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Nepal

Himalaya Trek

Lynette writing here. Nepal is awesome and is already at the top of both mine and Dave's list of favorite countries we have visited. We are currently in the town of Pokhara which is the ending and starting point for a lot of the treks in the Annapurna area of the Himalayas. There are so many treks you can do in Nepal so Dave and I went to the trekking company in our hotel and told them we were looking for about a week long trek that wasn’t too difficult but gave us good views and went through some mountain villages. We were set up on the Ghorepani/Poon Hill 7 day trek along with a porter to carry our backpack and a guide so we didn’t get lost in the Himalayas and eaten by the Yeti that roams these mountains. We flew from Katmandu on March 31st and then started our 7 day trek through the Annapurna area the next day. This was an amazing experience. Physically more difficult than anything I have ever done before. It started out easy enough but got much harder. The first day involved about 4 hours of walking on relatively flat ground. It involved some up and down but nothing like we experienced on day 2 and day 3.

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That night we stayed at our first “lodge” or “tea house.” Now before you conjure up thoughts of warm cozy inns with fireplaces, blankets, and warm cuddly soft couches to snuggle in and drink a cup of hot cocoa let me set you straight. These lodges or tea houses, as they are sometimes called, are basically converted barns. They are not heated and it is COLD in the Himalayas. The walls are so thin and have cracks between the boards so you not only can clearly hear the person in the room next to you, you sometimes can also see them. The toilet facilities were usually not only outside but sometimes down a flight of stairs and across a yard. This made having to go to the toilet in the middle of the very frigid night a real experience. Hot water was scarce and laundry facilities non-existent so as you can imagine Dave and I were looking and smelling pretty ripe by the end of our trek. The lodges and tea houses are run by families who live in the small villages scattered throughout the mountains. They make a decent living by running these lodges and giving the massive amounts of trekkers who hike in these mountains a place to sleep for the night and food to eat.

Here are some photos from along the trek:
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This time of year is beautiful because of all of the blossoming flowers. Everywhere you looked as far as the eye could see there were trees with pink and red flowers.
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Here's an example of one of the primitive lodge interiors:
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Only a few places had a fire stove in the "restaurant" for getting warm and drying clothes:
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We were welcomed to take photos in one of the lodge kitchens:
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Along the trail there were several "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" type rope bridges. We often felt we'd fall through the loose hole-ridden wooden slats.
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In the villages and on the trail cute children were always smiling and waving and saying "Namaste" (hello) They would usually follow by saying "sweet?" (meaning "please give me some candy")trek_kids.jpg
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The 2nd day of our hike was definitely harder than the first. It involved a lot of uphill hiking. The inclines are steep and usually involve tons of stair steps. On this day we began by walking over 4500 stone steps up the side of a mountain. We took breaks when we needed but with the increase in altitude (even though it was less than 3000 meters) we seemed to be experiencing quicker shortness of breath. We had just reached the outskirts of our destination for the night which was the village of Ghorepani when it started to rain and then the rain turned into a hailstorm. Thank goodness we were in a village so we could run for some shelter and wait it out. In a matter of minutes the green grass looked like it was in the middle of the winter and there had just been a snow fall. That night we slept at the highest altitude we would sleep, which was over 2800 meters. Altitude is supposed to affect your sleep and I would definitely say that neither Dave nor I slept very well over 2000 meters. Just in-and-out kind of sleep.

