Distance: ~14mi/22.5km* (mileages likely +10% underestimated)
Trip Total: ~14mi/22.5km
Teahouse Elevation: 4,056ft/1,236m
*Note: Before I start, I want to point out that these posts are about 3 weeks delayed because of how remote this hike is. I will release one a day, over the next month or so to not overwhelm. If I do get a chance to catch up (which is doubtful) I may release two a day later on. Also, it was a rough start and trail, so these posts may not be my regular quality. I want to also apologize for lack of photos of myself. It’s rough terrain, and not ideal for stopping for selfies or asking others to take photos. I’m doing better on that now 3wks in:) Enjoy!
I slept hard overnight, but I knew I needed to wake up early to try to fuel before we started hiking. I really hadn’t eaten much the last 24hrs and expelled everything I had eaten the 24hrs before that. I woke at 5am and started drinking and eating. I got a breakfast bar and almost a liter of water down, and was pleased that my stomach wasn’t seizing. Still a bit of diarrhea, so I took an Imodium to avoid anything emergent while hiking today. At 6:30am, had a breakfast of eggs, some Tibetan bread (like soft tortilla), and jam. It was good, but my stomach could only take in half of it. We know that most of what the tea houses serve is high in carbs, but has very little protein. Over the next 3 months, having some of the high protein bars I brought will come in handy. Buck-30 doesn’t eat eggs, so he’s realizing that’s a missed opportunity for protein. He fortunately brought protein meal shakes that he may use at various times to make sure he has some protein in his diet. Griggs brought a lot of peanut butter.
Griggs, Buck-30, me, Kishor (our guide)
We started hiking just after 7am. Since we didn’t know how I’d fare today, we decided to start early and just see how far we could get. Fortunately, it was a day of downhill, so I did ok. We had some uphill here and there, but we basically dropped 3,700ft/1128m over the day. The one extended climb we did have really kicked my butt as well as Buck-30’s. As I’ve mentioned before, Griggs is such a machine in mind and body it’s hard to believe. He and Kishor had no problem with the climb. Buck-30 had a classic quote as we collapsed near the top needing a break while Griggs and Kishor showed no effect. He said, “I don’t know who I want to punch harder; Griggs or Kishor for making it look so easy.”
Buck-30 has decided not to journal the same way on this hike. Since I’ll be posting my journal of daily happenings and photos, he has decided to focus more on the trail beta for future hikers. That will be amazingly helpful to future hikers and he’s really good at keeping those kinds of notes. I find it all too overwhelming and can’t do both, so I’m excited people will have his notes for the more technical aspects. We did randomly get cell service an hour or two into the day. That was an exciting bonus, and likely our last reception for weeks. I was so sick last night that I didn’t finish writing, and kicked myself because I likely could have gotten a post up.
Just getting food in is a challenge. I’ll think I’m hungry, but when I try to eat, my stomach just cramps up and won’t take more than a few bites. This was my biggest concern out here. I know how sensitive my stomach is and that it takes a long time to rebound from things. Out here, I can’t afford to go days without eating much without it greatly affecting my hiking and the group’s progress. I made the mistake of trying peanuts tonight when dinner was a fail, and my stomach for sure didn’t like that. I faired ok today, but it will only get more exhausting as we continue on. In the next week, we will go up to almost 17,000ft, and I know I need to be eating a lot and ingesting lots of water to do that successfully.
As for today, objectively, it’s a great way to start out this hike. A combination of gradual downhill road walking and steep short paths that cut down to avoid the longer switchbacks of the road. Even though we only hired a guide for these first two weeks because it is required by permit, we’ve enjoyed it. Kishor is a riot and is fun to be around. If anyone is looking to hire him, we requested someone willing to hike long days if needed and to carry his own tent. Here’s his contact email. Navigation has been one factor we don’t have to second guess. Kishor just asks the locals who point the way. Before the hike, Buck-30 did his best to draw out a possible track for us using CalTopo with the public waypoints provided by trail creator Robin Boustead, and later, hiker Seth Wolpin who provides his track from 2014. The elevation chart you see above was created by Buck-30 using the track he drew given the waypoints from Robin and Seth and using CalTopo and GoogleEarth. Contact him for info on that!
With today being the first day, we all are breaking our bodies in with the heavy packs (~34lbs/15.4kg) and high humidity. It was in the 70sF/22C today, so not terrible, but plenty of sweating. We all have our own way of thru-hiking and can be set in our ways. We know this hike will dictate most of our schedule just in its nature. We have similar enough pacing, but are going to need to find a middle ground on how we do things. Buck-30 likes to stretch the day out more with multiple breaks throughout the day. Whereas Griggs and I are more the type that just like to break at lunch and enjoy arriving at camp earlier or moving on further if time allows. I’ve hiked with people that like breaks, and can adjust, so we are thinking of doing a morning and afternoon break. My main concern is weather. It’s tough for me to stop and chill for 30-45mins twice a day when I see clouds building and fear impending weather. Also, a break the latter part of the day tends to cause my legs to cramp up thinking they are done for the day. I usually hike on if a partner takes an afternoon break and meet them at camp. We’ll see. It may be a good opportunity to catch up on blogging if I’m just too wiped out to do it all at night.
The hiking was great today. It was really cool to see the enormity of the Himalaya as our backdrop now. We just wove downhill through tiny villages and by homes most of the day. I guess that was surprising to me. So many people live out here, and I didn’t expect that. It was really unique just to see daily life in progress. We were basically walking on their thru-way between homes and villages. They work so hard out here. It seems almost everyone out here is always doing some kind of labor to keep things moving. It does make you think about the modern conveniences of little things like a dishwasher, stove, microwave, washing machine, or refrigerator. It’s just a different pace out here. Lots of farming and living off the land, and the labor it takes to do that. The Nepalese are very resilient and hard working.
We had lunch at a small place in a village and learned not to order dal bhat for lunch. It just takes too long to make. Kishor loves it, but it was about an hour wait and we could have gotten noodles or chow mein. We were doing fine with pacing, so it was ok. The book estimated today to take 10hrs of hiking. We are assuming that’s without a lunch break, but including regular breaks throughout the day. We will get a good estimate on how we compare the more we hike, but we did it in 7hrs.
We got to the village of Chiruwa by 3:30pm. At first, the conditions seemed more rustic than I’d be comfortable with. Buck-30 hesitated too and we even mentioned looking to camp somewhere instead. We ended up settling on the Tamang Guesthouse that really grew on me. It is just about changing expectations and accepting what is available here versus what I’ve grown up with in a first world country. I’ve noticed I have some flea bites in random places, and I know I’m sensitive to them if they are around, so my strategy now is to put my clear polycryo groundsheet over the beds and use my inflated sleeping pad on top of the bed and my sleeping bag instead of the sheets. The beds tend to be foam so they are quite firm. I brought the Thermarest XTherm that is super cozy and warm, so it works out great on top of the bed.
Our accommodations were even more inviting when an evening thunderstorm rolled through. It was quite impressive and would have been terrible to camp in. We had a covered balcony and could see what looked like a coastal storm on the news. I crashed falling asleep some before dinner with the amazing sound of rain on a tin roof.
Again, I could only eat a few bites of my dinner, and I went to bed depleted and my stomach not cooperating. Not good for tomorrow, which is a day of climbing…