Going Down. Down. Down. Muktinath to Pokhara via Poon Hill

So to get this online a little quicker we’ve condensed the downhill part of the trip, Muktinath to Pokhara via Poon Hill, into one post. We both worked on writing it so I hope it’s not to hard to follow…

Muktinath to Jomsom to Tatopani – October, 9 2014

Liz’s 3 things:
– Jeep to bus to jeep
– Worlds deepest gorge
– Best and worst of Nepali people

We took a jeep from Muktinath to Jomsom. Barely made it on the jeep – lets just say lines or who got there first isn’t really a thing. Rick may or may not have had to use his sticks. Probably one of the roughest roads I’ve been on. But we were so glad to be out of the cold desert!

 

Nice and cozy in the jeep!

The Worst Part of the Day:
In Jomsom we said goodbye to Brad and Song as they were going to fly to Pokhara then we barely got on a bus (Liz says,”Thanks for Rick’s aggressiveness we made it!”). And about 5 min later we got a flat tire. It was changed over the course of an hour (by a boy who couldn’t have been more than 11 years old… gotta start ’em early) or so while we watched subsequent busses pass us. Back on the road, we should’ve taken note that the mechanic got on with us. We proceeded to stop for every single broken down vehicle on the road – an entire bus of people. We got to experience lots of roadside culture… Dropping off a parts. More work on the tire. Different bus broke down and blocked a bridge. Yet another bus drove INTO river instead of bridge. A dozen jeeps backedup at a narrow point where the bus didn’t fit. Needless to say it was a looooong bus ride.

Even the cows were a little aggressive in Jomsom!

Even the cows were a little aggressive in Jomsom!

Bus in the river Nepal Bus broken down Nepal

 

Little Nepali Girl with Kitten

During one of our many “Stops” we saw this little girl with her kitten.

Narrow roads in Nepal

Once we made it to Ghasa though, we had another problem. No room on the bus that was leaving then for Tatopani. Also no room for non-Nepali on the one that was coming in a couple hours to go to Tatopani. Mind you this was all learned by running around a crowded dirt lot with 10 busses sitting there in half sign language, half nepali and a lot of “No!” But definitely some non-Nepali discrimation going on! Liz got to practice putting her American desire for efficiency and relaible timelines to rest. I say she did really well.

The road down to Tatopani, Nepal

The Best Part of the Day:
So we thought we were going to have to walk and just as we were about to set out this older nepali man flags us down and asks if we want to share his jeep. BEST decision of the day!!  We got in the back and got to enjoy wonderful conversation with these three native nepali men from Upper Mustang (that’s farther north than we were, it’s a desolate super high altitude desert plateau. It’s $250/day just to get in for US citizens).

Jeepin' on The Road to Totapani, Nepal Waterfall on The Road to Totapani, Nepal The Road to Totapani, Nepal The Road to Totapani, Nepal

 

Broken Jeep in Nepal

Our jeep broken down but only briefly as the driver was also a mechanic!

 

They were all brilliant well educated and knew nepal so well! The youngest was a genetic scientist about to go study genetics of snow leopards! They told us we were jeeping through the worlds deepest gorge! And no kidding the drop from 20,000+ ft mountains to 300 ft above sea level was crazy and made for incredible scenery.

The Road to Totapani, Nepal

We were a little sad we didn’t hike that piece of it… BUT the beauty of slow travel and having everything on your back is that you can fix that!

Out of the Jeep! Nepal

We’re Thankful for:
So while they offered to take us to Beni, we got out early at Tatopani to enjoy the hot springs and do some hiking in the area. At the recommendation of one of our Nepali jeep mates we stayed at Darmasali Hotel which his cousin owned. We stayed in a lovely guest house with an orange garden all around. Then it was a short walk through the garden and down some stairs to the hot springs. Great hot springs, highly recommended!!! It was more polished than the last (Chame) and a lot more popular, it was privatized so we payed 100NPR each to get in but totally worth it. Two giant knee deep hot tubs one was crazy hot, the other was larger and more of an enjoyably hot temperature. They had drinks and food for sale as well but all we wanted was a bottle of water.

We debated staying in Tatopani  for a couple of days just to keep using the hot springs but instead decided to hike to Poon Hill instead of continuing on the road to Pokhara as it’s kind of on the way; except for the 2000m climb. It adds a couple days but we think it will be great!

