29 years, Ukraine

Mountaineering

Intermediate

Hiking

Intermediate

Rock Climbing

Beginner

Viktoriia Vitova

29 years, Ukraine

22 days ago

Trek. Pack. Girl. Or Tilicho Adventures

Read Viktoria’s hiking trail diary; while trekking in Nepal, she sustained heavy rain, snow, loose rocks and other outdoor preciousness.

Start

Good morning! Today is departure day from Ghandruk to somewhere in the direction of Khopra Danda. 13 km lies ahead with 800 meters of climb and 900 meters of descending. But before the start you need to tear yourself away from breathtaking views and begin packing. Mountains are beautiful, while you sit on windowsill and thoughtfully look into distance... But it's time to go!

Start happens on 5.20, under the heavy rain. I packed 6 kg of food up the kazoo, and at the start backpack weighed 23.5 kg. Ok, in the process I will take out the poles and warm clothes and eat some food, and by the pass we will become slim & slender. Hello from the shuttle bus to Pokhara!

Day 1. Holy shit!

1. 25 kg backpack (pick up some water)

2. 13 km of trekking

3. 1500 meters of altitude gaining

4. 9.45 hours of trekking (with dinner and rest)

5. Rain

6. Heavy rain

7. The sky decided that it is not enough, and finished off with hail

8. The leeches were happy to share the idea and gave me some therapy

9. In the guesthouse I discovered that had forgotten the headlamp in Ghandruk

10. Extension cable with triple adaptor stopped working

11. At night the mouse climbed into the backpack and gnawed my dried fruits. Loud, with a champing. Did not let me sleep, little bastard!

And the views are stunning. Flourishing rhododendron forests, beautiful lookouts and almost no people.

Day 2. And who have a burr under the saddle?

I spent an hour and a half trying to think and walk aside Hidden Lake. Come to thought in time that if it will be 1000-meter climbing, then it will not be quick to go down. Then I detoured to the “main” trail. In quotes because on the route I removed the spider’s web with my face, so “populated” it is.

While returning, I have strolled along fallen leaves; jumped on pebbles, crossed streams, and inhaled rhododendron forests for long. And do not made it in time.

Three hours in the pouring rain and hail came as the reproach for the slowness. I reached 3660 meters’ altitude: it is viewing point, but I can see nothing. Now I’m drying, rubbing bruises after the hail and are happy that the backpack covered the most of me. I believe that there will be the views in the morning: it is really interesting, where I’m are?

***

And good morning again! Now it is with wow-effect. The views are stunning! I ran around in slippers, trying not to miss a single moment. Starting for Tatopani today, it is only 5-6 march hours.

Day 3. It was hot!

A lot of things were hot today. From righteous open-armed people and hot springs to heat stroke.

The morning had been started from fantastic lookout. Then I was told in the guesthouse where to walk, where not to, and how to get on the necessary trail. I was outdoors about 8 AM, an hour later than planned. It was 2500-meter descending, from 3660 to 1190. To a standard set of aching parts added the nagging pain in balancer muscles.

Somewhere at the height of 2500 it became hot, and my outfit is suitable for the chill weather more. Add backpack and fatigue from the descent. So in 1500 meters I had to take a siesta on a stone bench in the shade. Closed my eyes and did some meditation. The temperature and pressure drops, and general weariness took their toll and I began to make mistakes on the trail, and here comes the panic! Meditation helped to disperse panic, cool down the mind and put on in general. And I made it! True, to the river and the bridge, and then I picked up a bus and took the remaining 1,5 km of a dusty road.

During this time, I trekked through an amazing Nepalese village, very cozy and clean. Every person on the road rejoiced like a kid. Not knowing English, grandpas asked me a questions, where I go, and were ready to show the way, asked me, how I’m doing, and were happy-happy-happy! It was a village in the middle of nowhere with the open yards and without any fences. With such public life and such big-hearted people.

When in Tatopani came my turn to be happy, because of my meeting with Masha and Yura. The guys lead me to the outer hot springs, where we spent several hours. Hot, healing, Himalayan mineral water restored my strength and relaxed sore muscles (we obtain some water in the bottles and drank it in the evening). And local girls used to envelope themselves in plastic and lay down in the water near the hottest tube, making an improvised balneary.

It was really hot day, isn’t it?

