The Annapurnas: Trekking Mardi Himal to Badal Danda

Day 13: Landruk to Forest Camp

I slept deeply last night. It was quiet. I could have stayed in bed well past 7am, which is unusual for me these days, but we’ve a long way to go today and breakfast awaits.

P2200001
Early morning at Laligurans guest House

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

P2200005
Just a goat on the roof, like usual
P2200006
Leaving Landruk

P2200009

Up. Hill. So much uphill today. Step after step after step takes up upwards towards the tree-encrusted ridge line above us. We start off on the open ground above Landruk but soon enter the forest. We walk along rarely trodden dusty paths that zigzag up the hillside, over areas of newly laid stone steps and up earthen steps made with logs. What’s under our feet may change but the relentless march upwards does not.

P2200016

P2200019

Ben and I walk on together while Alex and Chloe bring up the rear. Ben and I play a “spot the way-marker” game while Alex and Chloe have discussions about resilience and mental toughness to keep her going at a good pace. They both do so well, it’s a huge change from yesterday. There’s no place to stop for food between Landruk and Forest Camp so we take a break and eat some Tibetan bread we brought long with us and then keep on moving. The forest is beautiful and we come across more stairs as well as some sections Bel describes as “Nepali Flat”. Ben doesn’t like Nepali Flat, it isn’t the same as Edinburgh Flat, he says.

P2200037

P2200041
Nepali Flat

P2200045

Finally we reach the top of the ridge, and a few minutes later we arrive at Forest Camp. It is 12:10pm; we’ve climbed almost 900m in less than 4km and 3.5hrs.  Chloe is very proud of herself and so she should be.  She plans to etch an “achievement mark” into her walking stick later.

P2200048

P2210057

We spend the afternoon washing clothes and chatting with other trekkers while the kids play. Ben finds an old animal horn and spends hours playing with it and a hosepipe of running water. Ah, the simple pleasures in a child’s life.

P2200055

We’re in the dining hall and a fire has been lit. The kids’ damp clothes hang on lines above the wood stove and Bel periodically checks on them and turns them over to dry evenly. It’s a simple thing, but completely unasked for and I find it so sweet that he thinks to do it. He really looks after us.

It’s toasty warm in here and my eyes are stinging from the smoke that escapes through cracks in the ageing barrel of the stove. We’ve met two ladies, Vicky & Ailsa; friends who are trekking together and going in our direction. The kids have taken to them with abandon and they seem taken with the kids as well. Ben teaches them the French Card Game, Chloe plays with them on their travel scrabble board. Much fun is had by all and the kids are thrilled to find out that tomorrow we’re all headed to Badal Banda, so we’ll be seeing each other again.

Distance: 3.6km

Hotel: Hotel Forest Camp

Cost: $4 for quadruple room with shared bathroom.

Additional info: $2 for hot shower. Nowhere to charge devices. No Wifi.

 

Day 14: Forest Camp – Badal Danda

It rained hard last night. I worry there will have been snow higher up, but we’ll have to just head out and see. Vicky and Ailsa have already headed onwards. If we are quick we may catch up with them for lunch at Low Camp, otherwise we’ll find them in Badal Danda.

P2210063

P2210073

P2210083

We walk through a hauntingly beautiful landscape. Twisted trees reach down their gnarled fingers towards us. Moss rises up tree trunks and drapes from branches, surrounding us in green. Rusty orange leaves litter the earth beneath our feet. Mist rolls up the hillside and surrounds us, then fades away to distant fog. A lone bird calls in the forest, rain drips softly onto mossy ground.

P2210138

P2210087

P2210139

A bell sounds nearby and I think there must be some ponies or buffalo grazing out of sight. The sound gets closer and out of the mists in front of me a large horned beast takes shape. It gets closer. It sees me. I stop dead. It stops dead. It’s a yak. I whisper-call to the kids who are behind me, I don’t want them to miss this. They catch up to me and we stand silently as the yak cautiously passes us by, then trundles on down the hill behind us. We wait and listen for more but no more yaks appear. A fleeting encounter with the only yak we’ve seen in Nepal so far.