The next day the melting hail appeared as beautiful snow along the trail. It contrasted wonderfully with the red flowers in the trees. I hope the colors come across on your screens.
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The 3rd day was the hardest. We had to wake up at 4:30 a.m. and walk straight up a mountain for about an hour on rough stone steps. This was so we could get to the top of Poon Hill to see the sunrise over the Annapurna range. After several breaks we made it and because it was a clear day we could see the numerous peaks on the Annapurna range in all their glory. There are about 5 or 6 you can see from this view and again this is just amazing. The day had just begun however and we had hours and hours of stair climbing in front of us until we reached our next destination for the night. Going up is hard but going down is treacherous. It is really easy to slip on the rocks and loose gravel going down a steep incline and it is also really hard on your ankles, calves, and knees. We made it though without any injuries thank goodness. After going down P Hill we walked for awhile and again had to go about an hour straight up and then back down, and then we again had to go straight up stone steps to our destination. This all involved hours and hours of walking – probably about 6 1/2 to 7 hours. We were exhausted when we finally reached the village of Tadapani where we spent the night. It again hailed that day but we had been at our lodge for an hour before it started. Quite a few people were not so lucky including a group of 13 Americans on an eleven day camping trek. The weather was so nasty and cold that instead of setting up their tents, their guide made the decision to have them stay in the lodge instead. It was so cold – freezing cold. I had all my layers on and I was covered with the down sleeping bag. This was a low point for us since this was by far the worst lodge we had stayed at. At first we could not get our door to latch close and it kept opening up with a strong gust of wind. There was no electricity so there was no light in our room. (Fortunatley we'd brought small flashlights.) We were so tired and not feeling well and freezing cold and on and on. To keep our spirits up we said it could be worse – we could be on a camping trek like the American group!

Here are some shots of us after conquering the tough morning climb to the top of Poonhill for the gorgeous view:
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The Sofie Star makes it to the Himalayas! Thanks Sofie!
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Lynette tries to keep warm in the freezing cold:
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The 4th and 5th days were actually not too difficult in comparison but none of the trekking days were easy. You are either going up or down. The 4th day we stayed at our favorite village on the trek and our favorite lodge. The town we stayed in was called Ghandruk and it was this picturesque little village with old houses and carved wooden window frames. The lodge we stayed at was well run and actually had an attached western style toilet in the room!!!!! You have no idea how excited this made Dave and me. The dining room was nice and the food was good, it was really nice. We could have stayed here for a few days. This is also the place where Dave drew our trekking guide whose name was Prakesh. The owner of the lodge saw the drawing and asked Dave to draw him the next day in exchange for a drawing of Dave by the owner’s daughter – who was probably around 10/12 years old. The drawing of Dave by this little girl is absolutely adorable. She made Dave look slightly Nepali and this drawing is absolutely one of the highlights and will be framed hanging on the wall in our house some day. Whenever Dave draws it always gets attention and people respond so positively to it and it is a wonderful way to connect to the people when you don’t know their language, and in my opinion shows respect to their culture. The 5th day we spent in Jhinu near the hot springs. To get to the hot springs you had to go down stone steps for about 30 minutes. I soaked my weary bones in the spring and enjoyed the environment while Dave sat on a big bolder in the middle of the river and watched the rapids rush by.

A few shots of the area around Ghandruk village:
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Farming is still the main occupation in Nepal. The farmland is made up of terraces down the sides of the mountains. We saw these everywhere and it made us think of the farming challenges that exist because of this. All planting and harvesting is done by hand. trek_farm_layers.jpg

It was a lot of fun for Dave to do the Sketch of the lodge owner, even if a bit stressful with the whole family watching over his shoulder with excitement. Afterward they posed with their portraits:gurung_sketching1.jpg
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Here's the adorable drawing of Dave (as a Nepali)
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The 6th day we walked to the village of Pothana which was a pleasant walk, again of course going up/down and then the 7th we had a short 2 and a half hour walk to our ride back to civilization.

The trekking experience is one of my favorite experiences ever. It is not easy but completely worth it. We met tons of people on the trails from all over the world. We met an American Mom trekking with her 3 teenage children. We saw smaller children than that hiking the trails with their families. The people who live in these areas are hearty and strong. There is a porter tradition where they carry goods up and down the mountains using these special baskets that are carried on their back with a cloth strip that goes around the front of their head so the bulk of the weight is taken by their foreheads. Women, men, and children all carry things in this way. Some of the loads these people were carrying were extreme. This tradition also is applied to trekking. We had a porter named Ram but he was from the city so he did not do the forehead thing (only villagers do the forehead thing – they start training their kids at an early age) but he did tie together several packs and sleeping bags and carry the entire load.

