A chronicle of Alison and Ron's trip around the world in 2009-2010.


"Not all those who wander are lost"
- Tolkien

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Missing the Sunrise over Poon Hill

After the tough second day, we decided to take it easy and only hike Poon Hill and back instead of trekking several more hours to Tadapani, what most itineraries suggest. We were up at 4:30am. It was freezing cold, and we weren’t even out of our sleeping bags. It took every bit of intention to unzip from our cocoons and step foot on the frigid tile. At least we didn’t have to dress, as we were already wearing all of our clothes to bed. We went down to the dining room for some tea, as most of the other trekkers were heading out for the hike. We were planning to leave at 5am as I had read that the views were great for a couple hours, during and after the sunrise, so we didn’t think there was a huge rush.

Once outside, it was pitch black, except for the bouncing light shining from our headlamps. We had on our down jackets, in addition to 3 other layers of clothes but after only a few minutes of heading uphill to Ghorepani, we were stripping down. At some point we got lost as Ron didn’t see in the darkness the stupa after which we were supposed to turn left, according to Krishna’s direction. (Since there was nothing to carry, we told Krishna to take the day off. Mistake #1) Finally on the right path we continued up stone staircases. We weren’t even to the trailhead yet and I was in trouble. I couldn’t breathe in the higher altitude. Each inhalation was shallow and unfulfilling, then exhaled as wispy smoke, visible in the cold air.

All of a sudden it started getting lighter and lighter out. As if god was turning up the dimmer switch much too fast. We raced on at a snails pace, each step up was laborious and painful. I was going way too fast, my heart needling the danger zone, but way too slow to make it in time. We paused a few times to turn around and just take in the sunrise, its serenity and splendor and silence. Warm rays of sunlight, like radiant bands of orange crush, illuminated the ring of peaks like a glinting crown.
Then back to an asthmatic breathing pattern and relentless stairs up ever higher. The sunrise nearly over, hundreds of trekkers were already coming down past us, with looks of pity, as we missed what they just saw. The most demoralizing point came as we neared the top where a German trekker, with calves like tree trunks, snickered “You’re late!” in a most arrogant tone like we weren’t worthy to even be on the same mountain. If I can stereotype here for a just a second… German trekkers are my least favorite, followed by hipster trekkers, then anyone with a mustache. Unless of course the moustache is white, then it will inevitably be paired with a twinkle in the eye and an easy smile for their fellow trekker. If the ‘stache is brown or god-help-us blonde (ewww, can we just outlaw this?) then they are bound to be hopeless grumps.

Ron went up ahead as I struggled horribly the last 100 meters or so, my lungs on fire. The view was spectacular but I couldn’t appreciate it for at least 10 minutes while I cooled down and Ron scampered around taking photos. Once my heart slowed to normal and the sweat evaporated from my brow, it got quite chilly, the wind whipping wistfully about. A cup of sweet coffee made possible by the entrepreneuring local woman was a delicious treat at 3210 meters.

By the time we got around to taking photos of each other and our couple shots made from Ron’s long outstretched left arm, there wasn’t a soul around.

We had the summit to ourselves and the majesty of a natural wonderland. No teenage girls saying, “Me next! Me! Me! Me!“ dancing in our peripheral vision for the perfect shot. Just us. And silence. Maybe we were extraordinarily lucky after all to miss the sunrise over Poon Hill.

Going back to the lodge, we had some breakfast and commenced our regular chores of filtering water, organizing our stuff, doing laundry, etc. We took showers, or tried to, as we had the most unexpected problem. It was not that the water was too cold (our usual hardship) but rather it was too hot. So hot it would scald your skin off. I actually had to ask them to tone it down. But it was so luxurious to take a nice hot shower and snuggle in to our sleeping bags for some afternoon reading and a pre-dinner nap. Mmmm.

The dining room was built around a bukhari, a wood burning fire encased in an iron cylinder of sorts with a chimney duct. When it got cooking, the room heated up fast and furiously. We hung our laundry to dry from clotheslines and within two hours they were baked like hot potatoes. Trekkers from all over the world, sharing a common journey, gathered in the warmth of the room, for substantial high-carb dinners. The porters and guides sat around drinking tea and playing a loud Nepali game that is a cross between pool and air hockey. The clickety clak of the flicking pucks and for the skillful, the cries of victory going on into the night. It was surely one of those games that would be fun to be playing, but was not so relaxing for a background dinnertime soundtrack.

1 comments:

Nepal Planet Trek and Expedition December 14, 2016 at 4:40 AM  

The Mardi Himal Trekking adventure is a newly opened trekking destination of Annapurna region which is usually chosen to escape crowd and dive in to the peace of nature. - See more at: http://www.nepalguideinfo.com/mardi-himal-trek/

There have been visitors to this blog and you are one of them. Thanks and have a beautiful day!