Whew. It appears my straight-up approach to the 13.75-hour (I think) time change had an expiration. I allowed myself a nap this afternoon after doing my normal reading on a cloudy day, and I couldn’t wake up. Even now, around 7 PM, I’m up but feeling exhausted. Needed to get this out of the way before Tuesday, when we start trekking, and the clouds and cold made for an acceptable afternoon to spend asleep.
Tim and Emily made it up a few hundred meters and back, visiting by boat and foot the Peace Pagoda that watches over Pokhara from the opposite side of the lake from Sarang Kot. While a lot lower than SK, that will pass for a confidence-confirming warm-up hike this time around, since the other is a harder up-and-down trip than any single day we’ll trek. No need to over stress the body a couple of days before taking off on the real thing. They did well, had a good time and stayed dry. The real rain today came later in the afternoon.
The forecast is looking up, and we will meet Rajendra tomorrow to firm up trekking plans for the next morning and finish our permits. I’m leaning toward setting us off on the Mardi Himal trek, which is on the ridge to the east above the Annapurna Sanctuary trek. The ridge top makes for a more steady climb compared to the elevation variation continuously cursed while following a river like the Beni-Jomsom and ABC trails. Depends on weather and group comfort level with it, and it’s a relatively new route as far as trekking, but it’s on the maps and developed with a few trekking lodges. Views should be amazing no matter how far we get, and it tops at 4500m. It wasn’t on my radar until Devendra mentioned it today, but that elevation and the trail profile are pretty attractive. We shall see.
Now, light dinner and back to bed hoping the forecast for clearer weather the next few days holds.
Dhaulagiri, Machapuchare and a few of the Annapurna peaks showed up this afternoon after two more sessions of rain on what has been a generally cloudy and cold day. Considering it is winter and much warmer than from where we came, all is well. The sun, when out, is extremely warm.
We had breakfast at Peace Eye, hung out for a while reading, then walked to Once Upon a Time for an early lunch of snacks (momo, cheese balls, naan). A bit more walking around after more rain, some shopping, then back to Peace Eye as the sun came out. Major building projects are happening here today, with a new slate roof going up around the new cafe and a truck full of a couple thousand bricks just arriving now (to build a couple of additional rooms on one of the upper floors).
Weather looks wet again and colder tomorrow then clear for a few days. That will take us through the start of the trek. We’ve been talking about diverting to the Annapurna Sanctuary trek instead of Poon Hill/Jomsom. If we switch, we may not make it all the way due to our limited schedule and the need to hike out versus Jomsom’s options for return transport. That would be fine, though, since the entire walk is pretty amazing from the first day, as I saw last year while completing only a day and a couple of hours of the outbound trek. We shall see. We have a few days to decide.
We went to see a baby lion last night. It turned out to be a baby leopard, but that change disappointed no one. One of the recent guests here is working to rehabilitate it and let us see it for a few minutes, no cage or anything. We went with Devendra and some others from the guesthouse. Emily took pics and video.
Following that and a brief walk along the main road of Lakeside, Emily and Tim both turned in early without dinner. I didn’t have dinner either — probably should have to help with the jetlag — but I stayed up as late as I could reasonably stay awake on the couch in the courtyard. Slept most of the night, save an hour listening to what seemed like a pretty heavy rain around 0130.
I was sunny every day lately until we got here, of course. I snapped this shot this morning just before more clouds rolled across from the left, and that was all I saw of the peaks this morning. Hopefully the cloudy weather rolls out soon and leaves us with some clear skies.
Not much on the agenda the next couple of days. Just picking up a few things we need and exploring Pokhara a bit. Everyone has a Nepali phone number now and a cell-phone charger that works here (when the power is on), so we shouldn’t lose anyone.
We ended up sitting around the Kathmandu airport for a while this morning. Our domestic flight was originally booked for 1130 because we anticipated the arriving flight being late. When we instead arrived a little early, before 0600, we got our visas and headed over to the domestic terminal and asked a Yeti Airlines rep to move us to an earlier flight. They put us on the 0830.
That flight ended up being delayed because of weather like every other domestic flight this morning. They stacked up and sent them all starting at 1015 or so. So we still got to Pokhara earlier than planned.
Devendra picked us up at the airport and gave us each a welcome scarf. It was great to see him and great to get to the Peace Eye.
The place has changed a lot since I left in April. The restaurant was redone, including walls moved and the roof raised. They have built a new cafe for coffee and baked goods and ice cream. It’s still, though, a quaint little place with the wonderful staff that was so nice last time I was here. I’m anticipating the same good food, and we’re waiting for the first of that now.
After lunch, it’s SIM-card time for Emily and Tim. Then we explore.
We made it to Nepal! Flight landed reasonably on time after a hold for “airport preparation.” We landed before 6am, so it’s possible we were the first flight in and they still needed to turn on the lights.
Visa and customs remain, then we will walk over to the domestic terminal and catch our late-morning flight to Pokhara.
We landed in Istanbul about an hour ago and are having a quick beer while we wait for a gate to be assigned to our flight to Kathmandu. Flight was not horrible until my seat-back screen got overloaded and refused to respond. It kept playing The Wall over and over, the whole album. Then they switched all of the screens to the cockpit view for the landing, and it came back to life.
Last lengthy flight departs shortly. I’m worried our layover in KTM may be longer than necessary because this flight kept getting moved earlier to ensure the later departure from KTM was on time. We may need to leave the airport for a while or to see if we can hop on an earlier flight to Pokhara.
We got to Chicago a little early thanks to Alaska, got my boarding pass fixed thanks to Turkish and met up with Tim. Time for dinner, then our longest leg, ORD to Istanbul.
Emily and I have our backpacks packed, save a few things running through the washer and the dishwasher. Back in Michigan, Tim has been packed and asleep for a while — the early train he has to catch to Chicago is a few hours earlier than the start of the drive we have to the Seattle airport given the time difference.
Somewhat different than planned due to our relocation two months ago, we will start the trip with a flight from Seattle to Chicago. There we will pick up Tim and our previously booked itinerary. The three of us will fly from Chicago to Istanbul, then from there after a brief layover to Kathmandu on Turkish Airlines’ new Istanbul-to-Kathmandu route. We depart Wednesday morning from Seattle, Wednesday night from Chicago, and we arrive in Kathmandu early on Friday.
From there, we have tickets on a KTM-to-Pokhara domestic flight. In Pokhara, we’ll settle into the wonderful guesthouse where I based last year’s trip. The weekend (as if the next few weekends will be perceptible to us there) will be spent getting cell phones and trekking passes sorted out and introducing Emily and Tim to the country.
That’s the plan, at least. More to follow as we make our way there. Thanks for reading — it made all the difference last year traveling by myself, and I still hope to update frequently despite not traveling solo this time.
After a bit of messing around with my Nepal photos over the last week, I’ve removed from Flickr the unprocessed photos uploaded when I got back and replaced them with processed versions. Most are geo-tagged with coordinates, altitudes, headings and city names and can be viewed on a map by clicking the links below the photos, and all of them now have titles.
You can flip through the 101 pictures in the refreshed Nepal 2013 set on Flickr.
I realize some things would be easier if I posted photos on Facebook instead of Flickr, but then what would be the point of using a nice camera? To comment, you’ll need a Yahoo!/Flickr account. This is a good time to mention that Flickr vastly increased the capabilities of its free accounts last week. I’ve had a paid pro account for years, and I have barely begun to touch the terabyte of space they now provide free users. It’s worth signing up, which you can do at www.flickr.com.