Thursday, October 22, 2015

Trek Day 1–What was I thinking!!


Saturday, October 3rd

We awoke to a beautiful morning, punctuated with cups of tea and coffee….

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We were told to have our duffle bags downstairs by 6:30 and the helpers bagged them up into REI covers

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….and hustled them 1/4 mile down the hill to the van.

Breakfast was basically a “full English Breakfast”…..DSC06162

….and then we were off to the airport.   Driving times were minimal because people still don’t have gas available and there were few vehicles on the road.

When we arrived we found that we were flying on Yeti Airlines…..DSC06163

Gotta love the Big Foot logo….However, Michael really wanted to take a flight with Buddha Airlines!!!

Badri quickly took charge, taking care of our bags, boarding passes and even finding out the Wi-Fi password.

The plane was small, with 2 seats on one side and one on the other.   Prior to take-off, the flight attendant brought out basket of hard chocolate candies and pieces of cotton to put in your ears. 

As we were walking to the plane, Badri said to sit on right side and he was exactly right.   The views of the mountains were glorious….God was at his best!!!   Seeing the Ice, snow and sunshine on the mountain  peaks was simply astounding!!!  Badri was sitting across the aisle from us and patiently answered all of our questions and named the various mountains over and over again.

The flight was only 20 minutes and we soon found ourselves in the city of Pokhara (pronounced Poe-kar-ah).  There were obviously some dignitaries on our flight and one was met with flowers…..DSC06168

I turned to Badri and asked “where are my flowers….I’m hurt”!!   He laughed and started to get used to our weird sense of humor!!

From the tarmac we got our first view of Mount Machapuchare (Ma-cha-poo-chu-ree), also known as Fishtail, which will tower prominently over us for the next few days.DSC06169

We hopped into another Tourist van and drove about 30 minutes to the town of Phedi in the Annapurna foothills.  Here we  did the final separating of items between our trekking packs and our duffle bags….IMG_2838Our porters loaded up our bags and off they went….. IMG_2850

Michael and I both commented that if we ever complain about our jobs, just say the word “Porters”!!

After a quick cup of tea and cookies, and a few words of welcome from Badri…..DSC06175

….we set off (at about 10:40) with the words “Johnny Ho” which we decided means get off your butt and up the mountain!!! …IMG_2848

We loved the sign just above us that said “Annapurna Base Camp – 20 minute walk”…..sure wish that was true!!! 

Shortly after taking out, the other porters rocketed past us on the steps as we slowly plodded up step by step.  To add insult to injury, most of them were wearing flip flops!!!

I took a small rest in between flights of stairs and got the first pep talk from Badri.  He said to take  small steps, drink lots of water, do a slow stutter step that allows you to rest between steps and to THINK POSITIVE.  His final remark was the best….remember that each step is one step closer to your destination!!!

Badri had told us that our first stop was in 1 hour, but that it was STEADY climbing.  When we arrived in 45 minutes. Michael turned to him and said “You did that on purpose didn’t you.” He laughed and said “Very good…you figured me out!!!”   I said that it would be fine with me if EVERY leg was only ¾ of the time told!!

This was our first stop of the trip…….DSC06176

….and we started out by being served a very nice warm juice…..IMG_2867

Since we were hot from the climb, I didn’t think that WARM juice sounded all that good, but it really worked to cool me off faster than a cold drink would have.

We laughed about all of the different condiments that were on the table for us, ranging from hot sauce to peanut butter!!IMG_2868

We didn’t know exactly what to expect for meals, and were pleasantly surprised when our lunch plates arrived with french fries, super fresh cole slaw,steamed beans and carrots and toast. DSC06177

When the bananas arrived, I decided to make my toast into a dessert of sorts with Peanut Butter and Bananas…..DSC06178

It was yummy!!!

While we ate, Badri talked about the history of the word Sherpa.  It is apparently a fairly new word as they weren’t called that until Hillary climbed Mt. Everest.  His climbing partner, Tenzing started calling himself a Sherpa and it caught on from there.   I found it interesting that Badri didn’t call any of our people Sherpas, but normally used Porter instead.

As we were eating, this translucent Dragonfly landed on the bush behind us and Michael was able to get this amazing shot….IMG_2877

We headed out again around 12:30, and I was cheered by this sunflower and encouraged that I could indeed do this trip!!!DSC06180

We walked past many fields and came upon this woman drying and sifting millet….. IMG_2880

Millet and rice are found at lower elevations under 1700 meters (about 4500 feet), corn and millet in middle elevations and potatoes above 2500 meters.  Badri encouraged us that we will eat LOTS of potatoes before the trip is over!

Much of our path followed along the terraces where rice was growing…

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….and it was fun to get an up-close look at the beautiful crops IMG_2884

Since Dhampus was our first campsite it was encouraging to see this sign, although we didn’t really need to be reminded that it was UP…..IMG_2890

We took a rest stop about 30 minutes later and were all encouraged to “sip, sip”, although it was hard for me to do between gasps!! IMG_2897 At this point, I was starting to wonder exactly what I had gotten myself into!!!

