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Poon Hill Trek


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We decided to do a second 5 day trek from Pokhara. The trek is a circuit up and down wooded valleys with the highlight a dawn walk to Poon Hill for a mountain panorama of the Annapurnas and some of the world's highest mountains. It was quite different to the Langtang trek - not so high and not so close to the mountains but with stunning views.

A more civilised start this time - about an hour and a half by taxi. In Kathmandu, the only option seemed to be to buy a packaged trek including guide, porter, food, accommodation and transport. This time we just organised a guide/porter (Dharma) which was much better.

The first day was about 3 hours gentle uphill walking through an open valley with farming all around to Hille. The weather was cloudy so not much in the way of mountain views. Our lodge was full of a Swiss party who had just finished the 18 day Annapurna Circuit so there was much singing and dancing in Nepali and German.

Pointsettia

Pointsettia

Drying millet

Drying millet

Waterfall

Waterfall

Terraces

Terraces

Sifting grain

Sifting grain

Next day an early start on the stone steps to Ghorepani - possibly 4,000 or maybe 5-6,000 steps - anyway an awful long way up and very hot. Glimpses of Annapurna South through the clouds. Stopped at Snowland Lodge.

Snowland Lodge

Snowland Lodge

Day 3 - Poon Hill! After days of cloud we were really pleased to see a clear sky and lots of stars. We left at 5.15am in pitch dark to join the procession of people climbing the hill - more steps and a 400m height gain. Very odd with everyone wearing head torches and very quiet - not surprising due to the time and effort involved but adding to the impression of a religious pilgrimage. Arrived at the top about 6am just as it was begining to get light. It was freezing cold - we were really pleased we had bought some gloves - hats would have been good as well. We spent about 45 minutes at the top, watching the sun hit the peaks - fabulous views of the Dhaulagiri Range, Annapurna 1, Annapurna South, Himchuli, Fishtail/Machhapuchhare and many others.

Poon Hill

Poon Hill

Poon Hill

Poon Hill

Dhaulagiri from Poon Hill

Dhaulagiri from Poon Hill

Back to the lodge for breakfast and then off again. The Lonely Planet described the walk as a gentle descent - obviously written by someone who looked at the two points on the map - and saw they were quite a way apart and it was a 200m descent. The reality was somewhat different - a really steep walk first, then along a ridge (apparently with lovely views but by now the mist had descended) and then a long way down more of those stone steps with a killer final ascent. All very hard on the knees. The last part was through a beautiful wooded valley - very moist and mossy - just out of Lord of the Rings. Arrived at Tadapani tired and relieved.

Mossy wood

Mossy wood

Dharma's first choice lodge was full and he suggested we carry on to the next village - we'd had enough after our early start and so refused and ended up at Fishtail View Lodge with rooms rather like beach huts arranged round a lovely stone courtyard with great views of Annapurna South and Fishtail - when there weren't any clouds. Fishtail or Machhapuchhare is the only mountain in Nepal not to have been summitted - it is the sacred mountain so can't be climbed.

Fishtail View Lodge

Fishtail View Lodge

The lodge was packed and a very friendly place with different heating in the dining room (or as the Nepalese have it, the Dinning Hall). Instead of a stove there were two big tins under the table which were regularly topped up with hot embers and a blanket attached to the table to regulate the flow of heat. So we had hot legs and cold backs. Our room was near the washbasin and tap - not the best place to be first thing in the morning. All the Nepalese hawk and spit all the time, but especially first thing - not ideal being woken at 6am by such a chorus. But we did get up to see another great sunrise.

Sunrise at Fishtail View Lodge

Sunrise at Fishtail View Lodge

Sunrise - Annapurna South

Sunrise - Annapurna South

Breakfast at Fishtail View Lodge

Breakfast at Fishtail View Lodge

Next day really was a gentle descent through more wooded valleys - lots of streams and waterfalls and we saw some langurs. Obviously we stopped for ages to watch them, after which Dharma started singing and whistling - presumably to scare any others away for fear we would never reach the next place.

Looking for Langurs

Looking for Langurs

We arrived at Ghandruk before lunch and decided to have wander round town. It's a big village - surprisingly big considering there's no road and everything comes in by mule or carried by someone. Colin asked Dharma where the centre was and got a blank look and we never found it - just lots of houses spread over the hillside. Met a nice couple of Aussies to chat to over dinner and breakfast.

Ghandruk

Ghandruk

Corn drying in Ghandruk

Corn drying in Ghandruk

Drying fruit

Drying fruit

Last day - Colin woke up with a dodgy tum which got steadily worse as the morning progressed. The sight of a mule train crossing a bridge seemed to make him rush off the bridge and throw up into the river! Fortunately we had decided to book a taxi back as the windy roads had the same effect although he nearly made it back - we had to stop the car while he was sick watched by Sue, Dharma, the driver and passers-by - not ideal. By evening Sue was struck by the same thing - but with more privacy.

Fishtail

Fishtail

Fateful mules

Fateful mules

Final view up the valley

Final view up the valley

Posted by armrig 22:37 Archived in Nepal

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