Mesmerizing Mountains: Machhapuchure, Annapurna South and Himchuli

Machhapuchure, Annapurna South and Himchuli were standing tall right on the north and I was awestruck for the first time during this trek.

April 18, 2019, 8:32 a.m. Published in Magazine Issue: VOL 12 No.17, April 19-May 2 2019 (Baisakh.06, 2076) Online Register Number: DOI 584/074-75

The comfort at home, office and, in particular, city life was suffocating. There was no struggle for basic instincts. The food was provided for. Shelter was there. Warm clothing and heater were keeping cold at bay. But the essence of everyone of us is still natural. Either I had to climb up the ladder of success to get 'success high' or it was meaningless being stagnant. This suffocating comfort triggered by absence of work for a week made me go on a trek. This time around I went to see Mardi Himal, Machhapuchure (Fishtail) and Annapurna. I knew the travel would last from anything between five to seven days.

I reached Pokhara on Friday (March 22, 2019) afternoon. I took a local bus to Kande from Pokhara. There was another trekker in the bus who hadn't noticed me. All Nepalese must have looked all the same to the French lady. I got to know Orianne later when both of us spent the night at the same guesthouse at Forest Camp the next night. Orianne is an interesting person. Her love for mountains brought her to Nepal the sixth time. She is planning to summit Lhotse peak coming May. So in the meanwhile she is carrying heavy backpack and wandering around Nepal's most well rated hills.

This time I interacted with lots of people from different parts of the world. I doubt we meet the standards required to cater to these people, whose love for Nepal brings them to our motherland. As I started my journey I had the opportunity to meet three Britons. Rebeca, Kate and their friend and I also had the opportunity to talk about global politics. They were unanimously disappointed about the conservative attitude taken by Britain in Brexit. Maybe their roots made them think differently. Kate and Rebeca have Irish origin and their friend has roots in Turkey.

Upon reaching Pokhara we parted our ways. Our destinations were different. Kate, Rebeca and their friend were going to Annapurna Basecamp. I spent the first night after leaving Kathmandu at Rest Point Hotel & Restaurant, Kande. The house owner, the lady of the house and their daughter, also a nurse at Chitwan, gave me a complete family comfort and love. GurudattaBharati and I chatted till dinner time.Bharati and I shared some similarities. Bharati had worked as a mediator for a number of years. After the local government was elected and the people's representatives were leading the justice committee his role as mediator was overshadowed. He is seeking a meaningful role for his expertise as a mediator in the present local government structure.

After looking at the early sunrise I bade goodbye to the man of the house who was collecting water in the wee hours. Earlier when I had reached the hotel I was informed that limited water was supplied to the household there. I was warned spending water had to be done cautiously. Later I realized it wasn't as dire as I had imagined. The fact that water is scarce in Kathmandu causes anxiety at the very warning of water being unavailable.

After an hour or so from Kande I reached Australian Basecamp. Machhapuchure, Annapurna South and Himchuli were standing tall right on the north and I was awestruck for the first time during this trek. I had stopped there for breakfast. I couldn't contain my excitement after seeing the mountains and started making calls back home to parents and friends. I just wished they understood the surge of feelings within me at the sight of mountains so close and so magnificent. Himchuli stands tall at 6441 meters, Machhapuchure at 6993 meters and Annapurna South at 7219 meters above sea level.

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PuranChettri offered me fresh and delicious Roti and ChannaAloo for a decent price of Rs.200. After breakfast I had to burn some energy. So a walk was a must for two reasons. To proceed further and to burn some energies. Passing through Pothana I reached Deurali, the crossroads where people going to Annapurna Basecamp and Mardi Basecamp meet. Deurali too has a stunning view of the same mountains on a clear bright sunny day. It was a sunny day when I reached there without the traces of clouds. I refilled my bottle with hot water there. As a person who is concerned about deteriorating environment I was glad to know that mineral water bottles were not sold in the area. But it did have a cost. At High Camp where the water is scarce and snow is melted for water banning mineral water bottles completely could adversely affect the tourism itself. A sustainable approach needs to be taken.

As I was about to proceed further from Deurali an old cow-herder demanded medicine from me. He was in pain because of the fall that he had couple of days ago. Not knowing precisely what the remedy was I applied ointment to the affected areas. He blessed me.

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The path thereafter, was forest trail. Surprisingly I didn't see any animals though the old man had complained about his cows being eaten by a tiger. I reached Dund famished. The teashop was intimidatingly crowded by ladies. A lady was guiding a guy who was busy cooking. It just occurred to me they could be from the famous 'three sisters' trekking group. I verified it and I was glad to have met these bold ladies who are providing employment, training, encouragement and service to the trekkers. This lunch was in a very unexpected place.

The next stop after lunch was Kokar (Forest Camp). I was advised by Sumit, a bro, to rest at Forest Camp that night. I stayed at Mardi Guest House. There I used the facility of a hot water shower not knowing where I would get that opportunity as I ascended further.

At Mardi Guest House I got introduced to Mo, an Italian medical student, Orianne, the French lady who is expecting to summit Lhotse, Chun, a Netherlander of Vietnamese roots, Carola also from The Netherlands, Indabar from Israel, a Nepali couple and SobhakarSubedi, a guide. We developed a bond that would come handy during our trek. We discussed our issues and the do’s and don'ts during the trek.

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On the third day I proceeded early at quarter to seven from Mardi Guest House. By half past twelve I had reached High Camp. On the way I stopped at Low Camp (Humal) to have breakfast as I watched the grandeur of Machhapuchure. There is a teashop before BadalDanda. It has a good view as well. From BadalDanda the forest trail ends and the view of the mountains is uninterrupted. Provided the sky is clear of clouds.

There was an uncertainty whether to go to The View Point the next morning. The trail was slippery because of the snow and a Japanese citizen had recently slipped and fallen down eight hundred meters to his death. I didn't have the clampers necessary to walk on snow and ice. So I gave up the idea to go to The View Point. I didn't want to unnecessarily risk my life. The view of Annapurna South, Himchuli and Mardi Himal from High Camp was magnificent as well. The other peaks that could be seen from The View Point was Annapurna I, II and III. That I had seen from Annapurna Basecamp some years ago. After appreciating the view and respecting the mountains for what they are, I decided to head back. The comfort of the city life was too luring now that I had experienced and challenged myself in harsh conditions. I was once again falling prey to comfort.

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Descending wasn't difficult. I didn't have any health issue. I followed back the same trail till Forest Camp. From Forest Camp I took a different route. I reached Kalimati through forest trail. As assured I was expecting to find vehicle or a shelter there. However, I didn't have the patience to wait for another vehicle after one didn't stop to give me a ride. I decided to walk till Lumre. It took me around one and half hour to reach Lumre from Kalimati. From Lumre I caught up a four o'clock public bus and reached Pokhara the same evening.

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It was a wonderful experience walking in the wilderness yet interacting with people from Oman, Britain, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Brazil, Malaysia, Israel and other places of the world within a span of couple of days.

All the photographs taken in the story by Author Abhishekh Adhikari

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