The Foothills of the Himalayas – Adventures in Nepal (Part Four)

“On a Mish” #130 The Foothills of the Himalayas – Adventures in Nepal (Part Four). Phaplu to Gogane. Sulokhumbu Area. 30.10.2015. Before I left Aotearoa I was under the belief that New Zealand had the best, biggest, most beautiful mountains on the planet. As the plane began its descent into Kathmandu on my very first trip to Nepal I saw distant 8000 metre peaks for the first time, and for the first time I was in a country that I would grow to love as much as my own…

One of many memories I have of my first trip to Nepal was looking out of the aircraft’s window at the single strip of grass and asking ‘Is that it?’

We managed to touch down without incident and after disembarking our flight the most modern vehicle in the area turned around and disappeared into the clouds over the foothills of the Himalaya. After getting our gear together and taking the first steps on our adventure it felt like we were a long way from the dust of Kathmandu, and the plan was to hike even further to our planned destination of Gurdel. From the buzz of the plane to the peace of the hills, for the next couple of days we would only have our own two feet to propel us towards our target.

The Distant Himalayas Seen from Our Flight to Phaphu

In awe and wonder we walked from the airport into the small village of Phaplu, and thanks to its airport the area now sees more trekkers than in the past. Dan told us that this was it as far as ‘western supplies’ go until we got to Lukla, and to the untrained eye we seemed to be in a location that was the most basic we had ever been to.

It was just out of Phaplu that we met more team members including the famous Nepali Guide Bibek Kulung. Gurdel is Bibek’s village and we could tell he was looking forward to marching into it with aid, clothing and funny looking people. But before we got there we had some ground to cover.

After catching up with the team Dan laid his map out while we sipped tea and did our best to not think we were dreaming. Our initial route was deemed as too challenging and after a quick reroute we were on our way.

As we walked we began to realise what the thousands of blue squares that we had seen from the aeroplane were. It is interesting how a disaster can make you realise how valuable certain objects can be. A blue tarpaulin can look very unassuming folded up in the corner of the garage, but after a major earthquake tarps make for an excellent makeshift roof. Thousands of roofs damaged or destroyed, thousands of tarps sorted out by our legendary leader Dan.

As the day drifted on we hiked our way up and down the Nepali countryside, and as a thick mist swallowed the team the afternoon turned to evening and we hadn’t arrived at our first night’s accommodation yet…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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