All Our Yesterdays by Pat Boys

All Our Yesterdays by Pat Boys

All Our Yesterdays by Pat Boys

Written By: SportsShoes

Last year I told myself, (after a nightmare trek in Nepal), that I was getting too old for this malarky, but now it was March 2023 and I was on my way back to Nepal…. to trek once again! We only remember the good things and conveniently forget the bad bits.

First, though, I had to get to Madu’s wedding. Madu has been my trekking guide for 12 years. I made it by the skin of my teeth and was honoured to be invited. It was lovely to see some of the family after many years and to see how the children had grown. The bride was very beautiful and didn’t turn a hair at her groom disappearing for three weeks trekking, so soon after their wedding day.

Over the next few days we designed a trek that we called “all our yesterdays”. We used the frame work of the big treks we had done over the last few years visiting favourite villages and lodges, but most of all our favourite people. I suggested to Madu that we take his new wife Premila with us. Why? was the answer. Well you have only been married a week and as there is only you and I it would give you a chance to spend some time together away from the family home. The idea was greeted with great enthusiasm by Premila, who had never trekked before, but liked the idea of seeing different parts of her own country. She had lived on the family farm all her life but had taught English at the local school. She had never walked in snow nor seen her country’s beautiful mountains so the trip was indeed a honeymoon.

The first day of trekking certainly proved that one forgets the bad bits, like the continuous stone stairways winding their way up the mountainsides for several hours. It seemed like several days and descending was just as bad. Our lunch and night stops were a rather sad example of the effect the jeep roads were making in the mountains. Lunch was a rather meagre affair in an almost deserted village, with just one elderly couple left to welcome the odd trekker. Later, when we stopped for the night, we were the only guests in the whole village which boasted five lodges.

Climate change is also very prevalent just as elsewhere in the world. I don’t usually need my down jacket until the seven or eighth day of trekking but we were needing them on the third day. We had planned to pass through the beautiful large village of Ghandruk with its many traditional houses plus a rather large if eccentric museum. The curator was showing us an old traditional bridal dress from the Gurung Tribe, it was in pristine condition and very beautiful, Premila was asked to model it for some photos and we were delighted to take several ourselves, as we could put off the girding of loins for an hour. The day being Mothers Day, I was treated to hot Chocolate and a large Snickers bar after supper.

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Pictured: Pat and Premila in Ghandruk.

We were getting a large storm every afternoon with freezing rain and hail which we knew would mean heavy snowfall higher up. We had already heard that the Circuit Pass was closed, so some of the others would soon follow. This year we were not so concerned as we were “turning right“ in a couple of days to join up with another trail.

Although I occasionally study the map, I rarely check the contour lines so sometimes the day is a pleasant surprise but more often it's a shock to the system (and the knees!). The route to Chuile did not disappoint. We had not visited this region for some time and some of the steep stairways and rough paths were very neglected because more people are using 4 wheels instead of 2 legs. In some ways the roads are a boon to the locals, children can attend school more easily and medical assistance is closer to hand. The lack of trekkers was delightful for us and trying to find the disappearing track made for quite an adventure. We had a big surprise on this route when we suddenly arrived at a trout farm. As it was lunchtime, we thought why not. It turned out to be one of the best lunches ever in Nepal and we managed 6 trout between us. The village of Chuile is very beautiful and most of the lodges were fairly full. This is one of the few places I can feast on egg and chips with endless hot chocolate, the latter necessary in the unusually cold weather.

Our next big stop was Chomrung. Years ago I named it the chocolate cake village as it boasts a German Bakery. A cappuccino and a slice of Black Forest gateau may not sound much but at several thousand feet up in the Himalaya I find it quite remarkable.

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In 2018, they presented me with a birthday cake for my 80th - no candles, but a load of matches stuck in the top, thankfully not 80! The lodge here had all mod cons inc. phone charging, wi-fi, and really hot showers. Unfortunately, there was a power cut and I managed to wash my hair with body cream. I looked a mess until we arrived at the next place with hot showers, but smelt delightful. Chomrung is on the main trail to Annapurna Base Camp so was fairly busy and as usual there were many different nationalities, including a Scot who, on hearing that I came from Yorkshire commented, “I hope you don’t sing like Gracie Fields”. I replied “ I hope so too as she was from Lancashire!”. Another trekker also from Gods own county said “ we won’t sing if you don’t play the bagpipes “ Good to know that humour isn’t dead, however tired you are.

