Annapurna Base Camp – Day 1 Pokhara to Tolka

Today was kind of a shit show.  Got caught by the talkative host and waiting for a friend means I didn’t get to the TIMS office until 9:30.  From there, the walk to the bus stop was over an hour (despite being told it was about 20 minutes).

But the bus took off right away and it was only 100 rupees to get to Pedi, the trail head.  Score.  30 minutes later they dropped me off on the side of the road.  I said goodbye to my friend, who was hiking further down the road, and jumped off.

Onto the bare side of the road.  No houses, no people, no nothing.  What was there to do but walk up the road a bit?  Walk up I did, for half an hour, finding shortcuts where I could take stone steps up the hills, but they always met the road.  Eventually I passed a few houses, but the people there didn’t give me a second look–kind of an unofficial gauge of being in the right place.

Terraces

Terraces

Finally I stopped for water (somehow left Pokhara without any. shitshow, I tell you!) and though they overcharged and I didn’t get any, I learned I should have gone DOWN from where the bus dropped me.  So I guess they just forget to tell me that we had already gone through my stop.

From there, it took me 1.5 hours to get to Pedi.  Climbed down maybe 400 meters, through some prickly bushes that felt like burning all day. Some girls tried to sell me strawberries for a dollar a berry and got mad at rich me for not giving poor them any money.  I showed them the holes in the shorts and shirts and my ripped backpack and they smiled and ran away.  Got some water in Pedi and then, by 12:30, found the trailhead.  Not exactly a perfect start.

New Shoes!

New Shoes!

I bought shoes yesterday and they did remarkably well but were nonetheless new and also a size too small.  The beginning of the hike was a hot, sweaty 300 meter climb and I had to go into full-on sweaty yeti mode.  I put on lots of sunscreen, but the top of my (recently shaved) head got quite sunburnt.  I stopped for a handful of breathers, but the climb wasn’t that tough and it felt good to be back on the trail.

Nice towns, good valley views: the trail looked a lot like the climb from Tatopani to Ghorepani on the Annapurna Circuit.  Which made sense once I considered how close that area must be.

The sometimes very well marked trail

The sometimes very well marked trail

After that first climb, there was lots of flat and I listened to a talk Noam Chomsky gave to MIT in 1995.  His warnings then seem ever more cogent, and I learnt the Dewey quote “Government is the shadow cast by big business.”  Also, paraphrasing, Chomsky said “The flaw with government is the possibility that it could be co-opted for democratic purposes.”  I felt too lucky to be able to hiking in the Himalayas while listening to Chomsky speak.  What a world we live in!

Typical Trail Town

Typical Trail Town

I had left my big pack behind and just very carefully packed my day bag.  There was some risk if the weather got bad, but my back is pretty sore and it was the way to go.  Even with my late start, I passed a dozen or so people.  But in large the trail felt more deserted than EBC.  For about an hour, I saw no one–no backpackers, no porters, no locals and I began to worry I was going the wrong way but lo-and-behold I stumbled into a town on the map and it was all good.

A River Runs Through It

A River Runs Through It

At 4:30 I reached Tolka.  This was 6.5 hours of walking but only 4 of it on the trail.  I felt great and it was light and I would have pushed on, but the lady running an inn was really nice.  Rooms are a dollar, showers and battery recharging are free.  Her son came into my room and we talked about the usual stuff (where are you from, what do you do, how do you like Nepal?) but as he left he admonished me not to get any more tattoos.

Met a cool UK/Irish couple and a pair of overburdened Filipinos.  We had great trail conversation about cameras and sleeping bags and all in all, despite le show de mierde, it was a good first day.

 TOWN:  Tolka
HEIGHT:  1790 meters
GUESTHOUSE:  Sunlight Tourist GH&R 100/room 
DAILY BUDGET: 760
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