How many of us know that there is a bigger world out there that connects with us in ways we don’t even realize? To discover it we just need to get out of our comfort zones and explore. Explore the unknown, take risks and no matter what, keep moving.
Our pack of 9 set out on our journey from Kimche 1672m towards Ghandruk 2181m on a bright sunny afternoon after a hearty meal of Dhal Bhat. Little did I know that Dhal Bhat is going to be an everyday delicacy for the next 8 days. I was really fascinated by the porters who carry around 2-3 duffle bags each, which might weigh roughly 8-10kg each or if not more.
Walking using the pole was a bit of a challenge at the beginning but I slowly got into the rhythm. It was a beautiful walk. Trekking over the hills watching out for the mountain goats, giving way to the mules, going up and down the rocky steps and crossing a hanging bridge, eventually we reached Ghandruk.
From the tea house we stayed at, we had a breathtaking view of the Annapurna south. As soon as we reached there, tents were set up and rooms were allocated. After dinner a few of us engaged in a game of cards where I learnt a trick or two from them.
Barking dogs disturbed our sleep throughout the night. I woke up several times during the night and finally at the break of dawn I was out of the room. The walls of the rooms were so thin, that we could have a conversation with our neighbours without having to raise our voices at all.
I was in awe of the view I saw as the sun rose, casting it’s light over the mountains creating a majestic view that cannot be described in words.
With a steaming cup of coffee in hand, I stood there for ages; admiring the view and clicking away - sharing the pictures with everyone. However, I must confess even the pictures (though breathtaking too) did not do justice to the actual view.
Our journey from Ghandruk to Tada Pani (2755m) was roughly 9km. It was another beautiful walk through a mossy forest that looked mystical, and the wonderful smell of the rhododendron and Daphne flowers filled the air.
We arrived at a packed tea house around mid afternoon. Although everyone wanted to have a nice shower, seeing the queue in front of the toilet some decided to forget about the idea. However, since I wanted a shower badly, I placed my toiletries bag in the queue and waited patiently for my turn.
There was neither wifi nor network coverage at the tea house. I cannot say I was not worried, but I did warn my kids that I might be out if touch for few days.
Before we set out from Tada Pani, Ang warned us that we might see snow, and we got pretty excited over the news.
As we walked past the mossy forest we had the first glimpse of snow. I got pretty excited, took out my phone and started clicking. I was teased for taking pictures of “dirty snow”. I guess for people who don’t see snow often, any snow is good snow, even if it’s dirty!
Not long after we set out after lunch we started seeing heaps and heaps of snow. We stopped for a bit to play around in the snow and then headed towards our destination for the night. While walking in the snow I fell down numerous times, didn’t matter how careful I tried to be I slipped and fell.
On both sides the snow was at least 4ft high. Eventually, after many slips and falls we reached our tea house at Dobato.
We were greeted by an American family sitting in the warm room. We spent most of the day engaging in conversation with them. A conversation that started with them not knowing about where Maldives is ended with sharing some Maldivian food, showing them videos and pictures of Maldives. By the end of the ‘conversation’ they were on the verge of setting a date for their holiday to the Maldives.
We all waited impatiently for Haish’s return since we saw a storm brewing. When he walked in all tired and exhausted we all cheered, cheered that he made it, cheered for his determination to never give up.
Not long after he reached the tea house there was a thunder storm with hale. The whole tea house was made of corrugated tin and each time thunder and lightening hit we so sparks flying around. It was freezing cold and the snow was up to the windows of the rooms. Sunee went into the room and came out saying she felt claustrophobic and wanted to sleep in the dining area.
The tea house we stayed at was run by a couple who rented the place from the government. She has guests through out the year. There was a little girl of about 12 years helping around at the tea house. When asked she said she doesn’t want to go back to her family but would rather stay at the tea house. It’s heart breaking to see it, but I felt much respect for the woman since she has taken this little girl under her wings even though she doesn’t have much to give.
That was one thing that hit me during this journey. Nepalese have such big hearts. They are the kindest souls I have ever met, so humble and down to earth. You can’t help but fall in love with them.
It was another sleepless night due to extreme cold. We woke up to a frozen world. I went into the toilet that had walls barely my height. As I came out I slipped and fell on to the ice (again). With a bit of an effort I was up on my feet and went outside to a little sink to brush my teeth. I took out a jug of water from the bucket and found it half frozen.
Words fail to describe the view that greeted me as I came out of the tea house, ready to leave. The orange streaks of the sun reflected on the snowy peaks. Mesmerised, I couldn’t take my eyes away. This was the calm after the storm.
