Nepal: Mr Lee’s Hike Along the Roof of the World
Flying into Kathmandu was the easy part. Now it’s on to the the hard part and hike along the Roof of the World. We are on our way to travel through snowy mountain passes to reach Tatopani to complete our mission.
Flying to Pokhara
Yeti Airlines Twin-Engine Prop Plane
We got up early the next day, had our simple breakfast, and headed over to the airport where we took a small Yeti Airlines twin-engine prop plane for a short 30 minute flight to Pokhara. That morning it was both cold and somewhat foggy. It didn’t help our spirits that we had heard news of a plane crash in the mountains but reassured that it had happened elsewhere than where we were headed.
It wouldn’t have hurt to see the mountain range on the way out but alas it was not the case. This was not the most ideal mindset to be taking off from the airport!
Welcome sign to Pokhara
Loading Up the Vehicles
Loading up the 4×4 in Pokhara. From Pokhara we had a long 5 hour drive, passing through villages and weaved between large potholes on the highway (holes so huge they were filled with boulders) to the trailhead for the next leg of our journey.
That’s not us riding on the top! Hahaha! Just their regular transit with overflow passengers having the top view!!
Start of the Hike
We started our hike at 3pm in dry, relatively sunny weather. After awhile, it became so warm I had to remove my outer jacket out of fear of overheating. You will notice how dry the path was.
Making Progress on This Trek
We were pleasantly surprised when it started to rain and snow the higher we hiked. It was cold but I told myself that this was a great once in a lifetime experience; I’ve never hiked in the snow before. Later, I was glad I had waterproof hiking boots preventing my feet from becoming wet and cold.
The hiking stick, oh where would I be without you. This sturdy piece of construction came in real handy for steadying myself on descents and ascents. Despite the cold and snow, hiking is a laborious endeavor and if you’re not prepared with wick-dry or other breathable clothes you’d soon be sweating up your own storm.
F8T Tip If there’s anything I can tell you, get yourself waterproof pants. Wet Pants = No Bueno!
All in all, the hike was mostly walking and more walking and some more walking. There wasn’t much in the way of sights to see in the snow and rain. It was just hard work getting to where we needed to go. However, every now and again, there was a diamond in the rough.
Purple Primulas Breaking Through the Snow
Getting Through Ghandruk
We were all exhausted by the time we arrived at our home away from home, Hotel Lonely Planet in Sitkyu, Ghandruk. It was already late into the night, darkness by 6pm with the snow coming down hard around us. I was so hungry that any hot food would be considered a King’s feast. I’ll tell you this much, the instant spicy Korean noodles and fried rice I had was tasty!
Nothing Soothes the Soul Like Instant Spicy Korean Noodles and Fried Rice
No one wanted to leave the side of the warm and comfy wood burning heater in the dining room. But our bodies, drained of energy and eyes barely staying open, rebelled against us forcing us to march into the cold darkness to our beds. I know you’ve heard of a double room and a single room. But have you ever heard of a triple room?
There was WiFi to check email but there wasn’t nearly enough bandwidth for me to stream my Dish Network programs. With no late night television, all I had was the cold to keep me awake. With only 2 quilts, 1 bed sheet, 3 layers of clothes, my 3 layer jacket and my beanie to keep me warm, I still sorely missed the warm confines of the heated dining room.
Don’t bother asking me how I went to the bathroom in the middle of the night!
The Lonely Mountain
Night Time Sights!
Speaking of getting up in the middle of the night, there was a wonderful present other than relief at 5:30 am. The sky was clear and I saw the snow capped Himalayan mountain range bathed in moonlight! It was so surreal, looking at the amazingly tall beautiful mountains glowing from nighttime illumination.
I can’t fully convey the feeling of awe I had from looking at them.
At that moment, despite yesterday’s tough climb in the snow and rain, I was glad to be there and then! You need to see them for yourself!
Annapurna mountain range at night in Ghandruk. This picture does not do it justice. It was an awesome view in the moonlight.
Annapurna mountain range at dawn in Ghandruk
When the sun came up and lit the snow capped mountains , we were amazed by the beauty of it’s golden glory!
Back to the Grind
At 630am we left the hotel for out trek in the snow. It was no longer snowing but we had to trek through the accumulated slush and snow. There were some points in the trail where both the ascent and descent took up upwards of 1/2 hour or more to navigate. It’s a little tricky maneuvering in the snow, but thank God for my hiking boots and sticks.
It was difficult to mind the hardships with all the beautiful view of the snow on the trees and waterfalls and flowing streams. We stopped often enough to simply take in all of nature’s white wonderland. We even happened upon mountain cows and donkeys utilized for transporting goods up to the residents and hotels further along.
A Cow Drinking From a Mountain Stream
F8T Tip Beware of donkey poop!
The trail turned out to be a busy place with fellow hikers from all over the world coming to trek in Himalayan mountains. Many of them, coming from other trail heads, stopped and chatted with us. I learned a lot of them were both you and old from Canada, Japan, Korea, Australia and China.
One older couple who was making a slow go of it explained that it was due to having “no cartilage in the knees.” It goes to show that the attraction of the country blurs both nationalities and ages.
Slowly Making Progress Up the Trail
Some groups used locals as porters while they walked almost empty handed! The luxury trekkers. Some porters carry twice as much as that this guy. Strong service with a lovely smile!
Taking a Break
This leg of the hike was the highlight of the entire journey! Everywhere I looked was wondrous view of the mountains of Nepal, coupled with fresh mountain air and not a single falling rain drop nor snowflake in sight. Every so often, we would stop and take in the views!
Locals enjoying making a Santa… Goat? Complete with goat beard…
At nearly 9000 feet above sea level, we reached the next lodge on the trail around 2pm. We were so very tired, but happy for the chance for a respite from the trail. There was still a ways to go before reaching the next lodge we would call home for the night.
Here we are taking a quick nap.
Another Stop, Another Good Night’s Sleep
We finally reached Hotel Laligurans at around 5:00 pm. Like Hotel Lonely Planet the rooms were not insulated, and with the high altitude it felt even colder than before. That aside, we were grateful for the hot food and drinks. I treasured the moment to bond with my fellow hikers during our R & R from the day’s journey.
Nepalese Hotel Laligurans Guest Room Area Along with a Horse
Eli and Group Ready to Hike the Rest of Ghandruk in Nepal
After a hearty breakfast of hot Tibetan bread, similar to flat bread, and hot coffee, we were ready to crest the trail and begin our descent. The peak of the trail is at 12,000 feet, giving us a great 360 degree view of all the snow that’s accumulated over the last couple of days.
Here we are in front of the Annapurna mountain range.
It’s All Downhill From Here
Time to head down the mountain.
Some parts of the trail are steeper than others.
Valley View from our Descent into Tatopani
End of the line. Welcome to Poon Hill!
An Inspiration to Us All
Pastor Tow essentially led our expedition and is 70 years old! Would you believe that?
Bye Bye Snow
It’s dry and snow free from here on out.
Where was the last place you hiked extensively?