Trekking

Trekking
Ghandruk, Nepal

Ghandruk, Nepal


Oh, I am so underprepared for this… TL;DR Ouch, my poor legs. Basically I am unfit, and a whingey wuss who is now in a world of muscle crampy pain Day one trekking: Ghandruk From Pokhara we get the bus to Nayapul, the start of our trek. On the way, we saw Annapurna mountain range in the distance, so we stopped to take some photos. The first part before lunch is through a couple of villages, fairly flat dirt path, passing by some streams. We had been dreading rain, as the forecast had threatened it, but it was sunny and hot. So much so that my backpack was starting to absorb my sweat. We had a brief stop at a waterfall. Some of the group went to the base of it, and jumped into the basin at the bottom for a bit. The water was icy though – my feet turned red from being so cold. It was refreshing though on the hot day. We continued onward until a stop for lunch at a teahouse. I had noodle soup, the safe option for my tummy. Apparently the same stock had been used for my soup as the vege curry ordered by other people. The watery curry didn’t look quite as nice as my soup. After lunch we started the promised uphill portion. And uphill it was. Hundreds of very steep stone steps kept going up and up. At first I thought it was only temporarily steep, as the landings were frequent to begin with, so I had a chance to power up a flight and catch my breath for a bit. Then it kept going, and it it stopped being switchbacks and started going straight uphill, no flat plateaus, no landings, just stairs. We had stops at teahouses and little seated areas, but it kept sloping up. Some parts were dirt slope, but it was flight after flight, up and up. My quads were killing me, and my back is soaked with sweat. We kept this up until 6pm. I really struggled in the last set of stairs. Every time I looked up, there was another set of stairs disappearing behind a bend high above me. Me and a British girl are exchanging pained looks and complaints about how our legs are hurting, encouraging each other up the steps. Suddenly, we are there! The snow capped mountains make a beautiful view from the common area. Pulling up a plastic chair, just about everyone is ordering a beer to celebrate our arrival. We have our own bathrooms, and the rooms are basic, but clean. I had a shower first, but I couldn’t figure out which of the 4 knobs was the hot water, so I had a rather cold shower. My roommate figure out the hot tap was on the wrong side, so I jumped back in to wash some of the sweat off me before bed. I was thinking I wouldn’t need my down jacket, but thank goodness I brought it, because the night became quite cold. I had a hot chocolate with dinner to warm up. Day two: Landruk My quads are so sore from yesterday, I’m afraid I won’t make it today. I didn’t bring any magnesium salts, deep heat or muscle recovery stuff with me. Dammit. Luckily my roommate gave me some magnesium powder. The weather was too cold last night for my sweaty clothes from yesterday to dry. But I had to pack them up anyway. We’re told today won’t be as bad as yesterday. The start will be downhill… It was a lovely area through forests, under the cover of tress, it was almost cold. The problem was it was steep uneven rocks, covered in moss or wet from a water running down streams that crossed our path. Quite a few people slipped, although no real injuries. Only our CEO, who grabbed a barb wire fence to catch his fall. It took a lot of concentration to keep our footing and pick a stable surface with each step. One guy was having trouble with his knee, and he began to fall behind. It began to even out – medium up and medium down. We crossed a couple of bridges strung across rivers, and began an uphill stretch to our lunch stop at the top of a crest… None other than stone stairs. Gah! Luckily the stairs didn’t last long, and we ordered our lunch and had a drink. While waiting for our lunch to be prepared, we walked down the valley to a hot spring to chill out for an hour. I was cursing every step downward because I knew we would have to climb up it again afterward. It was a good 10-15 mins walk too. I didn’t particularly want to go there in the first place, but the fear of missing out (FOMO) made me move my aching legs. I also wasn’t sure about having to get changed, and then carry wet bathers – which may not dry overnight. Despite this, I did go, and I did have a dip. The springs were actually tiled pools beside a raging river, which itself was ice cold. So cold it made my feet numb from standing in the water for a minute. The hot springs were warm, not scalding hot. Good to relax our muscles in. Trudged back up, focused on the food at the top (cautiously hungry, I ordered chapati with cheese and a fried egg for protein). My stomach was still a little queasy, but improving I think. While waiting for lunch, we saw a gathering of people. A trekker had apparently had a heart attack and died, and they had to move his body to the helipad to be transported home. After lunch, we retraced our steps back a bit, heading to our accommodation in Landruk. Steady upward, no steps until the very last ascent from the base of the village to our teahouse. So puffed. It was my calves complaining this time. This time we weren’t so lucky, and had a common bathroom. I jumped in early to get the hot water. We had dinner under the stars. I discovered that ginger tea was not too bad, and helped settle my stomach more than I expected. Day three: Dhampus After my very lovely trek mates lent me antibiotics and probiotics to soothe my tummy, I felt really good at breakfast. I scarfed down my pancake with lemon sugar and still felt hungry. My calves are quite vocal today, telling me this should not be happening right now. It takes me a couple of hours to get the stiffness out and stop aching. I think other people are feeling it a bit too. I think it was wishful thinking that we were going back to Pokhara today, because I’m pretty sure I’m down to my last pair of clean undies… Oops. Luckily my emergency, just in case style of packing means that I have enough clothes for tomorrow even when nothing seems to dry overnight. Today was mostly following the jeep tracks, which are not steep, just muddy and uneven. But we are all thankful for the lack of steps. It is up and down, but mostly steady downhill. We reach the lunch stop, which is apparently the best Nepalese cuisine in the mountains, so we all order chicken dal baht, which is kind of like thali, but less dishes. Lentil soup, chicken curry, steamed spinach, rice and pickles. It was alright, but not as flavourful as Indian cooking. Our CEO told us we were making such good time that we had 30 mins after lunch to have a nap, lying on the grass. It was really nice! The only thing that kept us from spending more time there was the threat of rain, wispy clouds floating down from the top of the mountain. It was only another hour to get to the hotel, called Paradise View. It certainly had a nice view of the mountains – the restaurant was glass all the way around. Yay for a short day! And good timing too, because the rain started about 30 mins after we arrived. We had time to chill out, and then met to order dinner, have a few drinks and get ready for a party tonight, entertainment courtesy of our porters and CEO. They played drums, danced and invited us to join them. We played limbo, just generally blew off steam. I tried the local moonshine called raksi. It was strong tasting but surprisingly smooth. They brought a guy with achondroplasia over to the party and said he was a Nepalese actor. He autographed a couple of peoples arms! He was a funny guy. Some of us went onto the rooftop to watch the stars and get away from then increasingly drunken ruckus.


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