4TH MARCH 2018(DAY BEFORE THE HIKE)
GOOD-BYES AND PARTING
I had this hike in mind for a very long time. After a lot of surveys and input from mountaineering friends, I booked the trek with Himalayan Glaciers ( a hiking company in Nepal) in August 2017 to hike in November 2017. But, I fractured my foot in September 2017 and then it was a definite “NO” my orthopedic doctor. I waited for my foot to heal (which took too long). I could not wait for any further and decided to hike in March 2018 along with my elder son Siddhanth aka Sid. We dedicated this trek to raise funds towards library creation in a municipal school in Faridabad, in association with Sledgehammer Foundation and Pratham Books,
We managed to get 15 days off from school for the trek. Well, this hurdle was very minimal as compared to leaving my younger one behind. We hugged and cried, and then hugged and cried more the night before we left for the trek.
5TH MARCH 2018- DAY ONE, MUMBAI TO KATHMANDU,4264FT
We were all set for our travel and Sid was excited about his new adventure.
We took the flight to Kathmandu, and the hotel staff welcomed us by holding a placard with Sid’s name ( little perks to make him feel important)
We had a great day where we roamed the streets, had a meeting with our tour operator, checking local stuff.
It was a half-past at night when Sid woke up to use the washroom, but I sensed something not so good and followed him. He then complained of giddiness and vomiting. As I stepped to help him, he fainted in the washroom. I lifted and brought him to the bed in haste. After few seconds he was okay.
I knew the reason ( I am a mom after all !)
Me: Sid ,you’re worried about the hike?
Sid: Yes mom
Me: Don’t listen to people, they talk nonsense (everyone I met scared him about the elevation ). If you have trust in your mom then we’ll go ahead tomorrow else no worries
Sid: I do trust you mom
Me: then sleep well, and we’ll have a great time.
Sid slept off, but I didn’t.
Day one of a sleepless night.
6TH MARCH 2018- DAY TWO, KATHMANDU TO SYANGE,3608 FT
FIRST SIGHT OF MOUNTAINS
We started our day early to get to the bus stop from the hotel.
I withdrew money from the ATM (Nepal has a limit of withdrawing 45k per day, so it is advisable to withdraw the maximum in a day ). Also, the ATM charges 4% on the withdrawal amount.
We took a cab from our hotel to the bus stop accompanied by our Sherpa to reach Besi shehar. After wasting a lot of time in the traffic jam on the ghat, we reached Besi Shehar at lunchtime.
From there we took a jeep to Syange, which was nothing more than a spine and neck jerking drive 😬
We reached Syange by 3 pm and had the first view of snow clad mountains which we were supposed to climb.
Sid, being a dog lover instantly had friends all over, and he was happily feeding them biscuits 🍪
At night he again asked me, “mamma, I’ll be able to do it ?”
My one answer to this was, “Sid, क़दम बढ़े हैं तो रूकेंगे नहीं ” ( Sid, if you’ve taken a step forward then there is no looking back )
And this became our mantra on the entire Trek.
He slept well, and I didn’t.
Regularly checking on him, Being mother 🙂
Day two of the sleepless night.
7TH MARCH 2018- DAY THREE, SYANGE TO DHARAPNI,6430 FT
A LONG WALK
We started our walk with all zeal after a customary breakfast of boiled eggs, hot chocolate for Sid and a black coffee for myself
During the hike, Sid asked me about what I wanted to be when I grow up because everyone grows up to be something?
It was kind of funny, but I replied that I would like to be good human being and rest I will figure out.
Then we had a great, excellent discussion on “growing up.”
It’s important to let the kids have a brain of their own and let them ask as many questions as they wish to, no matter how stupid they sound.
Having a conversation with your child is essential.
It was a long walk of around 24kms, and we gained some great elevation as well as insight too 🙂
We walked from Syange to Dharapni with a halt for lunch at Taal. Sid walked much ahead and faster, and at one point I lost him from my view. When I met him at Taal, the mother in me gave him a good scolding and the son in him obeyed the instructions.
It was cold and rained as well at night. Sid was wearing his day hike shoes till now which we use for our hikes in Sahyadri ranges. During the hike, I realized that he needs better shoes. The tea stall where we were resting had a shop nearby, and I saw some hiking boots there.
Without wasting any time, I got a brand new pair for Sid.
I was little skeptical on the fit and shoe bite, but it turned out to be the best decision. Sid slept off after slight anxiousness. I didn’t.
Day three of the sleepless night.
Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/1440562757/embed/bdb0667d13ab5bce6e6f6512ce67a497c33be761” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Syange to Dharapani on Strava
8TH MARCH 2018- DAY FOUR,DHARAPANI TO CHAME,8891 FT
ANXIOUS YET AGAIN
We started our walk to Chame which is a lovely small village.
