Day 17: Forest Camp – Pitam Deurali
We wake to a clear morning and wait for the college group to have their breakfast before we sit down to ours. I have mixed feelings – we are nearing the end of our trail and I’ll be sad to leave the mountains, but I also feel relief. It hasn’t always been a breeze with the kids, and I’m ready for a hot shower and clean clothes. It’s a long walk today with no lunch stops between here and Deurali so we pack some Gurung bread and get on our way.
We walk through the enchanted forest along the ridge line, following the blue and white trail markers painted on tree trunks and rocks. Evidence of old landslides fall away from us down to the path we followed on our way up from Landruk, days ago now.
We hear the tourist helicopter and watch it fly past us at our elevation, up the valleys to Annapurna Base Camp. Ben shakes his fists at them and shouts “Cheaters!!” at the top of his voice every time one flies past. He clearly believes in earning the right to see such vistas through effort and sweat.
I take up the rear with the kids while Bel and Alex walk on ahead. Alex needs a break so I’m doing my best to give it to him but the constant bickering is wearing on my nerves. They want to play together, they just can’t agree on the ground rules for the game. Ben wants to be a magical unicorn but Chloe thinks they should only be real animals. Ben wants to have certain potions that he can make but Chloe thinks they will be too powerful and it’ll be too easy to kill the baddies. Chloe wants to be a person but Ben only wants to play if she is an animal too. They both want to be named Faleelee. Calm discussion and compromise are alien concepts. They are frustrated with each other, I am frustrated with them both.
I catch up to Alex and we walk ahead of the kids, letting them play and argue amongst themselves. It’s so much more peaceful up here! Occasionally stoping to wait for them, we know they are near when the birds fall silent at their approach.
Around lunchtime we come upon a small bamboo hut where two young boys, the eldest in his early teens, look after the family tea house. It’s just one room and a kitchen from which they serve hot drinks and sell dried goods. We order some tea and sit down in the sun to eat our Gurung bread. Bel buys some instant noodles and begins to eat them dry. The kids are intrigued, as am I. I didn’t know you could eat dry instant noodles, not that I’ve ever really thought about it. I buy some for the kids. Instant hit. Who knew? More packs are purchased. At 14p a packet, at least it’s a cheap snack. We’ll just pretend the MSG (and who knows what else) isn’t in there.
We’ve still got a ways to go today and the kids, whilst playing nicely now, are slooooooow. Whatever fantasy they are involved in seems to require plentiful stopping to pick stuff up, poking leaves onto sticks, and generally a lot of dawdling. We invent the Catch-Up Game, where we give them a head start and tell them that if we catch up to them, they’ll have to stop playing with each other and walk with us instead. That gets them going!
There is much drama when Chloe turns her ankle and hobbles the final stretch into Pitam Deurali. I walk with her, taking no weight at all while she insists that she can’t walk on her own. It’s a long 20 minutes. Upon arrival she finds Ben playing with a toy remote control car and runs over to join him, no limp in sight. It’s a miracle!
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It’s our last night and Bel asks the hotel owner if there is anywhere we can have a fire. Ben missed out on most of the campfire last night so Bel wants to make one for him. She says it’s ok so he goes off to collect firewood and after dinner we sit around the fire, the kids collecting sticks for it non-stop. The owner’s little girl likes the fire and doesn’t want to leave, so she asks if we can watch her then goes back to work, returning with some glasses of fresh milk for the kids later on. It’s a quiet and companionable evening, I feel sad that our trek is ending.
Day 18: Pitam Deurali – Pokhara
Well, this is it. Our last day trekking. I step outside our room to a clear sky. The mountains are out, but it’s hazy. A reminder of what we are heading back to.
We take some pictures with Bel and then it’s time to walk through the clear, brilliant day back to Kande. The sun is warm and the sky is blue. We pass resting Water Buffalo, walk down countless stone steps, watch baby goats frolicking over a construction site, and then make our way back to Kande and back to reality.
It’s been an adventure, and I hope you’ve enjoyed being by our side through all of it. See you back in Pokhara!
P.S if anyone needs a porter/guide in Nepal and wants Bel’s info, send me a message and I’ll be happy to pass it on. We can’t recommend him enough.