Nuntala -> Puiyan
Apr 17, 2002
Today is a big milestone. After a week of heading East, spinning my wheels, getting in shape by climbing up and down, up and down over the hills, today the path turns North. North towards the mountains. I'm getting excited. The harder it is to reach a destination, the more you appreciate it and this has been hard work so far.
The day starts with a hot, dry, dusty, rocky descent, but that's okay. The day of rest did me great good. I feel recovered, strong and there is a bounce in my step. The standard itinerary calls for a short, but hard day. Five hours of hiking, down 2500 feet and then back up 2500 feet. I feel good and want to go further. Another 3 hours of hiking and another 1500 feet of climbing.
At the bottom of the hill I take a wrong turn. About 10 minutes later I realize my mistake. The path that I'm on is too small to be the "highway" to Namche. I'm about to turn around when a Nepali teenager shows up. He speaks a bit of English. I ask him if this path goes to Kharikola. He tells me "No, goes to Bupsa village." Bupsa was my destination for a bit later in the day. A shortcut sounds far better than retracing my steps back down the hill. The path is steep and treacherous, up and down a 500 foot ravine - adding that much more climbing to an already very tough day. The detour only cost me about 20 minutes, but left me exhausted.
A lunch in Bupsa and I'm somewhat recovered from the shortcut. From Bupsa I continue the climb up into the clouds. Here many parts of the path are narrow ridges bordering on sheers cliffs dropping hundreds of feet below. I'm just contemplating, one slip and you're dead and I come across an accident. A porter has fallen. Fortunately, this cliff was less sheer and trees must have stopped his descent. He's a bit banged up, but very much not dead.
Eight hours of hiking and I'm exhausted. The bounce in my step is just about gone as I drag myself into Puiyan. It's a beautiful miniature little town that looks just as you'd imagine fairyland. There are forest and fog, flowers and mountains and waterfalls all in one compact little valley.
From here the challenges of hiking should be behind me. Two easy days will take me to Namche. From there the challenges will be cold and altitude, not hiking. The trek from Jiri has left me in great shape, but there's no way of telling how my body will respond to extreme altitudes.
8am departure -- 1.5 hour lunch -- 5:30 arrival