything that pristine could possibly exist in real life.

Well, it does, and here's a panorama video of it:

Walking from Poon Hill back into Gorephani at around 7am.


When we left Gorephani after breakfast, we ascended for a little while longer. The clouds were just settling in.

Porters carrying their loads, sharing our path.

My awesome guide Ganesh and I, at the highest point of our trek.

Meghan and Galen, the American couple I befriended along the way.

A peek at the Annapurnas through the thick clouds.

Then the descent began. We walked through snow for hours.

Spring is coming. Flowers poked out through the snow.

As the elevation decreased, we entered into thick rhododendron forest. The red blossoms were everywhere. They formed a red sheet over the trees and lined the footpath for miles.


By the end of the day, we had walked about eight hours, a solid five of which were downhill. We spent the night at the town of Ghandruk. Ascents pain the heart; descents pain the legs. I could feel the soreness building up as I went to sleep.

Day 4: I awoke not being able to move my lower body, and was worried about the final descent back into Birethanti. Thankfully, the soreness went away as we started walking, which is fortunate, because if we went any faster than we did today, we'd be jogging. We reached the end of our journey by noon.


The visibility up on Poon Hill was breathtaking, Ganesh was a fantastic hiking companion, and the feeling of being back inside nature was incredible. A truly memorable four days in the Himalayas.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Astonishing pictures! Good job, Faye!

Eugenia said...

Incredible!! Thanks for sharing your adventure

Lexie said...

i am so immature i laughed at poon mountain! and thought to myself, "faye's boobs are getting big!"

these pictures are beaaaaautiful!

Stacy said...

Wow, wow, and wow! That sunrise view looks amazing. Your mountain climbing story is far less dramatic than Ling's, though :)

Stu said...

beautiful. i'm jealous a bit

Cara said...

These pictures are so unreal! I am so glad you are able to do this..

Anonymous said...

Faye, this is so inspiring. I've desired to hike in the Himalayan region for years... hope you don't mind me using a picture from this post as my desktop background for a little while.
Lillian

nepalguideinfo said...

Sanjib Adikhari ist recomended 2011 by German trekkers Sabine and Frank from Berlin
The ultimate compliment for Sanjib came from fellow trekkers we met along the way who remarked how lucky we were to have a guide so personable, knowledgeable and dedicated to us and our experience. We could not have agreed with them more. *We did a 21 day Annapurna circuit, Annapurna base camp trek and Langtang Valley trek and having never trekked this length before, we were both novices. It is without a doubt, that had our guide been anyone other than Sanjib, we would not have had nearly the rich, authentic and thoroughly enjoyable experience we did. When trekking
with Sanjib we enjoyed:
* honest, knowledgeable and sincere discussions regarding anything from Nepal's history and current politics, local religions and culture history, to geography natural landscape and all Mountains Name
* a sensitivity and sensibility to allow a good balance between conversation and respecting an individual or couple’s need for privacy * over 9 years of trekking guide experience
* a respect for an individual’s desired pace and physical condition
* an intimate knowledge of the best accommodations, tea stops and places of interest along the way, according to our own individual budget
We would highly recommend any potential trekker in Nepal to enlist the services of Sanjib Adhikari. It is without a doubt that you will be richly rewarded if you do so Trek in Nepal his contact address is: sanjib-adhikari@hotmail.com and his website : www.nepalguideinfo.com



Silvana Pagani from Italy wrote in 2011: "My friend Sanjib Adhikari, Nepalse Guide