It was again an enjoyable walk. Fantastic scenery, snow-clad mountains, good climb and most beautiful mountains to watch
Sid was anxious still at night but with a good cuddle and comforting he slept fine.
It rained and snowed at night.
He woke up with a start around midnight, screaming “mamma …mamma”. I knew the reason.
Just a little assurance and he slept back; I didn’t.
Fourth sleepless night 🙂
Strava:https://www.strava.com/activities/1442138433/embed/a22961abe0b94758bdfa8b030dad54374ffbb92a” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Dharapani to Chame Part 1 https://www.strava.com/activities/1442138770/embed/47cebf1ca769ee0a945e67f38321811053479c96” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Dharapani to Chame Part 2
9TH MARCH 2018- DAY FIVE, CHAME TO PISANG,10,824FT
FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH SNOW
As we headed towards Lower Pisang, it started getting colder, with a stiff breeze and also snow on the way.
Sid was mighty excited about seeing, feeling and playing in the snow – what more can a Mumbaikar do 😜 (Mumbai sees summer season all through the year)
It was a lovely long walk, and we stopped in between for our snickers, honey ginger lemon, and just casual breaks.
We decided to stay in Lower Pisang than Upper to save time for the next day hike.
We stayed in a beautiful tea house with comfy bed and warm quilt
I took a hot shower (charged at 100 Nepali rupees)here which runs on gas, and even Sid was happy to be under the shower after five long days
We also had a heater in the dining area where we spent our maximum time until bedtime.
Although it snowed in the eve, it was a very comfortable stay. Food was good here but surely getting expensive. We even paid for charging our phones.
I could connect home as we had mild mobile connectivity in Pisang.
I slept for a while this time 🙂
Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/1443601459/embed/e084affed8e1221f38947ca755b0012f864194d3” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Chame to Pisang
10TH MARCH 2018- DAY SIX,PISANG TO MANANG,11,482FT
RIGHT ON THE FOOTHILL OF SNOWCLAD MOUNTAINS
It was a long but beautiful walk to Manang
We were reaching a higher altitude, and there was snow on and off the trails.
The weather was now getting colder and windy.
Hot honey ginger lemon tea and garlic soup were an integral part of our diet now.
Manang is a small village with beautiful tea houses.
Our tea house had a massive bunch of bag packers from Israel. The dining hall was bustling with all the chatter. We had electricity on the day we arrived, so I charged my power banks and phone here. We were now in the zone of no mobile connectivity. Although TV had some signal and Sid managed to watch a football match there. He was happy.
It was freezing by night and all the occupants of the tea stall bundled up in the hall next to the room heater, chatting, reading, playing cards or just sitting casually.
Everyone in the room was amazed to see Sid attempting the Pass and wondered on his capability. Touchwood.
As people said so, Sid was again in the same mood, ” mamma, will I be able to make it ?”
And my reply was same,” क़दम बढ़े हैं तो रूकेंगे नहीं,” (“once you’ve taken a step ahead, then there is no looking back “)
He slept very well and so did I
First, ever full night sleep!
Strava:https://www.strava.com/activities/1454173125/embed/0d8a309e370e5de9695ac24c0e0e59cea009d68c” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Pisang to Manag
11TH MARCH 2018- DAY SEVEN, ACCLIMATIZATION DAY IN MANANG
“OH! I AM THIS CLOSE,MAMMA"
After a great sleep, we intentionally woke up late the next day because it was our acclimatization day. The mommy in me came into action, and I rinsed almost all the dirty clothes in icy cold water. It was a bright day but extremely windy. We had an elaborate and lazy breakfast. We then headed for a small hike to reach a higher level. It was a steep but beautiful walk up the mountain. Once we were at the top Sid looked around and saw all snow clad mountains right next to where he was standing. He had the brightest eyes at this moment, and he couldn’t stop beaming with joy on his accomplishment. We jumped in joy, clicked pictures, played with snow and descended after a while to our base. Sid had a question for me here again, “ mamma, why don’t I feel confident? why do I feel anxious?”
I replied, “Sid, pray and firm up your mind “
Sid was clueless on what and how to pray.
Although back home we perform an essential prayer before we go to bed. Me being an atheist I chant and mutter a small prayer with boys, “Thank you god for the world so sweet, Thank you god for the food we eat. Thank you God for birds that sing, thank you God for everything.”
But this time the prayer had to be intense. I carry a beaded mala to count my chant; I gave sid that mala and asked him to chant and pray for strength. Sid wore the mala around his wrist as if it was a source of some extra energy. I let it happen because he was calmer after chanting.
We slept well.
Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/1454173417/embed/bffd929cab19000fa6fea17b086b5864d03fedc7” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Acclimatisation climb in Manang
12TH MARCH 2018- DAY EIGHT – MANANG TO YAK KHARKA,13,484FT
Rest did wonders to our body, and we started our day fully charged up. It was a short and beautiful walk. We were excited as we were just a day short to our summit. We walked slow, spotting mountain goats, climbing small hills, playing snow throw ball, chatting, munching our snickers and sipping hot honey ginger lemon tea. As we reached closer, the winds started picking up, and it was now getting freezing. We hurriedly reached the destination and pampered ourselves with hot chocolate and French fries. It was a cold night. I tucked along with sid, and he slept off within no time.
Sid misplaced his mala before sleeping and was restless because he was unable to locate it, he desperately said: “mamma, now will I be able to complete my trek?”
I was bewildered.
I held his hands, looked eye to eye and said sternly, “it is not the mala but your courage and strength that will make you complete the trek. Have faith in yourself and climb”. I don’t know if he understood what I meant, but he slept off. Next morning he found the mala.
I had a very uneasy night. I had a blocked nose and kept breathing from my mouth. As a result, My mouth was drying up, and I had to sip water from the flask now and then. I started feeling dizzy and waited for dawn. Midnight I thought of calling out to my Sherpa, but then I realized that sid would be scared. So kept my cool, continued chanting and deep breathing (as much as I could).
It was a difficult night.
Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/1454173675/embed/a71f41fab6285f532bdc4a5a69baf1ac12618201” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Manang to Yak Kharka
13TH MARCH 2018- DAY NINE- YAK KHARKA TO THORANG PHEDI,14,501FT
I got up uneasy and was contemplating my decision to climb further. I did not give out any gesture of my discomfort as I knew sid would be disturbed. I told my Sherpa, but he had no inputs to give instead he said to us that rather than staying at Thorang Phedi we’d go to high camp which will save our time for the climb to the summit the next day.
I was expecting sometime of assistance from my Sherpa towards my breathlessness but had just two options for me – to go down or climb up. I chose the latter one. I walked exceptionally slow and kept sipping water. Within an hour I was much better, and we then continued with our climb.
By the time we reached Thorang Phedi both myself and sid were exhausted as the winds had caught up and we wanted to rest. As our porter was told to stop at high camp hence, he didn’t block our tea house, and we had to climb up to go to another tea house. I was annoyed with my Sherpa’s ignorance. As hike gains elevation, it is advisable as well as instructed that both the porter and guide should walk together because if the client faces any issue, all can descend together. I expressed my annoyance. My Sherpa didn’t take my complaint too well and ignored us entirely; his behavior was very indifferent. I sensed further ordeal.
Before we retired for the night, we decided to start the climb at 5 am, although most trekkers start the hike as early as 3 am. I was bothered only about Sid and wanted him to take proper rest.
We giggled and talked a lot at night, only to ease out Sid and slept cuddled up.
The night went off well.
Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/1454174027/embed/525f217628aa734182e641ad6c1ee3359112914b” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Yak Kharka to Thorong Phedi
14TH MARCH – DAY TEN-SUMMIT DAY- THORONG PHEDI TO THORONG LA PASS,17,764FT
SID –MY HERO
At 3 am my door banged, it was my Sherpa. I recalled the last night discussion on timing, but he was adamant to leave early. I didn’t argue and woke up sid to get ready for the day. It was the final day of the climb, and we were expecting lots of snow, steep, and extreme winds. We had to reach the pass anyhow before noon as afterward, the weather gets unpredictable.
We quickly ate boiled eggs, packed bread jam, filled two water bottles with the assurance that we will get water at a tea house at high camp.
We had to climb a straight mountain to reach the high camp. After crossing the hill we faced knee deep, and sid’s feet were cold. With the previous discussions, he was always worried that he might get frostbite. I assured him he wouldn’t. I was carrying toe warmers and asked my Sherpa to get hold of my porter just in case I need more clothing for sid. Although I had all necessary stuff in my backpack.
But to my dismay, he stood there unwary of my demand and informed that the porter would meet us at the tea stall much ahead.
I put toe warmers on sid’s toe, and he felt comfortable to walk. I then asked my Sherpa to get water, and he again said that we would get it at the tea stall. I told him about my requirement to have a lot of water (in one of my previous high altitude adventure I had acute dehydration which resulted in a stroke. Since then I am advised to drink a lot of water in higher altitude)
It was our first experience of walking in such deep snow. We enjoyed it. I was walking slowly even now. As we reached the tea stall, to my utter shock it was shut. It was here that I lost my cool and blasted my Sherpa on his irresponsible behavior. I was shocked further when he said, “water is your requirement you should have kept why are you blaming me ?” P.S. I paid for a porter and guide, and it was not a self-supported trek.
I took a quick glance at the remaining water and did a fast calculation on how much to consume till the summit. We still had around 4-5 hours to the summit.
