… and that was only the beginning … of the trek; and my earning the nickname “Gimpy B”.
While looking at the map on the morning of our first day, we spotted the note of 3,280 steps that fell somewhere between the end of day one and the beginning of day two. Not wanting to start out the second day having to climb that many steps, we decided that we would push through on the first day to get them out of the way.
I suppose it doesn’t really matter which day we did them, either way I probably would have ended up with my bum knee. By the time we reached the top of the steps and the beginning of the town (very slowly of course) my right knee felt like it was going to fall off. Needless to say, I was very happy to stop at the first tea house and not climb to the top of the town to find a “better” one. Turns out, we probably had the best one in town anyway (only paid 100 rupees for a double AND we had an awesome view of Annapurna South). We also met a really cool Canadian guy and had some delicious (and refillable of course) dal bhat (meal of rice and lentil soup).
The next day the hike was a bit easier and we made it to Ghorepani, the town we stayed in, much quicker than we expected. Even though I was wearing my knee brace, I was definitely in a bit of pain by the time we reached there, so I was happy to give my knee a rest. It was quite cold there and actually started to snow, which made us a little nervous for the visibility we were going to have the next morning on top of Poon Hill. We spent the evening sitting by the fire in the dining hall, reading, playing cards, and of course, eating dal bhat again. We called it a pretty early night, as we had a 5 am wake up call coming our way.
5 am came quickly and the reality of the cold we’d be hiking in set in pretty fast once we were out of the protection of our sleeping bags. The best time to see Poon Hill is early in the morning just after sun rise as this is when the visibility is the best. So, we set off on our hike at 5:15 am in the dark, in order to reach the top during this time. It was a pretty steep hike up, but once to the top it was definitely worth the hiking in the dark. We had a great sunrise and we could not have asked for better visibility. There wasn’t a single cloud covering any of the peaks. So our little snow storm the night before didn’t impede on our views. The only thing the snow DID do, was add to the nice snowy covered path where I, of course, slipped and fell on the way back down. This is really where the nickname Gimpy B started to stick.
Once back down at the tea house, we packed up, ate some biscuits and oranges for breakfast and set off to head to the next town. The beginning of this hike also had AMAZING views. I really do feel spoiled having the opportunity to see such amazing mountains. We thought we would reach our late breakfast spot within an hour or so based on the distance on the map. However, it took about 2 1/2 hours because there was MORE snow. Which, you guessed it, I fell on a few more times. I really couldn’t escape the nickname and the destiny that came with it.
We reached the town that most people stop at for the night around 3:30. We had decided we wanted to get a little further, to shorten the distance we had to go the next day. Seemed like a good idea at the time, because even though I was tired, I had taken some pain killers and my knee was actually feeling somewhat normal again. And besides, we had seen a sign saying that the next tea house was 45 minutes away, what could POSSIBLY go wrong.
After setting off, we quickly realized that we were much more tired than originally thought and I was definitely slowing down from “pain killers are awesome” speed back down to gimp speed. After a little over an hour, we reached a very small town and stopped for a break. Why a break rather than for the night? I honestly have no idea. I think it’s because we were somewhat delirious and were not aware of our own stupidity. So, we set off again in search of the next little spot that wasn’t on the map, really having no idea how long it would take to get there with only a little over an hour of daylight left. Smart, I know!
After setting off this time, I immediately started having visions of leopards and killer monkeys coming out to get me when I inevitably had to sleep on the side of the trail because this magical tiny town was never reached. This got me to pick up speed and I started repeating to myself: “I’m not getting stuck in the dark. I’m not getting stuck in the dark.” Christaporter/CP (who earned this nickname since he was kind enough to carry the big bag the whole way) stopped for a break at one point to eat a granola bar because he was becoming delirious from the lack of food all day. What response did this get from me? “No! We can’t stop to eat! We’ll get stuck in the dark! Quick, break it in half and we’ll eat it on the way”.
Luckily, we reached the tea house just in time for the sunset. We were the only guests and settled in to the chairs facing the AMAZING view of the mountains and had a much deserved (albeit 150 rupee) coke. We survived through our own stupidity.
Day 4 started off a bit slowly, as my body realized the full stupidity of the actions of the day before. I’m pretty sure CP was thinking that we weren’t going to be getting far since I was barely moving at all. Luckily, for his sanity, the pain killers kicked in and I was able to pick up the pace to a relatively normal speed again. That is, until we reached the 700 meter drop in elevation, immediately followed by a 4oo meter climb in elevation. Normally, I would say downhill would be better, but that quick of a drop made for thousands and thousand of steps (I’m pretty sure it beat out the 3,280 steps of the first day). By about step 300, I was only able to take one step at a time as I could only put pressure on the leg without the bum knee. I’m pretty sure the locals thought I was crazy with my “step down, stop, step down, stop.” Once to the other side of the river and the top of the next hill, we had a nice lunch and then the rest of the day was easy peasy with barely any change in elevation.
A nice Nepali man at lunch had recommended a good teahouse for us to stop at in the next town, so we decided to find it. We were a little shell-shocked when we got there and found the place almost full. Now, it may not seem like a lot of people, as there were only maybe 10 others plus some guides and porters. But to us, it felt very weird to have to interact with that many people at once. After all, we were trekking out of season and had only come across a few trekkers per day leading up to this. This night went like all the others: fire, reading, books, food. Except, after 3 straight days of dal bhat, we decided we need a bit of a change, so we went for the macaroni (living dangerously, I know!).
Our last day was pretty easy as it was a short day with not too many stairs. We made it to the final town by about 1 and were able to have a leisurely lunch and then grab a ride with a jeep back to Pokhara.
Once back in Pokhara there were only two things on our minds: hot showers and go out for the burger and beer that had been on our minds since the delirium of day 3.
…and approximately 10,324.2 stairs later….Gimpy B is back in the ktm and headed off to Goa! (I’m pretty sure the knee can handle the sand 🙂 ).