Sunday, 9 November 2008

A Townie Goes Trekking

Before I arrived here,I was told that I must make a point to go out of Kathmandu to see the real Nepal. So, having been here for a week, I decided to book a short trek just outside the city.For various reasons, Uma has the impression that I am a seasoned trekker (a novice actually), and 2 days' trekking was booked at my request.

My preparation included that morning walk round the village, as well as making decisions on what to take and leave behind. For someone who usually take the kitchen sink whenever I packed for my holidays abroad, it was a real challenge to try and squeeze everything in (for just in case ) in the small backpack. I did pack a few samples of cream and stuff for just such an occasion. I even cut a piece of soap and wrapped in plastic bag to help to lighten the load. Then came the essentials like toilet tissue, torchlight, my journal etc.I was proud of myself that I was able to get everything in, including the sleeping bag into that back pack.

I did think its a little heavy when Uma and I set out on friday morning to meet my personal guide.The minute we started walking, I realised that I have 17 km to, not walk , but climb in supposedly 4 hours on the first day and 32 km on the second day. Dilu (my guide ) was shocked that this was to be my first trek. He said a very significant thing to me ' be brave and you'll be alright' . As we travelled in the local van towards our starting point, I had no choice but to believe him.

The high points were several.One was when we stopped at a forest (or jungle, who cares) clearing, I decided to pull out a few things to leave behind to lighten my load. Dilu said he would carry my bag for me , as well as his sleeping bag. In return, I only had to carry his very light satchell.This he did for the 3 days. I did show him my gratitude(obviously not in the way one might think) and he was happy I think. Yesterday we came across 3 school children when we were descending fast into the brow of the mountain. Being typically children they were looking for sweets from passing visitors.In the absence of any sweets, I shared my very precious digetsive biscuits with them. They were very happy.I feel I have done a good deed yesterday

Another high point was the sunrises I saw at both Chisopani and Nagarkot. Of course the camera battery had to die on me at the crucial moment at the second destination. But alas, such is life. I have the memory in my head, thats the most important thing.

The only feeling that I have after I successfully reached both destination was one of relief and nothing else.That I survived the gruelling 2 day trekking without hurting myself . It was much later that I said to myself, well Lai see, all things being equal, you have achieved what you set out to do, even though it was a foolish thing to have embarked on. I must give credit to John for being my number one fan when I feel desperately hopeless and helpless on those 2 days. Moral support , even in the form of texts was very much appreciated. Now we have to wait for the cost of the moral support!

The low points were essentially about the depression I developed when I realised I took on a challenge way out of my league! I have never experienced such extreme exhaustion in my life. It was the constant fear of me losing my foot hold while so exhausted that I will end up having an accident. Looking back, it was very naive of me to think that walking round Beckenham (a circuit of 3.5 miles ) a few times a week would qualify me to do some serious trekking in Nepal, haha I have neither the fitness, youth, nor reserve to attempt to trek. However, trekking I did go .

All in all, the 17km trek on my first day was completed in 7 hours, instead of the normal 4. In the end, it was a case of putting one foot in front of the other through gritted teeth. I wailed at Dilu and told him I just cannot do it. But what is the alternative ? We were deep in the forest, with ocassional local flying by(they make you sick ) in both directions with such ease .I could throw a temper tantrum, but Dilu is smaller than me. And I feel sure he would not carry me anyway. Why should he ? even though he is paid to be stucked with me for the next 2 days

It was the ultimate challenge I have faced in my life. It tested my physical and mental endurance to its limit. There were times I cursed myself for getting into this situation, then I said to myself "well, you want a challenge, now enjoy it". I was seesawing with extreme motions during the second half of the trek. In addition, the sun was hot, the air was getting thin. I was breathless each time I had to haul myself up to the next level.

The ground is arrid, consists of dry river gorges where melting snow flows in the spring and during the monsoon season.They were strewn with rocks of various sizes, angled hickledy pickledy.Do I need to say more ?

The second day saw us setting out at 6.30. It was due to the fact that the 32 km trek would normally take up to 7 hours to complete. Based on my performance the day before, it would probably take us 10 hours.Thankfully the terrain was more gentle with gradual climb, unlike the day before.I massaged my legs and feet furiously several times the evening before, and it paid dividends. I did feel quite well when I woke up the next morning, all things considered.

The seconday was a test of sheer stamina. This I managed rather well till we got to the 25/26th km mark. My right knee decided that I have abused it long enough. It started to give me trouble. I was hopling on my left leg in increasing pain. Dilu was very patient. We rested intermitently to give the right knee some reprieve. In the end, when we reached the bottom of the hill before climbing up to Nagarkot, I called it a day.Dilu was keen that we climbed to the top. I recognised that unless I listened to my body, I will be left with a damaged knee for a long time to come. In any case,we have trekked 28 km up to that point.So I made a decision- common sense over pride. The last 4 was completed in a local car. It cost me a fiver. It was money very well spent

Now I am back at Uma's, I feel incredibly well. Apart from a slight twinge in my right knee when I climb stairs, I do not appear to be any worse for wear.Tomorrow I will be starting at the hospital. No doubt there will be more tales to tell

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello Chew Have been following your blog with great interest. We all think you are doing a wonderful job. I have printed it all off so we can all read it. Tried to comment befor but didn't know how. Thank goodness for grandchildren. My regards and thanks to Uma for taking care of you. Love Kath and Roy