Tuesday, May 29, 2001

Uphill Treks & Downstream Rafting

The Ghoses are beginning to get adventurous in their old age. Last month, first S.. went on a short trek on the Annapurna circuit and then a couple of weeks later the entire family ( Jaya included ) had their first tryst with White-water Rafting on the Trishuli.
Nayapul is an hour's drive from Pokhara on the Baglung-Beni road, which leads towards the Kali Gandaki the deepest river gorge on earth. From there, one takes the short 20 minute trail to Birethanti - the entry point for the Annapurna Circuit treks. After registering at the check-post of the Annapurna Conservation Area Project - run by the King Mahendra Trust, who has the manadate for the area, the real trek begins along the bank of the Modi-Khola. The first couple of hours is an easy walk, which can easily make the novice a trifle over-confident and those among them who are also a little greedy - like you know who - can compound the mistake by succumbing to the temptations of a sumptuous Dal-Bhat-Tarkari meal at Shauli Bazar, where you break-journey - ravenous as you after an early and the morning's exertion for the uninitiated. What follows is a back-breaking 3 hour uninterrupted climb - which is a sheer endurance test. But, finally - when you reach Ghandruk ( about 2000 mtrs ) - a picture post-card Gurung settlement ( the second largest in Nepal, I'm told, the first being Siklis ) with its closely spaced slate-roof houses and terraced fields above and below.
Ghandruk offers remarkably nice facilities for stay - with running hot & cold water and electricity ( it has its own micro-hydel power project ). In the evening you amble through getting lost in the alley-ways of the village before returning to the dining room of the lodge for another round of Dal-Bhat-Tarkari amongst the din of conversation fellow trekkers excitedly exchanging notes of their day's highlights. Despite intentions to sleep till late in the morning - you get up early and are thankful for it because you get the most gorgeous view of the Anna South and the Machapuchare in its glorious Fish-tail aspect. After break-fast - while others proceed on their journey towards MBC and ABC (trekkers parlance for the Machapuchare and Annapurna Base Camps ) - the meek and timid start their trudge backwards and half-way through realise what they mean by a truly a knee-breaking descent.
Just before reaching Birethanti - we stopped by at the Ker & Downey's Sanctuary Lodge for a quick inspection. That's a place we could even bring Jaya ones the weather gets a little cooler. Since we reached Naya Pul earlier than scheduled - took a short drive upto Baglung to get a first glimpse of the majestic Kali-Gandaki. In retorspect, it was a good start - leaving you with a mild touch of the DMM ( Dil Mange More ) syndrome - that's about all one can afford at this old age.
The down-stream rafting is another story to be told over a camp-fire evening.