Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Day 15 (Kalopani)
I got up at 06:30 today, ate breakfast (fried eggs, toast, fried potatoes, and coffee), enjoyed the morning view of the mountains (it was a clear morning and I had a great view of Annapurna I, Nilgiri, and Dhaulagiri peaks), got ready for my day hike (by filling my camelback with water, grabbing my camera, hat, jacket, and sunglasses, and applying generous helpings of sunscreen), and started off back the way I came the previous day, up to Kokhethanti. At Kokhethanti, I took the side trail up to Titi Lake (hehe); it was a beautiful seldom used dirt road trail up to the lake and adjacent village (Titi Lake Village); I passed through the town and came to the lake; I decided to depart from the dirt road and walk on the eastern shore of the lake; I had a humorous moment when I stepped on what I though was solid ground but turned out to be a bush instead; so I slipped, fell a few feet, and became tangled in a couple of plants; after that pratfall, I continued on around the lake, using seldom used trails through bushes; I then walked to the other end of the lake and rejoined the dirt road; from there, I continued down to the towns of Taglung and Kunjo, both located near each other in beautiful farm land under the towering peak of Nilgiri (South); I walked through the pastoral landscape and rustic towns, down to the wide stream bed of the Bhuttro Khola. As I was walking down to the stream bed and the town of Chhoya, a persistent and obnoxious boy began to follow me, spurned on by his mother; he wanted to guide me down the dirt road to the village (his hometown) for a fee; I told him “No Thanks” many times, but he would not take “No” for an answer; at this point I realized this must be a scam since he had followed for a few hundred meters and that his criminal father was probably waiting in town, ready to extort money from innocent travelers passing through that had been targeted by his son; so I turned left and walked across the stream bed to another town on the other side; finally, once I left the dirt road, the kid stopped following me; unfortunately, he nor his townspeople will ever know that I was planning on eating lunch in Chhoya and spending a fair bit of money, but now my mind was made up not to spend a single cent there (I worry for the future of this trail; in ten years time, all these beggar children, who are encouraged by their parents to act this way, will be a bunch of juvenile thugs, probably without any qualms when it comes to attacking and robbing hikers – up until this incident, I was having a pleasant and joyful hike; now I am thinking that I could never possibly recommend this trail due to not only the money loving free loaders, but to all the construction, roads, irritating vehicle traffic, and power lines placed just so to ruin every great view; sadly, the time to hike the Annapurna Circuit was in the 1980s; its time has passed). Anyway, I then hiked to the town across the stream; then through some pleasant woods with recent logging activity, until I finally came to the southern end of Chhoya (I had no choice, but to walk through the town to get back to Kalopani in as little time as possible); I walked through Chhoya, to a suspension bridge across the Kali Gandaki Nadi, crossed the bridge, and walked through some more pleasant forests; I then walked through some pasture lands with stone walls overgrown with plants and some more forests before finally coming back to Kalopani and my hotel. I relaxed in my room, had a lukewarm shower (damn solar heated showers), and then a snack of beer and popcorn. I then relaxed in my room some more, finished reading the ‘Catechism of the Catholic Church’ (there is some excellent stuff in there worth living one’s life by), and then had dinner (beer, a vegetable and noodle soup with toast, and a dal bhat with bits of chicken and bone – certainly not worth the 300 rupees more when compared with the vegetarian dal bhat; this meat wasn’t even worthy enough to be fed to a starving alley cat). After dinner. I prepared fir tomorrow’s hike and read some more before going to sleep.