Day 4. Gut feeling

I’ve been sitting at the turn to the bridge to Ghasa for 45 minutes already. I did not have to go there, it was against my planes and schedule. And I did not like Ghasa ever. But shortly near the bridge something inside resounded softly and gently: “Honey, you should go that way”. And for 45 minutes I had been argued with my inner voice. It resurfaced only one time, and did not show itself any more, but I continued to dispute.

Took my husband in this bedlam, and he tricked into intuition. As I can think and tell anything, but my gut feeling never failed me ever. Sighing with regret, I photographed the trail, which should avoid today, and went to the unloved Ghasa.

Where I learned, that last year this route had suffered the earthfall and had not been repaired since. I would have spent time on the road and discover myself in the dead end late at night, on the narrow dangerous path. The way back would have been in the dark and with no energy at all.

Here is the conclusion: listen to yourself, love and appreciate yourself! Sometimes a whim and a violation of the plan can save the situation.

Total for today: 16 km and 1200 meters’ climb. I spent 8 hours (with lunch and a lot of rest stops), because gawked at the beautiful views around. And I’m happy that decided to trek this part to the right direction. I walked like in a miracle! Or, when be precise, like in “Annapurna” book, about first climbers on 8-thousander. The members of the first expedition walked exactly this road and these paths!

Day 5. Hitchhiking skills

The day began so long ago, that I hardly remember the events of the morning.

I had to cover 5 km, that unnecessary appeared in the plans yesterday. If briefly: for a long time I have not slept so sweetly as in an empty Nepalese bus, while stacked in traffic. Road repairing — and neither walk nor drive. Plans for the day were completely collapsed because of two hours of traffic jam. But at least I get enough sleep.

And then there had been Titi lake. Cozy and sweet, with ducks and fish. Fedor The Bear and I take a photo session there. Especially we liked moving thunderclouds. And I made a “weather scarecrow” again. And it really worked! There was only little rain after.

Because of time lost I decided to go to the Larmjung and then take a bus to Marpha. The trail was familiar and I wanted to catch up some time. Uh huh… As a start I learned that the water in the river had risen after a heavy rain, and ruined all the bridges on the way. I jumped a lot while finding the remained crossing. And then sit down and began to wait for the transport. Only in the darkening evening soft-hearted Hindu in a Jeep picked me up. For which I thank them so much! That is how I came to Marpha.

I had crossed 15 km today and gain only 300 meters of altitude.

P. S. I had to discard 850 grams of cheese in the morning. It contaminated.

Day 6. Reboot

In the morning in Marpha my system said “That’s all!” and switched out. I could apply willpower and force myself to raise, but then did not. George Orwell and his “Animal Farm” came to mind, as I feeling myself as his Boxer Horse character, on whom everything was kept…

And then during half of the day this “horse” experienced a painful sense of shame.

But why? What for? To whom? Why I feeling shame in my own lonely trekking because of some rest and schedule conflict? There were many questions to myself and a lot of remorse. Why does this fear of “not working” is stacking inside? Where does it come from?

So I decided to relax, show some respect to myself, and go for the walk. The brightest impression was smells of grass, trees and blossoms. The apples were starting to set. The wheat was getting into ear in the gardens, potatoes, cabbage, aroma herbs and bamboo were growing.

From orchards I take a way to the monastery, and sat down inside for a while, listening to inner pacification and happy and wondering “horse”. It is new to “her” to slowing down, to breath and live in this precise moment on this alpine route.

After the monastery I went to wander the streets and suddenly found myself high above the village. Stunning view and comfy valley. I looked down for the tomorrow trail and returned to the lodge for dinner.

Tomorrow I’ll continue my journey with new energy.

Day 7. Kukurl (“the dog” in translation)

1. 5 km is not a hook for a rabid dog. Why could I not find out about a bridge right next to Marpha from the locals? I marched 2,5 km there and back instead to disclose that the bridge was here.

2. I adopt a nursing dog. Now I understand that he was gest house owner’s pet from Marpha. Doggy is young, 6 months old at a most. He adopted me also and escorted to Lupra, where crashed out from fatigue.

I didn’t feed him or played with him; didn’t invite with me and try to whip away backwards. But it didn’t work. I even drive in Jeep from him, but when finding out, how the dog starts to rush all the cars, I surrender and asked the driver to take the dog with us.

