We left Kathmandu early to catch the 7am bus to Pokhara, a lakeside town that was the jumping off point for treks. The journey lasted almost 9 hours, but it was broken up with stops for food/bathroom breaks, so it wasn’t TOO terrible. We got into Pokhara late in the afternoon, settled into our hotel, ate a quick dinner, were briefed on the upcoming trek, and did some last-minute repacking of our bags. We rented sleeping bags in Kathmandu since we heard it got pretty cold at night the farther up the mountain you go. We were worried about packing them since they were huge and took up a ton of space. We asked our guide, Jun, if they were really necessary or if we could just leave them at the hotel with the rest of our belongings that we weren’t bringing. He told us that there are thick blankets provided at every teahouse along the way, so he said not to bother with the sleeping bags. We trusted him on this and were glad we did. The blankets were usually sufficient even at the highest altitude we went to (although we still slept in our down jackets as well).
The first morning of the trek we were pretty nervous – neither of us had ever done a long hike before and we weren’t used to carrying our bags on our backs for longer than an hour. The day started with a 2 hr taxi ride to the actual starting point and when we reached it, it didn’t seem like much. The taxi just pulled over to the side of a dirt road and Jun said this was where we started. The first part of the trek was through Nayapul and we walked past a variety of stores selling all sorts of various snacks and trekking gear. After we had our permits checked we started off on the first real stretch of the trek. It was hot out and the path was pretty much all uphill on a dirt road. Cars are allowed on this road also which made it very dusty. By the time we stopped for lunch we were drenched in sweat. Eventually we made it off the road and onto the first of many uphill stone steps. After crossing a couple suspension bridges we made it to our first teahouse in Tikhedhunga. It was much bigger than we imagined. There were several guesthouses and a variety of snacks and items that you could still get. We checked into ours – definitely the most rustic place we’ve ever stayed. But there was hot water for the shower and heavy blankets for us to use – really all we needed. Overall the first day was pretty tough but we thought it went pretty well. We figured if we could make it through day one we could make it the entire way.
Nayapul (3323 ft) to Tikhedhunga (4987 ft): 5.4 Miles
We saw multiple porters throughout the entire trek. They are used to bring supplies up the mountain, and you can also hire one to carry your gear. We were always amazed by how much they could carry, anywhere from 50 up to 100lbs. Most of them carried the bags by a strap attached to their head, wearing simple tennis shoes or even flip flops.
We started day 2 at around 8am – with 3,000 uphill stone steps. This we were a little less prepared for – but we made it! We went slow and took lots of water breaks and were very happy to stop for lunch at the top of them. After lunch the stone steps continued – and basically continued through the entire trek. But we did have some breaks of flat land in between. When we were about 30 min away from our guesthouse for the night it started pouring/hailing. We were completely soaked when we made it to Ghorepani but luckily the guest house had a fire going that we could warm up by. We spent the rest of the night warming up with hot tea and pizza.
Tikhedhunga (4987 ft) to Ghorepani (9433 ft): 5.7 Miles
We started day 3 of the trek at 5am in order to make it to Poon Hill for sunrise. We put on our headlights and joined the line of other people walking up. Luckily, we could leave our big bag at the guest house for this because it was a 2 mile walk up more stone steps. We wore our down jackets for this but by the top we were pretty warm. By the time we made it to the top the sun had already started to rise above the mountains, but the views were amazing! It was a little cloudy, but we could still see a lot of the mountains. We stayed up there for a bit taking in the view, but eventually headed down when we couldn’t feel our toes anymore – and we still had a whole day of trekking in front of us. After our usual breakfast of eggs, toast, and a banana pancake we headed out. Today mostly consisted of more steps leading through the forest. The rhododendron flowers were in bloom on a lot of the trees which made the forest even more pretty to walk through. Also, now whenever there was a break in the trees we could see mountains in the background which was a great motivator. After lunch when we were about an hour away from our guest house we were hit with rain again. Thankfully our guide was able to get us the last room at our guest house in Tadapani for the night, and it also had a fireplace. Having Jun call ahead to the guest houses and secure us a room was definitely a major plus of having a guide. We saw lots of trekkers arrive to the town after us that couldn’t get a room because all the guest houses were already full. The options for when that happens are to go ahead to the next town and hope there’s a room, but it could be another hour or two of trekking, backtrack, or you can usually ask to sleep on the dining room floor. After the rain cleared, we walked through the village to get a better view of the mountains ahead of us.
Poon Hill (10531 ft) Round Trip: 2 Miles
Ghorepani (9433 ft) to Tadapani (8796 ft): 5 Miles