Trekking to No-Mind in Nepal
A letter from Archa
There were the 6 of us, including Sans (my husband) and his mountain mad friend who he had been with previously. Then 3 others like myself who had never been before. Plus 4 porters and the guide Kalu, who saved San's life last time out.
When we arrived we stayed in Kathmandhu for a few days. The city is really so poor, worse than anything I had seen in India. Twenty years ago it
used to be lovely apparently, but it is basically a medieval city that cannot cope with the huge influx of people that have moved in from the mountains. Some from Tibet - Buddhists fleeing the Chinese, and also mountain people from Nepal fleeing the Maoists! Kathmandu is also, for sure, a very interesting place, busy and colourful. Nonetheless I was very glad to leave when we got on the bus!
The bus took us to the end of the road up in the mountains. That was an interesting ride up a winding mountain 'road' more like a dried up riverbed a distance of 72 km that took nearly 8 hours !!!!! The bus totally overflowing, with the aisle full and 20 people on the roof !!!!
From the road head we walked up a valley to 14,000 feet over seven days. Sometimes the valley was steep-sided with huge forested mountains on either side or open valleys. Sans, from the moment we started , had a constant beam on his face and he kept saying 'I just love this place..I'm so happy here' We stayed in basic tea houses at night where we wrapped up warm and slept in sort of bunk houses. There was normally a communal room with a wood burning stove but no heat or electricity in the bedrooms. I used to read in my bed with my head torch, and balaclava gloves all enclosed in my very expensive sleeping bag with any quilt like thing I could find at the tea house, over that! It was always cold at night.. Day time was gorgeous with amazing clear blue skies all day..tee-shirt weather, but as soon as the sun went down behind the mountains you rushed to get your thermals and all your warm clothes on.
At the end of the valley the scenery changed and opened into a wide open space, surrounded by snow capped mountains. A couple of days was spent up there exploring the area and the monastery, and then a slow walk back down again over 7 days. Back indeed to the bus and another delightful 8 hour journey back to Kathmandu!
After 2 days we were off again to Pokera, which is a beautiful town by a lake, very clean with amazing views of mountains all around. From there we took another bus and started walking another 7 day round trek to Sans favourite place on the planet, which I was very excited to see. It was a strenuous walk. One day we did 7 hours including 7,000 upward steps!!!! It was definitely worth the effort. We reached the top in the morning and we were treated to an amazing panoramic view, part of which you can see in the pic. I was very happy to share this with Sans and to see for myself the place he talks so much about and has painted quite often. We did a blessing there at the local shrine for Vimlan's dad who we knew was seriously ill in Germany. We found out later that was the day he had died.
When I woke up in that place there was this amazing pinky orange sunrise over a mountain range that seemed to be endless. It gradually turned into a clear blue sky. Sitting outside and having our breakfast with that in the background was... well amazing. We walked back down over 4 days including the 7,000 steps down which we did in 2 hours!!!
One of the things I was looking forward to in this trekking was not thinking to walk and have an empty mind and it happened as soon as we started walking. You can see why these monks go to the mountains, it's easy there!!!! (Try putting them to live with their mothers for a week !!!) I didn't worry about anything back home, or the future or the past, or Megan (my daughter), or anything. The huge mountains definitely make you put yourself and your life in perspective! I suppose each day was such a challenge that you had to keep your mind on that. I was determined before I went that I would do it. I had booked last minute and the others had been preparing for a year.I didn't want to let anyone down or hold them up, and I am very proud to say I didn't and I did it all!!! I really had to psyche myself up for it and really just take one step at a time, even if I was walking very slowly. Just keeping going .there was something magical about walking with this group of people, who all found it quite hard, and just plodding along together. We all got on great. There was real friendship and support between us even though 3 of them I had never met before! So I would highly recommed it to you if it takes your fancy. For me to do this trekking was quite amazing as I am not someone who loves walking let alone walking uphill!!!! But I loved it... It was a great experience and if I can do it anyone can!!!!
Sans is going again next year to Mustang which apparently is flatter. So if you fancy a trip...book your place soon!!
much love and hugs