From Kalopani to Tatopani
was a fairly rigorous trek from Kalopani to Tatopani. We trekked
on a trail that ran along the sides of mountains, following
the river below. There were many steep climbs up followed
by steep descents, and some of the footing was fairly treacherous,
with stones and loose rocks and steps and grades and many
horse caravans going both directions on the narrow trail.
Although my boots were reasonably good, Krishna set a fast
pace, and descending some of the rock steps my foot would
slip and I would catch myself with my trekking poles or my
other foot. The trail had a sheer drop of many meters onto
rocks or into the river on one side. One of the times my foot
slipped loudly, Rob looked back with concern on his face.
I told him, if you hear that followed by a splash
to your rescue?" he asked. No, just turn the prayer wheels
for me at the next temple.
The scenery was spectacular,
though. We were trekking through the world's deepest gorge,
as measured from the peaks of the forested mountains on either
side down to the river in between. And we did have to cross
the river in places, on bridges. One we barely made it across
before a herd of sheep arrived to cross.
We took a break and
sat with our backs to the mountain we were on, looking across
the river at the mountain opposite. There were eagles soaring
on thermals, beautiful birds with beige feathers on the tops
of their wings and black on the bottom. We watched them for
a long time, soaring effortlessly. Such a contrast to our
difficult day of climbing and descending. And of course, we
passed through little settlements and there were interesting
sights and faces. A woman nursing her child and brushing its
hair at the same time. Beside a house, a little still about
the size of a beer keg, where they were making millet liquor.
People pounding millet with a stick to dislodge the grains.
We passed a lot of
waterfalls, but one in particular sticks in my memory. It
fell from very high on the opposite mountain, appearing out
of the trees as a very narrow stream that free fell for a
spectacular distance down the mountain face. For lunch we
stopped at a restaurant by another waterfall, this one tall
and broad. The waterfall restaurant provided me with a peanut
butter and jelly sandwich and a lemon Fanta. Lemon Fanta is
addictive almost. My main gripe with the place was that there
was no toilet, except for one under construction. The bottom
couple of feet of the four walls of the toilet building were
up, and three workmen labored to add to it. They said we could
use it, but they weren't going to stop work for us. There
were no takers.
After a hard push
all day, we descended to the riverside village of Tatopani.
The accommodations were dingy and a bit strange. Our rooms
were on the second floor, and the balcony from which the rooms
were accessed overlooked a patio of tables populated with
relaxed looking trekkers. The toilet facilities were grim
even by our newly developed expectations. Krishna managed
to get Rob and Andy a cottage out in back of the main building
instead. It was new and spacious, with two beds and its own
bathroom with a warm shower and a lovely western toilet. I
extracted a promise that I could use it.
Andy was coming down
with my cold. I had given him some zinc lozenges for the sore
throat. But he was exhausted after the strenuous day and stayed
in the cottage. Rob and Krishna and Bira and I headed down
a short, steep trail to the river, where the hot springs were.
We paid a nominal fee. There were two concrete pools, a hot
one and a hotter one. There was a little shack that sold drinks
and snacks. We decided to go in the hotter one, which was
less populated with trekkers, but first we needed to change
into our swimsuits and take a shower from a pipe that drained
the overflow from the pool. There was a little structure,
four poles and between them tin siding on three sides, open
on top and to one side, which faced the woods. The changing
room. We changed and left our clothes safely within view but
out of splash range. I had some soap and shampoo with me and
bathed in the hot water from the pipe and rinsed off. After
bathing, we got into the pool and the heat was delicious.
To be immersed in the hot water and to have the whole body
warmed was an exquisite treat. We ordered a beer and they
brought some somewhat scorched popcorn to go with it. It was
heavenly. Quite a few other trekkers appeared, most without
bathing suits so they just wore their underwear. Kids from
the town came to bathe, in what probably was the only place
they could get a warm shower. We stayed a while, sipping beer
is famous for having the best food on the trek. But I was
overwhelmed by the menu and couldn't decide, so I got dahl
bat. It was good.
There was what used
to be a window, or at least an opening, between my room and
an interior one. It was partly blocked with old boards, but
there was a draft through the wide cracks. I hung my bathing
suit there and my towel on the balcony rail outside my room.
By morning they were dry.
travelogue is part of the subside