Friday, 21 April 2017

All fired up on Snickers and Spam

I have returned and am getting back to normal after my Nepal adventure. Flushing toilets and a hot shower are still things that fill my heart with a simple joy - but I am sure that will dissipate soon enough :) I tried to post while I was in the Himalyas, but intermittent electricity supplies and very limited wi-fi often put paid to that. So I wrote many of my thoughts down on paper. So I have taken a moment to collate them into this post with a couple of snaps to go with it! Warning that this will be quite a long post, but there is plenty more to come!



Crikey that was hard! Sometimes we want to challenge ourselves and then ended up wondering if we have bitten off more than we can chew! This was definitely one of those times!
To get 49 people together from all walks of life and get them up in the Himalayas and back again in one piece is truly impressive. Our trek leader Damon was patient and organised, while Dr Mark was always on hand to keep us physically going. Some fared better than others, with Helen doing an impressive face plant, Deborah hurting her knee and my ankle causing me much grief with a damaged ligament. They had to make the tough decision to send Kar and Ray back on the second day of the trek and Kathy on the third day due to health issues. But everyone was looked after and we all survived! Dawa was our Himalayan head guide and he sorted every glitch out smoothly, from locating toilets to finding my kitty purse, still full of money. 
Dawa just sorting it out!
There were sore feet soothed with a delicious paddle in a lowland Himalayan stream.

These will heal but the memories of what we achieved will stay with us for a lifetime.  I was never sure that I could do this. Being a perpetual chubster since an early age, exercise was never really my thing. But after our family experience with cancer over the last 2 years I felt I had to do something; and this was it! So as you probably know, I trained and trained, losing nearly 3 stone in the process and so here I was, in the Himalayas ready to trek to over 10000 feet! And what a challenge this has proved to be!

4th April
First proper (full ) day of trekking - Starting at Syauli Bazaar after our first night in a tea house, equipped with a couple of showers (which we came to realise was a rarity) and a European toilet! We got up at 6 am for a breakfast of dry toast (no such thing as Nepalese margarine) and boiled eggs. We were introduced to the rest of the support team (Sherpas, porters and guides) and then we headed out about 7.30am.
Our fantastic support with Damon and Dawa - our trek leaders

Breakfast trek style




A gentle start!


Nervous! Me and Deborah are all togged up and ready to go. All the gear, no idea!
It was very hot from the first. 6hrs of a steep climb (rising 700m) in 30 degree heat was really tough. This was certainly no easy start! The views were incredible, and totally worth the pain! We arrived at Ghandruk about 1.30pm with the rest of the day free. This is the village famous for producing the famous Gurkha's and the British Army still recruits from here.
Hot and bothered on the outskirts of Ghandruk

We had a nice lunch at the tea house, and then headed out to explore the village. We quickly found the German Bakery and tried everything on the menu! Just bring us all the cakes and 7 spoons!
Lin, Rosemary, Irena, me, Deborah and Kathy - with Iain taking the pic as we devoured the cakes!

Ankle started playing up after lunch - but Deborah and Kath found a way to cool it when ice is not easy to get hold of. Thank you ladies :)

We had mo mos for dinner (a Nepalese delicacy) and I started the group on my quilt project (more details to follow another day!). It is surprising how many people think they cant sew :)

Every day we have to unpack our kit bags to get our bedding etc out for the night, then pack it all away for the porters to take before breakfast. We carry everything we may need during the day (sometimes up to 8kilos on our backs) because we don't see our kit bags until we arrive at the next night's accommodation. This takes longer than you would think, so we were back in our rooms by 9.30pm to get it sorted then off to bed!
My faithful kit bag!
5th April
Up at 6am again, and off to Tadipani. Another hot day - it is amazing how much water you sweat out in this heat (I didn't need a wee all day - which is fortunate given the lack of facilities :) !)
This morning was another tough climb - and 750m above where we were yesterday. I must admit today was a struggle. I started to feel dizzy at about 2500m with my hands tingling and my head buzzing. I was climbing alone, and so just crumbled where I stood. I did my best to tuck myself into the mountain and away from the edge, which dropped away in to the rhododendron forest. I ate a bar, drank water and cried a bit (well, like a toddler crys - all snot and sniffles) for about 10 mins until Deborah and Mark reached me and helped me get myself together. Mark took my ruck sack, and we continued upwards. It turned out that we were only metres from lunch! Just my luck! Note to self - eat more!!! This lunch was local bread, fried spam and snickers bars! So suitably recovered and full of calories, we headed off again for another 2hrs trekking to Tadipani.

