Hiking Route: Maldhunga – Phurse – Baglung; Lakeside – Pamey; Malekhu – Adamghat; Naghdhunga – Thankot
Date: August 21-August 23 2009
Duration: 5.5hrs + 3hr cycling + 6hrs + 2hr.
Distance: 8km hiking + 8 cycling + 13km hiking
Altitude: 1020 m (Baglung), 1,000m (Pokhara)
Hike Coordinator: Sangharsha Bhattarai
Participants: Bikesh Babu Rajbanshi, Bikram Lal Shrestha, Dijup Tuladhar, Prajwal Shrestha, Sangharsha Bhattarai, Shamesh Joshi ,Pragya Ratna Bajracharya, Ravi Sharma(Contributor ), Kapil Pandey (Contributor), Deepak Maharjan (guest), Milan Shrestha (guest),
Photos: Dijup Tuladhar, Ravi Sharma, Sangharsha Bhattarai, Shamesh Joshi
Caption: Dijup Tuladhar, Ravi Sharma and Sangharsha Bhattarai
Report By: Pragya Ratna Bajracharya
Geolocation: Baglung (28.27 N, 83.60 E, elev. 1020 m.) lies in the midhills of Nepal, 275 km west of Kathmandu. Baglung is the district headquarters of Baglung District and is also the zonal headquarters of Dhawalagiri Zone.
The past weekend’s hiking has been a memorable experience for me. The endurance of our physical strength as well as mental will was truly stretched beyond normal. What was supposed to be a seemingly moderate hiking eventually turned out into a treacherous outing, thanks to the repercussions of a horrendous accident and a landslide along the highway.
It was a normal Friday evening in Kathmandu. Eleven of us – the hikers, gathered at the office premises, all geared up for this 2 day hike. The plan was initially to head towards Illam but the uncertainties along the highway triggered a change in the hiking itinerary, thus we were headed towards Baglung. The monotonous, yet swift drive along the highway was accompanied by nothing but darkness of the night. The selection of old Nepali songs, handpicked by Ravi, helped lighten up the mood inside the van to a great extent. These evergreen songs helped us set the tone for the rest of the drive, by creating a healthy diversion away from the monotony.
In no time, we reached our first stop along the highway, Malekhu. We used this break from the drive as a medium to give a well deserved breather to our vocal chords, which were exhausted due to non-stop singing. Some of us, who had not eaten properly before the drive began, got busy having dinner at a local shop. When the drive began eventually, the singing followed in tandem.
a trip from Beni to Tatopani area followed by a night’s rest at the same place
After a 10 hour long journey, we finally reached Naya Pool. By that time, we had already experienced slight energy drainage, thanks to the long drive. We stopped at a tea shop there to have breakfast and to freshen ourselves us for the rest of the journey. While having our breakfast, we discussed on our plans for the day and our possible destinations. A plan was finally set for the day, a trip from Beni to Tatopani area followed by a night’s rest at the same place.
Unfortunately, the plan did not work out quite well. The poor condition of the road towards Beni caused us to change the hiking itinerary for the second time in 24 hours. So instead of heading towards Tatopani via Beni, we took an alternative route that took us to Baglung bazaar, across the Kali-Gandaki River.
the popular Nepali band Cobweb was performing some of their numbers
The uphill hike towards Baglung bazaar was indeed a tiresome experience. The stone paved trails on the uphill route ensured a safe passage during this journey towards the bazaar. The river beneath flowed with such a high intensity that we could hear its roar from a very long distance. The rocky roads towards the top of the hill tended to get a bit creepy at times, due to its narrow passage, and the fact that it laid on a very stiff cliff directly above the river. Any wrong footing would indeed have been fatal under those circumstances.
Once we reached the top of the hill, we rested there for quite some time so as to get rid of the daunting exhaustion and hunger and then walked towards the Baglung bazaar. The journey this time was a lot more pleasant than the uphill ride. We were surrounded by lush green fields, the beauty of which truly took away a great deal of tiredness off our minds.
We eventually reached Baglung Bazaar, where Ram dai was waiting for us eagerly. After a quick round of cold drinks to suppress the ever growing hunger in our tummies, we set out on a search for a place to have lunch. Our extensive search turned out to be pleasantly fruitful. After a worthwhile wait, we were served with the tastiest meal ever. We were quite impressed by the hospitability exhibited by the owners of that place we stopped by for lunch. They let us rest for nearly 2 hours and all this time, they treated us just like family.
We then headed for the Kali Temple in a nearby jungle. The serenity of that place was so enchanting that we wanted to stay there for months. Although brief, the peaceful environment at the temple area was powerful enough to let us set aside our feeling of tiredness to a great extent.
We then returned to Pokhara to find a hotel where we could sleep for the night. After having dinner, we visited a local restaurant to audience some local bands playing some good old rock music. To our surprise, the popular Nepali band Cobweb was performing some of their numbers along with some other local bands. Our stay at Pokhara was very short this time. However we did enjoy cycling to the Pame Area on Sunday morning before we finally left Pokhara at 2 pm that day.
Thus our official hike finally came to an end. As we left Pokhara city, we recollected some of the interesting incidents during our hike and looked forward to reaching home as early as possible so that we could have ample rest to recover from the rigor and the exhaustion of the long drive. Little did we know, that fate had written another chapter of adventure for us along the highway.
we were served with the tastiest meal ever
When we reached Malekhu at around 6 p.m. to stop by for dinner, we heard some unconfirmed rumors about a terrible road side accident. Apparently, a 8 year old boy had been struck dead by a truck, and the enraged locals there had blocked traffic in that area, a couple of kilometers away from the place we stopped to eat. The anxious wait, inflicted by the roadside accident, brought along strong waves of uncertainty and gradually washed away the hopes of reaching Kathmandu by midnight. To compound more misery to such a situation, we received this demoralizing news that the traffic along the highway had been disrupted at Naubise area, due to a landslide.
Finally it was decided that we would walk past the area that had been blocked
And there we were, 11 of us itinerants, stranded in a nowhere section of the highway that wriggled its way through several hills. The moment of desperation then crept in, and brought along a huge collision between conflicting ideas regarding the choice of the way out of this unpleasant situation. Finally it was decided that we would walk past the area that had been blocked because of the accident and search for alternative transportation that would take us back to the place where landslide had occurred. A second van had been called upon on the other side of the landslide that would drop us at Kathmandu.
The journey along the highway was quite torturous to our already tiring bodies, and the darkness of the night did not help either. To give us company, mother nature had sent the countless night sky above our heads, and the ever flowing Trishuli River along side. The darkness of the night reflected clearly on the river, which roared gallantly. After a 5 hour walk along the highway, we finally got this opportunity to ride the office van. It was already 1 am by then. Unfortunately, the hiking had not ended yet. The landslide had created a terrible traffic jam, thereby restricting any movements on any side of the road. We were thus compelled to spend another night at the highway. The annoying discomfort because of having to sleep on the van for two nights reminded us vividly of the warmth and the comfort of the bed at home, which would in other cases, have been ignored. We finally reached Kathmandu on another micro van which we luckily found, after walking past the place where landslide occurred.
Please click on the image to see its large version.