And the trek goes on
01.04.2010 - 08.04.2010
The next morning, we joined a small procession of trekkers streaming out of Tikhedhunga, towards the stone staircase that would take us to the village of Ulleri. We took our time advancing up the hillside - every so often, we'd come across a rest station that offered stunning views of the valley below us, and we made sure to take advantage of each one. Our guide would urge us to get on our feet again, and we would try to get a serious trekking rhythm going, but as soon as the next rest station appeared, we'd fall into temptation and pretend that we were only stopping to appreciate the sights around us.
The top of the hill came soon enough, though, and with it a sight that I had long been waiting for. We could see the end of the valley now, or, at least, we could see where it ended in cloud and sky. The clouds began to drift apart, however, and then it became very obvious that what I was looking at was not just empty space. A massive snow-covered mountain range was unveiled - the scale of it was mind-boggling, on a different level completely from the Rockies that I saw the year before. It was as if my mind was unable to process something so big, like it was a trick in the perspective, or an optical illusion. The vision soon became shrouded in cloud again, but it was enough. I had gotten my first glimpse at the mighty Himalayas - already I could say that the trek had been worth my while.
After passing through Ulleri, our guide led us into the beautiful oak and rhododendron forests of the Himalayan foothills. The wild rhododendron trees, with their brilliant pinkish-red flowers and gnarled roots and branches, lent the trek a bit of a fairytale feel - looking back at the pictures from the trek years later, it certainly gives off some enchanted forest vibes. After filling up our water bottles and taking a dip in the mountain-fed stream in the forest, we stopped for lunch at Nangethanti, just in time for rush hour. Goats poured into town soon after we arrived, and our post-lunch trek was slow-going for much of the early afternoon. The absolute flood of goats covered the trail in a mass of white, washing up into the surrounding hillsides as the overflow forced the animals to find whatever path forward available. Our guide was not happy about the situation, but there was nothing that could be done. When the traffic finally cleared, the trail gave way to more rhododendron forests, before climbing up to our final destination that day, Ghorepani. That night, we were in a considerably better mood, having hiked through the entire day and getting our first taste of the Himalayas. We idled around the mess hall for a bit, taught some Nepalese guides and porters how to play poker, and then turned in early. The next day would start in only a few hours, as we would be hiking up nearby Poon Hill to watch the sun rise over the edge of the world.