Awake early. After a while we are brought a bowl of warm water to wash with by our Sherpa, Hira. Breakfast is porridge and banana pancake. Karen and I both wake up about 5:30 which is an hour before our wake up call. So after a quick visit to the eastern loo we rest a bit more. When we get up we pack up our bedding and other stuff into the bags ready for the porters to collect before breakfast. Karen had porridge and I did too as well as a delicious banana pancake. We clean our teeth and are soon on our way. The path is made from flat rocks, sometimes steep steps, sometimes easier steps and then ‘Nepal flat’ the rest of the way. We continually dodge past animal poo. The path climbs steadily so we take rests every hour or so with a few water and photo breaks as well. At one rest break an old man starts to play a stringed instrument. I almost took a video until he started ‘singing’ too! I gave him a tip and took a photo quickly so he would go away!
We continue, with much of the path now constant steps going up ever upwards. Along the way we see goats, donkey caravans and even the odd person being carried! Rain starts so I put on wet weather gear. The last part is exceptionally steep so lots of huffing and puffing! We reach Gandruk just before 1:00pm but Krishh has phoned our lunch orders ahead! We have vegetable spring rolls and Karen partakes of another ‘small’ pot of milk tea. We look around the town a bit, stopping at a Buddhist temple where Krishh talked about Buddhism and we looked at the paintings on the walls. Next we went to a local museum which had a small but detailed display. Reaching our lodge required yet another sustained steep climb but we arrive about 3:30. Again we are in room 3. We take it in turns to take a shower. This time there’s lots of hot water. More tea is ordered and drunk by the others. Time is spent looking at the ever changing view and wishing the clouds would lift. Two Tibetans set up a stall on the ground with jewellery and other stuff. About 5:30 Hira takes our dinner orders which are ready about an hour later. Dal baht is the order of the night and quite good. But the chocolate custard dessert is even better! We chat for a while and Krishh briefs us on the trail ahead tomorrow. In bed by about 9:00 again.
Effort of the day – the guy who was carrying seven wrought iron balcony rails on his back. Each was three metres long and about 30 cm wide!
Left about 8:20 after a yummy breakfast of muesli with apple, Gurung bread and cheese omelette. Lots more climbing up steep steps before reaching a lodge showing the mountain scene we should be seeing instead of walking in a cloudy drizzle. We continue on, at times stopping every dozen or so steps to gasp for breathe. After some time we enter the rhododendron forest which is dark but beautiful.
The track now degenerates into a slosh of mud. Our boots just manage to stay above the mud level. Not so many donkeys today but we pass many other Trekkers heading downhill. We reach a small village in staggered groups. We take morning tea only to find that this was actually our lunch stop and we have made excellent time. As a group we decide to head on to Tadapani and take a late lunch. We will be staying there so it will be good to get the walking out of the way. An hour later we make it, huffing and puffing with our boots mud covered. This is a compact village with many lodge/ restaurants. We are at the Grand View! Sadly the rain means still mountain view. Lunch is Indian vegetable fritters for Karen and momos for me. We chat for awhile. It is very busy and noisy here with many other groups. We all take a walk around the village, stopping at the stalls to look the smallholders are keen to make a sale after two day of rain. Karen and I buy a scarf each. Lots of jewellery is bought by Judy and Robyn. We walk to the highest point in the village at the Hotel Magnificent but still only the village to see due to so many clouds. At least the rain has stopped.
On our return however the clouds move and we get our first brief looks at Annapurna South and Machapicchure. They certainly are huge but our joy is short lived as the clouds roll in again. Showers are taken and it is good to see a real western toilet again! For dinner we eat dal baht and egg vegetable noodles. It is extremely noisy with many groups in the dining area. Judy, Rodney and I play cards whilst Karen and Carol do crosswords. As the groups go to bed it quietens enough for Krishh to give us a few details about the trek ahead. It is going to be a six hour day! Get to bed about 9:30 and snuggle up in our slipping sheets and bags. It is quite cold. At times breathing is an issue. We are now gaining in altitude each day.
Effort of the day
1 the guy carrying two sleepers on his back with his curved knife stabbed into one of them.