Silvana Pagani from Italy wrote in 2011 about my experience in Nepal and recommends as guide, Sanjib Adhikari.
This year at the end of february i went in Nepal for 18 days for the second time and i did a small trekking in the Annapurna region, I went to visit Pokhara, Kathmandu, Bakthapur and Nagarkot and I saw the National Park of Chitwan and in this trip I had the pleasure to meet Sanjib Adhikari.
He is an independent trekking guide and tour operator in Nepal and he has already obtained trekking guide license from the ministry of tourism, government of Nepal.
In his work Sanjib is a person very responsible and serious, very helpful and attentive to his customers, he knows very well the mountain because he has many years of experience and is also an excellent guide for visiting the cities.
He is someone very competent in his work and always ready to find the best solution, if necessary and speaks English very well.During the trekking and the tours he will tell you many interesting things about culture, about life in the villages, mountains, history and traditions in Nepal.
The best thing is that Sanjib loves his country very much and loves his work and always manages to convey all his enthusiasm with simple ways and always with the smile. He is a very nice person and is always attentive to the needs of his customers. Sanjib is also very funny and after this experience we became a very good friend. Next year at the end of January I will return for the third time in Nepal and Sanjib will be again my guide. 
For these reasons I am very glad to report all references of Sanjib
He Is cantact adress www.nepalguideinfo.com
Email-:sanjib-adhikari@hotamil.com
www.nepaltreckingguide.jimdo.com
mobile No= +9779841613822

nepalguideinfo said...

Sanjib Adikhari ist recomended 2011 by German trekkers Sabine and Frank from Berlin
The ultimate compliment for Sanjib came from fellow trekkers we met along the way who remarked how lucky we were to have a guide so personable, knowledgeable and dedicated to us and our experience. We could not have agreed with them more. *We did a 21 day Annapurna circuit, Annapurna base camp trek and Langtang Valley trek and having never trekked this length before, we were both novices. It is without a doubt, that had our guide been anyone other than Sanjib, we would not have had nearly the rich, authentic and thoroughly enjoyable experience we did. When trekking
with Sanjib we enjoyed:
* honest, knowledgeable and sincere discussions regarding anything from Nepal's history and current politics, local religions and culture history, to geography natural landscape and all Mountains Name
* a sensitivity and sensibility to allow a good balance between conversation and respecting an individual or couple’s need for privacy * over 9 years of trekking guide experience
* a respect for an individual’s desired pace and physical condition
* an intimate knowledge of the best accommodations, tea stops and places of interest along the way, according to our own individual budget
We would highly recommend any potential trekker in Nepal to enlist the services of Sanjib Adhikari. It is without a doubt that you will be richly rewarded if you do so Trek in Nepal his contact address is: sanjib-adhikari@hotmail.com and his website : www.nepalguideinfo.com



Silvana Pagani from Italy wrote in 2011: "My friend Sanjib Adhikari, Nepalse Guide

Silvana Pagani from Italy wrote in 2011 about my experience in Nepal and recommends as guide, Sanjib Adhikari.
This year at the end of february i went in Nepal for 18 days for the second time and i did a small trekking in the Annapurna region, I went to visit Pokhara, Kathmandu, Bakthapur and Nagarkot and I saw the National Park of Chitwan and in this trip I had the pleasure to meet Sanjib Adhikari.
He is an independent trekking guide and tour operator in Nepal and he has already obtained trekking guide license from the ministry of tourism, government of Nepal.
In his work Sanjib is a person very responsible and serious, very helpful and attentive to his customers, he knows very well the mountain because he has many years of experience and is also an excellent guide for visiting the cities.
He is someone very competent in his work and always ready to find the best solution, if necessary and speaks English very well.During the trekking and the tours he will tell you many interesting things about culture, about life in the villages, mountains, history and traditions in Nepal.
The best thing is that Sanjib loves his country very much and loves his work and always manages to convey all his enthusiasm with simple ways and always with the smile. He is a very nice person and is always attentive to the needs of his customers. Sanjib is also very funny and after this experience we became a very good friend. Next year at the end of January I will return for the third time in Nepal and Sanjib will be again my guide. 
For these reasons I am very glad to report all references of Sanjib
He Is cantact adress www.nepalguideinfo.com
Email-:sanjib-adhikari@hotamil.com
www.nepaltreckingguide.jimdo.com
mobile No= +9779841613822