Trekking in Monsoon Season (part 1)
96 hours of rain! That is what Jack and I got ourselves into when we signed up for a trekking trip during the monsoon season in Nepal. Up until the day we left for our trip, the weather had been ok. It had been extremely hot during the day with some evening and early morning rain showers that help to cool things down a bit. It wasn’t until Saturday that the weather took a shift. We woke up in the rain and little did we know that we would become intimately acquainted with this type of weather throughout our whole trip.
We set out for our first day of trekking fully equipped with our rain jackets, back packs and a few plastic bags to keep our clothes dry in case of rain. We left Himalayan Encounters at 8:30am and arrived in Nayapul, where we would begin to hike to our first destination, Ulleri, which was more than a 1000 metre climb up the hills. During the first hour or so we discovered that our “durable” rain jackets were not in fact water proof. When we arrived at our first rest stop, we were anything but dry. Puddles of water were left where our jackets were hung to dry while we ate and the clothes we were wearing appeared as if they had been submerged in a swimming pool. Our guide, Tara, was the most unlucky. His rain jacket was the thinnest and appeared to have no hope of ever drying in the near future. After lunch, against our wishes, we put our soaked jackets back on and resumed hiking a bit excited at the prospect of warming up our shivering bodies in the awaiting uphill climb.
The first challenge we faced occurred in the last two hours of our first day. We began ascending the dreaded stairs leading to Ulleri. The stairs were difficult, I’m not going to lie. We took many breaks. Some were due to the brief 30 minutes of clear weather we had and the rainbow that appeared as a result. We were relieved to finally reach our first destination. However, we were unaware that the stairs we had just finished climbing were only the beginning portion of the thousands of practically vertical stairs we would face throughout the whole trip. We made our way to the lodge, where we would stay, extremely excited at the prospect of rest and of course a hot shower. We got to our room took showers and had a delicious dinner consisting of pizza and Momos. Jack loved the pizza, however, I had a different opinion once I noticed that the pizza sauce was in fact ketchup. Despite the different style of pizza we devoured our dinner and went straight to bed.
Surprise! We woke up to pouring rain, so much so that Tara told us we could rest an additional hour after breakfast to see if the rain would taper off. Jack and I used this time to find an alternate type of rain gear. We found some trash bags and Tara helped us create makeshift rain coats to help keep us slightly more dry than the day before. We set off on a slightly easier trekking day than the day before. After about 3 hours of walking through various water falls, forest paths and of course climbing numerous stairs while also trying to avoid leeches in the pouring rain, we reached the place where we would have lunch. Upon walking in, we all emptied the puddles of water that had gathered inside of our boots, took off our socks and wrung them out, and placed some of our wet clothing around the furnace inside of the restaurant. We stayed there for quite some time, allowing some of our clothes, especially our rain coats (which continued to get wet even underneath the plastic bags) and socks, to dry a bit before emerging back outside into the downpour to resume the trek to our second destination.
When we reached Ghorepani we were almost 3000 metres above sea level. We arrived quite early in the day so we had a lot of free time. Again excited at the opportunity to have a hot shower, I quickly made my way downstairs. It was about 9 degrees Celsius and we had been soaking wet all day so I could not wait to warm up. Unfortunately, the shower was not as hot as I had hoped, and the temperature inside the shower room after I turned the water off quickly dropped to a freezing temperature. Shivering, I got dressed and ran upstairs to get under my sleeping bag. Jack refused to shower after hearing how cold it was. A few minutes later we went downstairs and to our surprise, the hotel had wifi. After our delicious meal of Spaghetti and, again, pizza we hung our clothes to dry around the fire and sat there warming up for a few hours as we played on our phones. At around 9pm we went to bed hoping that at 4am, the weather would be clearer than the solid white sheet that covered every view that could be seen from Ghorepani. It was difficult to even see the buildings next door, let alone the mountains that were the purpose of this destination. At 4 we would leave for Poon Hill to see the sunrise over the most beautiful view of the Annapurna Mountain range. We woke up at 4 and waited for Tara to come and tell us that we could leave for Poon hill. Unfortunately, Due to the horrible weather we waited for an hour and he never came. We then woke up at 7 for breakfast and set off with our plastic bags and rain coats for our third day of trekking, very disappointed in missing the most beautiful view of the whole trip.
Before beginning our third day, Tara had warned us that we might have to add an extra day to our trip because of the difficulty of the trails due to the rain. The third day would be our 8 hour day which people normally split up in to 2 days. We knew we couldn’t afford to stay an extra day because we needed to get back to Pokhara for our volunteering . Jack and I made a plan to hike very quickly so that we would reach the destination that we had planned on reaching in order to finish the trek on schedule.
The third day was the most beautiful and enjoyable day for us. Of course, it was pouring rain, however we enjoyed the trails through the forests and water falls and around the edges of the mountains. The rain had made the scenery look like it was a rainforest. It was beautiful. When we reached the highest point of our trip, at about 3,300 metres above sea level, we had been hiking for about an hour. The wind was so strong since there was nothing to shield us from it. Our bags captured the air, and Tara’s trash bag caught so much wind that he looked like a paraglider that was about to launch off the top of the hill. After this point, Jack and I mixed in periods of brisk walking, skipping, quick climbing and even running. We made it to our rest places way ahead of when we were supposed to every time. We hiked for 5 hours before stopping for lunch in Tadapani, where we would have stay if we hadn’t sped up our pace. We had delicious Spaghetti and Momo around a fire as we warmed up a bit before beginning our final three hours of the day to Ghandruk.
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