So I finally left Pokhara direction Nayapul to begin my longed for trekking. At this point I really needed a change of scenery and the idea of spending time on the mountains was really appealing.
After two hours drive we arrived in the Nayapul village. From there I started walking and I didn’t stop until I got to Jinhu. It took me the entire morning and when I got there I was ready to give up. I was so tired that I had a hard time to talk and as soon as I managed to have a bed I took a shower and went to sleep. It was around 4pm but it felt like midnight. I walked 17km up and down the mountains without any previous training and it had been hard.
The last time I did something similar it’s when I was a kid and we went to the mountains with my family. After that no mountain walks for me so much so that I had forgotten what it meant. I love walking and the nature but this was another level of walking. When you walk in the mountains you realize how nice it is to walk on a plane road, on a paved road where you don’t have to check every step you take or be careful not to slip down the slope. I have to confess that I wasn’t really prepared for this. All the people I asked about the trekking to Annapurna Base Camp told me that it was pretty easy and duable. They were lying. It’s not a complicated walk but it’s physically demanding. And I have been joined in my opinion by the people I met along the way.
The second day I met two girls, from Spain and from Uruguay and the trek has been lighter. Not that the walk was easier, exactly the opposite as a matter of fact, but simply for the fact that I was not alone and that I was able to distract myself by talking with someone else made things easier. By one o’clock we arrived at our second stop in Sinuhua at 2340m of altitude. We were all pretty tired so we decided to spend the night there. It was starting to get cold and the fact that there is no heating whatsoever was not a reason for joy. Nepalese people don’t use heating. Ever. They just content themselves with wearing warm clothes and drinking hot tea. We were pretty cold and very tired but we managed to spend the night having some sleep.
Third day began and the altitude and lack of oxygen started to be noticed. Thankgod the walk was easier than the previous days so we managed to arrive in Deurali at 3200m, almost 1000m higher than our previous stop. The cold was worst and that night although exhausted I couldn’t sleep a bit. In the meantime a couple of italians had joined the team and waling with Martina and Raimondo was a “nice little walk” uphill.
The following day was supposed to be the day that we reached the camp. ABC is located at 4130m of altitude. I was always the first to arrive (even though I was the eldest of the group!) and after I arrive to destination I had to wait a couple of hours to see all the others arrive. The cold at that point was really bad and I wasn’t really prepared for it. Inside the hamlet it was around 10° C whereas outside after sundown it got to -3. And no heating at all. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve never be good with cold weather although I had to admit that I got better with years but that was really too much. There was no way to get warmer. I kept on drinking tea (that means also peeing a lot at night) but I couldn’t get warmer. It was just impossible. When I was a kid and went to the mountains with my family it was cold outside but inside the hamlet it was really hot. Here no. Nothing, not even a chimney. We were all freezing and we were afraid to go to bed as the bedroom was colder than the dining room. It had also started to snow and the fear of getting stuck there was growing fast. We were actually looking forward for the following day to come so that we could leave and get to warmer temperatures back in Pokhara. The night went by and thanks to the fact that we covered the windows with the extra mattresses in the room we managed to be less cold than the previous night. A couple of times I had to wake up to pee and had the chance to see the myriad of stars above my head (as the toilet of course was outside the room). There is no light pollution there and it’s possible to see all the stars in the sky. Amazing!!!
Morning comes and it was a fantastic sunny day. We had breakfast at 6am and after a few (hundred) pictures we made our way to descend. At the beginning we were very careful so not to slip on the snowy terrain but when we reached the not snowy area we walked as a fast as our soar muscles allowed us. I was in pain for the extra exercise and for the cold and really desperate to go to a warmer climate. Once again I arrived first (and alone) at the accorded meeting point some 9h later. I had lost everybody along the way but I was really decided to get over with the walk as soon as possible. The last part before checking point was a stair of some 400 steps upwards. I thought I could die. But I didn’t and arrived at the hamlet I managed to get a scorching hot shower after 4 days of barely washing in freezing cold water. It was bliss. I had dinner and went to bed. Completely exhausted.
