My girlfriend and I were 23 and 25 when we set off from Perth Western Australia in November 1986. We had planned a 3-month trip to Thailand, Nepal and India to coincide with Western Australia hosting the Americas cup. This gave us opportunity to rent our house out for the 3 months we would be away, and the rent would ultimately cover our mortgage.
We arrived in Kathmandu on Christmas day 25th December, flying in from Thailand, at the airport we met another couple from Canada who we shared a taxi with to Thamel, to look for a guest house. We found one and both stayed there. My girlfriend had a bad asthma attack that night as the room was very cold and damp. In the morning we found a chemist and as she was a nurse, she was able to buy the medications she required, we also bought multi vitamins and started taking, as we had picked up a nasty flu in Thailand.
Day 1: Kathmandu
We went to Durba square to look around and potentially find some Sherpas that would help us with our bags to do a trek. We met two guys who said they were experienced Sherpas and they would like to work with us, we settled on fee per day, and then went to sort out trekking permits to trek Pokhara to Jomsom.
Day 3: Kathmandu to Pokhara
Two days later, we left our guesthouse for the bus to Pokhara, it was still dark when our Sherpas came to collect us with bicycle rickshaws, us in one and our Canadian friends in the other. The riders got competitive and started racing each other down the dark and deserted cobble stoned streets, with us shouting faster, Faster, come on! We were all in fits of laughter by the time we reached the bus, where our Sherpas were waiting for us.
The 8–9-hour bus trip was long, we stopped along the way for lunch, and when we arrived in Pokhara the mountain range was hidden by cloud. We found somewhere to stay and would head off the next morning.
Day 4: Pokhara to Tikhedhunga
In the morning after waking, I left my room to go to the bathroom, and couldn’t believe my eyes to see that the cloud had lifted, and the Himalaya Mountain range was exploding into the heavens from the back yard of the guest house. I ran back to the room to get my girlfriend to see the mountains, which we had never seen before, Western Australia is very flat and has no mountains, not where we live anyway. We set off on foot after a taxi to where the trek started, Nayapul to Tikhedhunga where we stayed the night.
Day 5: Poon Hill
It was different to what I had expected, the path was 2-3 meters wide, where there were inclines and declines stones had been set into the path to make steps, this was no more evident that in the assent from Ghorepani to Poon Hill which had 2000 steps to the top, in some places the trail had been hit by a landslide, and was gone, so you had to follow a goat track across the hill side. Every so often you would here cow bells, and now I know to get to the cliff side of the track. Later in the trek I was hit by a Yak and knocked almost over the edge of a cliff. All the supplies were bought up the mountain trails by Cows (Hybrid Mountain Yak and cow) as Yaks cannot live below 4,000m. Ponies are also used to transport goods up the mountains.
When we got to the top of Poon Hill (3,210m), there was 1 guest House owned by an Ex-Ghurkha Soldier, his wife and children. He bought his 3-year-old daughter to us, to show us that she had a terrible ear infection. We had two nurses in our party and there was another group there that had two Doctors in their group. After a short consultation and seeing what we all had in our first aid kits, we gave him some Anti Biotics with instructions on how much to give to his daughter. I can only hope that she made a full recovery, as it was a 2-3 day walk back to Pokhara for medical help. We saw a young man that day walking towards Pokhara will a large woven basket on his back, I turned after he passed to see the lid of the basket lift, and there was an Elderly lady in the basket, looking back at me.
At Poon Hill I saw my first snow and made my first snow man, the view of the Annapurna range was spectacular, and that evening you could see the fires burning across the valley at Annapurna Base camp. I suffered a bit of altitude sickness that night and was glad we would be descending the next day, onward to Tatopani.
Day 6-9: Hiking to Jomsom
Tatopani means Hot water in Nepali, as there are hot springs. We decided to have a lay day here, and spent the day laying by the river reading, eating and bathing in the hot spring.
We teamed up with the 3 Doctors we met at Poon Hill from England and a guy from Victoria Australia, we now had 8 in our party.
We walked to Ghasa, Tukuche, Marpha and onto Jomsom through some of the most stunning and beautiful views through the deepest canyon in the World, between Machapuchhare (6,993m) and Annapurna II (7,937m) mountains.
We stopped along the way at Tea Houses, for lunch and to stay overnight, the main fair in 1986 was the local meal of Dahl Baht, which was a safe meal to eat, with plenty of carbs and protein to keep you going, it comprised of Rice, flat bread, Dal made from lentils and whatever vegetable they had usually curried cauliflower.
This was 7 days of Trekking but took us 9 days as we had two lay days. My girlfriend had picked up a nasty stomach bug and couldn’t keep anything down, so we rested for a couple of days.
When we got to Jomsom we booked a flight back to Pokhara which was 3 days away. So after a day of rest we decided to take a walk up to Kagbeni, this was a cute little village a few hours walk from Jomsom. We had a roof top picnic and afterwards we asked a man if they had ponies, we could hire to ride back to Jomsom. Minutes later there was people running everywhere rounding up 9 ponies, 8 for us and 1 rider to bring them back. It was hilarious to see all of us on these little horses, the guy from Tasmania Australia was about 6 foot 6 and his feet almost touched the ground.
The day before we were due to fly back to Pokhara from Jomsom, it snowed so much our flight was cancelled.
Hike back to Nayapul
Not knowing if it would snow again, we decided to walk back to Nayapul to catch the bus back to Pokhara, this was 4 long days 9-12 hours to get back, we had lost a lot of weight over the course of 17 days all up. We had burnt off what fat stores we had and then started burning muscle.
Finally back to Pokhara
When we got to Pokhara we rested for a day eating cake, before bussing back to Kathmandu to update our Visa to India.