Day 6: Tadapani to Dobato
I lay in bed at night listening to rain falling on the roof above me, loving the sound yet hoping it will stop by morning. We’re short on rain gear so any significant precipitation will force a rest day here in Tadapani.
I wake to a lightening bedroom and listen. Silence. Alex lifts a curtain and peeks outside. “Uummm, we might have to rethink Dobato today. It snowed.” The kids are ecstatic. Grinning from ear to ear they tear open the curtains and hop around on the beds, squealing incomprehensibly. We throw on some clothes and go outside to have a look. The sun is rising and the snowy mountains in front of us are beautiful.
We can actually see the distinct snow line, and at roughly 2,700m we seem to be right on it, with a light dusting of snow on the ground yet none below us.
At breakfast we speak to Bel and he seems to think that the snow will melt through the morning once the sun is up and shouldn’t pose problems on our way to Dobato. However he also warns that there are dark clouds on the horizon which could mean rain or more snow later on. We figure we’ll head towards Khopra Danda and see how far we get.
We head off again walking amongst the ancient trees. Snowmelt drips off the leaves above and falls on our heads. The soft sounds of rustling leaves and dripping water surround us, a peacefulness broken only by the occasional ringing of faraway cowbells. And our children, of course.
As we walk higher a light snow begins to fall on us. The forest is magical, with views of distant slopes covered in snow-dusted greens, mist flowing around treetops. I realise I’m smiling, and have been since we started walking. I look back and Alex and see the same smile on his face. This is not what we expected, but it’s wonderful.
We gain altitude through the day and little by little, the snow deepens, especially in open areas. The kids love it and have fun with snowballs and writing their names in the snow.
The snow keeps getting deeper, not by much, but by enough. The trail we are on is not often used and we are the first ones through it since snowfall. We realise that while Alex and I are fine in our ankle-high walking boots, the low rise of the kids’ walking shoes doesn’t make for ideal footwear in the snow. The snow gets on their socks, their leggings. It’s cold. We tell them to walk in the middle of the path, to follow our footprints. They ignore us and tramp in the snow. There are constant requests (a.k.a squeals) for us to bend down and wipe the snow off them. Immediately! Their early enthusiasm for the white stuff begins to wane. It wears on us all.
Mist sets in, and with it comes hunger. It is nearing lunch time and the first two tea houses we come upon are closed for the off-season. There is one more in Isharu, but after that nothing until Dobato, another couple of hours away. I mentally take stock of our snacking supplies and cross my fingers that it will be open. We are in luck. We walk out of the freeze and into a warm dining room with a wood fire burning toastily in front of the elderly couple who live up here alone. Shoes and socks come off to dry by the fire as we sip tea and wait for lunch. The kids play chess on an old magnetic board.
We set off towards Dobato at 2pm. The path starts out dry and I’m hopeful that perhaps we’ve escaped the snow for the rest of the day, but alas, no such luck. We reached the top of a small hill to look down upon snow stretching out in front of us on the downward side.
The afternoon becomes a parental challenge of chivvying kids along, brushing off snow, listening the complaints and whining, whilst trying to keep our cool. The path winds upwards, sometimes steeply. A minor slip results in light snow on Chloe’s leg and arm. Time for a meltdown. She loved the snow this morning. She is over it now.
Finally I look through the trees and see bright blue in the distance. Dobato isn’t far ahead and we can’t get there soon enough.
There’s only one hotel open at this time of year so we walk into its warm dining room and dump our bags. Time for tea and hot chocolate all around. Alex asks if I want to go have a look at the rooms. I can’t be bothered. It’s not like we have anywhere else to stay anyway. They will be as they will be, and we’ll deal with it. Conditions are definitely more basic up here and the low temperatures have frozen the pipes. There will be no running water, which makes simple things like flushing the toilet a tad more complicated. Actually, it isn’t that complicated, you just can’t flush the toilet.
The food here is simple but tasty and we while away what’s left of the afternoon enjoying the warmth of the fire while the kids play with their collected rocks and junk. We are the only guests so we spread out and don’t worry about how much noise they’re making. We’re at 3,426m and so far they aren’t showing any signs of altitude sickness, the rest of us are doing just fine too.
After dinner we head off to bed to discover that our plywood framed room is freezing and has no electricity. Time to break out the head-torches and sleeping bags. I have no idea the last time the sheets were washed. Considering the water situation here, it’s probably been a while. I’m thankful I brought my own pillowcase. We clamber into bed, under duvets and sleeping bags, hoping to fend off the chill of the night.
Distance Covered: 6.5km
Hotel: Mt. Lucky Hotel
Room Charge: $8 for triple room with shared bathroom, but offered to us for $6 cause electricity wasn’t working.
Additional Info: No WiFi, not able to charge anything.