Day 3 began at 4:45 AM when we woke up, pulled on our heaviest clothing, and began our hike up Poon Hill to catch the sunrise. Poon Hill rises to 10,531 feet above sea level. (Granted, we were starting at about 9,430 feet.) Abby remarked that, in Nepal, this is called a “hill,” while in the U.S. east of the Mississippi, people would call it a “mountain.” Maine’s Mount Katahdin is 5,269 feet high. Vermont’s Mount Snow is 3,586 feet. And Georgia’s Stone Mountain? A piddling 1,686 feet.
Come on, people.
Anyhow … as we neared the top, I turned around and saw this:
More photos, from the top:
Once we’d had our fill of the view, we went back down, ate, packed, and set off.
We arrived in Tadapani that evening. Tadapani is a tourist village built on the edge of the valley. There’s nothing to do there except eat and sleep, but it offers beautiful views of the sunrise if you get up early enough, which is what we did.
After that, we ate, descended the mountain, found our van, and went back to the airport to catch our flight home.
Back in November, we went hiking in the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP), a mountainous area about 100 miles northwest of Kathmandu that borders China. We spent four days hiking through the mountain region, completing about 40 km.
We flew into Pokhara and took a van to the entrance of the ACAP, and began our hike.
The village at the entrance, Nayapool, is filled with guest houses, tea houses, and restaurants, and there are many more such businesses throughout the park. Because of COVID, however, nearly all of them were empty while we were there. Sadly, the government had launched a “Visit Nepal 2020” campaign which incentivized a lot of proprietors to sink all of their assets into their businesses right before the country closed down …
After walking about 8 km or so—the guide went easy on us for the first day—we spent the night in a village called Tikhe Dhunga. It was very quiet, given that most of the buildings there are guest houses. On the other side of the river, our guide told us, there had been a late-night landslide in 2006, in which 28 people were killed. The next morning’s trek out of the village was very steep—up 4,000 stone stairs to the next village—and the first part was dotted with memorials where houses had been.
In the evening, after about 11 km of hiking, we arrived at our next stop, Ghorepani. We settled into a mostly empty hotel to spend the night in anticipation of waking at 5:00 AM the next morning to watch the sun rise—from Poon Hill, 1,150 feet up.
Next: Trudging 1,150 feet up Poon Hill to watch the sun rise, and what we saw after that.
The sadhus recently came to Pashupatinath to prepare for the Maha Shivratri festival. Maha Shivratri celebrates the marriage of Shiva and Parvati, and it is one of the most important festivals in the Hindu calendar. According to Wikipedia, “unlike most Hindu festivals which include expression of cultural revelry, the Maha Shivaratri is a solemn event notable for its introspective focus, fasting, meditation on Shiva, self study, social harmony and an all night vigil at Shiva temples.”
In the days leading up to the festival, the sadhus and their entourages pose for photographs in exchange for tips. And, this being a Shaivite festival, many sadhus also spend their time smoking very strong hash.