The Poonann’s trek to Poon Hill

We’ve got to say, we’ve been to many amazing places around the world, but this definitely takes the cake. Never have I been so challenged mentally and physically as much as I have been over the past 4 days. I would definitely recommend it for anyone no matter what fitness level you are at (I can probably only run max 1km so that gives you an idea of how unfit I am).

We had prebooked the whole trek from our hotel in Kathmandu which was really handy cause it meant that all the necessary permits had been arranged, tour guide, accommodation, taxi and all means were included for a total of RS.43,000. This made it very convenient for us.

For those who do want to do the trek you need the following 2 permits:
– ACAP: Annapurna Conservation Area Permit
– TIMS: Trekking Information Management System
We saw a group of 3 British trekkers who had left their permits back in the hotel so had to wait for their permit to be driven to them before they could start the trek.

Our guide Moti is roughly 60 years old with 35 years of trekking experiences under his belt. He is like a cute little grandpa who has dyed his hair red, wears business slacks to trek, drinks only buffalo milk to hydrate and walks with bent knees like a gangsta. He also loved to say ‘See ya later alligator’ in his adorable Nepalese accent.

We also had a trekking guide Trainee Krishna who is probably our age and was actually really helpful along the trek. For some reason he referred to Jason as Johnson and me as Ann Le for the whole trip, we didn’t correct him cause it seemed a lot funnier this way.

DAY 1: Taxi from Pokhara to Nayapul (90 minutes)
TREK TIME: 10.30am-3.30pm
Nayapul to Tikhedhunga

In my opinion probably the toughest day even though it was one of the shortest. It was 36 degs and there was absolutely no shade in what seemed like forever. Jason carried our main backpack which was about 12kg and I carried a measly 5kg but this was still too much for me. There was a steady incline for most of the trek with occasional flat areas, but within a few hours I had already shown signs of heat exhaustion, Breathing was difficult, my face was redder than the sun and I had sweat dripping from god knows where! Jason was fine, the heat and incline didn’t seem to affect him whatsoever, We took a break after a few hours where Krishna offered to take my tiny backpack for me and this surprisingly made a world of difference! The heat could finally escape from my sweat-drenched back and all of a sudden I had all the energy in the world. We eventually made it to the Guest house (often referred to as Tea houses) much to my relief and Moti managed to source some bamboo sticks for me to use as trekking poles for the next day – BEST THINGS EVER!

DAY 2:
TREK TIME: 5am-4.30pm
Tikhedhunga to Ghorepani

We’d already been told that this was going to be a very tough day so I had mentally prepared myself for this. 90% of the trek was uphill so you can imagine how difficult it was. We encountered all types of terrain and went from a very dry and rocky region then suddenly into the rainforest. I had a few things going for me that day that made it much more bearable than the first: it was much cooler, Krishna was carrying my backpack and I had my magic bamboo sticks which were like have an extra pair of legs. Anytime I struggled with the stairs I kept singing to myself “The ants go marching one by one hurrah hurrah” and this seemed to get me through it. We bumped into a female trekker from Costa Rica who was travelling with her husband from Vancouver. She had a very bad case of stomach cramps and diahhorea so was struggling to get to the next town. We felt really bad for her cause there was still at least 2 hours of trekking to go, so we gave her some of our Gastro-stop which was enough for her keep going. Overall a very challenging but very satisfying day.

DAY 3:
TREK TIME: 4am-6.45am then 7.45AM-4.30pm
Ghorepani to Poon Hill then to Ghandruk

Very early morning start so we could climb the stairs to Poon Hill to await the sunrise. This was an hour uphill, in the darkness, with no breakfast. I did not cope well. Half asleep and hungry I thought I would collapse and roll down the hill, but I didn’t. The thing that spurred me on the most was the thought of reaching the top of the hill and seeing sunrise on the backdrop of the HImalayas. And you know what? It was totally worth it. There would have been about 80 trekkers atop the hill and to say the view was breathtaking is an understatement. The snow capped Annapurna mountains seemed to be within reaching distance even though they were hundreds of kms away. I actually can’t describe how incredible it was to be up there because there are just no words. The photos are good but they just don’t do it justice. I’d recommend you just go so you can see what I’m babbling on about.

After breakfast we set off on foot again. The first 2-3 hours were uphill which was unexpected so naturally I was very unprepared. What made it worst was it started raining as we were tackling the steepest stairs which took about an hour to complete. This really had me flustered! Thankfully the rest of the day was either flat or downhill which I greatly appreciated. We spent most of the day trekking through rain forests and along rocky riverbanks. We encountered a man who was carrying an 80kg log down a hill on his back. Apparently he needed to carry about 10 logs each taking about 3 hours to reach the villages. All up he gets paid RS700 (AUS$7) per day for this. Sure does puts things into perspective. This is something we saw a lot of throughout the trek and we were still surprised each time at how strong these locals were. Even saw a woman was carrying 40kg worth of bricks (which made me look like a massive sook not coping with my 5kg!).

DAY 4:
TREK TIME: 7.15am-1pm
Ghandruk to Nayapul then Taxi back to Pokhara
The last day. The legs were finally starting to feel it. DOMS in every single leg muscle. The first 1 hour was down hill (manly down rocky staircases) and the remainder was relatively flat on a gravel path. Again it was hot and felt extremely long for one of our shorter days as there wasn’t really much to see besides the occasional vegetable farms. Nonetheless it was still enjoyable as we knew that each step we took meant that we were getting closer to the finish line. And so, when it finally happened, when we finally arrived back in Nayapul we felt like we had just won the lottery!

Overall this trek was an incredible experience, We learnt so much about the Nepalese way of life and it certainly did put things into perspective for us. A few points to highlight:
– Everything is either brought up by man or donkey as cars can’t access the higher points so we chose not to eat any meat whilst on the trek (mainly ate Mac and cheese or Dhal Bhat)
– Many of the children in the mountain have to walk 2-3 hours to get to school, then the same on the way back
– The majority of those living in the villages are very self-sustaining and have their own crops growing in perfectly maintained fields and solar panels. We saw many of them drying out their spinach in preparation for monsoon season
– The Nepalese are a very kind people, they greet you with a smile and a Namaste and most of the children will ask for chocolate rather than money
– According to Krishna, 90% of Nepalese hate Indian people, he proved this to us by asking about 10 locals on the trek
– There is no toilet paper anywhere, so we stocked up on serviettes at restaurants anytime we got a chance

So now to rest up and take it all in

Till next time
Ann & Jason

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s