Throughout September, a group of passionate Adara supporters have been trekking through Nepal, with the sole purpose of raising funds for Adara’s work on the ground. They have visited Adara project sites, trekked through lush vegetation and walked up more steps than they can possibly count. Above all, they have been invigorated by the work Adara does in the beautiful country of Nepal. Here are some of their stories.
Wednesday 27th September – Maureen Moore
We were up at 4 this morning and out the door at 4:30 with our head lamps on!
We trekked up to Poon Hill and watched the mountains appear as the sun rose. What a sight! The Annapurna Mountains are stunning and it was worth every agonizing step to see this spectacle. It was also International Tourism Day and everyone received a T-shirt.
Before we left, we were up in the clouds and there were no mountains to be seen. We then trekked back down to our tea house for breakfast. After that, a wonderful trek down a very steep sided valley, following what started as a babbling brook and was a raging river by the time we said goodbye to it. Of course we trekked downhill and then had to trek back up! We are all tired, especially this 70 year old!
Overall, it was a great day.
Thursday 28th September – Kristina Juul
Last night’s heavy downpour has left the air feeling extra crisp this morning. The layers of rolling hills below the majestic mountains are starting to appear as the clouds dance with the rising sun. Brushing our teeth outside with this idyllic view, whilst being serenaded by the gentle hymn of the cicadas – there can’t be a better way to start the day. It’s a nice reward for our hard work so far, and a good opportunity to reflect on why we’ve come together for this trekking challenge. Although the accommodation may not have been the best (our room was shared with a lot of moth-like creatures and several spiders of all sizes…I stopped counting when I realised counting these critters wasn’t quite as effective as counting sheep) – there’s still something cosy about this little tea house nestled in the hills. Besides, spending nights in places like this doesn’t come close to the hardships so many in Nepal endure daily. A good reminder that, although we may take it for granted, something as simple as having a roof over our heads for the night is something we should be grateful for.
Leaving our tea house behind in Tadapani (2,600m), we started to make our way downwards. Finally the relief of some downhill, although we all knew it wouldn’t last for long. Today we were told would start with lots of down, and finish with lots of up!
Tip toeing over babbling brooks and playing hop scotch over the colourful rocks – shimmering blues, and polished browns, pinks and greens. Down through dense Rhododendrons we go. Focus is key as last night’s heavy downpour means slippery trails. You need to remind yourself to look up every once in a while – the sunlight streaming through the trees is truly magical.
Then suddenly, in stark contrast, a modern village appears. We’ve descended 900m and now reach Ghandruk at 1,700m. The place we choose for lunch has been in the family for 3 generations – starting out as a small tea house, but recently renovated into a modern building. If it weren’t for the incredible view, one might not realise we’re still high in the Himalayas! We’re told that proximity to Pokhara has made this a hot spot for domestic tourism, and it’s clear the whole village has benefitted financially. The houses here look far more modern (think concrete/brick vs. mud and tin) than others we’ve seen along the way.
Shortly after lunch, we passed a man carrying a heavy load of mattresses. These porters must be some of the strongest men on earth! We’ve enjoyed the facilities of these tea houses at elevation, and this serves as a reminder that every item has been carried here on someone’s back. Even the thousands of steps we’ve been climbing along our route each day have been painstakingly laid by someone to ensure a happy trail for those visiting this beautiful part of the world. If we think we’re tired just walking them, imagine what it must have felt like to build them! After lunch, the steep steps down continue…and continue! Still in awe of our incredible porters who are setting a fast pace ahead, we follow these steps all the way down to a crossing of the Modi Khola (Modi River) at about 1,300m. But we’re not done quite yet.
The final push took us up a very steep stair pathway to our resting place for the night – a tea house in Landruk (1,550m) with more beautiful views as our reward. With each step I’m reminded of the hardships so many here in Nepal have to endure on a daily basis. As challenging as all of these ups and downs may be, it’s nothing compared to that, so we push ahead. That’s why we’ve come here after all; to support the great work of Adara which is truly making a difference to the lives of so many here.
Out of breath, covered in sweat and with gently aching muscles, we’ve reached our next tea house in Landruk (1,550m). Dinner outside under a sky lit up by stars is the perfect end to another great day. What will tomorrow have in store for us?
Friday 29th September – Derek Stapley
Another grand day out!
The sunrise was enjoyed together on the rooftop of our tea house with the majestic mountain of Annapurna 5 slowly being unwrapped from its overnight duvet of enveloping clouds. It emerged stark white against a blue sky, its massive, rugged form dominating the view across the lush green valleys and hills.
