Reflections and images from my travels

Remembrance Day November 11, 2011 was spent descending from Sinuwa, 2360 m down more stone steps, crossing the river and then ascending another couple of thousand stone steps back up to Chhomrong. Of course, we had to stop again at the bakery to pick up some more chocolate rolls and enjoyed the wonderful sunshine. From Chhomrong, another steep descent involving rocky steps brought us to the beautiful village of Jhinudanda, 1780 m. The trek only took about three hours. Heaven. This village had a resort feel to it and the guesthouse was palatial compared to the ones that we had stayed in over the last several days. I was also back to having my own room which was worth its weight in gold. There were a lot more flowers and vegetation at the lower altitude. The weather continued to be warm and sunny. What a wonderful place.

After lunch, we descended several hundred meters from our guesthouse to the Modi Khola and enjoyed a wonderful soak in the hot springs for three hours for medicinal purposes you understand. What a great prescription! There were two separate pools the upper and lower and the water was quite warm and felt wonderful after so many days of trekking. There were quite a few people however this did not detract from the experience. The guide and porter really seemed to have been looking forward to this particular experience. They really seemed to enjoy themselves. After soaking for about 30 minutes I informed some of the bathers in the lower pool of the virtues of going into cold water like a true Canadian. They were shocked when I hopped out of the pool and carefully stepped down the stones and immersed myself into the cold rushing nearby river. I then quickly climbed back into the hot pool to experience that wonderful tingle. Soon everybody was trying it. We all had a good laugh over this folly. I also met up with Barbara and Paul from Okotoks again. We ascended back to the guesthouse afterwards. After a wonderful dinner a wonderful sleep was had.

November 12, 2011, the next morning, we left Jhinudanda and crossed New Bridge and arrived at Landruk, 1565 m, well ahead of schedule. Because we arrived so early I really felt we should go onwards to Dhampus. The guide agreed. The hike was lovely and there was little ascent and no significant stone steps. Yes! There was a more formal trail and beautiful small villages along this route. It was a wonderful hike. I think in retrospect this would have been a much better route to ascend to ABC as opposed to the Nayapul ascent as it would have bypassed a lot of the stone steps which are not particularly enjoyable to do. The evening was spent at a reasonable guesthouse where I met two lovely young women doing some volunteer work and trekking as well. Krishna and I played cards with them into the evening. The weather that day had started to cloud over but it did not really matter with the trek coming to an end. That evening we had a return of mist and fog and it certainly created a ghostly feel to the evening.

November 13, 2011 was a very short descent hike from Dhampus to Phedi, 1130 m. It was extremely humid from the night before and we had a very steep descent on rocky steps. With my hiking boots and Vibram soles it was practically treacherous. I almost fell several times and we really had to slow down in order to avoid an injury or fall. We arrived back at the highway at 0845 hrs which officially ended the ABC trek. It was a relatively gruelling trek and we finished a day early. We had covered approximately 125 km and probably climbed close to 10,000 stone steps, total elevation gained was 8065 m and total elevation descent was 7641 m.  The total caloric output was huge probably in the range of 18,000 kcal. There is no way you can eat enough food to keep up. Hence, weight loss occurs. Overall, it was a great experience despite some of the challenges I have listed. Certainly, it whetted my appetite for Everest base camp.

Annapurna Base Camp Elevation Profile

A taxi picked us up and drove us back to Pokhara. After a nice lunch and probably the best Nepalese Dal Bhat I have had (and I am proud to say that I ate it with my hands- no cutlery- in the true Nepalese style) we had a free afternoon. We decided to rent a boat and had a leisurely paddle on the Phewa Tal to a small island to visit a Hindu temple and then onwards to be dropped off on the opposite shore of the lake to climb up several hundred meters of stone steps (I never seem to tire of this) to a beautiful Peace Pagoda with wonderful views of Pokhara. It was a wonderful afternoon. We took several pictures up at the pagoda. Another wonderful experience was having Ganesh and Krishna sing a local song about Pokhara while we were paddling on the lake. I used my camera to video Krishna singing and will include this in this post for you to enjoy as well.

Almost every Nepali seems to be able to sing well. It is obvious singing brings them a lot of joy. That evening in Pokhara we had a wonderful meal at a beautiful restaurant and enjoyed each other’s company. The next day Krishna would be leaving us and we would have a different porter for the next trek.

November 14, 2011 we took the tourist bus back early in the morning to Kathmandu. I so wished I would have paid to have another private hire taxi ride instead. The bus was in poor condition with absolutely no suspension, very noisy with a bone jarring ride. It was a truly horrible experience. However it is a relatively inexpensive way to get back. Believe it or not it took approximately 7 hours to get back to Kathmandu. The roads were congested and along the way there was a major crash which completely plugged up the road between a bus and a truck. This is a common occurrence. We did have a lunch stop along the way. I also gave Krishna my camera to play with during the journey and to take pictures which he seemed to thoroughly enjoy. When we arrived in Kathmandu we took a taxi to a different hotel where I said goodbye to Krishna and gave him a big hug. I really grew to like this fellow. Even though his English was limited his bubbly personality came through and he had a real joyous nature. He seemed to warm up over the 10 days and was much more interactive with me compared to initially. I think that porters are often discouraged from interacting too much with clients. I am so glad I did not ascribe to this policy. I tipped him well and said farewell. I would continue to have Ganesh as my guide for the next trek. Everest base camp had not worked out due to poor weather in early November. Would I be successful in getting there on this second attempt?

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