Pun Hill Intended
Some of you may have been wondering why we’ve been a little quiet the last few days…we managed to do something that seems fairly impossible these days and went off grid. For four glorious days we have been trekking in the Annapurna Himal amidst some incredible mountain scenery, with not a Wi-Fi signal in sight!
Keen to escape the fug of Kathmandu and inhale some mountain air, we hopped on a bus to Pokhara last weekend and spent a few days relaxing by the Lakeside, as well as doing a warm-up walk to give our legs some warning of what we had in store for them. A two hour almost vertical clamber up to Sarangkot was a bit of a shock to the system, but we made it to the top, sweaty and feeling a little like superheroes. We were greeted by panoramic views of Pokhara’s Lake Phewa and a glimpse of the mighty snow-topped Annapurna mountains peeking out from the clouds.
To muster all the energy we needed for our trek, we simply did what we love to do, eat as much delicious local food as we possibly could. Our first evening in Pokhara we sauntered over to quite possibly the best food joint in town, Asian Tea House, where the owner Shiva instantly recognised David even though it had been 3 years since his last visit! Two giant plates of Dal Bhat (with seconds!) and two steaming mugs of masala tea later, and we were about ready to fall into a happy food coma. This small family-run place might not seem like much from the outside – just some plastic chairs and tables in an alleyway with a tiny open kitchen, but when you visit Asian Tea House you are guaranteed amazing food and warm company.
With our energy levels topped up, and clutching all of the relevant trekking permits, we were finally ready to head off into the mountains. We decided on a fairly short trek, a round trip to Ghorepani and Poon Hill (quite often referred to as Pun Hill on local signs which made us smile) with a starting point about two hours away by local bus. The first step of our walk was a lovely sunny ramble along the riverbank from Birethanti to Tikhedunga, where our guidebook rather alarmingly informed us there were over 3300 stone steps between us and Ghorepani! We decided the sensible thing to do would be to tackle these in two stages, so we broke our journey about a third of the way up at Ulleri, and after warming bowls of noodle soup we settled down for the night in a cosy lodge with great views. The next day, the seemingly neverending stone staircase continued upwards before depositing us in Ghorepani sweaty and tired, but with our first proper close up view of the mountains as a reward.
Temperatures in Ghorepani fell to a chilly 5° which meant we had to sleep with all of our clothes on, and two duvets. With this in mind, dragging ourselves out into the cold at 4.30am the next day in order to climb Poon Hill to watch the sunrise was not an attractive prospect, but we had to admit that it was definitely worth it! It seemed like we were sharing the viewing platform with every other tourist in the Annapurnas as we all waited, shivering, for the sun to appear and work its magic, highlighting the mountains and painting everything with a beautiful orange glow.
Day three of our trek was embodied by what they call ‘Nepali flat’ – a little bit up, a little bit down! We climbed steeply up from Ghorepani and then followed along a ridge and through gorgeous autumnal forest, before one final climb to Tadapani and some well deserved lunch. On the way down you would think it would be easier, but the descent was deceitful – our calves were begining to feel like cement, stiffening with each step. When we eventually collapsed into bed that night all we could see were steps, many steps!
The morning after we tucked into a plate of Gurung bread and jam, and a cup of frothy coffee to aid our final day of walking. We found ourselves drawn into competition with other trekkers (unbeknownst to them!) to reach the bottom first. A few hours later we emerged victors! We exchanged a high five, treated ourselves to an ice cold drink, and collapsed into a taxi which took us back to Pokhara. That night after probably the best shower we’ve ever had, we greeted our friend Shiva at Asian Tea House to dine like trekking champions on mountains of Dal Bhat.
We’re going to rest our weary legs now, and maybe raise a beer or two! But if you like our posts, we also have an Instagram account @nofixedhome and a Facebook page https://m.facebook.com/nofixedhome where we post more pics and videos.