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

"Not all those who wander are lost"
- Tolkien

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

To the quaint village of Chule

The next morning we awoke ready to hit the trail. Instead of walking up the stairway towards Ghorepani, Krishna showed us a sneak route, up a faint trail immediately across from our teahouse up through the forest. What a welcome difference it was being on an actual trail. This is what I imagined it would be the whole way, or maybe what I hoped. The forest full of pine, birch, and bamboo trees. Then massive rows of huge and ancient rhododendrons, dormant in the winter, but I could imagine what a sight it would be, a palette of colors in the spring. Continuing up the trail a little out of breath I thought of Krishna’s explanation of the day, he calls this “a little up”!!

We reached a summit that overlooked Poon Hill and I have to admit it may have been a better vista reached after a much easier climb. Perhaps we should have just seen the sunrise here on the way up to Tadapani. We snapped photos and I made a sad attempt at a panoramic shot which I won’t share with you but rather a good photo (except for my retarded 'wind' hair) of the fearless trio.

We descended down past Deurali and countless waterfalls to idyllic Banthanti situated right on the river in the gulley of two massive mountains. We spotted playful monkeys in the trees, their white hair contrasting their inquisitive black faces staring back at us. We continue the descent and Ron’s right knee started to bother him. He donned a knee brace and I snaped furiously his Napoleon Dynamite trekker visage of t-shirt, plaid shorts, ski hat, knee brace, and hiking pools. This is my boyfriend, folks.

Ascending now towards Tadapani, where most trekkers rest a night. I can see why. The views of the peaks, Annapurna and notably Machapulchre are astounding. For the English, the mouthful Machapulchre is called Fish Tail due to its distinctive peak resembling a fishes tail. This is a most sacred mountain to the Nepalis, and in fact it is one of the only Himalayan mountains to never have been summitted, not for difficulty but on purpose. In 1957 a British duo, Noyce and Cox made an attempt and stopped 50m short of the summit in deference to the local people and since then no other attempt has been permitted. It remains a virgin, inviolable precipice.

We pressed on, the trail headed down at a steep pitch over gnarled roots, loose rocks and dirt. The momentum of gravity often pulled me faster than I wanted to go, and once I came down on my left ankle and it twisted ever so slightly. It scared me that I could really hurt myself, and break an ankle out in the middle of nowhere. There is no medical care to speak of and it would take days to get me out of the mountains. A scary thought. I consciously used the poles to slow me down and brace the descent as best I could.

An hour later, a grass clearing came into view, both picturesque and quaint. It had all the elements to stir the soul into staying awhile: an inviting guesthouse, wandering donkeys, prayer flags stretched over the stepped farmlands in the distance. We just had to stay the night.

Upon checking into our room, I came face to face with my third hardship (first was the stairs, second was the altitude). It was my womanly visitor. I would say monthly visitor but before the trip I started on Seasonale birth control. It was to be the biggest boon to a world traveler like me, that I would only get my period once every season. It just so happened that my unlucky number was drawn on the trek and started in an undesirable squatty potty with no sink. Ugh.

The dining hall was cozy and warm, amongst Israeli, Australian, Swiss, Spanish, and even a Nepali couple (a little citified, and out of their element in the mountains). We ate lasagna, interpreted by a Nepali woman who may never have actually eaten real lasagne or even visited an Italian restaurant. The higher and more remote we go, the more amazing it becomes how well we are cared for by such isolated people scraping a living together. But we still have a chuckle at the frequent misspellings on the menu in the “dinning room“, like eggs “cock to order“.


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