Happy New Year, My Legs Hurt
On January 1st, we left Charikot bright and early for an awesome adventure to start the year. John suggested that we take advantage of the weather to hike down into the community from the famous Kalinchok Bhagwati Temple. Bhupal stayed behind in Charikot to finish buying some supplies and drive up with all our bags, while Courtney, Megan, John, Madhu, Pradeep, and I headed out for the day. We took a jeep up to Kuri Village, where we heard there was a new Nepali cable car up to the top of the mountain where the temple is. We had a quick breakfast in Kuri Village and went up to check out the cable car situation. In reality, it was more of a touristy gondola, and we decided to forgo the long lines to drive partway and hike up instead.
Our decision paid off because the drive up was beautiful and we even saw a rare Himalayan Monal bird, which is the national bird of Nepal (it ran away before anyone could snap a picture, but I promise it was really pretty!!). From this awesome mountain photo stop, we started our trek up the mountain. It was only about 30 minute hike up to the temple, which sat at an elevation of 3850 meters above sea level.
The temple was packed with people for New Year's Day so we definitely got the full Nepali experience! Pradeep and I went through the temple while John, Megan, and Courtney took in the awesome views.
After an hour up at the temple, we walked back down to a small tea stall where we’d stashed some of our bags and had a delicious lunch of wai wai noodles and more tea to energize us for the long trek down to Kalinchok village.
Initially, the walk was mostly flat through the mountains and super beautiful. We took multiple breaks to fly our drone and got some awesome footage (which I’ll post in a few days)!
After a few hours of flying and walking, we reached the point from which we could no longer take it easy. The last few hours of trekking were straight downhill, on a trail of rocky stairs that’s been used by locals for hundreds of years. It was absolutely brutal. The beautiful views and occasional snack breaks made it a bit easier, but there were definitely a few points where I thought I would be happy if I never had to see stairs ever again! Our knees and calves hurt for days afterwards, but we all agreed that this was the best way to get to Kalinchok for future travel teams. The trek helped us really understand the landscape that our community exists within and it was incredibly beautiful.
About six hours into our hike, we came to a small village called Durji Gharga. John had stayed here for a few days on a previous trip, so the local people were extremely excited to see him and invited all of us inside their homes for tea and snacks. We ended up having a full meal of boiled potatoes with a mix of amazing spices, all of which were locally grown. They offered us warm chhaang, a local beverage of fermented rice, and home-grown kiwis which were the best kiwis I’ve had in my life. We left this small village as the sun started to disappear behind the mountains, invigorated for the last short leg of our journey down the mountain.
As we approached our local community, John and Pradeep were a bit confused by the trail. The path that usually went straight down from the temple to the school right by our homestay was cut off by a long, snaking dirt road that definitely wasn’t there last summer. It was pretty dark at this point so we decided it was best to reserve judgement for the next morning, but we were definitely extremely thrown off by the seemingly rapid development that the community had gone through since our last travel team left in the summer.
Overall, our day-long adventure was definitely the best way to reach our small community as experience more of the incredible local Nepali landscape. The views from the temple and all the way down the mountain were some of the most breath-taking any of us have ever seen! We’ll talk more about Kalinchok village and the effect of development on the area and our projects in the coming posts.
Mom, I promise we're all alive and doing well!
Thanks for reading!
Ashna, Courtney, and Megan
^ just kidding!!