2 the donkey train which arrives in the dark. Once relieved of their loads they wander around the area eating from the bushes and surrounding garden.
An ominous start to the day. It’s still raining! Hira brings our usual bowl of warm water to spruce ourselves up. Then we pack and go downstairs. However our muesli quickly distracts us. Not to mention the banana pancake. Then we prepare ourselves in our wet weather gear. I am lucky to be able to borrow a poncho from Grant and Robyn’s guide. Off we set. The forest is beautiful but our way is still quite muddy. After a while Krishh catches up and we realise Carol has disappeared so Hira goes back to find her. We continue on with Krishh as our leader. Leeches are an issue in these conditions and we have to remove a few who have made their mark. The ground changes as we go to a gravelly surface which is easier to walk on but the rain continues and we are soon wet. The way is quite down and up today. Eventually we reach our lunch stop at 12:30. Sadly there is no pot belly fire as we had yesterday. We strip off as much wet gear as we can. There is a group of about ten Germans eating lunch. We take some hot drinks – milk tea for Karen and I have a ginger, lemon and honey tea. Sadly time goes by and no food. Rodney, Judy, Karen and I move around to try to get warm. Our lunch of veggie fried rice and potatoes arrives after about 45 minutes and we wolf it down! Finally Carol and Hira arrive so we end waiting around a bit for a debrief. Apparently early on she had lost and way, realised it and returned to the hotel where they put her on the correct way for Hira to meet her. Finally at 2:00 we move on. The cloud surrounds us but it has stopped raining. The path follows a stream up and is quite interesting. By 3:30 we reach the Lucky Lodge for a warm drink and a warm up by their fire. We move on at 4:00. The clouds still surround us and the wind becomes quite cold. I am starting to tire and fall behind the others. We move along a number of ridges and as I cross a saddle the cloud breaks and the sun shines down on the valley below. The vegetation is now quite low and there’s lots of tufty grass. I start to really struggle and Krishh and Karen distance themselves on me. The wind is really quite strong and the path seems to be hanging onto the side of the mountain which drops away sharply. After an uphill climb I finally catch up to Krishh and Karen for a drink. We continue uphill and down hill and finally hear the tinkle of a bell. It turns out to be one of a number of horses at the village we will be staying in. We are in a community lodge here at Bayli Kharka. Rodney and Judy have been there for about 15 minutes. We are shown to our room and quickly change into warm dry clothes after checking for leeches. We make our way to the lodge common room, hang up some things to dry by the pot belly fire, put our boots on the floor nearby and sit down to order some drinks. They soon arrive and we start to warm up. We chat with Judy, Rodney, Grant and Robyn. Rodney and I type a bit too while we wait for our dinners to be cooked. The Germans are here too and they eat before us. There is a bit of drama in the air until Carol finally arrives with two porters at 7:35! We enjoy our dinners of garlic soup, dal baht for Karen and egg fried rice for me followed by a delicious apple pie. We head to bed about 9:30.
Effort of the day – Has to be Carol and Hira with assistance from Susil and Suman arriving well after dark.
After a broken night’s sleep we wake at 6:00 and chat for a bit before getting up about 6:40 when our bowl of warm water arrives for a wash. The bathroom facilities here are very primitive – just a footpad toilet with a floor of large stones. We pack and head to the dining area for breakfast. Our boots are now dry but dirty. We both eat porridge for breakfast and I have a cheese omelette too. Karen has her usual ‘small’ pot of milk tea. As we are eating there is a murmur of excited voices. Even though it has bucketed rain overnight the clouds clear for us to have quite a good view of the valley below. We can even see where we will stay tonight on the other side of the valley. Sadly the clouds still shroud the Dhaulagiri Himal, the main mountain attraction here. We put our wet weather gear on. Carol sets off a bit before us with Hira. We leave about 8:45. Sadly the track is very muddy and leeches are a nuisance. We stop frequently to flick them off our boots and trousers. We descend quite quickly and cross a stream to move to the other side of the valley. The path leads through pastures and the leeches start to wreck the walk. At times the route follows rocky streams both uphill and downhill which is quite fun. Along the way there are many wild flowers so I take a few photos. Whenever we stop at one of the small buildings, which would house animals, we check for leeches and take a drink. The path starts to head up again and after about four hours we are finished walking for the day as our lunch stop is also the community lodge at Upper Chistibung. On arrival the crew help us check for leeches who have managed to invade our clothes. Both Karen and I have some needing removal and we have to clean up the blood for a while until the bleeding stops when we can put on bandaids. Drinks and lunch are ordered. We check out our rooms and the facilities. No proper shower but western toilets. The lodge itself is beautifully constructed of the local stone with wooden interior beams. the floors are of flat local stone. For lunch Karen has tomato pasta and I have veggie noodles. After chatting for awhile we start to take ‘bucket’ showers in turns. The cubicle is clean but it’s pretty cold so we pour water over each other quickly then get dried and dressed again. As there is some water left over we wash a few things which will dry around the pot belly stove. During the remaining part of the afternoon we take it easy, napping, typing, downloading and looking at photos and sitting around the fire chatting. But the most fun was when we started to play cards! We have a yummy egg and veggie fried rice for mains. Then my order of an apple pie turns about to be a culinary masterpiece in the shape of a sun! We get our usual briefing then head to bed about 9:00.
