I met my trekking mate Bart while I had way too many beers watching the World Cup semifinal between Holland and Uruguay. While I had some reservations about going trekking with a complete stranger for 2+ weeks, I could tell he was cool if was willing to watch the match in a back alley of Kathmandu with all local Nepali people and a couple of foreigners. So we set off 2 days later…
Day 1 – Kathmandu to Bhulebule
The day started with a taxi ride to the new bus park and a 7 hour bus ride on the local bus from KTM to Besisahar. Thankfully there was a scheduled lunch stop along the way at a riverside restaurant. Once we got to Besisahar we started walking to our first destination – Bhulebule. As has been the case all over Nepal, the locals were really nice and point out the correct way to us for the starting point. Not long into our walk the rain started coming down, albeit fairly softly so I merely walked with my umbrella. At one point a stream had swollen up and was knee deep so in order to cross it we had to roll up our pants and go barefoot to cross it. It wasn’t too bad but it was our first of many challenges and we met it with no issues. It took us about 2.5 hours along the road to arrive at Bhulebule, where I had my first daal bhaat for dinner. It’s the local grub and consists of lentil soup, rice, and a very mild vegetable curry. Just as all the guide books said, they gave me a free extra helping! We also ran into a couple of other groups of trekkers who also began their trek today, but all of them had guides and in some cases porters too. Bart and I were going it independently – no guides and no porters.
Day 2 – Bhulebule to Ghermu
Day started off well with a good night’s rest and an excellent breakfast but the overnight rain hadn’t stopped so the ground was soaked and it was still coming down. It didn’t make sense to wait for it to let up so we marched onward into the monsoon downpour. This would be the start of many days of completely soaked boots, socks, and clothing. After a steep descent to Dahundada we stopped for lunch and tried to dry off but it was still pouring the air was thick with humidity. We picked up walking sticks earlier in the day so I only had one hand free and I didn’t want to occupy it with an umbrella so I had my raincoat on most of the day but it was also really hot so while the raincoat kept me dry I was sweating profusely underneath it. My waterproof pants turned out to be not waterproof at all and were completely soaked and very heavy to carry so I left it at the next teahouse hoping that a local would make use of them.
Not long after lunch the rain stopped and the sun came out! The rest of the day was warm, dry, and perfect for trekking. Along the way we saw some incredible feats of strength. The Nepali people usually carry loads with their heads and back and we saw some guys carrying massive plastic pipes which had to weigh at least 15kg per pipe. One guy was carrying 6 pipes by himself up the mountain!
Leeches are a common nuisance during monsoon season. They wait on the undersides of leaves and when you walk by they attach themselves to your boots and then climb up to the eyelet and bite you through your socks from that point. The best way to get rid of them is to put salt on them; it causes them to retract their teeth and go into a defensive stance and you can merely flick them off. I hadn’t run into any leeches yet but while sitting on a rock taking in the view of the valley a leech climbed up onto my arm and bit me on the inside of my elbow. I quickly removed the leech but the damage was done. The wound didn’t hurt but it wouldn’t stop bleeding till I put a bandage on and applied pressure for a while.
It didn’t take long to reach Ghermu, we got there around 16:00 but since we were exhausted we stayed at the first place we saw – the Crystal Guest House. I quickly learned that it’s a wise idea to put everything inside your pack into ziplock bags or dry sacks because even though I have a rain cover on my pack, several things inside got wet from both the rain and my sweat. Thankfully I brought about 10 ziplock bags but I left my drysack in KTM. Doh!
Day 3 – Ghermu to Tal
The following is straight from my journal with the parts about pooping excluded:
I’m freezing. We just made it to Tal, the first town in Manang district. The morning was lovely, warm and sunny; it was perfect weather for trekking. We stopped for lunch at Chamje where 2 of the 3 other groups were eating lunch as well. As we ate lunch the rain change from a drizzle to an all out monsoon downpour. As the rain intensified the temperature dropped as well, to the point where I started feeling cold. To warm me up I got some lemon tea, which thankfully did the trick. After tea, we set off for Tal. Got to be honest, the rain makes trekking very difficult. Mud, rivers, streams, landslides, having to put on a raincoat… it’s not easy. With the raincoat on you sweat so much that you get wet anyhow. Carrying an umbrella is an option but it leaves you with one less free hand.
Now onto why I’m freezing. My boots have met their maker. On dry terrain they’re fine but water is easily getting in such that the inside of the boot is soaking wet as well as my socks and in turn my feet. Not a problem at low altitudes but as we go up the temperature drops. My shirt is soaked with sweat. Unavoidable really, but as we go up wearing a wet shirt is giving me the shivers. Lastly I just took an ice cold shower because there was no hot water. I think that did me in. wet feet, wet clothes, falling temps, and an ice cold shower. I really hope I don’t get sick. Bart thankfully is a great trekking mate and is continually positive yet pragmatic.
Right now I’m wearing my down sweater to warm myself back up. That’s how cold I am. [everyone else is wearing tshirts] Another problem I discovered is that I’ve lost so much weight that the waistbelt on my pack no longer fits properly. I’m too skinny! As a result my shoulders are bearing the majority of the weight…not good. My deltoids are super sore due to this. I’m hoping after a good night’s rest I’ll be all better.