Maybe it was the stories of “not uncommon” bus crashes, reinforced by a flamboyant Thai tourist’s tale of buses plunging dramatically and irrecoverably off cliffs wth goats tied barbarically to roofs by no more than their ankles. Or maybe it was our new found love of hiking. We had, after all, walked 20 miles over two days and were feeling remarkably positive about the very recently shunned activity. Or maybe it’s just genetic. There’s a famous Isolda car trip story referenced in an earlier post in which, upon coming into view of the Rockies, mom Isolda exclaimed that she feared road runner roads and promptly lept from the car at a red light, bolting down the road like a scalded rabbit. Out of aggravation(or mom induced temporary insanity) Jason, the eldest and ever- so- mature sibling, chomped down on a red-orange crayon, waxy bits flying about, and ran after her.
Whatever the case, I had no interest in boarding that bus to Pokhara, a city 54 miles away. I pitched the idea of walking to Brad with weak justifications followed quickly by uninhibited desperation. It is quite known, after all, that once I get an idea in my head it is quite a feat to extract it, particularly when it is brilliant as this was. We’d get our trekking out of the way, enjoy hours of tourist-free vistas, and above all, avoid those horrific buses. The trip would take four days. Now, all we would need is someone to carry our luggage to Pokhara. We needed a tourist.
Her name was Virginia, pronounced Virginie, and she was from France. We can’t take all the credit, though. Man, our gracious host, was behind us and in fact came up with, and even pitched the idea to her before we even got to her. So I guess it’s hard to tell if she was actually agreeable or just bullied into it. Either way, we walked her to the bus before sunrise, paid her for a the taxi to the farm she’d be staying at, pitched in a few extra rupees for her willingness, and bade Virginie and the bag farewell.
We started out. About five miles in I stubbed my toe which manifested itself in some bizarre and unbearable calf and knee pain which was only a problem on the downhills. No problem, except the Himalayas are a mighty spiky set of hills and if you’re not going up you’re coming down, and this goes on forever. Things were looking bad and we still had 50 miles to go. I was crawling. After several futile rest periods and human crutching, Brad disappeared into the woods and proudly reappeared a few minutes later with a bamboo walking stick.
The stick helped immensely and we were back our way! The amazing thing about hiking in Nepal is that you look over through all these mountains and valleys and the place you are aiming for looks kingdoms away. But then you walk up and down, up and down, and in an hour you look back and see the impossibly distant mountain you came from.
There are trails everywhere you think they should be, and you can cover a hell of a lot of ground, and more directly than the bus. It also helped that Brad has a real keen sense of direction.
It was pretty touch and go, especially at the beginning, but before we knew it, we were at our first sleep stop. And then the second! And third! The hotel options along the way were dire and we were grateful to have included our sleep liners in our abbreviated luggage. The food was always pretty good. Daal bhat, it would seem, is hard to mess up. We met many kind and generous locals along the way and had several invitations to tea and lunch.
We made it to Pokhara on the fourth day as planned, and after a cup of real coffee,the first of the trip, a glass of beer, and some long-awaited, yet sadly disappointing, pizza, settled into another, considerably cleaner, el cheapo guesthouse.