We had, after a fairly brutal 200 kilometres that had taken over 7 hours to complete, arrived in Pokhara. The laid back town that sits unassumingly at the foothills of the Himalayas.
The town that sees thousands of people a year, mainly between March – May and September – November, embark on treks, hikes, ascents and descents through endless valleys and atop countless peaks.
Through a faint winter’s haze Machhapuchhre soared high into the sky as a beacon of where we were to go. But there was much to do before we could even think about putting left in front of right and beginning our many-days-march.
Pokhara Lakeside. Phewa lake to the west and; buried behind cafés, restaurants and an endless number of hiking shops lay Pokhara main town. A place where few tourists dare tread, instead staying true on their course north-south on Manswara road; where many have gone before.
And so we followed suit…
North to find a jacket. South to find a sleeping bag.
North to find trekking poles. South to find rations.
North to find batteries. South to find a map.
And so on. As the few January tourists criss-cross each other up and down the road, unfazed locals gather and carry on Nepali life. A fish delivery. By bicycle. Butchery on the street. Blood spilling across the flagstones, trying in vain to reach the drain.
It is a road I now know well. And it is a road that served me well to perfect my bartering skills… No doubt helpful when we finally make it over the border to India!
And so the days pass. Pontificating over what to buy. Prattling with our climbing partners on the coming ascent. The mountains stare down on us, not getting closer, but planting excitement and trepidation into our minds.
160 miles to walk.
More than 4.5 kilometres to climb.
Gale force winds.
Temperatures dropping below -20 degrees… Before wind chill factor.
Days and days on the trail.
… And possibly snow. How much? That’s in the lap of the gods.
And then the last night in a proper bed came rolling around. So with bags packed and bundles of money ready to dispense we slept our last good night’s sleep.
Our minds and bodies – barely – prepared for an early morning alarm call let alone the trek to come…