Day 4: Kyumi – Ghandruk
Today we climb. Almost 600 metres straight up a steep stone staircase in just over 2km. Two and a half hours of it. That’s no easy task.
I puff my way up and don’t envy Bel and Alex their heavy packs. I offer to take the load off Alex for a while but he declines. He can’t say I didn’t offer! Ben does surprisingly well and holds hands with Bel, plodding ever upwards. He says he just keeps telling himself it’s easy-peasy.
Chloe on the other hand needs a bit more encouragement, but we’re asking a lot of them and they’re both doing great. Packets of biscuits are consumed and a significant dent is made in our Snickers supply. Earlier than I expected, I round a corner and see a “Welcome to Ghandruck” sign. I’m so relieved. Bel and Ben sit under it waiting for me and I join them to await the arrival of Alex and Chloe.
We walk into Ghandruk together. It’s the largest town we’ve been in since we arrived in the Annapurnas. Narrow stone pathways and staircases twist and turn up and down the side of the mountain, passing around grey stone buildings with slate roofs.
We stand aside for donkey trains and walk past signs advertising the German Bakery and the Aroma Espresso Bar. At least some of the luxuries of life can be found here, for a price. Ghandruk sits at a junction point for several trek routes so it’s popular with trekkers, but also with school groups from Pokhara, or officials who just come for an overnight stop, arriving by Jeep road or Helipad. There are no less than 75 hotels clinging to the hillside and I imagine it’ll be packed come high season. We settled into Robin Guest House, on the top floor with a great view out over the mountains.
Alex starts the daily clothes washing routine and I’m about to hop into the shower when I can’t find our tin with of soap and shampoo bar. I think back to Tolka, where I left it in the shower for Alex to use. I go find Alex. Did he forget it in Tolka? Yes, yes he did. Damn, that shampoo bar thing was working out great. I find some soap left over in the shower and use that instead, bemoaning the fact that it’ll turn my hair to straw. Alex rolls his eyes.
In the afternoon Bel takes us for a short walk further through the town and over to the side where Old Ghandruk sits. On the way we buy the kids lollipops, and discovering how cheap they are, we load up for the days ahead.
We walk under prayer flags and pass prayer wheels, the kids skip ahead through the narrow lanes and I try not to imagine the cracked skulls should they trip in their exuberance.
We wander back towards our Guest House then peel off down another lane towards loud cheers rising up from down the hill below. A volleyball tournament is playing out in the school yard below and the crowd is really getting into it, making more noise than their size would suggest possible.
We pass by and walk onto the ACAP Office land, to a viewpoint helipad where the kids play and we adults chat. I drift in and out of the conversation, taking pics and sucking up the atmosphere. Staring way down to the river at the bottom of the valley I marvel that the kids walked all the way up here in half a day. Troopers.
We drift back to our Guest House and potter about while waiting for 6pm and dinnertime. A rhythm to our days is developing. Wake up and have breakfast at 7:30am, walk for the morning and often into the early afternoon, chill, dinner at 6pm and in bed by 8pm. It’s simple, and I like that.
Distance covered: 2.25km
Hotel: Robin Guest House
Room Charge: Normally $12 for triple room with shared bathroom, but offered it to us for $10.
Additional Info: Charging points in room. WiFi free.