holy lakes, Himalayas.
The last week being in Nepal we decided to go on a trek.
I am not a climber ; but i really enjoy long hikes, and i have done 6-8 hour day treks. I had never done a multi day route before this trip. though i was pretty sick and really out of shape before i did this trek, it was still one of the best experiences of my life.
i look forward to many more trips like this in the future, as unplugging, existing, and pushing forward in nature is one of my favorite ways to feel alive, and regrasp what is truly important to me.
the journey began with a day long bus journey to the base district, Dhunche. On the bus ride we watched Bollywood films with our fellow bus mates, (which included a goat and chickens at one point). It was a very lively and exciting journey, as we headed north from Kathmandu into the mountains, past various villages. We stopped at a riverside rest stop, where we were introduced to Dal Bat; a rice and lentil based dish that is considered the national mean of Nepal. After the stop, the bus ride continued, up the mountains where we passed by parts of roads and villages that had fallen off the mountainside due to the earthquake prior. The side of these mountains were incredibly steep, and lined with a history of landslides. The bus drove along these cliffside roads, until it brought us safely to the town of Dhunche, which is the town closest to the base of the mountains we were trekking along.
We arrived at the first tea house, and enjoyed the rest of the evening sipping tea, enjoying the outside flower garden patio space, and preparing for the first day of the trek to begin.
The next morning started the ritual of coffee, and omelettes with tomato and mountain foraged mushrooms. We left for the mountain directly from the end of Dhunche, leaving the village and crossing bridges into the trail. There was a beautiful river flowing through nearby, with soft grass blowing in the breeze. Escaping into nature from weeks in Kathmandu, and Pokhara was incredibly refreshing, and full of fresh blue skies.
The surrounding view of the Himalaya mountain range.
Once you are in the mountain, you see how life operates differently. There is no car access, only mountain horses who carry supplies from village to village. Each “village” or grouping of houses consists of the Tea Houses, that operate as a place for the hikers to sleep, eat, and rest.
The people there were some of the nicest people I have ever met, with huge welcoming smiles, and grateful attitudes. Many of these people had lost nearly everything in the earthquakes the year prior. It was a very humbling lesson to learn that these people (from my outsiders view) had lost everything, were so willing and happy to be able to give.
Gosaikunda is a religious site, said to be home to Shiva & Gauri. The lake is said to have been created by Shiva when he struck his Trishula (Trident) into the mountainside to summon water to cleanse himself of poison. Every year in August for the Full Moon, thousands of Buddhist and Hindu make the pilgrimage and climb the mountain to the Lakes, where they worship and honor the Gods, as well as wash away their sorrows, and sins in the waters.
The last main hill or mountain we climbed was where the altitude really started to kick in. This part was incredibly step, with rocks and loose gravel beneath us. I remember my legs not wanting to move and feeling really out of body at this point to get over this peak. The part of physical endurance I’ve always loved (much after the fact), is right when you think you’ve reached your limit, and you can no longer move on, you somehow do. I don’t know how to explain it better then that, but I love that feeling, and the end of day three was filled with moments like that, surrounded by one of the top 3 most dramatic and awe inspiring landscape sceneries i’ve ever seen.
At the top of the last main mountain is a Temple that fell during the Earthquake. From here, you can see the surrounding mountain ranges, with this Temple at the edge of the peak. It was incredibly surreal to see.
After the last main peak, the entire surroundings changed. I’ll never forget walking around a corner and seeing these views. Sharp rocks were poking out of the mountain side, with rich colors of grasses, mosses, and sights of deep emerald lakes below.
This is what the last stretch, a narrow path along the side of the mountains, with lakes below.
There was many little shrines and stops along the path for the pilgrimages.
We arrived to the site at the end of day 3. Right as we arrived at the lakes it began to snow, which was incredibly beautiful. There was maybe 8 people total at the lakes when we were there, with about 4 main structures all at the base of the small valley where the lakes are surrounded by. Here, there is two main lakes, the rest along the path we walked to get there. If you were to look down that valley you would see lake after lake.
The elevation at this spot is 14,370, which is slightly shy of Mount Rainer’s highest point at (14,411 ft), for reference.
Early the next morning, the snow was gone, the air brisk, and everything still.
It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, and incredibly peaceful. We spent a few early hours in the morning in silence, not intentionally, but in awe.
I did regret not staying there one extra day at the lakes, but perhaps I will return someday.
We began the decent back down the mountain on day four, the same way we came. There is an option that takes you over the mountain back down to Kathmandu, however we really wanted to return to the redwood grove for some extra pine time.
We stopped here for about an hour or so and just enjoyed the nature around us, this mossy pine grove filled with ancient friends. We also realised that it was ‘earth day’ and couldn’t have imagine spending it any other way.
The hike down on day 4 and 5 was an unwinding of sorts, quieter, reflective, and filled with hums and songs with our friend, Sital.
As I am writing this 3.5 years after the journey, I can still remember it quite clearly as it is one of the best things I’ve done in life and I am still so touched by the experience. I have had amazing experiences in nature, this is by far one of the top 5 experiences I’ve had so far. There are many treks and trails to do in Nepal / through the Himalayas mountain ranges - and perhaps I will return someday to experience some new places, or return again to the lakes.
Nepal was a place I never thought I’d go, but learned so much about myself, our world, and our connection as humans.