Aashish Dutta Koirala
On October 15, the team had planned to go for a short hike from Raniban to Jamacho. They were, of course, unaware of the fact that the army had closed the area down. This was a blessing in disguise, however, as the team headed towards Kakani for a hike that would be longer, much more interesting and much more fun – and not just because Kakani is associated with JAITI, which, in turn, is associated with bhaam majja.
The team passed through Ranipauwa on the way to Kakani, and, needless to say, stopped by at JAITI to pick up around three liters of the now quite famous plum wine. The team climbed up to a point little above Gurjebhanjyang. It was around here (at least from what the author recalls) that the team found itself “lost in the woods” – literally. The hikers found themselves going in circles, climbing steep mounds holding on to brittle tree branches and roots, one out of three of which snapped every time you tried to hold on to it. These climbs would then be followed by steep descents through slippery slopes – at the end of which, they would be right back where they started. All this was going on amidst fresh wild boar tracks while some of the hikers were busy plucking off spiders from their faces. The team finally managed to move through a trail behind an army barrack and reached the top at Bableshwor. At this point, it was pretty clear that a few of the hikers were now guilty of HUI (“hiking under the influence”). The steady descent towards Tarkeshwor now started. The small ascetic’s hut (kuti) at Tarkeshwor came in the form of salvation for the tired hikers. A little ascetic tea (and some other stuff – let us just leave it at that) later, the hikers were all refreshed and ready to head down to Paanchmaane. The hike ended at Paanchmaane with lunch at this nice little place with its own fishery. A lot of bhaam majja was emanating out of the office van on the way back to the office. At the end of the day, everyone was glad that the army had closed the Raniban trail down.