The following day the others had not yet arrived so I decided to continue by myself and get to the bus to Pokhara the quickest possible. I thought that the way uphill was over but I have never been so wrong. Again the last piece of walk was upwards and when I arrived in Landruk I realized that the only way out was a jeep that costs 1500R (roughly 12€/14$) that is a lot of money here. But at that point I couldn’t walk anymore. Had I taken another step I would have probably had a heart attack so I accepted the be taken for an idiot and pay 1500R against the 200 that paid the locals.
The way down was horrible and the “road” was not paved or smooth in any way. Two hours in a tumble dryer and some more on a “decent ” road later I finally arrived in Pokhara and to prize myself for my accomplishment I had a very good pizza at “Godfather’s 2”
The trekking has been one of the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life and luckily I didn’t know much about it. Had I known more what was expecting me I probably wouldn’t have done it. It’s not difficult but it’s really tough. It’s physically demanding and the altitude doesn’t help. I wasn’t too affected by altitude sickness but my muscles were all soar and two days after I still have some problems walking properly. And it’s also mentally demanding as you have to decide that even though it’s tough you wanna get up there and most of the times you feel like you wanna give up and go back to the start. And the fact that people at the hamlet take advantage of the situation is not helping. The farther up you go the more expensive things are. For a roll of toilet paper you can pay up to 2€. But then you see the “goat men”, usually boys who move merchandise up and down the mountains on their back and you understand why things are so expensive. There is not other way to move stuff. There is not drivable road so all goods need to be moved by men or mules. And you wander how they have built “houses” up there.
But then the fact that you have to pay for recharging your phone, for hot shower and so on it gets on your nerves. If you ask for blankets you can get the answer that they don’t have enough. It’s hard. It’s trying but once you get up there and see the beauty of the mountains covered in snow you understand why you did it.
I am very proud of myself and happy I did it. But I won’t do it again. Ever. Don’t make the same mistake that I did and think that it’s easy because everybody say so. It’s not easy. It can be done by anyone decently active in sport but it’s not a weekend walk in the countryside. You need a little preparation. Don’t forget hat, gloves and scarf (I had none of them of course). Bring a small backpack full of warm but light clothes. Bring a power bank and possibly two even though up there there is no network and the phone in airplane mode lasts a lot longer. Download maps. me (available for Android and iOS) as it works very well on the mountains and you don’t need internet connection. I had cramps on my back, I had a hard time to lift the tea cup on my last day. Drink a lot of water and take some rest every now and then. Bring some food like dried fruits or nut for the walk. Bring teabags so you just need some hot water (and you save some money). Buy bags of dried noodles so again you will just need some hot water. And if possible bring your own sleeping bag. But most of all don’t underestimate it. Mountains are beautiful but cruel at the same time. A simple mistake can ruin the entire trip (I almost killed myself a couple of times!!!)
Now back in Kathmandu I really miss the quiet and peace of the mountains. I really managed to detox myself from the use of mobile and now it’s almost annoying. The green, the tweets of the birds, the sound of the river running in the valley. But the cold I don’t miss at all. Winter is coming in the city too and soon it will be cold. I thought that some time away from the traffic of the city would help me to be more patient with people and traffic in Kathmandu. But it’s exactly the opposite.
Nepal has been the greatest deception of this trip. I was so looking forward to come here and now I can’t wait to leave. I’m waiting for my Indian visa and as soon as I have a verdict I will leave this country probably never to return again. It’s a shame but it’s part of the adventure. Sometimes you are lucky. Sometimes not. And now that it’s finished I realized I really enjoyed my time up the mountain. I was too tired and too cold to see it back then. But one thing it’s for sure… The beach is the best place to take a relaxing walk!!!