The Tale of the Poon Hill Trek

Once upon a time there were 4 wrestlers volunteering in Nepal. Their names were The Hurricane (USA), Farnoosh the Frowner (India), Le Psycho (Canada) and Black Raven (Netherlands). After several weeks of digging, shovelling, wheelbarrowing, drilling, screwing, and bolting, they wanted to see some more of the magnificent Himalayan landscape and decided to go on a trek. The Frowner’s sister had also come over from India and joined them from Kathmandu on a hot and wobbly 9h bus ride to Pokhara. Since there was a fuel crisis going on at the time, there were lines and lines of vehicles waiting at each gas station. The drivers had abandoned their cars though, so they were just standing there. Unfortunately, somewhere along the road, this barricaded one side of the road, creating only a one way street. The Nepali aren’t known for their organised traffic conduct, so everyone tried to get through at once. Hence, the wrestlers were stuck for a good hour waiting for the traffic jam to solve itself. Luckily, a group of traveling Kazakhstani athletes ignored all Nepali cultural cues and had taken off their shirts for the wrestlers’ entertainment.   

The wrestler-volunteers
  
When they finally arrived in Pokhara, they were greeted by dozens of taxi drivers, jumping on them like paparazzi on a celebrity. They picked a decent guesthouse, went for a stroll along the gorgeous Fewa Lake, and excitedly pointed at the sight of the the peak of Mount Machhapuchchhre, otherwise known as Fishtail. Because really, who can pronounce that name without aborting the attempt and just say “Machu Picchu”?  
Fishtail in the background!
  

Fewa Lake

As the wrestlers were under a little time pressure, they started their adventure the following day. As soon as the Tourism Office opened, they went to get their permits and TIMS cards which were obligatory to get when trekking in the Annapurna nature reserve. First, they had to get some photos taken… The results can be seen above. When they were all set they continued by taxi to the start point of their trek, Nayapul. Everything had taken so long though, that by the time they got there it was lunchtime, so they decided to have lunch first and start hiking on a filled stomach. That also took a while, so when they finally started their trek, they had about 4 hours of daylight left. Off they went through green valleys, across expansion bridges, into forests and eventually up a lot of steps to reach their final destination for that day: Tikhedhungga, with half an hour to spare before dusk! They found a rather crappy guesthouse, which costed near to nothing, had the choice between a cold shower or a scolding hot shower, then had dinner there as it is custom to do so and went to the neighbour’s as there was a little more life there to have a drink and play some cards. 

 

Bathing time – clever buffalo
  
Does the cow bum ruin or improve the picture?
  
Animals everywhere
  
Break-time
  
OooOooh so pretty
  
Smiley faces
 
The following day they got up bright and early, packed up, ate the worst breakfast Black Raven ever had (the others had worse before), and started their ascent up what turned out to be a gazillion man made but unequal stone steps. Every so often they had to step aside to let a train of load-carrying donkeys through, which was the only means of transporting goods to and from the villages up the mountain (besides people carrying it on their backs).  

Actually steps were a lot steeper but I didn’t take any photos cuz I waz busy
  
Asses
  
Le Psycho thinking over his life
    
There was a pretty creek down there
 

It started getting misty and cold, but still the wrestlers were ascending the steps, which was a sweaty affair. Fleece or no fleece? Black Raven couldn’t decide and ended up putting it on and taking it off again. Meanwhile the Hurricane had actually started steaming off her back. After 6 hours of climbing up (with many breaks) they reached their destination. They entered through the “Wel-come to Gohrepani” gate in a thick layer of grey mist. Happy and exhausted the group picked “Mountain View Lodge” as their accommodation for the night. After a couple of rounds of rock-paper-scissors to decide who could have a hot shower first, they gathered around the stove in the common room with hot masala teas (or in Le Psycho’s case, tea with rum). 

