Mates and Mountains

We came in through the West border, to a place called Bhimdatta where people still use horse and carriage. Kerr, Isabel and I were the only westerners there and everyone stared at us, almost as if they had never seen pale skin before. We took the first cheap room we could find and relaxed, we were so tired. I started to come down with a migraine and I owe it to my travelling companions, encouraging me to keep eating in spite of my nausea, to drink water and taking care of me until the pain passed. We spent two nights there before jumping on a bus that would take 18 hours to get to Pokhara. Just as we were pulling away there was a frantic tapping at my window, and usually that meant someone was there either selling something or begging for money. I looked down to see our hotel manager had run to catch the bus before it took off to give me a plug I had left behind in the room. The kindness surprised me and we pulled away waving goodbye.

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This is Nepal.

It was the smoothest bus ride we had, but still tiring and in the process I lost my phone only to find it just before a bus pulled into the park and ran it over. See you later iPhone.

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We got to Pokhara and spent a few days doing absolutely nothing, recovering. Over night buses really take it out of you. Pokhara is a nice place, with a lake and paragliding and the most western shops I have seen in months. However it was more of an in between place, where the hikers would go before heading up to the mountains or coming down to indulge in hot showers and nice food.

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It was time to head to the mountains.

We decided to do the Annapurna Base Camp trek, or ABC, which takes about eight to ten days. Permits were acquired, rooms were paid for, and soon enough we were on a bus destined for Nayapul. However, we ended up being dropped off further along which meant  a lot less walking for the first day.

Hiking was probably just as difficult as the Vipassana course in a different kind of way. You’re constantly moving your body, but unless you decide to listen to music or have conversation with those around you, then you’re most likely going to be in your head for at least five hours a day. Which means all those thoughts that you were diverted from when distracted finally have a chance to come in and be looked at.

There is almost no words to say for this journey, and the photos can only give you a taster of how beautiful it is, but a lot of lessons were learned along the way.

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Day One – Arrive at New Bridge 

Isabel’s two top trekking rules;

  1. Keep your dry clothes dry.
  2. Hydrate or die.

Rule two turned out pretty essential.

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Day Two – Chomrong 2140m

 As you hike, prices increase faster than the altitude so it’s good to budget around 2000 Nepali rupees a day. Most of the villagers make money out of what food you buy, so the room prices are lower then average but a meal can go from 260 to 440 by the end of the trail. You also will start being charged for shower, phone charge and wifi usage.

Dahl bahts can be expensive, but the pro is that most of the time you will get free refills (double check first), cons are that I could never fit more than one plate in so a smaller, cheaper meal suited me fine.

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Day Three – Bamboo 2335m (Turns out the sign is wrong…or the leaflet is wrong…)

 Monsoon is actually a great time to go. We went in the first week of June, which meant there was less people and you could occasionally enjoy a teahouse to yourself. It is also more cloudy so the sun is less scorching, and as long as you have a waterproof cover for yourself and your bag the rain isn’t too bad. The villagers have less business too, say hello to better deals like free wifi or a free room. I really enjoyed the lack of people on the trail.

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Day Four – Deurali 3230m

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 Deurali was a good place to start to acclimatise, as now you’re starting to hit altitude. Some people might not feel it at all, but it’s good to keep hydrated and take your time. After 3000m it’s recommended not to ascend more that 500m daily. If sickness gets bad going down even 500m can help a lot.

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Every sight was breath taking, and we weren’t even within the mountains yet…

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Day Five – Annapurna Base Camp!! 4130m

We made it! From Deurali to ABC was an increase of 900m (so we didn’t really listen to the rules, and some people felt the altitude), but we walked a way higher than the base camp before coming back down as that can help with the altitude.

I had briefly parted aways with my original crew and met a Swedish girl, as well as a father and three sons from America. They were all so interesting and doing some fantastic things, and later when we had left the group we looked up Garrett’s dance group called Hammerstep and were blown away by his performance. Kieran was in with solar power and Connor had just been living in India for quite a while so we all had stories to listen to. Hanging out with a family again felt like home which was great surrounded by beautiful mountains.

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Day Six – Bamboo

Coming down is a lot faster than going up of course, but also quite hard on the knees. One thing I tried to do after every day was really stretch, even when we stopped for lunch. It was amazing how some really good stretching would relieve the muscles instantly and return some energy into them. I also had Arnica cream with me for any pain from overuse or pulled muscles.

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Day Seven and Eight – Chomrong

Julia (the Swedish girl) and I decided to stay two nights here while the boys continued on to the rest of their hike. We were both pretty tired and thought it would be nice to really enjoy the mountain while we were here. It was a heart filled goodbye as I had quickly developed a soft spot for the boys but it was too beautiful to spend just hiking the whole time.

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On the eighth day Isabel and Kerr caught up with us as well and so we spent the second night with them.

Day Nine – Back in Pokhara

The mountains were so beautiful, and if I was to stay in one place up there I don’t think I would ever be able to come down. We all came back with a refreshed mind set and energy that only could be gained through real connection with the environment and connection with the self. Hiking is definitely a sort of therapy and not to be missed in Nepal.

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