After breakfast we were again onto our trek. It was another day of ups and downs with lots more stone steps, lots more gorgeous little hamlets nestled into the hills, and lots more friendly locals greeting us with smiles and “Namaste.” Eventually, all of us finally understood that our guides frequent phrase “Nepali flat” actually means walking at a 45 degree angle, and that our next rest-point which is “not far away” could easily involve two hours of gruelling uphill climbing! Lunch today was my favourite meal of the entire trip. We enjoyed it at a tiny restaurant with a perpetually-smiling hostess who was joined in her cooking endeavours at the open-fire range by two of our multi-talented guides – Raj and Deb.
The food was delicious, the company and conversation effortlessly enjoyable and the views magnificent (if only in our minds because of thick cloud cover). We are now safely ensconced for the night at Australian Camp, having arrived in the nick of time before monsoon like rains pounded the landscape. Beers, popcorn and yak cheese are being savoured….dinner to follow shortly.
Today was the last full day of trekking. Tomorrow we head back to the sprawling yet fascinating city of Pokhara.
We owe our thanks to many people – the Adara team in Sydney and Nepal, our guides and porters here, Tom from Charity Challenge, those who kindly sponsored our trekkers. But I would like to take a moment to single out Pam who pulled this entire expedition together over many long months of pushing, prodding and cajoling. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all that you did to make this happen for such a worthwhile cause.
We now head to Pokhara, each with our own thoughts of these past days. For me it has been a time to work muscles hard that spend too long at a desk, to fill my lungs with pure mountain air, to meet old and new friends. A time to be fortunate to have the opportunity to once again appreciate the beauty of Nepal and its people, to have helped in a very small way to raise money for Adara, to have taken time on the trail to walk and talk with others, or wander solo letting my mind ponder on a multitude of wide ranging topics.
Without doubt, a visit here is a prescription I would recommend, regardless of age. As our “mother” on this trip, an inspiration for all and one of my new-found heroes in life, Maureen Moore, has very ably demonstrated in the year in which she celebrates her 70th birthday!
Saturday 30th September – Pamela Barit Nolan
Alarm goes off at 5:45am as agreed to see if we have a view for sunrise. I stick my head out of the door and see clouds everywhere. In the fog I see a few people with mugs of coffee and tea by the kitchen but turn back and crawl back under the warm blankets. 45 minutes later everything has changed and we scramble into our clothes and move outside. It is the main Daishan festival day and Australia camp is buzzing. The clouds have lifted and an amazing backdrop of mountains has emerged. We clamber up to the roof tops to take in the magnificence of the mountains. We have been rewarded on our last day in the mountains. Group photos are taken, while below us Nepali families gather. Children play on the bamboo swings constructed for the festival. A deep sense of awe and gratitude surrounds me.
As we move in for breakfast, clouds descend once again and the mountains are gone. It reminds us how fleeting our life experience is. Down we go, moving into our now familiar pace of fast, medium and slow, with guides with each group ensuring that we all get down safely. Children are everywhere, enjoying this special family festival in Nepal.
We reach the road and find our vehicles waiting for us. Double high fives are given all the way round. Our group has made it around our planned circuits with only a few blisters, colds and stomach aches to log. It is hard to believe it is over.
Our ride back into Pokhara is uneventful and Raj tells us a bit about the countryside as we descend. We pass through the Tibetan refugee area where we glimpse a large temple and monastery on the hillside. Once back at the hotel we agree a schedule for the balance of the day and then scatter.
Lunch is highlighted by the hotel manager providing a tikka blessing to us all, as the elder Maureen applies the tikka which is white. The hotel manager is from a cast/tribe that uses white tikka rather than red. Photos are taken as we fill our bellies.
Everyone scatters for the afternoon but gathers again for a special final dinner celebration. The guides and porters join us as speeches and gifts are given and received. We receive tikka again from Raj. The connections within the group are felt. We have all changed in the last several days, we have learned about ourselves and each other. We have huffed and puffed or run up steep slopes and made it down the other side. We have laughed about the concept of Nepali flat. We have shared stories with strangers and have seen beautiful vistas.
At the end we celebrated the funds raised for the women, children and families of Nepal and pledged to keep going….perhaps closing our fundraising goal at $100k.
Sunday dawns and it is time to shift back to Kathmandu. A few of the guiding team have come out to help send us on our way. Kristina is staying in Pokhara and we waive to her as we leave the hotel, emotions welling as the goodbye process begins.
But it is never good bye in a situation like this. We are now the Poon Hill gang and that tie will bind us for a long time to come.
Thanks to the Adara businesses funding all of our administration and core support costs, 100% of all donations will go directly to support projects on the ground.
If you would like to donate to the trekkers’ efforts, you can do so here