The uphill trail began from Birethanti, paved stone steps for a few minutes then the motor-able road (which goes till Ulleri; You can book the vehicle from Nayapul). We kept on walking on the trail crossing a few small human settlements named Ramghai, Sudame, and Hile. As we got near to Hile, we started climbing through the stone stairs leading to Tikhedunga.
That's it. Bye bye asphalt road, now we are heading in to the muddy paths of a valley laid like the tentacles of an octopus, for the 10 days long trekking... The half an hour journey will take you to Birethanti where you have to show your permits at both sides of the river Modi Khola . The detour on the other side gives an option to go to Ghorepani to the left and Gandruk on to the right. Taking left we continued our journey. The path through the untarred road is relatively easy though we are certain it wouldn’t last long. The sun was eager to go home after the day and we saw the darkness spread quicker than expected.Soon the mobile flashlight was required to continue the trekking. The 4 hours of journey finally managed to tire us. Tikkadunga seems a far dream, we have to settle somewhere for the day……any place where lights are turned on. Soon we heard a voice from the dark saying we are on the wrong route!! We should have taken the narrow path at the last U turn which was completely unidentifiable in the dark. You are an angel, sir.We didn’t have to walk very far to get to the beautiful small village called Hille to make it our first pit stop during the trekking. We took a room in the first lodge that we saw where we were the only guests. The tiny wooden cabin for both of us is neat and cheap. Room rates are fixed across all the villages en route to ABC - Rs 400 for a 2 persons’ room, Rs 180 for dormitory. After a delicious dinner, before going into deep slumber, we promised each other to wake up the next morning as early as possible. Not even a tiny bit of disappointment is left on us for the fact that we couldn't make it to the destination for the day..
1 --Pokhara - Nayapul(1070 m) – 2hrs drive - Hille/Tikhedhunga (1570 m) 5 hrs2 -- Hille /Tikhedhunga - Ghorepani (2750 m) 7 hrs3 -- Ghorepani - Poon Hill (3210 m) - Tadapani (2650 m)7-8 hrs4 -- Tadapani - Chomrong (2170 m) 5 hrs5 -- Chomrong - Himalayas (2920 m)/Dovan 7-8 hrs6 -- Himalayas/Dovan - Machapuchare Base Camp (3700 m) 4-5 hrs7 -- MBC - Annapurna Base Camp (4130 m) 3 hrs (1/2 day hike to glacier at higher elevation optional)8 -- Annapurna Base Camp - Sinuwa (2340 m) 7-8 hrs9 -- Sinuwa - Jhinu Danda (1780 m) via Chomrong visit hotsprings 7 hrs10 -- Jhinu Danda (1780 m) - Siwai 6 hrs Pokhara 3 hr driveNA -- Pokhara - Gorakhpur 14 hrs driveNA -- Gorakhpur (by train) -Bangalore 2 daysAfter escaping the dramatic scenes back in the office caused by the HR manager to cancel the trip at the very last moment, I reached Yeshwantpur railway station in Bangalore to catch the New Delhi bound Samparkkranti express. Aditya who came all the way from Mumbai was already waiting for me there. There was one more guy in the picture, Seby, my college mate and best friend. His plan was to fly from Kanyakumari to Gorakhpur (our current destination) by the time we reached there, though Fate had different plans for him. Indian government’s strategic strike on black money known as the currency demonitisation (withdrawal of 500 & 1000 Rs notes) which has been nothing short of a disaster so far has left us only about Rs 7000 in hand. But we were rich compared to Seby who had zero penny in hand though he had a fortune in his bank account. He had no other option but to cancel the trip. The dark powers had struck again. It was not the first time that I lose a partner at the very moment when the trip started!! To add more misery to that, my cell phone shattered into pieces just as I climbed the upper berth in the train as it moved away from the Garden City of India. Not a very good start..The 34 hrs journey took us to Jhansi where we changed the train to catch the Raptisagar express to reach Gorakhpur. We somehow managed to survive the 12 hrs of journey sitting beside the filthy toilet, thanks to the non availability of seats. Gorakhpur - without the super moon it would have been completely dark even at 5 in the evening. For once I empathised with Adi who got sick of the London weather with its lack of sunlight especially in the winter season, while he was studying there a year ago.