Effort of the day – All of us for surviving the leeches!
Awake early but still no snow covered mountains but we can see most of the nearby hills and even where we stayed the previous night. Karen has milk tea and porridge for breakfast while I try apple muesli and scrambled eggs and chappati. Just before we leave I am extremely surprised and pleased to receive a Nepali beanie from Krishh. Just fabulous! We set off uphill about 8:15 ready for the rain and the leeches! It is hard work in mud at first but then the path narrows to a gravel and rock track. There is only the odd leech which is soon dispatched. Along the way we meet Grant and Robyn coming down from Kopra Ridge. They had gone on a direct path yesterday. They inform us that earlier they had indeed seen mountains! As we continue we run into the Germans coming down too so more chatting before we get going again. Quite a few porters are coming our way including some from World Ex. We have a few drink, snack and toilet stops but find the clouds coming in again, making it quite cold so we put on coats etc. and continue on up. After one quick breather Hira informs us we are only about 15 minutes from the lodge. Fortunately the path becomes a ‘Nepali flat’ one and we take only 12 minutes. Hira shows us to our rooms. We are in room 2. We order drinks and lunch and get into some warmer gear as there is no fire! Our drinks arrive milk tea and lemon and honey tea. We chat while lunch is prepared. We have arrived just in time as it starts to rain. Karen has garlic soup which I taste. I have a veggie pizza. Another Peregrine group arrives soon after quite wet. During the afternoon we play quite a bit of cards. The card group changes at different points to include Krish and Hira. It’s a lot of fun but a bit disappointing as Krishh had offered to take us for a short 15 minutes walk for a different view if the rain stops but it never does! Also during the afternoon the World Ex group arrives. They will be camping next to the lodge but using the dining area and facilities. Having first thought we would have this place to ourselves like last night it’ s going to be busy. Just before dark we go outside to check out the local yak and nak herd and hopefully get a view but just as quickly as the slopes appear they disappear in cloud again. As it is now freezing cold we get into thermal gear. We organise to get a few devices charged at 100 rupees an item. Dinner is served a bit earlier than expected at 6:30. Karen has a delicious large spring roll and I have egg and veggie fried rice. About the time desserts are coming out Krishh comes to the table with a candle and tells us he is going to perform some magic. The lights go out and Suman comes out from the kitchen where he is helping cook with an amazing looking birthday cake made without an oven! It’s a light coloured chocolate cake with nuts in it. He’s managed to ice and write on it with egg white. An amazing effort up here at 3600 metres! Happy birthday is duly sung, photos taken and then I cut the cake. I share it with our group and crew then go around the dining room and offer it to many of the other trekkers. It is really delicious, like a dense sponge cake. For the rest of the night we sit and chat, hear Krishh’s regular briefing, read, type, do puzzles and of course eat cake! Bed is welcome as it will be warm and less smoky than the dining area. Sadly I sleep poorly again having trouble breathing at times. I guess it is the altitude kicking in.
Effort of the day – Suman making me a delicious birthday cake without an oven at 3600 metres