Tuesday 5 - Kathmandu - Shivalaya
Our wake up call this morning was at 4:45 so with bleary eyes we headed down for the world famous omelets for breakfast, at 5:00am. We squeezed our gear into large canvas bags which would be carried by the porters, and the remainder of our gear was packed into our day packs.
Onto the bus at 6:00am, 14 of us plus our lead guide and several sherpas. The bus headed off through the chaos of Kathmandu City, heading for the hills. The trip through the city was an experience of it's own, our driver obviously didn't want anybody else in Nepal passing him. Very few road rules (apart from the driver of the motor bike wearing the helmet!!), pretty much whoever gets their nose in front first has the right of way or the one who has the loudest horn - great fun!!
We headed off over numerous saddles, passes and valleys getting up to a height of 2600 metres - fantastic views and some really hairy moments, involving other trucks, goats, cows, motorbikes, people and some very skinny unsealed roads. Our driver deserves a medal, nothing phased him - and I'm pretty sure nothing passed us over the 200km ride.
We got into Jiri at 2:30pm and decided to carry on in the bus towards Shivalaya (instead of walking it) as it was 'driveable'. Well that was a matter of opinion, it was like a roller coaster ride. The road was unsealed and in most parts could be likened to a 'goat track' - but once again sensational driving and some fairly hairy moments. At one point we met another truck on a corner and it was a stale mate....until our driver won and the other truck had to reverse.
Great fun, great experience and some very memorable moments - and a sore bum!!
Got into Shivalaya (picking up more porters alone the way) just before 4:00pm, dusty, tired but with lots of smiles.
Staying in a great clean 'tea house' house tonight and even managed to get a great hot shower.
Looking forward to our first trek tomorrow.
That's all for 5th October.
Wednesday 06 October
The alarms have been set for 5,45, except the one set at 4,45 that had not been changed from the day before. For those that didn't use earplugs the local dogs provided an alternative wake-up, albeit some what early.
This is really day one of the trek, as the real walking started at 7.00am with varied starting times to tackle the 900 metre climb starting immediately behind the Shivalaya village. The goal was Deurali village at 2705 metres. Four hardy soul felt that they needed a further stretch up the ridge to get cheese for starters at dinner that night. The rest descended 500 metres to Bhandar to wait for the rest to arrive for lunch.
Amazingly the chef anticipated our staggered approach and took over an hour to deliver the food after ordering the starters. The fare consisted of a choice of tomato soup and chapattis topped with local cheese or fried rice.
After lunch we were advised it would be three and a half hours walks to Kinji at 1630 metres where we would spend the night. What appears to be the beginning of a trend the start was staggered and we followed the porters over a track high above the river with amazing views of the valley and the usual knee-jarring descent. The faster one's finished the journey in about two and a half hours.
Tomorrow it can only be up and the group will split up for two options. Some will stretch out for Pikey (pronounced Pee-Kay ) peak and the rest will follow the traditional route up to Seti and then on to find a resting place. More about that from someone that participated in the excursion.
To dinner and bed and 06 October is now history and memories,
Thursday 07 October
Today there are two groups. Eight intrepid explorers are off to the Pikey Peaks (there are two). We will get an up-date from them when they rejoin us at Jumbhesi.
The rest of us headed up and up to Sete at 2520 metres for lunch. On the way up we could see the other group slowly working their way on the other side of the valley below us. The guide book described described our ascent as relentless but our group trudged on and made easy work of the track. Keith had paved the way up to Seti but unfortunately did not order lunch and the usual one hour wait ensued. Not to let the time be wasted some of the ladies used the opportunity for hair-washing and foot-bathing (luckily in that order) with some assistance from the only gentleman in the group. The photo's of this humorous entertainment are available for 20 rupees a copy from the author.
After lunch we continued on up the ridge and the deforestation was really noticeable, well at least until the mist came in and cut the visability down to 20 metres. Our stopping point for the night is Goyam at 3200 metres which the mathematicians among you will work that we ascended 1570 metres during the day.
Our resting place is the Tashidelek Lodge & Restaurant. I must stop putting "Restaurant" as they all claim that. The restaurant part was actually the family living quarters with a wood-fired oven with a variety of pots and pans adorning the top and being place over the flames at different times. Strips of buffalo meat hung from above the oven drying and being smoked. Food was slightly different. The potatoes had lashings of local chillies, and the pasta was fresh and made locally. Some-one noted that nearly 1500 metres had pushed the price of beer up by 20 rupees (40 cents) but as we had all vowed abstinence of such substances, it wasn't an issue (Yeah Right!!). I've been told that a porter gets 20 rupees per kilo pr day for carrying all manner of goods on his back.
The communal nature of our eating facilities made the setting for an interesting evening. A neighbouring lodge owner arrived during the expansive degustation (many course) menu that was served ending with individual apple pies. One party member feeling full resisted the temptation, only to have our visitor insist, and aid the digestion by rubbing his back, and patting his knee.... The same visitor also proposed marriage to a female member of our party, and we think even without the considerable amount of rakshi (local white spirit) he had consumed, he was not the full tin of biscuits. This blog was not actually completed on this evening because of the curiosity of the host family including the clingy child of undiscernable age, which ended in Ross showing photos from a Patagonian trip with a leaning towards penguin photos.
While protracted, dinner was over by 7.00pm and plans were hatched for the morning. The male members of the party decided to arise at 4.15 am and pursue the other party somewhere near the Pikey Peaks. One quickly dropped out and it was left to the other two who arose at the said time and departed into the darkness at 5.00am.
The Pikey Peak drop-up (no pun intended) left at 6.00am, bound for Jumbesi, leaving the ladies to a more sedate departure at 7.15am.