As we left Tolka, the innkeeper told us that she had a brother who owned an ‘airplane restaurant’ in Pokhara, that we should stop in and see him and have dinner. We said we’d try and headed off to the next village, but not before I got this great photo of the sunrise on Annapurna I. We trekked about 6 miles, on mostly what they refer to in Nepal as flat, a little up and a little down (the little ‘up’ was 1200 feet and the little ‘down’ was 1700 feet). The great views that we thought we were going to get by going this route were obscured by a heavy cloud cover. We thought we’d stay in the village of Dhampus, but when we got there we were told there was no power and no wifi, so after having lunch, we continued down the mountain for another 3 miles and thousands more of those stone steps. There just seems to be no redeeming quality to those stone steps, they exhaust you if you’re going up, and pound your knees if your going down and they keep you from seeing anything else around you as your total focus must be on you next step or you’ll be doing a face plant in one of them. When I get home, I’m taking out the stone steps I have in the back yard – they’re flat, but I just don’t want the reminder! We reached the village of Phedi at the bottom of the mountain and there was actually a road and we see moving vehicles for the first time in 6 days. At the bottom we have a decision to make; our goal is to get to the village of Sarangkot at the top of the next mountain. People from all over the world come to Sarangkot to view the spectacular sunrise over the Himalayas. They say it is like a religious experience.
It would indeed be a religious experience for me, because if I attempted to go that extra 8 miles, straight up, I would be meeting my maker. Dom looks at Sarangkot then looks at me and says, “Are you ready?” Then breaks out laughing and says, “We’re taking a cab to Sarangkot”. Who knew that a cab could be part of the whole trekking experience? Where were the cabs on Days 1-2?
The cab ride was an experience in itself. Four of us, plus the driver and all our gear crammed into a car the size of a refrigerator. I got to sit, knees in my face, up front with the driver, whom, I’m guessing hadn’t showered since February . . . 2013. Of course after trekking for the last 7 hours I wasn’t exactly a bouquet of roses myself. The fact that they drive on the ‘other’ side of the road didn’t help the white-knuckle experience of going up the mountain. The cabbie ultimately let us off about a half mile from the village as the road was too rutted and muddy for him to go any further. We happily walked the rest of the way in the fresh air.
Sarankot offers a great view of the city of Pokhara and Lake Phewa Tal, it was a little hazy, but still a great view and a great resting place. After a cold beer and dinner we watched a movie on my computer, Into Thin Air – the story of death on Everest. Not exactly a musical-comedy, but everyone seemed to enjoy it. We settle in early and set our alarms for 5:00 a.m. so we could wake up then walk up to the observation point and watch the spectacular sunrise over the Himalayas. The alarm went off and I looked outside and I could barely see the dog that was right outside our window barking all night – everything was socked in. No spectacular sunrise today. No religious experience. I rolled over and went back to sleep.