Aaron Martina is an Florida based programmer and an international man of mystery. Well, he's not all that mysterious but he does travel the world now and then taking photos, eating interesting foods and diving the depths.

Himalayan Photography Trip - Trekking day 4 - April 23rd, 2011 (part 2)

This is part of a series that document my trip to Nepal. You can find all of the blog posts here. I split this day into two posts and here is the first one that dealt with the hike up to the top of Poon Hill and the return to my tent to pack my gear before breakfast.

I finished packing rather quickly because I had time before the hike to get a lot of my stuff in order. I broke out of the tent and started to take pictures around camp.

Dog at camp

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I believe we ate around 8 but I don't completely remember. I don't even remember what we had that morning but I'm pretty sure I ate well as my body was quickly getting back into a normal state.

I'm pretty sure that we struck out on the day's hike before 9am as we had quite a few hours of hiking ahead of us. We had already done 2-3 hours in the morning to get to Poon Hill but I was still invigorated. The first few hours were all climbing. We were on a connector trail and so there weren't stairs or any other signs of improvement other than the footpath. Well that's not completely correct. There were some stone rest areas along the path. We quickly gained altitude even to the point of being above the tour planes.

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At one break I took the following picture of a stone path that seems to just go off to nowhere. It does point towards the cellular tower that we had passed on the way to Poon Hill.

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There were also some nice prayer flags in the trees at this rest area.

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As we hiked along this trail I couldn't help but notice that it was as if spring had sprung. Everything was flowering or new buds were popping out.

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We kept hiking and we took a break at a store resting area which is basically a large square store table just high enough to sit on and rest your gear (look at the picture with DogFella below). On the way up to this hill's summit we had to walk in one of these deep grooves that have eroded the top of the hill. The blue topped buildings in the distance is Ghorepani where we stayed the night before.

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In this photo you can see Ghorepani as well as the cell tower and the tower on top of Poon Hill. You can also see that within a couple of hours all of the snow has disappeared from the top of Poon Hill.

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This stone resting area was at almost the same height as Poon Hill. I believe it was around 3100m.

This is also were we met a new member of our group, DogFella.

The story of DogFella


Just as we were just getting back onto the trail to continue our hike after resting and we were passing another stone resting area, probably 10m from the one we stopped at, when a dog from out of nowhere hopped on top as if he was the king of the mountain. We had seen many dogs like this one along the way but this one immediately took an interest in our group and in particular it liked Clarence.

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As we continued to hike this dog decided to join us. He would trot along with us and sometimes go to the front of the group or trail behind. Every now and then he would run off into the woods and then return a few minutes later. Chris mentioned that this reminded him of a character from an iPhone game named Sword & Sworcery. That character's name was DogFella and thus this dog that joined our group was named. For the better part of the day DogFella was with us. When we started to entry Deurali where we were going to have our lunch DogFella took off up the hill above the village. I was certain that was going to be the last time we saw him but he surprised us all as we were finishing lunch when he came in from the opposite side of town and laid down by our table and took a nap. I guess he had a bad experience when going through this village and therefore takes an alternate route.

Apparently DogFella is good at taking naps.

DogFella napping

Sometimes he's not the only one (That's Tendi and Karma our sherpas).

DogFella and Sherpas resting

But most of the time he was hanging around us. This is him scouting the way for Monika.

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He provided all of us with some entertainment as well as amazement throughout the hike. As our hiking for the day was about to wrap up I believe that DogFella sensed that we were almost done and he sought out a new group to follow. He found three very attractive female trekkers that were resting near a stream and we never saw him again. Although he wasn't with us physically, he stayed with us in spirit for the rest of the trek as we compared the other dogs or puppies to him. Here's to you DogFella.

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Here are some interesting photos from the day. This first one I decided to go a little artsy with.

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I couldn't pass up taking a picture of this schnoz.

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Here are some photos from the village of Deurali where we had lunch.

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Here are the porters looking at a local map. I figured they should know this by heart. The top left with the yellow/gold cartoon bubble is the "You are here" marker.

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This tree was growing in the center of the village and was covered with dirty/dingy prayer flags.

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And one just for fun.

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The rest of the hike we were next to a small stream and sometimes there were critters near the water like this bird.

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And this rodent. It's actually pretty small about the size of a chipmunk.

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I could be mixing up the days here but I believe this was when we climbed up to this amazing overlook. There was a small level area that basically had a sheer cliff down into a valley. It was a bit nerve racking if you went up to the edge and looked down. Someone with vertigo would definitely have issues from this place. I took a couple of pictures but they just don't do justice to the scene or the feeling. Oh and there was a shop (a.k.a. a guest house without rooms) adjacent to this scenic outlook area.

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This second photo I was trying to get part of the bottom of the valley in to attempt to convey the scale or height of this perch.

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The rest of the hike was "Nepali flat" which means that we stayed at the same basic average altitude but continually descended or climbed along the path. Here's the proof.

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[That's Shaun and Thilo if you were wondering.]

About 10 minutes from where we stopped were going to stop at Tadapani who should we meet on the trail but Sonam coming from the camp in flip flops. It was a happy site as it meant that we would see Ben and Jon again. We had a hint earlier in the day that we would possibly see them if all went well so this was a great sign. He met us at a fork in the trail with one fork going down and the other going up. Guess which one we had to follow? That's right the one going up. Anyway, it was only about 10 more minutes and we arrived at camp.

Jon greeted us as we arrived and Ben came down a little later. They were both staying in the guest house adjacent to our campsite because they had arrived the previous day. It was great to see that Ben had been feeling well enough to make it as far as this. They had hiked two pretty grueling days to catch us here. Well it was grueling for them but it was probably similar to what we had been doing. Ben had gotten better but then his health was going down again. Therefore they decided to not to continue the journey with us and instead head back to Kathmandu. But we were able to break bread with them for dinner and breakfast and then they were going to head back to Naya Pool and take a taxi back to Pokhara.

As we had arrived at camp I noticed a group of kids around a game board. It looked to be about the size of a ping pong table and they were playing a game that seemed to be a mix of billiards and shuffleboard. Chris told me that it was carroms. Apparently Chris was quite adept at the game and as soon as he was able to relieve himself of his trekking gear he was at the table playing with the kids and porters.

I pretty much just wandered around the camp trying to relax a little. I was super tired after the very long day of hiking. There was a lot of noise and laughter coming from the patio outside the guest house where a group of British trekkers were imbibing quite heavily. That's not advised when hiking at altitude but they were pounding them back like water. The women in particular were quite rowdy and loud. Oh well, I guess they were enjoying themselves even if they paid for it the next day.

The night was chilly but we had a nice dinner in the dining tent. I don't recall the meal but I do recall turning in rather quickly after dinner. Like I said before I was really tired from the long day. Sleep came quickly.

I was going to do a people or gear highlight but I have already gone more than a week without a post and at this rate I won't finish for 5 months. So stay tuned for the next installment (hopefully this weekend).

Himalayan Photography Trip - Trekking day 5 - April 24th, 2011

Himalayan Photography Trip - Trekking day 4 - April 23rd, 2011 (part 1)