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Published: March 31st 2008
Day 5 - Tadapani to Ghorepani (2,860m)
After yet another yummy breakfast we waddled out of the Tea House several pounds heavier and started our trek off up into the forest. Today was a 6 hour trek with lots of up (there's a surprise), but we still had plenty of time along the way to enjoy the views and do a spot of bird watching and plant ID. Every so often we would get a glimpse of the pristine white mountains through the trees and would grab for the cameras yet again. I don't think I could ever tire of these views. It was lovely to enjoy the coolness of the forest and trekking was easier because of it.
We were following the path of a river below us and as we started to climb higher the steps started to get much steeper and twisted and turned with the contours of the terrain. I got myself into a very steady, slow pace, carefully picking stones out ahead of me that would mean the least amount of hauling myself up. The half steps inbetween became my friends and I really got a good steady rhythm going. So much so that
I found it easier to keep on going rather than having lots of stops. So I would get overtaken by a few of my party only to overtake higher up as they had breaks. This method was taught to me by an extemely fit 70 year old wiley, wise Scottish moutain rescue guy when I was in Lochlomond and Trossachs National Park last year and boy was I grateful!
So we were nearing the top and I was actually keeping up with Krishna, Marc and Phil for once (usually I'm only with thm on the downs - my strong point) when Marc suddenly spotted a monkey crashing up the hillside towards us. A huge black and white monkey lolloped right in front of us and carried on up the moutain Later we found out it was a common Launga monkey. We saw it again as we rested at the top of our climb, clambering about in the trees and I actually managed to capture a passable shot with my 6x zoom.
We AGAIN had amazing views of the snow capped Anapurna range framed beautifully by the glorious pinks of the rhododendrons. Actually being here is soooo amazing (have
I said that before!) I can't stop taking photos, it's so unbelievably beautiful. One of the best things about being here is the complete absense of cars or vehicles of any kind. There are NO roads and everything is carried by either people or animals up the mountain paths. It's amazing therefore to always be able to buy things like bottled water, batteries, mars bars, snickers, toblerone, bottles of coke, sprite, fanta, beer and of course the very prized toilet rolls (a necessity up here/none provided in the often minging squat toilets). I once saw a guy carrying a huge piece of plywood roughly 4' x 6' on his back!
We continued our trek descending into a kind of valley with huge cliffs rising on each side and a rocky river running through the middle. On our break I spotted white capped water redstarts flitting along in amongst the rocks, landing every so often on a handy rock. These are little black and russet coloured birds with a little white cap on top of their heads, very pretty.
As we walk along these paths it's interesting to watch the daily lives of the people who live here, tending
their crops, moving their cattle, ferrying trekkers gear about, balancing what seem like impossible loads for one person to lift (and not just men either, plenty of women carrying equally impossible looking loads). Time and again I see evidence of the pride people take in their homes. They are often very rough looking shacks made of wood and with tin roofs but all the front porches are obviously swept daily and I saw more stacks of neatly piled wood.
In this valley everything seems so HUGE and the scenary around us is just so BIG! I love it so much :-)
As we climbed gently out of the valley we were sauntering along when Krishna, leading the group, turned around and said 'Ark, ark!' We looked puzzled and then suddenly realised what he was saying was actually 'Yak, yak!' as in the stream ahead stood about 5 hairy yaks. We came to Nepal and we saw yaks!! Raj told us that we were very lucky to see them as usually they don't venture down the mountains this far (either because it is too hot for them or because they are tethered to be able to milk them). So
not only yaks but a rare sighting of yaks for our particular trip. Doubly big grins all round. These ones were all females and a lot smaller than we'd imagined, with long furry coats, big furry tails and curly top knots. Further up the path we saw some more resting in the grass, all with big bells clanging around their necks.
Our dinner stop was at Deurali, a spot where lots of routes seem to cross. After a long break and another fantastic feast we set off up and up again this time along a forested ridge with bamboo on each side. All around us was the heady scent of the daphne blossoms. Wonderful. I spotted some berberis growing on the hillside (a UK garden shrub) and Raj also pointed out another plant who's name I've forgotten with aromatic leaves that is used for insence. The ridge opened up into wide sweeping views across a more grassy open area with views all around. From here we could see the watch tower on top of Poon Hill (our early morning climb for the next day!). I sat with Raj looking through his Nepalese plant and bird books comparing what we
have in the UK with what was in the book. I spotted sun flowers, poppies, monkshood, daisies, orchid and many which were just imported garden plants for us. He was also interested to hear we only have the black and white magpies as Nepal versions are extremely exotic and colourful.
We then had another knee crunching slog down hill on the ever present stone steps. At one point Raj sent Govinda and Krishna off into the bushes only to appear 5 minutes later with rhododendron blossoms for us! We finally arrived in Ghorepani and shuffled off to our rooms with heavenly HOT showers and rooms with views to die for! Here I should explain that 'room' is a loose term. The walls are usually made of ply wood and you can hear everything in the next room. In fact with the beds shoved up against the same dividing wall we found it amusing to say who we had been 'sleeping with' the previous night at each of the Tea Houses. The funniest version of which went. Michelle: So how was it sleeping with a 60 year old woman last night Marc?. Marc: She didn't have any complaints!
settling in we huddled in the dining room (it is VERY cold now that we are higher up). The evening turned into a bit of an adult education session with Helen learning some Nepalese from Krishna, Krishna learning some Irish from Helen and Niahm learning how to knot friendship bracelets. I now have 5 official friends but with embroidery threads running out this may be as many as I get.
With a very early start looming (5am!) we needed and early night but still had our nightly 'talk' from Raj about Nepal. Unfortunately we were all still suffering from Altitude Hilarity and sitting opposite Michelle was fatal as soon as Raj started mentioning Ghorepani (yadayadayadapani was going through our heads and this naturally had us trying desparately to control giggles and not look at each other. I was praying he wouldn't mention speices again or I would have had to leave the room!
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