We rolled into Deurali late in the afternoon, just as a moody fog was settling into the Annapurna valley. We had finally reached the elevation at which trees stopped growing, which gave the landscape an ethereal, stony feel. With no vegetation besides small shrubs and bushes, the towering rock formations around us took on a new, more formidable dimension.
Huge vertical faces and sheer, smooth cliffs boxed us in on all sides, as our landscape grew more vertical. The river still raged below us, taking snow and glacier melt downhill, where it would nourish the fields and farming villages on the mountains, before finding its way to Pokhara, where it fed into Fewa Lake.
A huge cascade poured down a cliff on the left of the trail; water spraying down 200, 300 meters, before landing on the rock and creating a vertical rive the rest of the way down. I pulled out my phone to take some photos. Ankit, the 15-year-old porter employed by the diplomat, wasn’t as impressed.
“Look! Is Niagra Falls!” he said, pointing in mock amazement. “No, is Victoria Falls!”
We laughed along with him. “Yes, yes, it’s huge!!”
“Is not much,” he said with a shrug.
Probably, to the Nepali, it wasn’t much. Here, in these mountains, there surely existed bigger.
But, for a roadside attraction, it wasn’t bad.
Back home, in Colorado, our mountains were smaller. Our cliffs were shorter. Our waterfalls were smaller. But they held the some magic pull, just the same.
I stumbled into Deurali with the diplomat. She’d needed a little more encouragement to reach the goal, and we were the last two of the group to arrive. She immediately peeled off in search of a hot shower, while I promised myself I would trek at the head of the pack tomorrow. The pace with her had been a bit too slow for my liking,
Tomorrow we would reach Annapurna Base Camp — the beginning of the end of the trek. I was excited to reach our destination, but also a bit sad that soon, we would have nothing to strive for except home.
I did my best to put the thought out of my mind as I headed for the common room, in search of warm and companionship.