While in Muktinath I try to call out to the guest house and return the runaway back. For now, he sleeps in my room, snuggles to the feet, put the head on my laps and drives to tears with attachment. I feel that my food supplies will thin out above the limit tomorrow…

On the trail we passed near beautiful Dhumba lake and I looked to Mesocanto from afar. And Nilgiri Mountains showed itself a little.

It was very cozy in Lupra, the tiny village, hidden in the ravine. There are some vegetable gardens there, calves, many goats. But it is still unclear for me, how people could survive here?

P. S. Trekked 17 km today and gain 400 meters of altitude.

Day 8. Nook

It is calm outside and inside. Almost harmony, but not. Just quiet.

Trekked 9 kilometers today, gained 800 meters of altitude. It takes 4,15 hours from Lupra to Muktinath. The doggie is with me for now, and I do not know, what should I do with him. I called to Marpha, but he is not theirs dog and theirs neighbors also. I believe that the situation will be cleared tomorrow.

And then it is quiet now… A little rain, a lot of clouds, comfy and loved Maytreya Deve guest house plus Nira’s unmatched and unforgettable pancakes. Calm evening.

It is lull before the storm?

Day 9. Expectation

The news about my flea-infested friend: he decided to stay in new Matreya’s guest house. Just didn’t follow me and that’s all. And Nira already spared 2 kilograms of rice for him… But it is good that he stayed. It is not safe to follow me down. I believe that gays can take care of the dog despite that he is a street dog.

I had enough sleep in the morning and helped to prepare house for the summer conservation. Nira treat me with the cream of wheat with raisings, and I wanted to cry out of happiness. With all sublimated food and fried rice, I forgot how the meal can be so delicious and soft.

And then I reached to 4200. There was only one opened guest house there, and they didn’t want to take me in. We come to decision: the hostess give me some dinner and stat descending, and when I leave at night, I lock the hut and secure the key under the stone. Here I am now sitting alone, not only in the guest house, but in the whole village.

But I am under the passover already! The route for tomorrow: 10 km of trekking and 1280 meters of altitude gaining. Start at 4 AM. I’m really in stress, because I had been waiting for this moment almost ten days and with two months of planning. 5 days of pressure lays ahead of, the most interesting but also hard.

I feel like a compressed spring inside. Today I trekked 5 km and scored 500 meters.

Day 10. Thorong La

UPD: I reached Thorong pass (5416 meters high) on the way from Muktinath to the Manang. Usually the trekkers done it in the reverse order.

The alarm clock rang at 2 AM. I woke up, went for the water outside and it was raining out there (hence, it will be snowing above 4500). I got nervous. But at 4 AM the weather cleared up, and I exhaled. And how wrong I was!

I went out in the dark, with no flashlight… Creepy. Switched on the music and start to illuminate the way with a phone. Funny, but I lost the trail just once.

Around 8 AM the weather started to break again. And deteriorated completely. The wind, snow, heavy clouds. There was some visibility, but just a little. Thanks to the wind, it did not knock me down.

It takes 5,35 hours to get to the pass. I was screwed up totally and no one around! The snow, wind and wicked weather. I met only 10 people on the route.

I said “Holy crap!” and appeared to Yak Kharka, where do I wright from. Total for the day: 18 km, 1380 meters of ascending and 1380 of descending from the other side of the pass. The backpack lost weight to 22 kg, when I laid out the boiled rice.

*In this publication much was cut out by censorship*

Day 11. Weakness

I trekked 7,5 hours from Yak Kharka to Tilicho, although the norm is 5-6. I’m exhausted. After yesterday trail the body says “No!” to any stressing. So was it: a few meters and a few steps, then breathing and relax, and then the next few meters. The legs adjourned somehow, but the back was capricious with might and main.

But after a thunderstorm night there was a clear sky in the morning! Annapurnas, Gangapurna, Chulu, Kang cheered me today. Though I looked at the mountains, I walked along the trail and felt cozy at native places. How many times did I cross this path, I do not know? It is dear paces to me for a long time.

It is off-season, so the fortification of the Tilicho trail had been started. They excavate loose rocks, put in stone blocks and widen the trail. So good to see that it is being taken care of.

Total for today: 16 km and 500 meters of altitude gaining.

