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My solo trip to Panch Pokhari

Solo Trip to Panch Pokhari

Basic gears carried: dawn jacket, sleeping bag, sun glass, normal sports shoes, dry food, water bottle, lighter.

Day 1  Kathmandu to Deurali Drive  and hike to Tupi Danda  2200 m (6 hours)

Day 2 Tupi Danda to Noshyampati  trek 3700 m(6 hours)

Day3 Noshyampati to Panch Pokhari trek 4200 m (3 hours)

Day 4 Panch Pokhari to Deurali and Drive to Kathmandu

 This time my destination was Panch Pokari. It is a well known destination for Buddhist and Hindus. Situated in Sindhupalchowk district, the area is well populated by Tamang. The local people visit this place on the day of Janai Purnima festival during August. Hundreds and Thousands of Nepalese - both Buddhist and Hindus go for pilgrim and take sacred bath on this day. Among them, number of Shamans with their typical Drums seize your eyes. They go all the way drumming, Chanting and dancing in their trance state. They are the only people least affected by the high altitude geography and the difficult trail that goes mostly uphill.

But this time during December, there was nothing like that. Moreover, at this time of covid 19 pandemic, tourism ( both domestic and international) has been completely crippled. Obviously people are reluctant to travel although the government has lifted restriction in trekking.

It is daunting to take a solo trip to such remote mountainous region in off season. I set up at around 11.30 am in my bike. It was 4.5 hours drive from Bhaktapur to Bhotang Village via Changu, Sankhu, LapsiPhedi, Chapabot Bharegaun and Melamchi. 

On Day 1, I stopped at Buspark located in Chimti, Bhotang viallge. I stayed at Arjun Shankar lodge, Chimti. It was the only lodge opened in the area. The next day , after I embarked my trek, I realized that I could go a bit more ahead uphill to the place called Deurali where I could park my bike and would be a lot more easier walking from. Further, I  discovered yet another option in which I can park the bike at Deurali on the first day and start walking up to the place called Tupi Danda 2200m. This can be reached in an hour of walk from Deurali. It would also help to acclimatize body. Most importantly, this would further shorten the next day's walking distance making it a lot easier to arrive Panch pokhari (4200 m) in one day .

On Day 2, after a short rest and chit chat with a boy looking after his cottage in Tupi Danda, I continued walking. From here, the trail dramatically grows lonely for me. The mossy dense forest makes you nervous and warns you to take your time before you continue. I literally was stunned by the deafening silence of the jungle and at a time I even thought to take U turn and run back to downhill where I would feel more safe and comfortable. But promptly I realized that I could not thwart the mission. So, I rather kept going accepting whatever the challenges would possibly come ahead. 

As I walk further deep this temperate forest, I would some time be alarmed by the weird shaped rocks and trees covered in green moss. In many bends and corners, you take them for some kind of animal or someone waiting to surprise you. But as you go closer, you are happy to realize it is just your illusion. I know it is more likely to happen if you are all alone in this ruthless forest. During winter, the shaded part of the forest can go freezing cold. So, the streams that flow along such bend are frozen. I had to be very careful walking on ice. After walking about and hour, the trail now goes along the bank of Gyalsin khola. There was a small wooden crossover on it. After crossing the river the trail again winds up hill.

Although the path gets more strenuous as you climb uphill, the wider horizon come in your view is extraordinarily mesmerizing. As you move ahead towards semi alpine zone, you leave the green patch of forest behind and hence they come in full shape. Continuous uphill walk makes you breathless, but I would say, the infinite layers of mountains that you can behold from the height make you forget to breathe. Moreover, varieties of birds welcome you with their sonorous carol. 

Further ahead, your heels can feel the trail growing harder. I could feel some sharp pointed pebbles under my heels despite wearing a good walking boot. Gradually, I ascended for about an hour and half up to Tapkharka.  From here onward, I figured out the effect of altitude, I felt like taking a break after every now and then. But, every time I stopped, my eyes would run over the infinite ranges of hills and mountain stretching far away in the horizon. It would quickly boost up my energy and tempted to climb higher out of curiosity and expectation to see wider view. Ahead was Noshyampati in my view. There were few small cottages made of corrugated tin. The urgency to arrive there for a good rest was throbbing. But for this, I needed one more hour of walk.

Noshyampati is at the height of 3700 m which is an ideal place for overnight stop so that your body is well acclimatized before you go for final climb to 4200 m where lies Panch Pokhari, my destination.

After long hike, I had finished my water bottle. My expectation to fill it at Noshyampati was shattered when I met two trekkers who were returning. They told me it would not be possible to get water until I arrived at Panch Pokhari. They explained that  Everything was frozen so the pipelines were dry too. I was really dismayed. Without water I would surely get worn out and make the journey painful. They also told me that I would not see any one until I reached Panch Pokhari which was in 4 hours walking distance. It made me desperate.  They were so kind to empty their bottles to fill mine. They convinced me that I would be in more need of it. They were absolutely right. In next half an hour walk, I reached Noshyampati. Of course, there was no body and no water. The sign board shows 3700 meter above sea level. All the small cottages were locked except a couple of sheds made for sheep and mountain cow. The shepherd had moved them to low land for winter.

