This blog is the account of the first day at the Poonhill Trek in Nepal, famous internationally for the astounding views of the Annapurna range viz. Dhaulagiri and the awe inspiring fishtail pinnacle of Machhapuchhre.
It was a relatively easy day made difficult by the harsh sun. We passed through green pastures, gurgling water streams and charming villages. The sudden rain changed our mood and I fell in love with Nepal. Again. You will never see me posting, “The mountains are calling and I must go!” I think it’s a narcissistic statement. If mountains could speak at all they would have requested us to leave them alone. Never mind. I have deep respect for the mountains and it was lovely to rekindle my secret love affair with them. It was the first real trek I did after the Everest Base Camp trek in 2015.
The mere drive from Thamel (Kathmandu) to Nayapul brought back memories of the Everest Base Camp Trek I completed successfully in Nepal in 2015. Ignoring the mental flashback from my last visit to Nepal, I geared up for a new adventure in Nepal. The previous day, I had an exciting day in the voluptuous Trishuli river in Nepal, indulging in white water rafting. Here is a time wise and day wise account of my adventure packed vacation in Nepal in chronological order: (Pictures on this blog are also shared in chronological order)
8:40 a.m. The first day of the Poonhill Trek was a relatively easy day which started at a village in Nayapul. While arriving at Nayapul, the fishtail pinnacle of Machhapuchhre gave us constant company. Since I was sitting on the right side of the mini-van. , I got good views of Machhapuchhre.
As we maneuvered the uphill road, we made a pit stop 30 minutes into the drive. The views were better from here. Clouds would take turn to hide and reveal the Machhapuchhre to us. We stared at the mountains to our heart’s fill and headed to Nayapul, still 45 minutes away.
10:05 a.m.: The trek started at an unimpressive market selling everything from grocery to trekking gears to medicines, footballs and tiger balms. Noisy construction work went on at several places.
After 20 minutes of walk on the dusty road, we stepped on a downward rocky stair which marked the start of the trail. It promised us 4 days of traffic free paths bereft of dust, heat, pollution and crowd.
10:35 a.m.: As soon as I descended upon the first few steps, a voice on the left
requested donation from me in a cheerful voice. Advised by my trek leader Prasanna to avoid the trap, I moved towards the first iron bridge that we came across during the trek. It was the smallest of the many iron suspension bridges which we would see throughout the trek. Before stepping upon the bridge, a massive Shivalinga and a Trishula hijacked my attention on the right. Clearly, the much revered Hindu symbols worshipped by millions in India also have fans in Nepal. The other side of the bridge took us to a sparsely populated nondescript village. Domestic hens fought for grains, while an aggressive duck attacked anyone who came nearby the wicker basket which housed her offsprings. A dog sat outside a hut nearby, sang-froid and least bothered with all the conflict.
11:00 a.m.: We arrived at a large cement and iron bridge built over the Modi river which gurgled through most part of the first leg of the trek on Day 1. There was a pucca road on the right which gave access to the vehicles. We ignored it and climbed up a stair following the sign which read, “To Ghorepani/Poonhill”. Hindu temples and cute local kids greeted us as we entered a village.
11:35 a.m.: We passed a waterfall, another suspension bridge and a wider river, strewn with big boulders to arrive at a local juice vendor. Every time I am in Nepal, I make it a point to drink Chaba juice. I think it’s a Thai product but very popular in Nepal. The taste is distinct and it is not available in India, so I always drink it when in Nepal.
12:10 a.m.: The trail is still an easy one, most of it being a walk on flat surfaces. The hot sun was the only deterrent. Most of us from the trekking group decided to hang out for a while in a shallow water stream. After 20 minutes of slapping our faces with water, spotting fishes and photo ops, we increased our pace to reach the lunch place early.
12:33 a.m.: We had our lunch at the Mountain Lodge and Restaurant set in a scenic location. Mark, a co trekker from England quipped, “It is like an English garden!” Except the locked Ram Temple, I guess. I was curious to peep inside the Ram temple and was delighted to see that it was exactly like its Indian counterpart. Statues of Lord Ram, his brother Laxman and Sita stood in a row while Lord Hanuman sat and bowed. A horse grazed in the sprawling lawns and dogs played, oblivious to my ‘grand epiphany’. As we rewarded ourselves with carbohydrate rich pizzas and apple pies, it started to rain. The corn plants swayed in the field as rain gently washed away the dust from the foliage. We stared at the fields, romanticizing about the scenery in silence as one of the trek mate showed a selfie he just clicked with a marijuana plant nearby.
2:30 p.m.: We waited for the rains to stop. We finally left the lunch place when it was obvious to us that the rain Gods were not really listening. Some of us carried a rain coat while most of us were not. Nobody anticipated rains and clouds as the trek started under a harsh sun. Our enterprising trek leader got each of us large plastic bags which when slit on one side, turned into a raincoat. ‘Jugad’ as they say in India. From here it was mostly climbing up rocky stairs, though an easy one. Rainfall and an overcast sky had turned the seemingly lackluster landscape into a dreamy paradise. Local dogs joined us till they found a new distraction. An old lady struggled to reach her home near our lodge when my co trekker Swati helped her reach her home. She bid us adieu with the quintessential pure smiles you find on the mountains of India and Nepal.
5:00 p.m.: As I sipped ginger lemon honey tea in the comfort of the lodge, I trained my eyes on the beautiful vistas from the (Soul) window – passing locals, mules, rain drops, the works! The comforting silence was suddenly broken by the terrified scream of my co trekker, Charlene from Malaysia. She just discovered a leech on her feet. God alone alone, since how long the leech was devouring the blood off her feet! Within minutes, she discovered another leech on her feet. It was followed by removing the leech with care and a man hunt on leeches through every one’s clothes and bags. Post a sumptuous dinner of pizza, delicious Swiss potato Rösti and passable custard we moved to our rooms. Me and my co trekkers gathered again on the terrace, allowing light drizzle to fall on our bodies. We bonded over giggles, Nepal stories and anticipation of the next day (Toughest in the itinerary) in pitch dark. Is that what they call a perfect day!
Let’s talk facts:
- Lunch break at Ramghai: We ate at Mountain Lodge and Restaurant. It’s a beautiful place. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy the 4 cheese pizza. The apple pie was passable.Stick to Dal Bhat.
Phone: 9745047089, 9746075301, 9806113542
- Where I stayed in Tikhedunga:
Laxmi Guest House: Its setting is lovely. Our lodge was a colorful building, nothing
fancy but a basic place to spend the night in. Buddhist Prayer flags swayed from the balcony. The bamboo grove housed a wooden sit out area supported on stilts. It was the perfect place to sip a coffee as the rain made music on the tin roof. The rooms are basic. The first floor rooms are better. There is a common balcony which guests can use. The toilets are common. Their tiny café offers delicious Rösti. They have hot shower for extra price. Charging gadgets is free. There are 2 common toilets. Western style in first floor. Indian style in ground floor. Paid Wi-fi available.
- Trekking Time from Nayapul to Tikhedunga:
I started in Nayapul: 10:45 a.m.
I reached Tikhedunga: 4:50 p.m.
(My trekking time is more than usual as I took time to compose pictures and videos and matched pace with co trekkers. Usually this stretch takes around 4 hrs)
- Distance between Nayapul to Tikhedunga via trek route: 13 kms.
- Date: 25th May 2017 (Winter is a better time for this trek)
- Height gained on Day 1 of Poonhill Trek: Nayapul: 1060 meters.Tikhedunga: 1540 meters.
- Grade: Easy
The views from my #SoulWindow get better as I moved.
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