Trekking in Nepal: A Diary - Part 2 of 6
In this enthralling second part, our intrepid trekker, more used to pounding London shopping streets in high heels, finds herself in the foothills of the Himalayas with an athletic Frenchman whose ego was bigger than the Eiffel Tower: can she survive another twelve days?
(If you missed part one, and can bear to read it, click here).
DAY THREE: BIRETHANI – ULLERI
And then there were two. Bravely we set off at 8 o’clock for the 4 ½ hour journey. Pierre assured me the first two hours were easy, the second tough. We had 1000 metres to climb.
Like he said, the first couple of hours were bearable. He promised to walk slowly, but I had to push myself to keep him in sight. There was a group of Germans I kept running into and a herd of donkeys to overtake, but by the time we hit the coffee break I’d made it. Pride swelling, after all I’d cleared the donkeys and even lost the Germans, I approached Pierre ready to share my joy. Before I’d so much as opened my mouth, he was pointing impossibly high up the mountain towards our destination.
Two wobbly suspension bridges later we parted company. He told me I should reach Ulleri by 12:30. It was an uphill climb, but I made it, and on the way I even began to appreciate what I was doing, or rather, seeing. The views were spectacular: lush, green vegetation interspersed with tiny wooden houses on stilts, with gushing crystal-clear streams and waterfalls never far from view. It was a joy to be able to see my surroundings for the first time, rather than having to concentrate on where next to place my aching feet.
I arrived at 12:33 and even Pierre seemed impressed. I was in much better spirits than the past two days, and these rose further still as during the next hour we were joined by a French couple and a German I’d passed en route.
So the girl from London, who’s never carried a backpack in her life and thought that crossing Putney High Street was dangerous enough had made it, and what’s more, beaten other people.
ICE COLD SHOWER
LOO MILES AWAY
DAY FOUR: ULLERI - GOREPANI
Had another rubbish night’s sleep and my whole body’s aching. Set off for the four hours’ trek to Goripani, up 800 meters which Pierre assured me would be easier than yesterday.
The first hour I had a herd of donkeys up my bum, so had to go fast (for me) to lose them. They’re either following you, threatening to trample over you, or approaching you, threatening to tip you down a ravine. Their jingling bells, normally such a happy sound, are becoming as menacing to me as the signature tune of Jaws. So there I was, puffing and panting, when Pierre called out: ‘zees ees noffing, ees dancing for me’ and promptly started to hop, skip and jump up the hill. I noticed he only chose to do so while passing another shagged-out mere mortal like myself.
We had a break after an hour in which he told me how this day was nothing to him, and how he’d be going further if it wasn’t for me. Then we parted company, and I started my weary trudge, followed closely by a group of Australians and English, some French and Germans, all of whom had porters. Trekking? Pah! They don’t know the meaning of the word!
For the next three hours I was in deep forest, which I loved, with huge red rhododendron trees, lush green vegetation and the odd waterfall and stream. I even remembered to take some photos. (Editor’s Note: unfortunately, not digital.)
The last half hour though really started hurting. It’s funny how the pain moves around your body. It starts in the chest, which gets tight and breathless, then it moves to your legs, which feel like they need caste-iron surgical stockings for support, and then it goes to your back, and the pack just gets heavier and heavier until you want to throw the ******* thing down a ravine.
At Gorepani I had to sign in at the check-post. Only then did I realise just how cold and overcast it was becoming. Next I had to find the lodge – I knew it would be the furthest away, somewhere stuck up the steepest of slopes for ‘ze beautifullest views’. I couldn’t work out which one it could be, and called out feebly. It was cold, and I contemplated stopping to put on my jacket but thought it couldn’t be much further.
I made a wrong turn up some steep steps and had to go back. Then I heard a laughing Pierre calling out to me and found the right way. Inside the lodge was a beautiful fire, which I promptly sat beside. It was a little before midday. I told Pierre that I’d had to wait at the checkpoint and had made a slight detour, but he merely announced that he’d been there since 10:45, had tea and doughnuts at a place in the village, and had been enjoying the fire since. Then he picked up a book and started to read.
A massive snowstorm blew up and I was grateful to have missed it by about twenty minutes, and felt sorry for the other poor buggers left out there. Pierre brought me some hot chocolate laced with rum, and I started to feel human.
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HOT SHOWER AVAILABLE OUTSIDE
LOO OUTSIDE (CLEAN)
In our next unmissable instalment, our intrepid heroine has a rest day lined up in a village known for its hot springs and great cakes. Nothing could possibly go wrong, could it…?
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