Monday, October 12th
It was fun waking up this morning to the jangling of bells from the pack trains coming down the path by the tea house. Apparently the driver’s start getting them ready about 4:00am and then head off for their daily trip. It makes for a VERY long day!!!
It had been really cloudy all morning and as we finished breakfast we heard the unmistakable sound of rain…..HEAVY rain!!!
This is the one thing that I had dreaded for the entire trip and sure wasn’t happy about it happening on the very last day!!!
He sort of reminded us of a trash can on Star Wars!!!
…..I was basically losing it!!!!
There were several thoughts going thru my mind….. First of all, I was ready to be finished with the hiking and I figured that rain would just make it a longer trip. Secondly, I was very worried that the trail would be slippery and dangerous. Finally, I think that I was just tired and at a low point mentally.
As we were leaving, I asked Badri if there were steps or stones….he diplomatically said “there are steps made of stones”!!
But I shouldn’t have worried!!! Badri set Sabine right in front of me and off we went!!! Michael kept encouraging me to trust my boots and he was absolutely right. The track was not as slippery as I thought it would be. I just had to follow in Sabine’s footsteps. And, as usual, I could count on Sera and Badri to stay close when it got really steep.
So after about an hour, I was still feeling a bit nervous but definitely doing better!!!
We passed several groups of kids heading to school in the rain….all in flip flops and not worrying about it being slippery at all. As we crossed one stream, we were all scrambling on rocks and trying to keep our feet dry but the little girls were happily sloshing THRU the water and not worrying if their clothes got wet.
It was VERY gray!!!
From there it was a matter of following the switchbacks down the mountains. Happily the rain stopped too!!
We walked on, breaking into little groups and talking as we walked and listening to the roar of the river next to us….. Then all of a sudden, we looked up and recognized our tablecloth and knew that it was time for our last meal together.
We dined on a spam and mushroom stir fry, tasty pasta and egg salad and the MOST wonderful grilled cheese sandwich…..
As we were sitting at the table, I noticed some red blobs on a log across the road. Michael went to investigate and found these interesting fungi….
After lunch it was time to gather for one big group photo….
These guys were amazing and we are so thankful for the entire crew who made sure that we had such a fun and safe trip!!
Badri asked if we had anything to say to the crew and most said thank you to them for all of their hard work. All that I could think to say was that I was sorry that my duffle bag was SO heavy!!! Once Badri translated, they all laughed!!!
Next we presented the crew with their tips from all of the trekkers. Michael read each person’s name and they came forward and shook every one of our hands. It was a gentle and sweet gesture.
These were our wonderful porters……
….and our superior chef……
There is no photo, but the clapping for Badri went on for a long, long time and came not only from the trekkers, but from the crew as well. He was truly amazing!!
So, with one last “Tick Tock” and one last “Johnny Ho”, we headed out on the last stretch.
Even though we were officially off of the trail, there was still plenty to see, including yet another pack train…..
The road slowly turned into a small town with people living life along the street, completely oblivious to this group of dirty trekkers coming down from the wilds.
We met the bus at 1:10 and spent the next few minutes watching the porters get everything packed up.
I snagged Monise for a photo…..
…followed by one with Sabine…..
These two guys did a wonderful job of taking care of me and I had great pleasure in slipping them a few dollars extra!!!
At last, the crew climbed on top with the gear, we climbed into the tourist van, Badri got into the bus and yelled “Johnny Ho”, we yelled it right back at him and we were off!!
A few miles down the road the bus passed us and we could hear the yelling and cheering of the guys on top of the bus. We yelled and cheered back like a bunch of teenagers!!!
We stopped briefly at Phedi, the place that we had started our trek from and watched as all of the gear was unloaded so that it could be prepared for the next trek group which starts TOMORROW!!!
This place had a sense of déjà vu as the same little lady tried to sell me the same necklace that she had 10 days ago…..
Most of the trek crew stayed at Phedi but a few who are not on the next trek climbed into the bus with us.
After yelling many more goodbyes we headed for the hotel in Pokhara, a stellar establishment called the Atithi Resort and Spa.
After a long shower and dressing in clean clothes, Michael and I found the restaurant and spent some quality time relaxing in comfortable chairs, catching up on emails, and generally reliving our adventure.
We did manage to completely trash our room as we tried to dry out all of our VERY wet clothes…. We had all told Badri that we would like to take him out for dinner…anywhere that he wanted to go. Well, he picked an Italian food restaurant so we walked the eerily quiet (the strike is still in force so there is very little fuel available for vehicles) street to get to our restaurant. It was a nice way to end the journey.
…and carried to the Pokhara airport to make the flight back to Kathmandu. It was a bittersweet time to say goodbye to our friend, but he didn’t have time to feel sad because the next group of trekkers arrived on the plane that we flew out on!!!
As we boarded the plane, we all hurried to get on the left side so that we could see the mountains one last time. They were just as beautiful as on the first trip and were yet another reminder of just how fantastic this trip has been.
The pilot announced that we were flying at 11,500 feet….hard to believe that we climbed higher than that on our journey!!!
The rest of the day was spent at Hotel Marshyangdi in Kathmandu. We had the day free to explore the city, but we were both too pooped to do much exploring so instead we found a place to hang out and look at photos. It was the perfect way to relax and enjoy our trip further.
Now, I will say that we were disappointed in this hotel. It was quite old, not very clean and certainly did not live up to the standards that REI had set for the rest of the trip!
The next morning (Wednesday, the 14th) we were picked up and transferred to the Kathmandu Airport for our flight back to Bangalore. The only problem with the flight was that it was delayed by many hours and we spent a lot of time sitting in the airport and on the tarmac. The excuse given was that it was for “official” reasons, but we noted that none of the Non-India flights were delayed so we are fairly certain that it was a way for the Nepali’s to get back at the Indian’s for the fuel blockade!!!
We finally arrived back in Bangalore at 9:00pm, were met by a driver from our hotel and were soon in our soft beds, enjoying sound sleep and dreaming of the adventures that we had experienced!!!!