The porters even sometimes carry tables up the hills to be assembled later for the camping treks.
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Our porter was very excited to get a portrait by Dave as well:
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But our porter's favorite drawing, being a porter, was the one Dave did of our backpacks sitting on a rock wall during lunch one day on the trek. He giggled and smiled every time he saw it.
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Whenever Dave does a drawing of someone they innevitably want to keep it. So his sketchbook is thinning out a bit. But he always makes sure to photograph the drawing first so we have a record of it.

I already want to come back to Nepal to do more treks and have not felt that strongly about any other country we have visited.

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After our trek we have been taking it pretty easy here in Pokhara. Although we did do one exhilarating thing - we went paragliding today off the side of a mountain! Yep – we did. It was awesome of course. The view was a bit hazy which was bad so we could not see the Annapurna range peaks but we could see lots of the town of Pokhara and the surrounded hills and it was just awesome to be flying around above the hills. A few times we were flying just above, just below, or even right next to huge beautiful birds. Amazing. Both Dave and I loved the experience but it made us both sick to our stomachs. They warned us when we booked it that some people get sick and actually throw up while in the air. They told us to eat a light breakfast which we did. However, after about 20 minutes in the air we both started feeling nauseated. I was up for about 50 minutes with my guide and Dave was up for about 40 minutes. We were both able to hold it together and did not puke in the air which our guides I’m sure were extremely thankful for. But, it took awhile after being on the ground before we started feeling better. The reason for the sick stomachs is basically motion sickness. You spin around, go up and down and experience G force winds and all this combined can definitely make someone ill if you are predisposed to motion sickness. We met two very nice Israeli girls in the truck on the way up the hill to the launch area, and one of them unfortunately got very sick in the air and was puking all over the place. Hopefully it didn't hit any villagers below!

Here are some more sketches Dave has done on our trip:

Katmandu, Nepal - Stupa (Buddhist religious structure)
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Agra, India - Taj Mahal
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Auckland, New Zealand - building
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Ok friends and family. I hope all is well with everyone and until next time.

Lynette & Dave
lschimpf@gmail.com
dbuck242@yahoo.com

Posted by schuckley 04:33

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Comments

Thanks for the awesome story of your trek. I felt like I was right along with you (besides the cold nights, outside toilet, no electricity...you get the point). :o) Love the pictures and Dave's drawings too. I agree. I'm sure his drawing breaks the language barrier which is a great talent to have. Congrats on successfully doing the trek and not puking on their village! Love you. Safe travels. Angie and Family

by aprochaz

I love the sketches! Thanks for adding them. I am totally fascinated by Dave's perspective and amazed by his talent. Kudos Dave!
The photos are amazing as well. I know they only capture a snippet of the true beauty. As for the bathroom situation...I am quite spoiled to my padded toilet seat and Charmain tissue. I think using a public restroom is a hardship. You have my total respect for handling the situation so well. :)
Happy Trails!

by sthrngrace

OH MY! WHAT CAN WE SAY WITH ALL OF THOSE BEAUTIFUL PICTURES.THE MOUNTAINS ARE JUST AWESOME. YES YOU ARE RIGHT PICTURES NEVER SHOW THE BEAUTY. WE ENJOYED READING YOUR ADVENTURE SOUNDS LIKE IT WAS A FUN TRIP FOR THE YOUNG AT HEART.I LOVE THE PICTURES OF THE CHILDREN WE ALL SMILE IN THE SAME LANGUAGE. DAVES DRAWINGS ARE JUST GREAT I CAN SEE WHY THEY WANT THEM.HOPE THE REST OF YOUR DAYS IN NEPAL ARE FUN FILLED.AS FOR THE FLYING AROUND I WILL LET YOU AND DAVE TELL US ALL ABOUT IT.FROM THE FLAT LAND OF OHIO GODS, BLESSING AND SAFE KEEPING! LOVE, DAD & MOM

by jwrossrd

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