Time for lunch - spam and snickers!
Once we reached Tadapani, there was a chance to rest, and I wandered off with Brian for a cuppa and in search of WiFi. we had no luck in the Wifi front, but the coffee was good and we were treated to the most intense hail storm I have ever seen! The weather is certainly changeable up here!
That's some hail!

Rainbow after the storm

No words needed!
Location board at TadaPani

what a view!


Cold and wet but still smiling... just!
It's amazing what a good night's slep can do. I would be even better if I could have a shower and use a sit down loo that flushes!
 We had a gorgeous dinner of Dal Bhat which is a local dish and I would happily eat 3 meals a day!
Dinner with Deborah


 6th April
Up at 5.30am (ouch) to start climbing at 6.30am. Today we are heading to Ghorepani, which will be our highest overnight point. Once we get there we will start the final ascent to Poon Hill!
Today was the toughest yet. I wonder when it is going to start getting easier - perhaps when we get back to Kathmandu???? We only went up 350m today rising to 3000m but it was all up and down, with soooo many steps! My ankle was really bad today so took it as easy as I could. Today the weather was colder and wetter as we got higher, so the wet weather gear went on and off a couple of times. the moments we stopped to do this were quite welcome! The rhododendron woods really are stunning, but shady and chilly.

The rain started in earnest about 2.30pm (as it has every day so far) and when we arrived in Ghorepani we were cold and wet (and I was a little tearful - again!). But the view was stunning, so I soon cheered up again!

Tonight we were supposed to climb up to Poon Hill for sunset but the weather was so bad that there really wasn't much point! So we had an early night while we prepared for a 3.30am wake up call in the morning!


Well I think that is enough for 1 post, so if you have made it this far thank you! I will post part 2 - the summit (lol) soon!
As you can see, this was a big deal for me and I would like to thank everyone who supported me, sponsored me, offered me advice and encouragement, and especially Deborah Moore who proved to be the best 'sidechick' a girl to ever wish for. You kept me sane (well almost) and walking upwards and , girl, we did it!
Sidechick!!!

If you still wish to sponsor me, you can go to my Just Giving page to donate to Heartburn Cancer UK.



Sunday, 9 April 2017

Adventure Nepal style!

I am really not sure when I will be able to post these entries but I will keep an eye out for WiFi wherever it may lurk and take full advantage.
Last night (Sunday 2nd April) about 5.30pm local time, we finally arrived at our hotel in Kathmandu, after leaving Peterborough at 1pm on Saturday. Crikey it was a long way, but not only have we travelled to another continent, it feels like we have travelled to a different time! Kathmandu is chaotic, full of cars and choking pollution, every second building is a time capsule with exquisite carvings and fantastic temples. The damage caused by the earthquake in 2015 is very visible but work is taking place to rebuild. Our hotel looked like a bombsite from the road, but once you pulled through the entrance it was stunning. The room were lovely and we enjoyed what might our last decent bathroom for a while.  Last night we visited the beautiful Stuppa temple and mixed with locals, monks and wild dogs amongst the clouds of dust and incense. It is exactly as I expected it to be, and I loved it.
The roads are busy and the pavements are a mix of potholes and rubble so one must pick their steps carefully. At least no one appears to be trying to run you down, you just have to commit as you step out into the road and 'apparently ' the cars will stop. Not sure I am that brave yet!
This morning was an early start with a 4.30am alarm call as we are taking a scenic flight around Everest.  Well it has to be done! Our flight was delayed which meant a couple of hours watching the world go by at Kathmandu airport. That is an adventure in itself. This was then followed by an interminable time sitting on a stationary plane on the runway as we waited for a takeoff slot. Some of us has been told by the guide to leave our rucksacks with the porters outside to save carrying them as we would be leaving that way to get our tickets to fly onwards afterwards. That was a fine idea until we realised our water and books were in there. Plus we were now going to miss our connecting flight to Pokara which would add further complications to an already stressful morning. Would they even manage to fit 22 extra people on a later flight? What would that do to the planned hike for today? Would a leisurely start have to make way for a forched march to catch up with the rest of the crew? I  was still very nervous about my fitness levels for the trek so this wasnt helping. Needless to say, I was not feeling particularly happy with Buddha Air.
However, as is the way of things, we were eventually airborn. And it was certainly worth it. The views were stunning! Below is a picture I took of Everest out of a rather smeared plane window. They also let us up to the cockpit for a better view!  Later we discovered the reason for our flight delay; a leopard on the runway! (He was eventually captured and relocated. ) At least it beats leaves on the line!