Chicks with Chicken

Just a bunch of Nepali chicks.

 

Tatopani to Sikha – October 10, 2014

3 things:
– Bonus time! We thought we were heading straight back to Pokhara but changed our minds and started the Poon Hill trek, so I consider this “bonus time” and somehow bonus time always seems to end up being the best time. I think today may be my favorite day of trekking.
– Lush green mountain sides
– Snow capped Nilgiri Mountain

The Road to Totapani, Nepal

The Best Part of the Day:
Hard to pick… We started off late and said “we’ll just go as far as we feel like” there’s something really cool about that open ended-ness. The other days I guess we could have done that, but we had a pass to get over and it was a cold, harsh environment. Now we’re in this tropical, but mountainous and cold at night, but warm in the day environment. We saw only a few trekkers today. And it really seemed like the locals were friendlier. The landscape is finally what I had dreamed Nepal would be like… Lush, but incredibly steep mountainsides with waterfalls flowing, shaded rocky paths, mixed with rice fields, and snow capped mountain vistas the whole time. And it seems like Rick and I have hit our communication groove finally…

Or maybe it’s just me and I’m finally starting to settle into this new life?

Nepal

Rick scored the best room!! We have two sides with windows! A double bed! With a good mattress!  A gas hot water shower – in our room!!!

Our Room in Sikha, Nepal.

I’m thankful for:
Just about everything today!! I’d say freedom to do what we want and go where we want.

Flower

Sikha to Ghorepani – October 11, 2014

Sikha to Ghorepani was a nice relaxing hike once we figured out which way to go…

Sign to Ghorapani, Nepal

3 Things:
-Yak cheese – amazing!!
– Baby goat playing on baby water buffalo
– Stairs, stairs and more stairs!

A baby goat playing on a baby water Buffalo

The Best Part of the Day:
We found a guy selling yak cheese and it rocked!

Yak Cheese is Good!

The Worst part of the day:
We say a snake!

A snake in Nepal

I’m thankful for:
A short hiking day!

Nepali Horses

 

Gorepani to Poon Hill to Pokhara – October 12, 2014

3 things:
-Sunrises
– Stairs. Stairs. Stairs.
– Home sweet home – Pokhara!

Our earliest start yet, 4:20am hiking. The goal is to beat the sun up to Poon Hill (3210m) for an amazing sunrise. We made is up to the top and witnessed a pretty remarkable sunrise across the mountains. Then it was down down down. Due to some budget miscalculations on my part (and pretty much zero ATMs on the trail, with the exception of Jomsom) we decided to try and make it all the way to Pokhara today.

The sunrise view from Poon Hill, Nepal.

 

The sunrise view from Poon Hill, Nepal.

The sunrise view from Poon Hill, Nepal.

The Best Part of the Day:
It’s a toss up between the beautiful sunrise from Poon Hill and making it back to our little home in Nepal, Pokhara.

The Worst part of the day:
Our day included some of the most rediculous “stone stairs” imaginable, Know as the Stairs of Ulleri 500 vertical meters of stairs… Soooo thankful we were going down, but still took it’s toll. So many stairs the number was actually noted on the map (3420 but there is no way that is accurate as some of the steps had steps of their own, like little baby steps). For a little perspective, imagine going to the very tip-top of the needle on the Empire State Building; then taking the stairs all the way down, then once you got to the ground floor you still had 70 more meters to go down… and they are all made out of rocks, of various sizes shapes and textures. Fun times!

Stairs!

This side of the mountains still seemed to have the better scenery, lots of beautiful waterfalls and jungle.

Jungle stream in Nepal.

Once we made it into Birethanti, and got our TAMs cards checked one last time we got a great offer on a taxi to Pokhara (2000NPR) so we took it! We would have continued to hike down the road to Natapul for another 45 minutes but judging from the view from the taxi, the taxi ride was definitely the better choice… lots of touts, a small garbage dump between towns and a dusty busy road.

The Bridge in Birethanti, Nepal.

We rolled into Pokhara and straight to find Bayan Tree right where we left it 2 weeks earlier with it’s awesome porch waiting for us to kick our feet up!

Bayan Tree, Pokhara, Nepal