We then left from Dobato (3524m) to Chistbung (3094m), we walked for about 12km during the day. It was a lot of downhill trekking through the forests.
Our journey from Chistbung to Khopra Ridge( 3660) was the most memorable, and the most challenging trek of the whole journey. It was a lot of uphill, and the walk took a toll on my calf. We found few places to stop and pose for photos, and one such stop was a rock at the edge of a cliff. I tried to act cool, but my legs were wobbling. Yet, I felt great when I stood there and looked away at the mountains.
You always hear people talk about standing on the edge, but personally experiencing it was so different. It was a narrow edge of snow, I was reminded several times to trust my feet and to keep on moving, I knew the person behind me wouldn’t let me fall, I knew … but I was so afraid.. so scared.
With shaky legs, a pounding heart and tears often building in my eyes, I slowly crossed one part of the ridge and then gave in to uncontrolled tears. Took me sometime to gather myself before the joyous laughter came. Oh yes, there was one more bit to cross.
Even after I reached the tea house, my emotions did not settle. I couldn’t help looking down at the drop. I went near the teahouse and hugged shwuey, I know shuwey has fear for heights and have issues with her balances, but doing what she just did would have needed immense strength and courage.
We walked around the mountains in the evening and I felt more confident to walk on the edge.
From Khopra Ridge we walked down to Sikwa Village, to a tea house with no electricity. No one seemed to be too bothered over the fact that we didn’t have any electricity, wifi or network coverage.
From Sikwa village we started our trek to Ghorepani in the morning. Since it was a half day we were not in a rush to move. Around half way into the trek we were hit by hale. We found shelter near an old house and waited until the hale and rain passed.
Going inside Ghorepani was not an easy task. The endless steps that led to the little town was painstaking.Our tea house did not have electricity and there was no mobile network which was disappointing since I was longing to check on the kids.
I had the most beautiful night at Ghorepani looking out on the mountains with the moonlight reflecting over the mountains and the stars shining brightly in the dark.
I sat there looking out at God’s creation and totally oblivious to the cold.
We had an early morning to view the sunrise at Poonhill. Leaving the tea house at 5 in the morning all of us started walking the endless stretch of steps. It was quite crowded when we reached the top. After clicking a few photos we rushed down. There were few areas with snow and I was being extremely careful not to fall, but I did slip, and fell hard on my bum. To break the fall I used my wrist which brought a deep, sharp pain to my shoulder. Our little Mahthu found it so funny that he kept referring to my fall when ever he wants to laugh. He thought I was silly to take a butt ride.
We left Poonhill after breakfast and we all seemed quite excited that we were about to reach our final destination of the trek, Hille. We knew it was all going down and Ang said it would be rocky with lots of steps. We were moving quite fast during the first part of the journey, but with a sudden downpour it slowed us all. One reason being that the rocks were slippery, well that’s what we felt. I don’t remember the number of times I asked the guide, how far …how far, because it seemed never ending. After feeling like walking down thousands of steps we rushed back to the tea house with no electricity.
I was wet from the rain, and cold and I wanted a hot shower. It was a nice hot shower, even though I had to kneel under a running tap. Sometimes being short helps.
A goat was sacrificed after the successful return of everyone from the trek, and we had a good dinner of mutton curry with chapathi. The huge dish of salad was left untouched and one of us pointed it out and our waddey, (who sits silently most of the time, but when he says something it throws us back) said, “The goat would have had enough greens” it cracked us all.
The next morning we walked down few steps and walked towards our bus to Pokhara. Everyone was tired, with snow burnt skin, cracked lips, and puffy eyes, yet we all had smiles.
We arrived in Pokhara just in time for holi. It was festive and happiness all around. Young and old covered from head to toe in bright colors were celebrating on the streets of Pokhara. We too wanted to join the fun. Wearing white we came out too. What a way to celebrate the end of our trek.
I don’t want to believe this is an ending, I want to believe this a beginning. This trip has made me think of life in a different perspective. You don’t need so much to be happy. Little things in life matters, you can have very little and still be able to give away.
As I walked past the departure gates after trekking in Nepal I felt lost and lonely, I felt empty as if I have left a part of me behind, in the mountains. Yet, I have never felt more alive, I have never felt so much at peace. In short, I have never felt the way I felt during my trek through the Himalayas. It’s the mountains and people you meet that have an impact in your life.
Story by : Fathimath Nizam