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Trekking the Himalayas: Episode 7

By Olivia Pedersen

June 18, 2015

Trekking the Himalayas: Episode 7

By Olivia Pedersen

June 18, 2015

The Trek Has Come to an End, but the Memories Will Last a Lifetime

In the pitch dark with nothing to reference the time except for my beeping watch, one drowsy eyelid flapped open after the other, and I came to with the consciousness that we would tackle Poonhill that day. We had woken-up at 4:30 am to see the shining pink light transition across the Annapurna peaks for the last time.

Poonhill ascends about 1,300 feet above Ghorepani. It offers one of the best views of the Annapurna massif and a mystifying Rhododendron forest (the best time to visit is in March when they are blooming). Not wanting breakfast to slow us down, we headed straight up the hill once we were awake enough to see straight. It was a stiff push and grind passing around the slow pokes and racing the other speedsters up the hill to ensure getting there before the sun peaked over the mountains.

With ten minutes to spare once we reached the top, I had plenty of time to pick where I could best photograph this 360-degree view of megaliths that were bigger than anything I had ever seen before. The only downside to this experience was the crowd. Now that we were closer to the other starting point of the trek that is done from Pokhara and also near the Annapurna Base Camp trek, there were people everywhere! I remember wishing I was back at 17,000 feet resting on a quiet cliff with nothing but the wind and my group to make noise.

Dawn in the Annapurnas
Fish Tail Peak
Sunrise
Looking down the valley towards Pohkara
First light on mountain
Dhaulagiri Mountain
First light on mountain
Annapurna I, Annapurna South and Hiunchuli
View of the mountains
Enjoying the views with 24k Gold lenses
Poon Hill sign
Conquered Poon Hill

After we returned to our teahouse and sat down to breakfast, I realized that the rest of the trek only consisted of downhill. I didn’t know whether I was relieved or terrified about this. As much as going up hurts the respiratory system and all that huffing and puffing can be tiresome, it seems to me that it is the down that is the silent killer–killer of the knees. Whichever way I felt, it didn’t really matter, because down we went—down, down, down, nothing but rigid steps and hillsides. The views were beautiful, as always. We were back in the lands of gushing waterfalls, questionable suspension bridges, and hyper green flora.

Steep Steps
Just the start of the steps
donkey going up hill
The donkeys were burley little guys
View of farm valley
Waterfall
Nepali Swing
Nepali swing set
River

About eight hours later, we arrived at our last teahouse in Tirkhedungha. I’m still not sure how to say the name of this town, but it was peaceful there. It was the perfect place to decompress from the last 15 days of walking up, then down, then up again, then back down, then up, and finally one last time of down. For dinner, we ate our last stock menu items that every tea house offers, drank some tea, washed some clothes, showered for the first time in a while, and then slept. The walk to Nyaphul the next morning was a short one. After that, we had a quick hour and a half drive into Pokhara where we planned to stay for a night and then return to Kathmandu the next morning.

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Bridge leaving Tirkhedungha
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View of Fish Tail Peak from our teahouse in Tirkhedungha
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Tirkhedungha

When I woke in Pokhara, in a plush bed, in a luxurious hotel whose regular clientele did not trend towards the dirty backpackers, I reflected on my trip, the people I’d met, and the force that had led me to Nepal. Defined differently in our own ways, I had come to find the overall reason was the same—all of us out here in Nepal, stomping the backcountry, were in search of something. Whether it was defined as a goal, a feeling, a mystery, or a lack thereof, we all had an inertia that had pushed us to go explore. Some had quit their job on the spot and didn’t know what the future had in store for them. Others had been traveling for years and this was just another port along the way. Then there were trekkers like us that were on a getaway with a timeline, and each day was expired time before we had to return to the grind.

In a nutshell, the trek was an experience of pushing limits whether they were mental or physical. It gave me a peek into the nooks and crannies of some of the highest corners of the world, helped me appreciate the wonders of enjoying landscape views at a snail's pace, and most importantly, taught me that even though you should do your research before stepping into a foreign backyard, when things go awry it’s best to just relax and choose whichever path is the course of least resistance, and let travel magic take the reins.

Big thanks to my guiding service once again for making the journey all the better!

Bistaarai, bistaarai

And dhanyabad . . . the only two words I can remember in Nepali but, coincidentally, the most important.

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Entry and exit sign into the Annapurna Conservation Area

Read the previous post Episode 6: In Sickness and In Health, the Trek Must Go On

Check out 6 Reasons to Hire a Guide for Trekking in Nepal

***
In regards to the Spring 2015 Nepal Earthquakes:

I am deeply grieved by the many deaths and injuries caused by the devastating earthquakes in Nepal. My prayers go out to those lost and to those that have lost friends and family close to them.

It is during tragedies like this that we must come together to help our brothers and sisters that are now at the mercy of the elements. While writing my narrative on trekking the Himalayas, my intention was to bring awareness and understanding to the astounding beauty that inherently lives in every aspect of Nepal. I invite you to join Revant Optics, through Doctors Without Borders or one of the many other reliable relief agencies in providing aid to the survivors and restoring that beauty.

Sincerely, Olivia

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