So when the wrestlers first left for Pokhara, Black Raven had gotten a cold, which she was very disappointed about, so on the way she got some cold medicine and after a couple of days she didn’t need lozenges (strepsil) anymore to be able to breathe (and breathing is extra important at high altitudes). However, the Hurricane had joined in on the cold also, and had the runniest nose the group had ever seen. She went through about 8 packets of tissues a day and that evening in the Mountain View Lodge she used up ALL the napkins on the tables. Later that night, one of the staff came in and with a loud groan dropped several plastic bags on a bench. Filled with…napkins! They all had a good laugh about that, and went to bed because they were going to have to get up early to watch the sunrise from Poon Hill.

At 4:20 a.m. the alarm rang. Feeling rather cold, Black Raven put her clothes on over her pyjama, which she regretted 20 minutes later when she was drenched in sweat once again ascending uncountable steps to get to Pool Hill. It was pitch dark, so the group had to wear head lamps, and the ascend had never felt so strenuous. Was it the altitude? Was it the fact they had been climbing for 2 days with their untrained legs? Was it because it was so early and cold? Out of breath and with protesting legs the wrestlers made it. 3210 metres above sea level. On top of Poon Hill. With another hundred people or so. And it was cloudy. Shit. With a slight feeling of disappointment the wrestlers sat down on the edge of the viewing platform with a hot tea, staring at where they knew the Himalayan peaks were. And as sure as the sun came up that day, the clouds dispersed and there was the summit of Annapurna South.

PEAK-A-BOO!
A little bit of light
A little bit more light

Fishtail
 
Annapurna South
  

THE SUN

Boom!
 
The Hurricane and Le Psycho with snotty noses – real dangerous wrestlers I tell you
  

  

   

Distracted by pretty flowers on the way down

A pretty Hurricane
  
Group selfie!
  
Silly group picture!
 

can’t…..stop…..taking…..pictures!!
     
 After the photo shoot they went back down to the guesthouse (but not before finding another great spot to take some photos). Back at the lodge they had breakfast with a superb view on the snowy summits. Then it was high time to head back. ALL the way back to where they had started 2 days ago. ALL the way back down ALL of those stairs… And boy, was it unpleasant. First the right knee, then the​ left ankle, then both of both started getting sore. For Black Raven there was just one way to go down the steps: running. Holding her bamboo walking stick like a spear she sprinted down the mountain, getting smiles and cheers and admiration from the people on their way up. She really enjoyed this little dangerous sprint and really didn’t care how silly she actually looked wobbling down. Close to the end they reached a quietly cobbling river, and they couldn’t help but stick their tired feet into the icy cold water, surrounded by mountains of green.    

Some dude carrying a lot of chickens (and better image of the steep stairs we went up and down)
 
Some dude carrying a lot of grass
  
Random people having a break
   
Getting cold feet
 

Then, however, it really was time to get back and just before dark they stepped into an overpriced taxi because the fuel shortage hadn’t gotten any better in the past days. They got back to Pokhara where the fireflies at the lakeshore dreamily welcomed them back. And one by one the wrestlers went back to Kathmandu and flew off to different parts of the world, in search of a place to call home (maybe, I actually don’t know what they’re all looking for). But for a few days, the Himalayas was their home, and they will have that memory forever…

—–

Black Raven stayed a little longer in Pokhara and saw/did this: 

Got the best full body massage here
   
Took a boat ride on the lake
  
Visited the World Peace Pagoda which is on top of a hill overlooking the lake and town
 
Walked down again in the pitch black darkness
   
Watched another sunrise over the Himalayas from Sarangkot
  
Which also had a very pretty view
 
Walked half way around Fewa Lake
   
Visited the not so spectacular Davies Falls, which was named after a woman called Something Davies who fell and died in this waterfall. Morbid and punny at the same time
  

Visited the strangest cave of them all. There was a so called “cow shed” and I walked in the tiny space and there was nothing but a security guy, a camera, and it smelled like cow shit. Right. I felt like maybe I was on candit camera.
  
Ran off Sarangkot mountain
  
Pretended to be a bird
  
Soared over Fewa Lake
  
Said goodbye to the Himalayas

The End. 

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3 Comments

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  1. Hey Linde,
    Might share this with my English classes–we are doing an assessment on short stories/narratives.
    You never wrote about Nagarkot and the photogenic pooch, who could handle a photo shoot more gracefully than any professional model!

    Like

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