It was 2  o'clock in the afternoon. By now, I was completely exhausted. I could feel shortness of breath in this thin air. The first suggested option was to keep going for next 3 hours. But I was sure, this would hit me hard by altitude. It is not wise to go from 2200 m to 4200 m in a day. So, for my comfort, I preferred to stop here overnight. But, all alone!!!?  Definitely yes!  The another option was also not considerable at all for me.

I decided to stop. After an hour's rest, I was more determined about the possibility to spend night. There were three sheds opened for travelers. I chose the best one. It was a small wooden cottage with corrugated tin and plastic sheet on the roof. I quite liked the flooring made of long wooden planks placed above the ground. And there was a fireplace as well that delighted me most.

It was my first experience spending night alone in mountain where there was no electricity, no water and no food. But I had fire!

After an hour's rest, I explored the place for any useful item for me. Luckily, I found a small aluminium utensil which could be used to melt ice and also to prepare my Noodle soup. Then, I collected enough fire wood. Thank god – There was ample amount of wooden chips leftover- people use axe to piece the logs.

Gradually, the Sun goes down. The beams of light peeping in through the loosely fixed wooden wall grew faint. My heart started throbbing harder. My major concern is "I am all alone!". Soon, darkness ruled. It was pitch dark outside. There was cold wind blowing outside. Sometimes, I felt, the wind will blow my tin roof and plastic laid over it. But I was somehow feeling cozy with warm fire inside. As the fire got stronger I felt warm and sleepy.

Next morning, at 4 o' clock I woke up. I was happy and proud of myself. I survived the night at such an isolated mountain!

I soon, buckled up to hit the trail. The trail goes all the way up to the cold rocky mountain. The bends were innumerable and the steps were infinite. Yet, I was caught surprise number of times as Danphe birds (Lophophorus) and Jharal ( the himalayan Tahr) would make a swift dart into thorny Alpine bush.

As I climbed ahead, I found all the layers of mountains stretching far beyond the horizon. The clouds were forming down there. They looked like soft cotton lay over the valley. Ahead was more steps and it gets steeper. Now and then, the trail is obstructed by huge boulders.  I can figure out, they often roll down. There were bigger boulders ahead and the trail took me through in between and round them.

It was continuous 2 hour walk before crossing Laureybina pass (4000m). After the pass, the trail led to first down and then up to the valley where the five sacred ponds lies. It was winter season, so the water of the ponds is frozen on the surface.

The valley is well set amidst precipitous Rocky Mountains. I figured out that the valley would be green and colorful with alpine vegetation during summer.

As I had already got the information, there was a team of engineer and representatives working on measurement of the ponds for DPR purpose. So, there was a lodge opened for them. When I arrived, the lunch was almost ready. The owner heartily welcomed me with hot water and tea. Of course, he invited me for the lunch that I was eagerly looking for!

The beauty of the valley mesmerized me so much that I forgot I was breathing in thin air at the elevation of 4200 m. I overcame my fatigue at once. After sipping my tea quickly, I set out to explore around .

Detail

The highest mountains of Nepal

8 out of 14 above 8000m mountains lie in the territory of Nepal. This amazning fact adds charms in the mountain tourism of Nepal. More interstingly, these highest mountains of Nepal are all clustered within 600 km range of Himalayan Belt.

1. The Everest or Sagarmatha Region ( 8,848 metres)

Mt. Everest tempts everyone specially those who like trekking in Mountain.  This world’s highest mountain standing 8,848 metres (29,029 ft) tall is also known as the roof of the world. Owing to its odd location and geographic contours, Everest region has fostered an exotic Buddhist Sherpa culture. Numerous Chortens, Monasteries, life style, beautiful mountain views and flora/fauna attract thousands of travelers from round the world. Including Everest expedition, Everest base camp trek, Gokyo lake trek, three high passess trek are the few of life changing experiences one can do here.

2. Kanchenjunga Region (8,598 metres)

In the vast snow land stretched in the northern Nepal, if you roll your eyes all the way from east to west, Kanchenjunga ( 8598m) is the first mountain of Nepal having above 8000m height – the world’s third highest mountain.

 Kanchenjunga area comes under popular selection for those who are looking for less busy trekking route. Obviously, being one of the restricted area for tourist activities, Kanchenjngal is still untouched and truly a pristine mountain zone. Miles away from the urban settlement, Kanchenjunga offers serene natural environment where the life is basic but the style is truly human.

Beside the mountain people, Kanchenjunga a dwelling place for Snow Leopard, Lophophorus, Musk Deer, Blue Sheep and even legendary Yeti  to name some.

3. Lhotse ( 8,526 metres)

Lhotse (8,516), the fourth highest mountain of the world, is situated next to Everest. Its long east-west wave can be spotted to the south of Mount Everest. They are so closed that their summits are connected by the South Col. Lhotse Shar and Nuptse are its two subsidiary peaks lying east and west of the main summit respectively.

4. Makalu (8,463 metres)