I don’t hike, period!
However, I am at times goaded into following the pack. Throw in a few incentives such as the opportunity to test out my now not-so-new camera pack, I accede myself to the physical abuse of body and soul.
The hike officially began for the nine of us (Abhit, Ashok, Badri, Dadi, Dibbesh, Gyanendra, Ratna, Sanjay and myself) at the park entrance of the Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park in Pani Muhan. A haze overhead showed no sign of clearing at 8:00 AM, as we entered the national park. Rather accustomed to the road up to Nagi Gumba (nun monastery) having been there quite a few times already, I was rather candid during my walk uphill. The steps near the monastery were a different story, as I ran out of breath every few steps.
Having had heard tall tales about the difficult trail onto Bagdwar, I had my reservations and was considering returning via the same trail after (if ever) reaching Bagdwar. The trail off the monastery was rather steep and slippery; I goaded myself for not having brought a good pair of hiking boots.
Further uphill, the vegetation was lush with age old trees towering into the sky with mossy underbrush. Cicadas and chirping birds punctuated the silence as fallen leaves and branches shuffled and crunched under our footsteps. Sanjay and Badri, let out a shrill whistle or yell time and again, keeping me company as I brought in the only rear. The dense foliage atop, diffused any sunlight providing much required relief to my profusely perspiring self. A few fallen trees posed obstacles and streams occasionally traversed the trail. I feasted my eyes on the unperturbed greenery, but only managed to take a few snaps along the route when the group considered taking a pit stop. A few kharkas (grazing grounds) were much welcomed relief as we neared Bagdwar.
Bagdwar derives its name from the small stone spout moulded like a tiger’s face painted golden yellow. From the spout, flows a steady stream of chilling water. A small cave nearby, supposedly provided refuge to Shivapuri baba – a recluse, who spent the last years of his life there. I did have an egging to go further but my city legs, told me otherwise. The light lunch and rest boosted spirit, while my body shared its doubts on making it all the way to Chisapani.
Walking a good three hours more, along a similar terrain which was considerably difficult for my slouchy self, was perhaps asking too much of myself. Gyanendra, offered to walk back and shared about his discomfort because of his history with asthma. Unsure if the discomfort was feigned pitying my already sorry state, I pushed further after encouraging remarks from a baba that the trail ahead was not as steep, and winded downhill than uphill. The trail further was exactly as the baba had predicted. Every small uphill that came as we traversed the trail had me swearing in bouts, with winded gasps punctuating my uphill climb.
I, along with the rear who kept me company with their encouraging remarks, reached Chisa Pani a good seven hours after, and was welcomed with chilled beer and chicken chilly. Lunch with a raato bhaley, they told me was a good hour away.
The CDO and LDO, dropping in unexpectedly for a meal, delayed it further by yet another hour. Post some much needed lie-down, I helped myself to a healthy lunch-cum-dinner with my fellow trekkies and post some rambling about the trek dozed into a slumber that lasted a good 11 hours.
The road back, the following morning was less eventful but long and never ending. From Chisa Pani to Mani Char and further downhill onto Sankhu was the plan on stretches of long off-roads snaking along the mountain side.
After a good seven hours downhill , Sankhu (sakwo) a small town, served as the culmination of our two day long trip. Normally, local buses to Kathmandu are available upto 6:00 in the evening. However, the fuel shortage had lesser number of vehicles plying on the road and catching one to Kathmandu seemed impossible. To add to our angst, and delaying our bus ride to Kathmandu further, one of our trekkies was bitten by a dog. Dog-tired, I reached home late at night and texted my dear friends who didn’t make it to the trek the following-
“An aching body, burning soles and chafed butt cheeks! Why the f**K do people hike?”
Three weeks after the hike, I still have no clue! Whether I will go on 36 km hike that lasts two days, I have yet to find out!
Photos from Sankhu