Having gone to bed at 3am, after being awake for 23 hours and trekking for 11 of them, I was surprised to wake at 6.30. Surprised until I realised that my window had no curtain and the light streaming in joined the noise of the village of Ghandruk buzzing in to life on the other side of it. I lay dozing until 7.30, when I stumbled out of my room to see the clouds clearing over snow-capped peaks, leaning over verdant green hills, dotted with Gurung houses.
We took a very lazy morning, drying our clothes in the sun and eating the most fantastic breakfast, before setting off at about 10am.
Our final day’s descent was shallow, winding and baking under an unobstructed mountain sun. It was glorious. We didn’t stop chatting all the way. Even when that way got steeper and we found ourselves descending another stone staircase.
Where we imagined was about half way down, we took a break for lunch. Brian and John quickly arrived, having left a good hour after us and maintained their super-human pace. We invited them to join us and the food took so long that we almost ran out of conversation. We waited an hour for noodle soup. Instant noodles at that. I got food poisoning from this place and they took an hour to serve instant fucking noodles.
The remaining couple of hours of descent (really shallow) was never-ending. Our bodies battered, our minds already decided that the whole thing was over and our souls enriched by the experience, but really just wanting to be at a spa. Even the lithe. youthful waifs in our company were beginning to wilt.
We eventually got back to the point that, a few days earlier, I’d pointed out to Ben, “If we wanted to go the other way, we’d go that way.” We’d completed the loop. Just another couple of kilometres to Nayapul, where we’d been persuaded by the girls to ride on top of the local bus for NRS 100 instead of the NRS 1400 we’d planned for a taxi.
Exhausted in a way I’d never understood the word, we heaved ourselves up the steel frame ladder on to the top of the bus. If you’re ever in Nepal, ride on top of a local bus. You must do it.
Getting back in to Pokhara, we went our separate ways with promises of meeting for a drink later. Those plans were scuppered by my sudden desire to return to the hotel and engage in the helpless observation of the gladiatorial feast that ensued between my bowels and whichever devious bacteria had slipped past my dietary watchdog. I settled in for the 48-hour epic that was my wasted and tired body in a soul- and muscle-wrenching attempt to eradicate the scourge of hellfire from whichever orifice was rolled on the Dice of Digestion.
It rather took away from my rewarding satisfaction at completing probably the most physically and mentally gruelling four days of my life. With a lovely chap by my side.
Thank you Ben. And thank you Poon Hill.