The best sunrise ever!
Our journey of trekking the Himalayas continued when we reached our intended height on the third day after a 7 hour hike through quiet towns with small houses and past trickling streams with clear water. We had to spend the night in the town of Ghorepani from where we would depart to watch the sunrise at Poon Hill—the goal of our trip. This night was to be the coldest yet. We found a box in the hall of our lodging that had extra bedsheets that we used as added layers for warmth. The next morning at dawn, we set off up the steps for an hour, using the extra sheets as scarves under our clothes. Once at the top, we found a spot among the many tourists eager to watch the skies slowly awaken over the jagged peaks of Annapurna. People took the opportunity to snap away at what was truly deserving of such camera-ready travelers. Now that the climax of our Himalayan adventure was reached, it was time to begin our descent. However, the beauty of the mountains was not nearly over.
Stuck in a hailstorm
Soon after leaving Ghorepani, we came across a field with a spectacular view of the peaks. Mountain yaks grazed quietly in the field. We stopped to have a snack here, and once again admire the paradoxical beauty. From where we sat, the peaks appeared calming and peaceful. But we knew at that height, the force of the wind and snow was anything but.
We felt a touch of the mountain’s force on one of our last trekking days. We were relaxing outside of our accommodation in the middle of the day. In front of us were the peaks of Annapurna and Fishtail Mountain. Suddenly, the skies began to darken and we saw the hostel workers taking the tables and chairs inside. The sky seemed split in half—one side was as clear as day, and the other was quickly becoming gray. Then we heard what sounded like distant rain. We felt it coming closer and closer as we stood outside. It was the first time I have actually seen and felt a storm approach. Then it was dark and the storm was upon us. But we realized it wasn’t rain…it was hail. Pieces the size of small rocks were hailing thunderously all around us and now we had to retreat inside. From inside, the sound of the falling hail rattled the roof loudly. And then, as quickly as it had come, it was gone. The hail stopped and the clouds cleared up to reveal the afternoon sun. The storm returned that night and I awakened thinking that the tin roof was sure to cave in from the heavy hail. Just another reminder of the mountain’s strength.
Climbing down was just as challenging at times as going up. The stone steps seemed endless and it would come to a point where you would just let your feet fall onto the next step and your body follow. We talked about anything and everything, and when we ran out of topics, we would continue on in silence. There were definitely things to keep us entertained on the trek. We encountered other trekkers with their porters, many locals going about work, and animals such as chickens, horses, monkeys, and of course yaks. Once, we heard several bells and looked down to see a herd of goats with their shepherds coming up. We had to step aside and wait for them to clumsily trod by.
The Himalayan people were extremely friendly and welcoming. They were always willing to spark up a conversation or help with directions. We were almost at the end of our hike on day seven when we finally got lost. We took a wrong turn and ended up walking through a forest with no clear path. I guess a trek isn’t complete without losing your way at some point. When we finally found our way, we were certainly ready to meet our driver and head back to Pokhara for a hot shower. But watching the snowy peaks disappear behind us definitely left us with a feeling of longing—of sleepy towns, tasty meals of dhal bhat, wintery nights, flowing streams, and indescribable views. Trekking the Himalayas has undoubtedly become one of my most memorable experiences to date.