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A trip to snowland

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A trip to snowland #

Two bikes, four people and a perfect trip, we sketched down our plan. But as ‘AL Green’ said, “How can you stop the rain from falling down…?” It rained cats and dogs on our plan. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the company grew to six, hills grew thicker with snow and the weather next day was clearer.

The Facebook group was assembled at 6:00 pm a day before the trip, the official start of a trip these days. We planned our escape at 8:00pm from Hari Chowk. As it usually happens we started the ride at 8:00NST (Nepali Standard Time) thanks to the trash-can Siddhartha Bank calls an ATM, which debited my account and refused to spit out the cash. Who knew that the bank would conspire for my mom to win an argument yet again? Yeah.. she’d mentioned taking cash from home instead of going to the ATM but I trusted technology more than my mother and faced the consequences. Not a great start to the trip but thankfully it wasn’t the sign of things to come.

Kishor Dai and I in FZ, Gaurav Dai and Manish Dai in Xpulse, and Manish Dai and Pramish Vai in Gixxer. A final look at google maps to note-down the number of some of the hotels at Ghorepani. Down jackets, faces covered with masks, woolen hats and goggles off we went… Silky smooth road in Hemja with mountains running abreast us. I was busy filming every moment as we rode past the spotless road and into a typical Nepali highway. As we rode towards Lumle, the weather got more chillier but we were well suited for the cold.

We were famished by the time we stopped for lunch. Manoj dai, who I know from Pulchowk Campus, Gaurav and Kishor dai’s classmate, had recently been posted at the ward office in Patichaur and joined us for lunch. Manoj dai sponsored the lunch as a treat for his recent job posting. We had rice with fish curry which was known to be a speciality on the highway. It was the best fish curry I have ever had, and no it’s not just hunger speaking, it was genuinely finger licking good. I cannot say the same for the price though.

We turned right from MaalDhunga towards Beni bazaar and it was like we switched to the dark side of the moon. Puddles, right in the middle of the road and the occurrences were multiple. Heavy reconstruction of the “highway” was going on which led to diversions. Slimy mud mixture, large broken rocks and water canals ruining the already disintegrated highway. A major blockade was a truck loaded with gas cylinders stuck on the muddy road. Even a dozer was unable to pry the truck out. Luckily we had great riders. They expertly navigated from beside the truck and we were off again after a slight delay.

We stopped to regroup on Beni bazaar, miniature under a hanging cliff . Cannot say that none of us were tempted to go rogue and change course when we found out that it was the same road that led to Mustang. The state of the highway though, uff… no wonder Myagdi district is on the list of bikat districts.

Next stop Pokhare-bagar.

At Pokhare-bagar we stopped for snacks and a short break from the long tiring ride. A casual chat to the locals revealed that we were late on schedule and it might get pitch dark by the time we reached Ghorepani. They also mentioned that the snow in some parts is hip-deep. So we rang Hotel Snowland and booked a package for six. The road got worse as we ascended. The sun sank and it started to grow dark. The road was still muddy and fractured but it was the snow that created all the problems. Snow on the sides and ice on the road made it impossible to create traction. Our riders got to experience riding a snowmobile at 8pm on a winter night on a road like no other. There were moments when it wasn’t the bike carrying us but the opposite. Skidding and sliding we made our way to the end of the road.

We were still an hour away from the hotel. We moved through the middle of the forest without any idea of where the small slit of foot trails in the snow led. We had to wander around for sometime before we found the right trail on the thick snow. Finally after a long walk, we reached Hotel Snowland. It was about 10pm when we reached the hotel. Soaked in snow we gathered around the hearth to heat ourselves and our clothes for the journey tomorrow.

It was 5:30am when I woke up to Sia’s Greatest. No sign of life in the room as our tired souls were in a state of deep sleep. Full of energy and determined not to miss the sunrise I climbed out of my bed and was ready in a minute. I started waking everyone up but some of us were too tired to walk in the snow again. So it was just half of the company that left at 6:15am to Poonhill. The estimated time for sunrise was 7:00am. With the clock ticking we set off in the snow.

The morning glow was mesmerizing. We were late and were possibly going to miss the sunrise but the view was one to die for. We couldn’t wait till the top to capture those moments so we started posing here and there, adding to our delay. A sea of golden red above a silver lake and us floating in it. The first rays of sunlight on the peak of Annapurna South stirred my emotions. I summoned all my might and started running towards the hill, yes run. Panting, clambering, slipping, on all fours but not stopping.

We reached the top just as the sun was shying away from the hill that hid it from us. Golden hill, silver lake and crystal white mountains. Ohh, did I let that view sink in. It was then time to let the floodgates open. We went about clicking pictures left, right and center. Acrobatics in the snow, casual poses, dancing, jumping, sleeping, diving, trust falls, cool-dude, and whatnot cause who knows if I will ever be there again. Never had I ever taken so many pictures.

You can never have your fill with mountains but you must depart nonetheless. We started our descent after enough time at the top. The hills below seemed to be afloat in a lake of clouds, the trees shaking off the snow stuck in their branches and the clouds rising up to meet the mountain peaks. We slipped and slid our way back to the hotel.

Breakfast beckoned at the hotel. The journey home began soon after. A click of our company of seven, six of us and a snowman as a final souvenir. Vlogging, skidding and dancing in the knee deep snow, we got back to Chitre where we had parked our bikes overnight.

The sun had melted away a few layers of snow. The meltwater flowed down the road adding to the mud and puddles. Better mud than snow for us bikers. We descended slowly on our bikes, ever so careful of the pitfalls of a rural road. We had come unscathed from the toughest part of the highway, but Galeshwor Mahadev had planned a different end to our journey.

Near Galeshwor, one of our bike’s roller chains broke. We had to push the bike to Beni bazaar for repair. An additional time cost was added to our plans, and by the time we left Beni for Pokhara it was already 7pm. We rode slowly on the pitch dark and empty highway. The visibility was also diminished by thick mist through which you could barely see. Cold that burned like a steel knife pierced through our trousers as we made our way back home at 11.

Like every travel story it was lively, engrossing and memorable. The story is never complete without a bit of setback. On an ending note I’d like to add from this experience; little snow is dear, a little more is loved and too much is an avalanche but damn did we enjoy the avalanche.

Psst… #

NST - Nepali Standard Time, usually an hour or two late from the promised time.
Bikat - underdeveloped
FZ, Xpulse, Gixxer - bikes