Nepal map:
Jiri -> Shivalaya
Apr 11, 2002

These older journal entries were hastily typed in at local cybercafes where I was paying by the minute.  Please excuse grammar mistakes or typos. 

I bought a walking stick in Kathmandu.  I tried it out on the way home from the store and decided it was probably a bit long.  I almost cut it to size.  Wisely I didn't.  The trails leading to Everest bare no resemblance to the streets of Kathmandu.  They are much rougher, but mostly they are never flat.  Always up and down, usually steeply.  A slightly longer walking stick is great for the climbs and descents. 

Heading up that first hill all omens are predicting a great journey.  The weather is good.  A little cold, but that's nice for walking.  I've got the trails to myself as the war has scared most of the tourists away from Nepal.  My health is good.  I had a bout of giardia in Kathmandu, but seem recovered now.  My pack is heavy, but not too heavy.  I opted against hiring a porter.  In addition to maybe being just a bit imperialistic, it seemed like riding a motorcycle in a bicycle race.  You'll win, but the victory will have little meaning.  I also opted to go without a guide.  The right choice, but I can't see how the guide will be anything but an annoyance.  It's pretty hard to lose the trail.  This dirt path is the closest thing that this region of Nepal has to a highway.  As far as company goes, between watching the views and watching your step you're busy enough.  You don't need anyone to talk to.  All the guide is likely to do is bring you to his friend restaurants and guesthouses. 

Coming to that first pass at 8000 feet was a great feeling of accomplishment.  "Yeah, this is trekking.  It's all good!" Then the thunder starts.  I rush down the hill to avoid getting wet.  A quick steep hour long descent takes me to Shivalaya.  Just outside of town I saw two Scotsmen that I had met the day before on the bus.  They were setting up camp.  I wave "hi" and continue onward.  They were the only tourists that I saw all day.  War is sure bad on tourism, but nice if you want to avoid those tourists. 

Crossing the bridge to Shivalaya, the archway leading into to is flying a Communist flag.  The archway has also bears the following perplexing, but I think welcoming slogan: 

"Our party going to heary welcome for all
visitors jouneist occasion of secrefice ceremony

I spent my evening making origami birds for most of the children in town.  One of the selling points for guides these days is that they may be able to warn you of an impending attack by the Maoist guerillas.  That first night I wasn't afraid of an attack by Maoists, their kids would hate them forever for hurting the paper bird guy, in addition to the fact that the Maoists seemed thoroughly in control of the town.  I was a bit concerned however of an attack by government forces.  Of course nothing happened. 
Overall I'd rate today's hike as hard, but not too hard.  A bad sign considering that I'd planned this first day as an easy warm up day. 

11am depart - 3pm arrival

casualties:  Sore shoulders, probably from the quick bouncy descent. 

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