P2210140

P2210142

Bel has been up ahead of us all day, and with the trees and the mist I’ve not seen much of him. I keep expecting to turn a corner and see Low Camp, but we’re not there yet.  I feel like we’ve been walking forever. We are in such a beautiful place, and what with the pace the kids are going today I’m certainly getting plenty of time to enjoy it. Too much time. This morning feels endless, and not in a good way.

I catch up to Bel and he tells me that Low Camp is near. Just another 40 minutes ahead. Bel, our definitions of ‘near’ are not the same. The kids are complaining again today and going soooooo slowly. I guess we get a ratio of 1:1 with the good vs. the parentally trying days.

We join up with a donkey train carrying large rocks that men have cracked from the ground below. They walk ahead with sledgehammers slung over shoulders and they chat with Bel as we file into Low Camp, tired and hungry, behind them.

P2210154

It’s taken us 3.5hrs to reach Low Camp and Badal Danda is another 1.5hrs ahead. We eat lunch and warm up around the stove. The mists have cooled the air and blocked the sunlight, chilling us as we walked. Alex entertains the kids with a card game while I warm my hands on a mug of hot tea and mentally regroup. I’m hangry and need food.

It’s not exactly any easier with the kids after lunch.  Alex invents “Patience Points” and explains to them that he starts the day with a certain amount. If they want him to tell them stories (Ben constantly asked for “The Lego Star Wars story”) or play adventure games with them then he needs to have a certain amount of Patience Points to be able to do that. If they argue with each other or ignore us then he loses patience points. If they play well together and are helpful, his Patience Points will refill. At the moment, his Patience Points are dangerously low.

P2210166
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep…”

P2210167

P2210173

We’re walking along the ridge now, the hillside curving down on either side of us. The world feels so silent and still up here. We reach a viewpoint and the world is white.

P2210176

P2210179

It starts hailing on us. My waterproof jacket is deep in a bag, but luckily Bel has a few plastic sheets that he throws over us and I walk the final 5 minutes to Badal Danda with the sound of hail drumming on plastic. A strangely comforting sound that drowns out the world. When we arrive at the teahouse the kids head straight to the warm dining hall while I drop my bag off in our room. I arrive barely a minute after them but they’ve already ensconced themselves with Vicky & Ailsa who are enjoying an afternoon of tea and Scrabble.

P2210180

P2210183

It’s a lovely afternoon of chatting, drinking tea, reading, playing cards and eating. Alex and I decide that maybe the kids are just over the whole walking thing. There are good days, but we feel like it’s getting harder to get them moving without a lot of parental involvement. We get frustrated and I’m sure they feel that. They just keep stopping to play, pick up stuff. You know, be children. Which is fine, unless you are trying to get somewhere at more than a snail’s pace. We decide we’re not going to take them any further. We had planned to walk to High Camp tomorrow but instead Alex will go up there and back on his own, and I’ll stay here with the kids for a rest day. If we’re feeling motivated we can always wander up to the viewpoint five minutes away if the weather is clear. Which doesn’t seem likely judging by the view out of the window atm. Badal Danda in Nepalese does translate to Cloud Hill, after all.

Distance: 3.6km

Hotel: Lucky View Guest House & Restaurant

Cost: $2.50 for triple room with shared toilet.

Additional info: No Shower. Nowhere to charge devices. No Wifi.

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “The Annapurnas: Trekking Mardi Himal to Badal Danda

  1. These images are stunning , Leigh. having Chloe and Ben nestled beside me at old Orchard now, it is hard to imagine what they have seen – and accomplished. Such a wonderful record of a very special journey. thank you. xoxoxoxooxox

    Like

  2. Amazing Bear! I just Skyped your mom hoping to catch you guys but you’d already left for home. Loved the pic of the lady watching Alex and Ben. I said to your mom that I bet residents of the Annapurna don’t see too many trekkers Ben and Chloe’s age. What amazing little troopers they are. And the pics, especially through the woods are incredible, eerie, magical, beautiful. The yak appearing out of the fog! I’m loving following your adventures…from the comfort of my cozy chair of course. Lol 😆 On to the Andes! Talk soon Sweetness. Xoxo

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s