What goes up must come down. Part one of ‘ Nepali flat, A little bit up and a little bit down” was all about being amazed by the spectacular setting, but here is what really went down.
As we sat down to eat breakfast we could hear the beat of rain against the window and outside all we could see was mist trapped under the grey clouds. I do not like the rain, I do not like being trapped inside because of the rain and I do not like being trapped outside in the rain. I stood outside for a moment under the gloomy clouds as a light pitter patter hit the plastic bag that I was wearing, in an attempt to stay dry. Our porters, who were always by our side had quickly disappeared over the horizon and we only saw them again once we reached Jhinu that afternoon.
We started hiking and the water droplets began to grow larger and fell more frequently as they raced to hit the ground. Within minutes the cold rain soaked our hair and skin, I could feel water running down my skin and creeping into every opening of the plastic bag, wetting my clothes, which shot goose bumps up my spine. Water sloshed about inside my shoes as I picked up one foot at a time dodging mud puddles and mule dung that looked like rocks. All the paths had turned into rivers and the stairs created little waterfalls. All of the mountains in the distance seemed to have leaks because waterfalls just seeped out of the side of them. Despite being tired, wet, cold and hungry, I couldn’t help but to appreciate the beauty of the scenery as we approached Jhinu. Amongst the misty mountain and water droplets was steam rising up from the hot springs down in the valley. After hours of hiking in the rain we reached the colourful and cheerful town, Jhinu. The building was made up of multi coloured painted bricks with little flower gardens surrounding the rooms, what a nice contrast to the dull grey sky.
After we hung ourselves out to dry, Jason and I decided to head down to the hot spring, no one else wanted to get wet again. After a 30 minute walk in the rain we reached the hot spring that lay next to a fast flowing river fed by the heavy rain. We sat in the hot spring and rejuvenated as the cold rain droplet hit our heads and we watched the rapids of the of the river race by. After a few failing attempt to get out of the hot spring into the cold wet air, we jumped out, put our clothes on and ran up the mountain before our bodies had time to realise it was cold.
And of course, what follows a horrible wet day? Rum, beer, rum, rum ,rum. We tried out the local Khukri XXX Rum, apparently we shouldn’t drink too much of it, because it is poison (according to the porters). Ooops! But our rum bottle pyramid was pretty awesome. A night of messing around and laughing was just what we needed.
The next morning the sun peaking through the window woke us up. As we hung up all of our clothes to dry and we absorbed the sunshine, the villagers were already hard at work on their fields and waved to us as we called out, “Namaste!” The hike for the day was a nice flat walk through the mountains with views of the forest tree tops below us. We often had to cross rivers on wobbly bridges but on this day, it was the rickety bridge of hell. Swinging high above a fast flowing river was the longest bridge we crossed all trip and not like the others that were made of metal, this one was made of cracked and moulding wooden planks nailed together. The bridge tilted to one side and as we got to the centre the railing (witch was just a piece of wire) dropped lower than expected as we tried to grab onto it when we lost our balance and found that we didn’t grab onto anything, the railing was actually at our knee. We stopped for a moment and looked down at the river racing below us and grabbed onto our hat and belongings incase they flew off. I am not afraid of heights and kind of like the thrill of crossing unstable bridges. As I walked across the bridge I stepped one foot in front of the other pushing a little bit harder to make the bridge swing. The porters in front of me also thought this was quite fun so the 5 of us all swung the bridge and laughed as we lost our balance. We walked along the path at a swift pace stopping every now and then because we got distracted; along the route Jason had a quick swim in the river and we went swinging on a big swing made of long bamboo sticks tied together at the top. We got to Hotel Namaste in Tolkaha and surrounding us in all directions were lime green fields and straw huts with looming mountains in the background, so close that it felt like they were within reach. We sat and enjoyed a beer as we watched the sunset turn the clouds pink and orange and the snow on the mountain glowed gold.
After spending 9 days out of South Africa we were missing it a bit and decided to show the Nepali and Australians a South African braai. We chose 2 of the fattest chickens clucking in the field. While the locals did the messy bit, we got the fire ready. Our porters helped us make a makeshift braai grid out of mesh wire and a metal type base we found lying around. Werner, our South African braai master, did all the cooking while we all gathered around the fire under the stars. The view was amazing, all we could see were lights sparkling from the houses on the black mountain in the distance. When our chickens were cooked we invited our porters to eat with us and sat at a long table inside and enjoyed the mind-blowing freshly cooked chicken.
Today is the day, and down, down we go. Remember all the stairs we walked up? Well, what goes up must come down. We headed down the stairs and through the jungle. All of a sudden we reached a beautiful open field with bright green mown grass, a stone foot path and a river. We thought we accidentally ate magic mushrooms and the rugged jungle turned into a beautiful open field where we expected to see unicorns grazing along a sparkling river and a rainbow in the background. I think with all the oxygen at the bottom, we were like the energizer bunny and walked straight past the road up to Australia camp and headed into Dhampus, which was an extra 20min walk. We weren’t really sure where we were going so decided to wait, but nobody came. I then realised that Dhampus was after Australia camp. We asked a local where Australia camp was and her big smile quickly disappeared as she pointed upwards. Well up, up we ran through Dhampus, through the unicorn valley and up some more until we found one of our porters looking for us. With a little bit more exercise than the others we made it to Australia camp, just in time, before the mist came rolling in.
Our final day of hiking had arrived, and… then it was over, the trail literally just stopped. Before we knew it we were standing on the side of the road in Phedi waiting for our bus. While we waited for the bus, we looked back at the mountain we had been part of for the last 7 days, I couldn’t help but feel a certain sadness that it was over. But I guess there’s no easy way to rip away the best experience in ones life.