Wednesday, the first day of my trek, Predome picks me up at the hotel at 7:00am. The hotel staff has just set up the buffet, so I hurriedly eat a couple of eggs and we hit the road. For gear I have a duffel bag, a day pack, and my camera bag. The duffel bag will be carried by the horses and has my clothes, sleeping bag, etc. During the day I will just have to carry my day pack and camera bag, which makes the hiking much easier! Predome takes me out to the “car” and I find we are in a four-wheel-drive truck. Much different than most of the taxis I have seen running around town. I am soon to find out why!
We begin heading out of town, south I think, past the airport and army base. We are headed to the village of Chilling but I don’t see any mention of the village on the road signs telling the number of kilometers to different places. I am beginning to think that it must be a long way to Chilling when we turn off the main road onto a very bumpy, single-lane, dirt road. Chilling is only 28 kilometers away but I am thinking it is going to take a very long time to get there if the road is all like this!
We bump and bounce our way to Chilling and a little beyond the village the road comes to an end. I see they are constructing a bridge across the river we have been following but I soon surmise that the only way across this river is via a zip line! We put down my gear and I go have a seat under a tent that is setup close to the crossing. My guide smartly starts helping the crew running the crossing. They are loading a bunch of gear for a trek that is starting from this point. Predome jumps us to the front of the line and soon the two of us and my gear are headed across the river in a box on the zip line!
Once across we had some tea in a tent that was conveniently placed next to the crossing and we head out about 9:30 in the morning. For about 2.5 hours we meander up and down some hills and through a couple of villages until we come to Skiu. Here we stop for a lunch of dal (lentils) and rice, then wait for the rest of the trekking group to come thru the village.
After lunch we headed up the trail for about an hour before we come to the camp-site. The trekking crew has already arrived and is in the process of setting up the cooking and sleeping tents. About 4:00pm Sonam and Wong(the other trekker, a 30 something woman from Malaysia) arrive in camp and after a few greetings we sit down for some soup and then retire to our tents for rest while Kamal (the Cook), and Gimmoy (the helper) prepare dinner and Thinly (the horseman) makes sure the horses have their dinner and plenty of water.
As I sit here writing this I hear a chorus of bells ringing, kind of like wind chimes. The horses wear them and as they eat and move around it makes the bell ring. I like it, it is a calming sound. There are no lights in the camp so dinner is served about 6:30 and the sun starts to set about 7:30. After dinner we are off to our tents. I write and read using the small flashlight attached to my cap, before going to sleep about 9:30.
Thinking about the drive today on the single lane dirt road, the zip line across the river and the climbs during hiking I would never be able to bring Susan along on a trek like this……unless she was blindfolded! Which of course kind of defeats the point…..hmmm, maybe Jacob would be interested.