We started walking again. After a while, my Sherpa was out of our sight. It was just myself and Sid walking across the snow-clad mountains. Sid was tensed, anxious and worried. I realized I shouldn’t have shown my despair in front of him. I assured him that we would make it to the top. He was worried about almost no water left. I told him miracles happen and we will get water. And miracle did happen. We saw a guy walking towards us from nowhere with a water bottle dangling around his waist. On requesting he gladly transferred the water into our container.
I was still walking very slow. It was now sid’s tun to boost me. As our Sherpa wasn’t available to guide us, hence we took help of the poles as landmarks and keep walking from one pole to another. Sid kept on saying – “mamma common it’s almost done. We have to finish it. We have to reach the top”.
And yes we did reach the top. Yes, we were at the summit! Sid, this 12-year-old, fragile boy of mine, was at the summit !!
We met our Sherpa here.
Extreme cold wind at the pass welcomed us.
We had to start our descend soon as the weather was now worsening . after few mandatory pictures, we started our descend.
Both of us were starving by now. Our Sherpa informed that Muktinath (final destination of the day) was an hours walk from the summit. We were delighted.
We kept walking for almost 3 hours but couldn’t gather sight of any habitation.
Sid was utterly exhausted, famished, tired and dizzy. He was unable to walk any further. Finally at around 4 pm after walking for almost 11 hours, I asked my Sherpa for emergency evacuation and ordered him to rush down where he could get mobile network to inform the trekking company. Meanwhile, I fed some dry fruits to sid and sat by the side of the trail. I made him lie down in my lap and asked him to sleep. After an hour my Sherpa informed that evacuation process is initiated and helicopter might come soon.
I wondered if Sid was fit to walk a little and he confirmed that he could. We started our descend again because it was getting cloudy. All calls to trekking and insurance company went in vain, and I decided to rest as soon as I saw any habitation. It was almost 5 pm, and helicopters don’t ply in Nepal then.
We finally saw few tea houses and rested for the night there.
I was mentally exhausted and had a tromping headache. I wanted to move back home immediately.
I decided to terminate the trek.
Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/1454174318/embed/90c26eeaaa3eade725e4ce368bacd29782ee99f5” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Thorong Phedi to Thorong La pass, Garmin conked off in between
15TH MARCH- DAY ELEVEN- OVER AND DONE, MUKTINATH TO JOMSOM
Next morning was bright and beautiful. Both I and sid were very happy souls. We had achieved what we aimed. We walked down to Muktinath and took a jeep to Jomsom. By the time we reached Jomsom, we were informed that because of bad weather all further flights were canceled and we can only fly the next day which I readily agreed.
We ate very well, had mobile connectivity, talked to family and shared our pictures.
At the tea house, we met various groups who were resting there after completion of the summit. All of them were surprised at sid’s feat. One of them said, “you are the coolest mom. At 12 I had no clue what mountain were. Had I known then I would have been a different person altogether” ahaannn… time to pat my back (on my own although)
16TH MARCH- DAY TWELVE- HOME BOUND IN A JIFFY, JOMSOM TO POKHRA TO KAHTHMANDU TO MUMBAI
Next morning we were at Jomsom airport to fly to Pokhara. The airport and the craft was a replica of Legoland. It was exciting.
As I landed in Pokhara, I checked for the flight availability to Kathmandu. I was now desperate to be home, to be with my other set of boys. I was surprised when I got the tickets to Kathmandu. I then modified my flight from Kathmandu to Mumbai, and once I landed at Kathmandu, I was all set to fly back home.
Three flights in a day, from 15,000 ft to sea level in a day. Back home to the hugs and cuddles, I couldn’t have been a happier momma.
WHEN HIKING WITH CHILDREN
WHEN YOU ARE HIKING WITH CHILDREN
- Inform them about the altitude, AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness), what to expect and what not to during the hike
- Build up the excitement
- Constant encouragement
- Choose the travel company wisely and talk with your guide in absolute clarity
- Keep children entertained either by carrying a book, a game or even a mobile phone with their favorite games. Afterwall they are city kids.
- Feed them well. don’t focus on healthy food but let them eat whatever they want
- Carry ready to eat foodstuff and water purifying tablets as much as possible because as you go higher food and water prices soar extensively
- Get the layering done adequately
- Invest in good hiking shoes. don’t think for it’s a waste of money as they outgrow very soon . good hiking shoes is very important
- Buy good wind chaffing cream, sunscreen, and polarized sunglasses
- Keep an eye on your behavior and eating pattern, you might miss a sign of AMS otherwise
- If hiking alone then follow the map as well as fellow trekkers accurate directions
- Sherpas demand good tip after the hike, plan your budget accordingly.
- Give them good rest, don’t hurry up.
- enjoy and look around as you hike. mountains have so much to offer, teach and learn
- Choose your time and duration of the hike. Alter the itinerary as per your child’s energy level.
“The hardest choices require the strongest will – Thanos”