Poon Hill Trek: Ghandruk to Nayapul

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Mother Natures sends us off on our final day under pristine blue skies and spectacular views of the Annapurnas. Enchanted by the spell of the mountain beauty, guests and guides break bread together. Me, I opt for my final high country muesli and tea while Bijay snacks on an omelette sandwich.

And, we even have a morning surprise–our big, white fluffball from Ghorepani.

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By the time we stop for lunch, we’ve descended much of the valley, charged Bijay’s cell phone, and covered a range of topics, like Nepal’s hydroelectric potential (we saw some of Bijay’s buds planting posts for electricity lines, a project spearheaded by a township, not the government, to supply many of its neighbors with electricity and water) and Nepal’s social strata. While the nuances are completely lost on me, Bijay gives me a few insights into how he can tell his caste, Brahmin, apart from other castes just by name, language, facial structure and more and about how the warrior caste, Ghorkas, are still revered for their bravery and skill even today. My head spins from the relative complexity of the Nepalese social structure and cultural make-up, especially when I learn that most Nepalese have a native tongue other than Nepali and that this, too, reveals caste.

Fascinating.

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My guide is wise beyond his years: We’ve touched upon our personal life philosophies over the past few days, and I’m impressed by the soundbites he spews forth about having to work for things in life, crafting your own reality, and about having to give in order to take. We all know this, I think, but sometimes, it takes hearing it in its simplest form to hit home.

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By 11:30, Bijay stuffs his face with chicken dahl bat while I twirl tomato cheese spaghetti on my spoon, still sipping my first cup of tea whereas my lunch mate pounded his eons ago. We marvel over the meat, Bijay confessing that he needs a woman that knows how to cook a mean curry chicken and admitting that he thought I nixed the flesh based on my veg skinniness, a comment to which I raise a brow.

We’ve definitely left the cool sweep of higher mountain Sound of Music for the jungles of Swiss Family Robinson, and I want to languish each remaining step down. The loss of altitude burdens my mood, and I find myself melancholic, wistfully wishing I could trek for days, if not weeks, longer.

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As I stare into the valley and up the hills, my heart tells me that it doesn’t want it to end, it doesn’t want to go back, and it’s not just talking about Pokhara versus the mountains. I am overwhelmed by resistance, insistent in its cries and refusal to return to the shackles of parts of my old life, whether self induced or culturally mandated. I can’t fathom trading this journey for the confines of a monitor-staring desk job, moving my body only to and fro and for that designated hour when someone yells at me to do it “faster! harder! stronger!” Nor can I imagine slipping into my old skin, distantly watching the world whirl by as I collect accolades and outward signs of success while my insides rot, buried by the weight of materialism and capitalism and expectation and doubt, fatigued by the company of those who leech me dry.

My primordial scream swirls in anguish, much like Munch’s depiction, the sound deafening and emotion choking my innards dry, pushing the vestiges out my eyes and over my lashes. I cannot go back, I know, and now, the inquiry shifts to understanding how I change the way in which I relate to the monsters of the past and turn them into my Donald Ducks, a trick I used in childhood dreams when the boogie man would chase me in circles until one day I faced him and declared him nothing more than a docile Disney character with a high-pitched voice.

Bijay’s done this stretch of road a bazillion times and tries to talk me into hitching a ride with some of the Jeeps headed into town, but for the life of me, I want to savor every remaining trot. He’s right that it’s hot and muggy and that walking the road and eating dust is far less enticing than previous journeys, but dammit! I’m not ready to go back!

Luckily, we find a bend in the river to relax in, and if it were up to me, I’d spend the afternoon here and take a dip in one of the sideline pools of mineral-rich, swirling water. I explore and climb over soft stones, toes griping at the sandy surface, and plunge my feet into the quick-sand bank. This moment of zen along the Mobi river calms my spirit, ushering in serenity and confirming that I am Gaia’s child and that she is my mentor.

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The same sense of peace and deep recognition, as if I were being called home, I’ve felt in other situations before, some much more cosmopolitan and boisterous than this, and I realize that all I can do is honor it and live it until the time passes for another foray. But, right now, it seems Mother Nature is my beck and call.

Back at our starting point of Nayapul, I pose for a pic with a pair of Chinese men who have been trailing us for the past few days and with whom I shared in the splendor of our Poon Hill experience. I drag out the last breaths of the trek as much as possible, jealously gazing at a trio of Germans bathing in the tropical river and laughing as a mother hen squawks after an undeserving chick.

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Much to Bijay’s amusement, we take the company Jeep–more like a cross between a Land Cruiser and a Trooper–back up and over the hill to Pokhara, a solid forty minutes away. He throws a glance at me over his shoulder and asks how the trek was, and I haven’t words to express the sense of appreciation and gratitude I feel in my heart and soul.

It was fucking amazing.

This entry was published on September 29, 2012 at 04:10. It’s filed under Nepal and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Poon Hill Trek: Ghandruk to Nayapul

  1. Not sure if you experienced an epiphany or an exorcism up there…but I felt it! The Annapurnas are breathtaking. Your writing is awesome!

  2. Alain van Doosselaere on said:

    Tres profond ce que tu ecris, et plein de signification. L’ avenir risque d’ etre tres interessant.

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