Stephanie L Scott
Participants : Stephanie, RajendraKP (guests), SanjitP, ManojR, Bhanu, Rashmi, Bimal, Hitesh, Rinku, BinayaA, Abishesh and Vishnu Route : Lele to Shreedanda to Lele Time : 8 hours Distance : 28 km (Appx) Date : Sunday, April 01, 2007 Report : Stephanie L. Scott, Home No. D-2A, Sitapaila, Kathmandu Photos : BimalK, AbisheshJ, Stephanie S Captions : VishnuK, AbisheshJ Creative Suppor : BinayN Had you been sitting in a city restaurant last Sunday evening, you could have had the pleasure of seeing a group of tired, dusty, very hungry but very happy hikers. Recalling their experiences of the day, as the spirits rose with the provision of a few snacks, their conversation became lively and even more animated. Each had gone through an experience on their own, as one does in the wilds, but the experience was also a shared one. Each had faced a challenge on the day. For some maybe just getting up so early, for others the heat or the sometimes difficult terrain, but they had all made it and were ten hours older and wiser. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” a team member wisely quoted as we were ready to leave the office and whilst not expecting a thousand miles, we were ready for a good 8 hours hike. Lele was the start point destination at about 8 km south of Patan. A quick breakfast in Jawalakhel to fortify the strength and after a bumpy journey through agricultural land and a dusty quarry section we arrived at a bend in the road with a steep trail upwards. This was the first step. After the dust and rising heat of the journey, the fresh air and magnificent views just got better with each climb. Rough trails and wide-open spaces gave way to deep gorges as far as the eye could see, scattered with the ruby red of the national flowers. White orchids hung, as if in mid air, from many branches and bright green fern grasses, along with multicoloured leaves carpeted the trails. What a great time of year to be in the forest. The trails were clear and easy to follow at first but this belied the challenges to come. After a rest stop where the group shared snacks in the now rising heat, we set off again in search of a village school to give the pads and pencils to that the group had bought. After many questions to villagers we eventually found the Banaspati primary school at Chaughare, only to be told that it was closed for exams. So finding a helpful young lady and her children opposite the school, we gave the gifts to them with a promise that they would be shared among their fellow students. They were delighted with such an unexpected gift and were happy to pose for some photos with their new pencils. Onwards the group went, following a fairly well marked village path down a steep gorge. As the track became thinner, the slope steeper and the forest denser, it became more difficult to push through the undergrowth. Some of the more agile members took this in their stride just hopping and jumping from root to rock but for some, including me, it became a test of mind over vertigo and not letting the team down, to push onwards. Helped by some very supportive fellow hikers with lots of encouragement, a little pushing and lots of pulling and we finally managed to break through the dense forest and find an easier path up hill. That was the first tough challenge for some of us but there was more to come. After a few kilometres along a good path on the edge of a gorge, a surprise waited around the corner, the path practically disappeared in a scree landslide. The trail was reduced to a steep slippery rock and gravel fall. Only one-way forward! so with gritted teeth and a firm “We can do it” we set off to scramble and slide across the rock fall. Without looking down into the valley far below we all managed it and another “killer stage” was over. By now the afternoon heat was rising and as there were no shops in this area, one of us, with the help of a few cigarettes, persuaded a village family to brew some tea. This was just what was needed to refresh the senses for another few hours hiking. Locating the best route back to Lele with the help of the locals led us down after a few hours to a lovely village on the banks of the Lele Khola. The clean fresh water was a delight after the heat and dust of the trail and many took off their shoes and socks to cool their feet and splash their faces. A cool breeze came up the valley and the afternoon sun glittered on the water, a wonderful sight, and at last, the first real shop for 6 hours. Noodles and a spicy tea were served as a reviver for the last leg of the trail. Off again up a short cut over the hills to Lele and eventually after about an hour, the black top road appeared at exactly the spot we had started. A wonderful, challenging and exhausting day.