Day 12. Tilicho over the shoulder

I was supposed to start at 4 AM, and get up at 2 AM for this. But instead comes hysteria. Shaking body, disarrayed psychic, and the flipped mind because of such jokes. I forgive myself with another spare day; decided to sleep over and exhale and give up this freak-out.

I woke up at 6.20 and speak out an internal dialogue like this:

- Have you slept ok? Look what a wonderful morning out there!

- I've slept. It's a shame. Such a day is wasted for nothing...

- And? (holding breath)

- What "And"? Pack your things quickly, we still have time to get to the northern tip of Tilicho!

- Time?! Wind? Snow? Bad weather?!

- Fuck it, let’s dance! Cancel mambo-jumbo, I'll can get there! Are we ready?

I trek up to the lake at 4 hours, and even overtook some Chinese on the road. Up above, I was covered by a snow cloud for a short time, but it surrounds, assured of my determination. And then there was the perfect weather.

It comes in handy when I jumped from rock to rock, waded through little river, climbed the slopes and tried to find the route on site, where it exactly should be. And slowly crossed Eastern Pass at 5380 meters high. Descended down the river and miraculously found a cozy place for the overnight (my scout skills went up to 80th level). It's time for the night in the tent! Although not for nothing I carried it all the way!

Total: about 12 km trekking and 1260 meters of altitude gaining. Overnight at the plateau at an altitude of 5200 meters.

Day 13. Mesokanto

It had been snow at night, but it didn’t change the view at all. I woke up at 3 AM, but started only at 6.30. It was really late for me, but I tried to warm the tent a little, in order to care less ice on it.

All the trail I can describe with one phrase: it’s fucking loose rocks! Under any angle, of any condition, at any altitude. It run, slip, you can’t stand on it but anyway should traverse it for kilometers and on high ground. I really got “high”!

The Mesocanto Pass with 5245 meters show all the gags. You trek to it, climb it, take some photos, and you are very glad, but then discover that that was “demo version”, and you should climb another 450 meters to the original pass.

The weather was unstable since night, and there was no clear sky in the morning also. It was a little offensive, because I really wanted to see the views. And the visibility was poor because of clouds on the pass. But it was a help on the descent, inasmuch I just did not see how far the "bottom" is and just slowly crawled down.

Total fuck – that were all the words, describing my descent. Vertical loose rocks with the descent firn banks and flying stones from above. But the general Mesokanto impression stays positive. It had been not so awful, if one forgets about the fear and stays concentrated on energy and experience.

There was long trek to Jomsom after the pass, the comfy trail with the great views. But the most motivated thing was hot shower. Tomorrow I’ll leave for Katmandu!

Total for the day: 20 km of trekking (3 km for crossing the pass) and 2545 meters descending. It was the third 5-thousander pass for 4 days in the line with 20-kg backpack. Nothing is impossible!

Day 14. Travelling to Katmandu. This is the end

At numbers:

My solo trail from Katmandu to Katmandu took 16 days at total. 12 days of pure trekking (I didn’t count the approach and rest day).

I crossed 155,4 km at most; ascend up to 10,9 km and descent to 8,9 km by foot. Crossed three 5-thousender passes. Stayed overnight at 5200-meter plateau.

The weight of my backpack swayed from 25 to 22 kg. I took all the needed thing for the autonomous trek plus breakfast and lunch food, there were only dinners in guest houses. Fedor the Bear travelled all the route on my backpack’s outward.

From Katmandu to Katmandu I spend around $165, without international flights price, city accommodation and cooking gas (there was a stash of it). But including groceries, tims, permit, all the transfers, staying at the huts and additional costs.

And I fulfill all my old dreams:

1. Walk around Annapurna clockwise

2. Trek the mountains during monsoon

3. Cross Thorong La Pass from Mukitinath to the Manang area

4. Stay for overnight near Tilicho

5. Cross Mesokanto Pass

6. Trek the Khopra Dunda route

7. Stay for overnight in Ghandruk

8. Connect the track to Everest Base Camp and around Annapurna by legs

9. Check out the other hot springs in Tatopani

10. Walk the mountains there and wherever I want only.

And now I’m starting for Katmandu. Meet me in the morning!

Viktoria Vitova’s profile and tours you can find by the link

Viktoria on Facebook

***

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