We continued upward and soon passed our first “Tea House”…..

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These are dotted all along the trail.

At one of our quick rest stops, Michael ran up the trail a bit to see this cute Stupa, although I opted to just see it thru his Camera…..IMG_2909 By 1:30, we were in village of Dhampus, with just a little more walking to mark the end of our first trekking day…..

I quickly fell in love with all of the chickens and roosters that we saw, including this Mama Hen and her chicks…..

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….and this rooster happily strutting his stuff…..IMG_2918 

This very sweet, smiling woman shyly agreed to have her photo taken….

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Badri assured me that there was no more climbing ….and then quickly added “for today”!!

Mark, David and I agreed that it was enough “up” for the day!!! IMG_2919

We passed many houses that would be over 100 years old. The older ones have slate roofs while the newer ones have tin.  We are having trouble imagining exactly how they get the large slate pieces up this far.

This little girl gave us a smile and a sideways “queen-like wave”….. IMG_2922

Many of the young girls wear bells around their ankles and it is enjoyable to hear them cavorting around.

And then at 2:20 we were there….CAMPSITE NUMBER ONE!!!!IMG_2923

Now we understood why the porters ran past us so fast.   It was so they could get to camp first and have our tents set up before we arrived.   Now that is service!!!

We were welcomed to Tent number 32 which had all of our duffle bags already inside…..

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As soon as we were all together again, Badri gave us the lineup for the rest of the day including warm water brought at 3:00 so that we could clean up a bit and then have tea at 3:30 in the Dining tent.  After we had finished with tea, Badri brought all of the crew in for us to meet….all EIGHTEEN of them!!!

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Badri is our Trip Leader/Guide, and Sera (pronounced Shera) is the camp cook, or really we should say Chef as his meals were astounding!!!  He has been cooking for 25 years and his experience shows.

We have two Assistant Guides, Sabine (Badri’s Nephew) and Monise (pronounced Monish) who is Sera’s son.

Then we have 4 Cook Boys who work with Sera in the kitchen and carry all of the kitchen stuff, and 10 Porters who will set up and break down camp and carry all of our heavy duffle bags and tents.  It was interesting to learn that the porters are part of a union that regulates how much weight they can carry.

As we told them our names, they would repeat them in unison….it was a very sweet gesture.

Badri was very careful to thank us for taking this particular trip which used tents and cooks as it provided employment to so many different people.

The camp set up is  impressive with  an area for Sera and his crew to prepare our meals, a large Dining tent and the “Happy” (toilet tent)…..IMG_2926

After tea I climbed in the tent to get things organized for the night but quickly stopped when the camp chairs appeared….sitting and looking around is MUCH more fun than organizing.

I then found a place in the Dining tent to work on the blog a bit and to back up our photos….IMG_2933

I had two “friends” who joined me in the tent.   The first was a Trek Dog….IMG_2941

….given this classification because he finds one trek and follows it up the trail until he runs into a group heading down.  He then joins that trek and follows it back home again!!  He was chased out of the dining tent several times but they finally gave up and let him sleep there.

The second was a LEECH!!!   We had been warned that they might be in the area because it was warm and wet.  Fortunately I never felt it as it attached to my foot and stole a bit of my blood.  But a bloody foot and shoe showed that I was the first to be got!!!  Badri cleaned the wound up with Dettol…..DSC06189

…..and life went on wearing Tennis Shoes rather than flip flops. 

When he first said to beware of Leeches, I was appalled, but I now know that they don’t carry disease and they inject a bit of anesthetic so you cant feel anything and I decided that they were going to be a hazard of the lower elevations of the trip.

We sat down for dinner which began with a thin Vegetable soup and popcorn….an interesting and tasty combination, made even tastier by the fact that we were using pepper on it rather than salt…..

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Soup was followed by a great meal of rice and Dal Bhat, steamed carrots and cauliflower, and curried potatoes and onions,,,,,DSC06192

As we ate, we were continually offered more food and drink and left the table full and content!! 

After dinner, Badri talked to us about many things.  He has a Law Degree and is licensed to practice but prefers Trekking to preparing boring documents.   He is very knowledgeable and told us much about the Nepalese people and their government.

He walked us thru the schedule for the next day and we all fell happily into our tents to end the first day of our Trek.

4 comments:

Nupur said...

Look at you working all official-like in the tent in the Himalayas! The trek dog is so cute. I love his lifestyle- find groups, make yourself at home, have a good time going up and down the mountain.

Sylvia said...

Ahhhh I'm so excited we have started the virtual trek!!!

Nan said...

What an adventure! I feel like I'm right alongside. Thank goodness the leech turned out to be manageable. The dragonfly pic is spectacular! Looking forward to the rest of the trek! :)

Karen S said...

I am so impressed with the organisation of the trek. And I love the idea of having the tents and camp set up before you arrive each day. They look like a wonderful group.

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