Not enough mountains

Trip Start Jan 15, 2002
1
4
9
Trip End Apr 12, 2002


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Flag of Nepal  ,
Thursday, February 7, 2002

[written feb. 8, 2002]

hello!

so my time in nepal is almost up and it was entirely too short. having recently descended from having my head in the clouds (literally, for once) i'm finding myself missing it a great deal...the himalayas are a wonderful group of places full of wonderful people (at least, the part i saw was...but i imagine the rest is equally as amazing, both geographically and culturally). i was only able to spend 3 days wandering around in the mountains but i wanted to stay there for weeks. all i had time to do was to hike in to a village called ghorepani and then come back on the same route. right beside ghorepani, but almost 500m higher, is poon hillm which is one of the best places in nepal to view the annapurna range of mountains. it took two days to get from the highway 40 km outside of pokhara to ghorepani and then i came back in one day. the reason for the time difference is that from nayapul at the highway to ghorepani there's a climb of about 1700m...and going up is much harder than coming down, both because of gravity and the increasingly thin air. nayapul is about 1000m above sea level, whereas ghorepani is about 2700m above sea level (poon hill is 3200m and i think it's the highest that i've ever been in my life...the only other possibility is driving through the rockies but i don't think the road ever got that high.) initially i was just going to go by myself, but on the bus to nayapul i met an australian named gene who was going to jomson...about 7 or 8 days of trekking passing through ghorepani, so the first 2 days of his trek were the same as mine and we decided to do it together since he was alone too. gene's parents are from the philippines and he looks very nepali...many of the nepali people we came across assumed that he was my guide and would start speaking in nepali to him...which he understands as well as i do...which is to say, not at all. the altitude was never a problem for me...other than when i would get out of breath (generally from climbing too fast) when it was much more difficult to get it back and my heart would start thumping pretty hard trying to get oxygen to where it was needed...but i never experienced any altitude sickness. there was a group of 3 swiss women who were also doing the same first 2 days as gene and i (but then continuing on to do something different from either of us)...one of them was having a lot of difficulty with the altitude, even at 1500m where we all stopped the first night...she was puking and had stomach pain and a headache. she made it through the second day to ghorepani with the huge jump of 1200m, but she looked half dead when she arrived. she seemed fine the next morning but she opted to sleep in instead of climbing poon hill at dawn with everyone else. the terrain changes so quickly in the himalayas...from lowland river valleys, to incredibly steep terraced hill sides, to semi-tropical oak and rhododendron forests, to scrub brush and snow...all in the space of about 10 hours of hiking. i especially enjoyed climbing poon hill because it started snowing gently and it reminded me of the best parts of canadian winters (which i'm missing right now...although i'm sure that no one thinks that i'm missing anything!) coming back from ghorepani to nayapul in one day was strange because i went from snow to a sunburn in the space of 5 hours...i didn't know how long it would take to get back to the road in one day so i pushed myself a bit harder than i needed to...consequently i can hardly walk as of this morning. hopefully my torn leg muscles with heal soon. i definitely have to come back and spend more time in the mountains...it's truly spectacular and the people are incredibly friendly (both the other trekkers and the nepali people who live in the villages.)

from reading this you'd think that i've only been in nepal for 3 days...but i've been here for 2 weeks and i've also spent time exploring the kathmandu valley and visiting with my aunt and uncle (who've been very kind and generous with me...and i'm not just saying that because they're getting this e-mail too ;)...and i enjoyed it all very much...i guess it's just that my rather fleeting experience of trekking is still very fresh in my mind. i'm returning to india on sunday and i'm excited about going back there...but nepal and india are very different places, and nepal deserves much more time than i've given it...so i'll just have to find a way to come back, that's all. i hope everyone's well and i'll write again soon.

daniel.
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