A place by the lake surrounded by lush green foothills and backlit by the mighty Annapurna range. Its called Pokhara. A city in truth, its nestled on the flat land around a few hills and the touristy section is stuck front and centre by the lakeshore. A 2 or three main streets full oh guest houses, restaurants, trekking companies, outfitters, eateries and shops by dusty roads filled with scooters, animals and foot traffic. the place is divine. The lake is long and has a muddy foreshore, not what your typical definition is, but its beautiful all the same. Run down in that backwater type of way, where the god wasn’t out to make perfection in this place – just a gritty reality that calls to soul. We spend the first day wandering and getting our bearings. We take a canoe out on to the lake for a while and just watch the world turn over. We try food and browse the shops for silks and tapestries as be both try and recover from the aches and sickness that the 3 days rafting trip left us with.
In the afternoon as the hazy mountain air settles with the oncoming cool of night, we find a bottle of Khuri rum and cut I cut some cups out of an old coke bottle. We take them to the roof of the hotel and settle in for the glory that is the sunset on the Annapurna.
The world below is long in shadow as the suns rays glint of the mountains 20km away. Gigantic beings, they float above the world and are displayed with a crystal clear clarity to the minuscule humans watching in awe from the rooftops. From orange to deep hues of pink, we watch the colours turn and the clouds cling to they mighty cliff faces. We are so happy at having witnessed the sun kiss them goodbye and goodnight.
The next day we hire a scooter and explore the surrounding hills. Theres a temple located on a small peak overlooking the lake on the south side we head for. After getting pulled over and inspected by a lady cop and a few burn outs on the windy gravel track, we make it and are left awed by the vista. The full Annapurna range is on display, floating amongst the high clouds. We can see the many rows of mountains stepping down from the high peaks. The city below us is bathed in a soft haze while the lake resounds a deep aqua blue. Peace flags flutter off the surrounding temple gardens creating a scene of utter peace. Sarangot – an opposing high hill on the opposite side beckons us and we head off back down, around the lake and up there for lunch.
Poon Hill Trek. 3 days 2 nights.
Poon hill is an odd name for a hill but its a great welcoming track for the himalya. Catherine is a touch unproven and we are reluctant to bite off more in case it can’t be chewed. We start by meeting our guide, a tall fellow named Rami and our porter, Okil. We didn’t need either but got talked into them by the owner of the guest house in Kathmandu. A mistake we wouldn’t make again. We barely had enough gear for two small backpacks as we have guesthouses the whole way. I suppose this is why you do introductions like this. We all jump in the back of a small car and head an hour or so off up the valley to a town where we get our permits and start the trek. We wander slowly up a valley following a creek. Its humid and green and hard work as there are many many steps.
We pass a village and get hit by a heavy downpour – the steps cascade into a temporary waterfall. as we seek refuge on a rock to the side. 10 mins and its over and we keep marching up. We call the end of the day in a little village named Ulleri – a small farming village on a ridiculously steep hill that echo’s with the calls of cows and chickens. A mighty icy peak glares down from a steep valley high up beyond as we settle in on the roof of our guesthouse with some Khuri Rum for the night.
The next day winds up through more jungle and another village or two, before we find ourselves settling just shy of Poon hill peak in to Ghorepani. 4am wake up and we march the final few hundred metres up to the peak for sunrise. Its freshly cold in the early morning and the world is bathed in shadow, but before long the sun starts to light up the view in piercing fingers of light. Rising from over the Annapurna range and onto the opposing gargantuan Dhalgaluri. Its glorious. Utterly glorious. Peace flags flutter in the soft breeze and and vivid splashes of colour to the majestic view.