After two days of indulgence we started the long and difficult descent to Jhinu Danda and its famous hot springs. A new and very luxurious hotel had been built on the ridge in this very popular village and Madu had booked us in as a surprise. Everything was ultra-modern and my room had a very fancy en-suite, good for washing the cream out of my hair. I met up with 2 trekkers who had been in my hotel in Pokhara, Jim from Singapore and Jerome from Hawaii. I was so complimentary about my guide that they booked a trek with him after our return. I’m still waiting for my commission! The food here matched the luxury of the building and it was a pleasant change as every GH in the Annapurnas has an identical menu. The one and only drawback to this wonderful stay was the sight of a huge bird spider sitting on my bed – panic! I managed to gather it up in my towel and drop it out of the window.

The next morning brought yet another big surprise. Since my last visit an extremely long suspension bridge had been built across the large steep valley, it shortened the trek to Landruk by nearly 2 hours and cut out a very tiring descent and ascent.

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The bridge is one of the longest in Nepal and I love it. Landruk has been a favourite for years and we have always stayed at the Laligurans lodge, run by an ex-gurkha and his wife. They have now moved to greater heights, in all respects, and we were going to stay with them further up the Mardi Himal trail. The old place was still very beautiful but is now off the popular trail and was very quiet, some of the other lodges had already closed but some of them will re-open in Autumn when the trekking season is much busier. We had another impressive storm here which made us worry a little about the amount of snow further up the trail, although it would be very rare for the Mardi Himal trek to be closed.

There were some patches of snow the next morning but not enough to bring a smile to my face. Today was a return to the switchbacks, both up and down, thank God I live in a bungalow. We made good time, mostly I think because it was pleasant and a change to arrive dry. We reached Laligurans 2 for lunch, knowing that the food would be better than most, the trekkers’ obsession with food is never more obvious than when staying in a lodge famous for its cooking. Laligurans means rhododendron, which is Nepals’ national flower.

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Situated in Bichok Deurali just above the Pass, it nestles in the most glorious surroundings, newly built with all mod cons, including en-suites. The old holes in the ground 5 minutes from your bedroom in the early hours are becoming a thing of the past. It’s one bit of progress that I applaud with enthusiasm. One is not tied to a vegetarian menu here and if you want chicken curry there is a quick foray to the back garden and a treat for a carnivore. This was another 2 night stay as Madu had done something untoward to his shoulder and with no wish to carry the big sac, I agreed with a certain amount of eagerness to stay in this lovely spot.

The next bit of trail to Forest Camp consisted of yet more steps and lots of jungle bashing where the path becomes elusive. The village, with its rare layer of snow was reached with a feeling of triumph over the odds. Twelve years ago, Forest Camp consisted of two lodges. Now there are at least eight and they were all busy. It was warm enough to sit in the sun and sink a cold beer.

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Finally the last big ascent, always a killer this one as it is always thick yellow mud. One slip and your clothes are stained for life. High Camp had also built many more new lodges and our old favourite, another Laligurans, had been renovated beyond recognition. I think I liked it but its basic appearance and even more basic facilities were the reasons we had loved it so much. Our innkeeper was just the same so the stay was as great as always.

Our final trek was down to Sidhing and was a sad day for Premila and I, although I think Madu was probably pleased after almost three weeks with two bossy females. I seem to hear my first cuckoo every year in Sidhing and this year was no exception. Known as the English cuckoo I’m convinced it follows me home every year and sings behind my house.

Our arrival back in Pokhara was celebrated in style and we were joined by Jerome from Hawaii and my French-Canadian friend who had just flown in from India and was most put out that we had already trekked. We did the Manaslu together last year and I think he would have enjoyed a more leisurely trip. We dined in a rather splendid Italian restaurant, feasting on pizzas, pasta, gelato and rather a lot of wine. Welcome back to civilisation.

I decided to have a few relaxing days in a homestay, where you live with family and do as much or as little as you like. The North Face Homestay was in the foothills above Lake Fewa. The house was newly built but was very traditional with a lot of land so they grew all their food including rice and reared goats and chickens with the odd baby buffalo thrown in. I planned to do some short walks in the surrounding forest until I discovered the family had lost two of their four guard dogs in the last few months, one to a tiger and one badly mauled by a leopard. I then made myself useful by shouting profanities at the eagles who seemed to think that the chickens and tiny kids were there for their benefit.

The last few days were spent visiting friends and celebrating Nepali New Year. It’s quite nice having two New Year celebrations every year. Another nine hour bus trip back to Kathmandu and a few chaotic days of being wined and dined. It was during this time that the Nepali Government had decided to put an end to trekking without a guide, I feel that this is a great shame as I look back on my days of solo trekking with much affection and a great sense of adventure and achievement. Hopefully I will be back next year and again, plodding up them thar hills.

Pat Boys lives in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and has been interested in trekking and outdoor adventure throughout her life. She annually walks over 2000 miles on local trails and regularly visits Nepal for epic adventures.







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