This blog is the account of the third 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 is a 4 part series. Link to other blogs from the series are in the footnote.
Day 3rd of the famous Poonhill Trek was also the most important one. The pitter patter of the rain woke up at 3:30 a.m. and not the alarm. I saw my dreams of trekking upto Poonhill being dashed. I was disappointed but also secretly happy that I am saved 3 hours of trekking. Day 2 of Poonhill Trek was the most difficult and our bodies craved for rest.
The plan was to trek up to Poonhill (3 hours, going up, staying and coming down), return for breakfast and head to Tadapani. We planned to catch the Annapurna range bathed in early morning sun from the Poonhill. It is one of the most famous things to see in Nepal and needless to say, the whole point of the Poonhill Trek.
3:30 a.m.: Never mind, I feigned my disappointment when the trek leader Prasanna knocked my door to announce that the trek upto Poonhill was cancelled. We were asked to go to sleep again and meet at 7 a.m. for breakfast after which we had to leave for Tadapani. I tried to sleep again while mumbling to my co trekker in my adjoining room through wooden partition. Not having bathed for 2 days, I decided to go for paid hot shower (NC 100) early morning.
8:25 a.m.: We bid adieu to the Hotel Hill Top in Ghorepani, the valley around it still shrouded in mist and mystery. During the beginning of the trek, we navigated through steep slate stairs amidst dense forest. Ponies jostled for space in the narrow patch. Around 9 a.m., we arrived at a clearing and trekked in open fields under clouded sun. A large stone platform, decorated with colorful prayer flags offered us resting place as soon as the stairs ended. The buffaloes sat nonchalantly and chewed cud as we huffed and puffed our way through the lush green mountains.
9:50 a.m.: We also passed the Deurali Danda, the highest point on the trek which clocked around 10,000 feet. Wooden logs artistically lodged in the mountain side served as the stairs (to heaven, eh).
The top was again decorated with prayer flags and neatly arranged stone slabs doubled up as seating place. It was misty, breezy and we sped up to save our exposed ears and hands.
10:45 a.m.: We entered a dense forest, still cold and misty. Tall trees dwarfed us throughout. The fallen trees offered us good photo ops. The forest was abruptly interrupted with civilization in a small patch. At around 11:40 a.m., we rested for a while in a charming tea shop for loo and snacks break. The board near the tea shop indicated: ‘Ghandruk’.
12:11 p.m.: After a brief rest, we descended the neatly paved rock stairs to discover a forest even more gorgeous than the one we left behind. We crossed gentle water streams over small wooden bridges. 3rd day of the Poonhill trek was undoubtedly the best. Gushing waterfalls, voluptuous water streams, abandoned wooden houses in the middle of nowhere, fluttering Buddhist flags and damp forest marked the trail.
1: 00 p.m.: I believe the real joy of trekking lies in observing minute details. Processionary moth caterpillars caught our attention. A total of 43 (yes, we counted) processionary moth caterpillars marched in neat nose to tail columns, clinging to each other and moving forward in a disciplined manner. 2 or 3 had fallen out of the line and were attempting to join the parade again.
But why do they crawl in a procession? After a certain period of time, the caterpillars leave their nest and crawl down the tree in search of dry and soft mud to burrow underground and pupate. It’s fascinating to know that they turn into moths underground. Unfortunately, the cute creatures are seen as pests. It is advised not to touch them because their urticating hair causes skin irritation.
Around 2:30 p.m.: We stopped at a quaint restaurant in the middle of forest and I devoured lip smacking pasta. Detail about this place is in the foot note.
4: 00 p.m.: Few minutes into the trail, Prasanna, our Nepalese guide signaled me and Swati, my co trekker from India to stay silent. Jeniffer, the American blogger friend who was trekking with me, was curiously looking at a dense tree. Me and Swati rushed to the spot expecting a leopard (not sure if they exist in this area) or any other exotic animal hanging out on the tree. We were sorely disappointed when we realized that it was a langoor monkey which stopped Jeniffer in her tracks. It was a novelty for her. Me and Swati have grown up hobnobbing with langoors. We laughed our way forward as Jennifer focused her lens on the languor monkey.
Just when I was thinking that the day was perfect, a tiny leech clung fiercely to my wrist, surreptitiously sucking my blood. On realizing its evil intentions, I immediately got rid of the leech without killing it. It was my first ‘leech on my body experience’. It was curious how that leech landed up on my wrist. I was just standing and resting under a dense canopy of trees when I felt slight irritation on my wrist. The mark left by the leech stayed for some days thereafter. Lasting travel memories are made up of these.
5:20 p.m.: Raucous hens welcomed us in Tadapani. As we headed to Fishtail View Top Lodge, our abode for the day, I was charmed by the little village it was set in. It was cloudy and drizzling slightly. We freshened up and huddled together in the dining area over conversations and comforting ginger lemon honey tea. I stole some time and strolled around the village when Mark, my co trekker from UK joined me. I was most delighted to be in Tadapani. It was the most soothing place in the entire stretch for me.
Let’s talk facts:
Lunch break at:
Tranquility Lodge in Banthanti, Kaski: They had some really well made pasta in arabiatta sauce. I also sampled the dal bhat ordered by my co trekker Swati. The accompanying chutney was delicious. It is set in the middle of the forest and has pleasing al fresco and indoor dining as well. Their lemonade was brilliant. Clean loos available.
Phone – 061 – 696871, 9746058695
Where I stayed in Tadapani:
Fishtail View Top Lodge in Tadapani: Of all the 4 days of Poonhill treks (Pls see my other blogs from the series), I loved this lodge the most. The rooms were same as those of other lodges but what set it apart was its setting. The lodge had a large courtyard surrounded by rooms and dining area on 3 sides. The open side faced the Annapurna ranges. We had awe inspiring views of snow clad mountains the next morning. (Read about it in the next blog, link below) The food here is good. The potato Rösti or Thukpa were well made. The apple pie was no great shakes though. They also had a chocolate filled apple pie which didn’t appeal to me. Water bottle refilling facility is available here. The loo is shared and could have been better maintained. There are grocery shops near and within the lodge. They sell all the basics including beer and Pringles, eh! I suggest a walk around the village. We even indulged in a post prandial walk in the huge courtyard of the lodge under the stars over conversations.
Trekking Time from Ghorepani to Tadapani:
I started in Ghorepani: 8:40 a.m.
I reached Tadapani: 5:36 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 5 hrs)
Distance between Ghorepani to Tadapani via trek route: 15 kilometers.
Date: 27th May 2017 (Winter is a better time for this trek)
Height difference on Day 3 of Poonhill Trek.
Ghorepani: 2900 meters
Poon Hill: 3210 meters
Tadapani: 2600 meters
The views from my #SoulWindow were soothing!
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