To trek is to come face-to-face with nature, the mountains, villages, people and their ways of life. There are all sorts of people, good, kind hearted, funny, sad, crazy and at times a few bad you may encounter while travelling. As Dalai Lama once said “Once a year, go somewhere you’ve never been before”, for me that somewhere is Mardi this time. All the information were at my fingertips, all because of the almighty Google.
Nepal is a safe place to travel alone, but this time my travel buddy was Pappu. He is one of my friends who fitted the necessary criteria for this trip and I am glad that he accepted my proposal in a very short span of time.
Upon arriving in the local night bus, we were going to spend the night at local hotel somewhere in Dhampus. It was raining and one can imagine what the rain is like in the winter season in the hills. To fight that freezing cold weather we were enjoying a local drink called Jhaikhatte served with local snacks. Jhaikhatte is local alcohol mixed with hot ghee and rice grains. Dal Bhat is popular all around the country for lunch and dinner. “Dal Bhat Power 24 Hour” is one of the popular phrases among many tourists who visit Nepal every year. Having Dal Bhat for dinner after drinking Jhaikhatte is absolutely delicious.
Woke up early in the morning, and finished up with the morning rituals, along with shaving my head. Bald is beautiful. For the last 3-4 years I have been shaving my head all by myself every day. Breakfast was ready and we were having local breakfast in the American way. We left Dhampus early in the morning after breakfast. During our school years we were taught not to trust or talk to strangers while travelling. Travelling somewhere far in the jungle or mountains or hills, chatting with strangers, sharing each other’s stories, sharing food from your bag-pack, and asking for distance always boost up your stamina and psyche. One of the memorable conversations was with a Sri Lankan couple with whom cricket was talked a lot on.
Reached Deurali through Pothana and now it started to rain again. We didn’t have any option other than to take a rest at a local restaurant. We ordered milk tea. Here we found locally made rain-coats and without bargaining we took right away. After half an hour of break, we started to walk uphill towards Forest Camp. The trail is a relatively steep uphill walk to the destination. After a good 7-8 hours of walk here we were at the Forest Camp. Lunch time but ordered only milk tea and had food from our bag-pack. Earlier we decided to spend the night in Forest Camp. But suddenly we changed our plan and we walked up to the Rest Camp. The route is marked pretty well with arrows pointing with some white and blue markers on rocks or trees.
It’s Shiva Ratri, the birthday of Lord Shiva. Heavy rain, cold weather and Shiva Ratri. There should be a party tonight. We changed our soaked gears and joined everyone at the tea house hall. Besides us, there were few American trekkers with a guide, and a German couple at the Tea House. I asked for Jhaikhatte and a few snacks. The American trekkers were having food while their Guide sat by their side, carefully filling some weed into a cigarette. Pappu used the lit stick to bring the cigarette to life. Pappu took one last puff from the weed filled cigarette and handed it to me. I grabbed the cigarette from Pappu. I took a deep puff, letting the weed spread its kindness into my body. This was my very first time having weed. I passed it back to Pappu and stormed away. Pappu can’t dance but we sure enjoyed singing some of the Beatles songs together with the German couples before going to bed.
Good Morning! It was mesmerizing to see the morning sunlight spread over the snow-covered mountains and there was no rain today. After morning duty, the tea house owner got us black tea, omelet, a Tibetan bread and some local curry for breakfast. After loading all the stuff into a bag-pack, we start our journey towards High Camp. The first half of the day was through the forest, where you can spot different kinds of birds. The trail was slippery due to heavy rainfall last night. Once we reached Low Camp from Rest Camp, we started seeing snow peaks and beautiful mountain ranges. The trail was tough because of snowfall. Photographs and a cup of tea was mandatory along the way. After a few hours through the journey we passed Badal Danda, and planned to stay at High Camp that very evening. High Camp was the last place to stop. Snow was on the roofs, water in pipes was frozen so no running water and locals’ melted snow for cooking and making tea.
It is hard to describe the pleasure of walking on a snowy trail. An adventurous walk, even Google can’t satisfy. The trail was mostly filled with Nepali and few foreigner trekkers. These long journeys had made my feet and legs painful. We rested in the tea house for 30 minutes and refreshed ourselves. We did not have lunch during our journey so we ordered early dinner. Dal Bhat Power for dinner and early to bed. It seemed that night, High Camp slept with us without having sleeping tablets. Quiet and Silence.
Early next morning we crossed High Camp to reach the View Point of Mardi Himal. Despite lack of trekking gears, we reached our destination through this snowy trail. When we reached View Point, 4300m above sea level, the snowy peaks of Mardi and Annapurna Mountains were so majestic and the scenery was absolutely mind blowing. We had forgotten our pains and aches totally. Lots of photographs were clicked. One can’t describe these lifetime experiences, because it only happens just once. Trekking in winter is challenging and exciting at the same time.
Fresh water has always been a precious commodity and the need for water more than anything else. It costs 50 rupees for hot water in small glass so I requested for Black Coffee, which costs around 300 rupees. I took a sip of coffee from my glass very slowly, well after all you know it was costly. After staying there for a few moments we returned back to High Camp to have breakfast without taking any rest to trek down hills. From Low Camp we turned towards Siding, where we reserved a Jeep for Pokhara.
Last but not least “Travel is never a matter of money but of courage”.
Travel experiences based on February 2020 Mardi Himal Trekking