Ghorepani was more of a true village than Ulleri had been. There was a general store, which sold touristy things like postcards alongside more useful necessities, like food and hygiene products. There was more than one main path through the village, and buildings which had no clear purpose. The settlement sprawled out for a fair distance on the hillside.
We walked straight through to our guesthouse, the Hotel Snowland. Hotel Snowland was perched pretty high on the hill, affording a great view of some of the far-off peaks. Another benefit of traveling with a guide—they knew which teahouses had the bets views. If I’d been trekking independently, I undoubtedly would have chosen to stay in one of the lodges in town, which had no view of the peaks.
I awoke late. My restless night hadn’t afforded me much chance for good sleep, so when I’d finally drifted off to sleep, mortified, I hadn’t wanted to wake up.
A perfect sunbeam from the bedside window hit me square in the face, and my memory of last night came rushing back to me. It was far too vivid to have been a dream. I opened my eyes and glanced out the window.
It was an amazing bluebird morning, only small wisps of clouds to be seen. The sky was an almost ethereal blue color: so perfect it almost didn’t seem real. Behind the nearby mountains, a huge snow-capped peak showed its face. I sat up and stared in wonder. Although only a tiny portion was visible, the mountain looked like nothing I’d ever seen before.
That’s what I came here for, I thought.
I slept fitfully in Ulleri—my stomach was bothering me. I kept waking, in starts, to my stomach bubbling, or gas escaping.
It was cold outside—we were in a trekking lodge in an elevated mountain village, after all—and I didn’t much want to get out of bed. I was cocooned in a cheap sleeping bag I’d rented in Pokhara, but it was cozy enough, especially after an exhaustive day of trekking. I wasn’t going to leave until I had to.
Every time I woke up, I’d have a little swig of water, and try to go back to bed. By the third or fourth time it happened, it was getting exasperating. I really wanted to get some rest, especially if tomorrow was going to be as strenuous as our first day had been.
The fifth time I awoke, I immediately knew something was different.
Did that—I paused, moved around a bit. Yup, I thought to myself. That just happened.
I had, without a doubt, just shit my pants.
I was awoken after what seemed like three minutes.
Our guide had barged into our room. We were staying in a trekking lodge in Ulleri, also known as a “teahouse.” We’d been enjoying a well-earned nap after a tough first day of trekking. “Dinnertime,” our guide said cheerfully.
I shook the sleep from my eyes and glanced across the tiny room. My Malaysian trekking partner had apparently been taking a nap too, because he looked just as confused as I felt.
“Slowly, slowly,” our guide says as we leave lunch behind, and step back on to the trail.
He doesn’t tell us this, but we still have 1,000 meters of vertical to gain today. On Day 1 of our trek. Of course, if he’d told us this—and if we understood what it entailed—we probably would have turned around and hailed the nearest taxi back to Pokhara.
Our guide was a pro though. He knew all he had to say was “slowly, slowly.” We didn’t need to know the struggles that lay ahead of us, We could overcome them, but if we spent too much time thinking about their magnitude, we would surely convince ourselves that it was impossible.