Food is fuel: Dalbhat (traditional local food)
Even more unbelievable, we learned that the first car in Nepal was carried in (you
read that right) from India through the Himalayan foothills. And most humbling of all, some porters who’ve worked for almost 30 years have travelled to Poon Hill, Everest base
camp, and Annapurna base camps more than a hundred times — rendering the journey of every single tourist in the room completely trivial. As the stories came to an end, we
headed back to our rooms and passed out from exhaustion. The second day’s five-hour trek to Ghorepani village (2,750m) was technically much easier and marked a beautiful change in landscape and climate. From local farming communities, we traversed dense jungles
sprinkled with pink flower petals of rhododendron trees in full bloom. Though the thick clouds may have blocked the mountain peaks, the bright pink flowers peppered across the hills were a sight of wonder. With the out-of-this-world views and the pleasant 10 degree
weather, we reached the gates of Ghorepani village in what seemed like a matter of no
time. Thankfully as well, we made it to our teahouse before a sudden hail storm hit
the village. After a restless night of sleep, waking up at 4am, and peering outside the window, Annapurna’s snow capped peak was in clear view, illuminated by the crescent
moon. By 5am, we joined hundreds of other trekkers on the 45 minute trail up to Poon Hill (3,210m). Feeling fatigued and dehydrated from vomiting throughout the whole night (I did not eat enough fiber for digestion), the walk up was rough. My trekking partner had already raced to the top and took Abel with him to avoid the crowd, so the slow flow of the other tourists carried my feet forward. Tired, breathless, and on the brink of tears, the sounds
of cheering crowds above signalled the near-end of the climb. Turning into the last curve and gasping for air, a wave of emotion hits once seeing the towering, jagged mountains. The sun, slowly making its way up behind the clouds, illuminated the Dhaulagiri in a yellow-orange glow. A hippy, strumming his guitar and singing The Beatles’ Here
Comes The Sun added a charming touch to the magnificent scenery. All the pain was worth this view. Walking around to photographs for ourselves and others, the general chit-chat around the hill was that everyone who made it to the top that day was exceptionally lucky.
The skies were clear, the clouds came in late and we got to see the sunrise in its full glory.
We waited until the sun fully rose before making our way back down to Ghorepani.
Exhausted and not able to eat, the news that we still had to walk another six hours
(three hours uphill and three more down one hill) was quite a shock. Slowly, we
packed our bags, left Ghorepani at 8am, and made our way to our next pit stop,
Tadapani (2,630m). Walking up and down the beautiful forest, I learned that day what it meant to achieve something on mental willpower alone. I was on auto-pilot, and the only goal set in mind was the next teahouse. Abel, Sandaram and my partner thankfully were
always there to give encouragement, and seeing the local grandmas surpassing me
with 20kg on their heads wearing slippers, I couldn’t give up at this point. By the fourth day, the stomach issues subsided and with one last look at the Fishtail mountain from the Tadapani teahouse, we trekked down moss-filled forests for another three hours before catching the local bus at Ghandruk (1,950m) to our starting point, Nayapul. Sitting on a vehicle for the first time in four days, the trek was sadly over. But as many travellers we came across said, once you start, you can’t stop. We’ll be back for a harder route — fitter, stronger and definitely with more fibre supplements.