Plane trip from Pokhara to Jomsom.
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This travel experience was completed in 2001 when Nepal was reasonably safe and not plagued by internal civil war and banditry. Travelers considering Nepal should thoroughly investigate what is the present criminal threat in the country, especially in the mountains against tourists.
Our trekking plans were to visit Pokhara (western Nepal) during November (autumn season) and secure airplane transportation to Jomsom. Jomsom is located in the Annapurna Himalyan mountains (entrance to Upper Mustang area). The plane flight is 45 minutes to the north. It is important you know your destinations to comply with Nepalese goverment trekking permits. These permits allow trekkers to visit certain restricted areas. There would be no snow at lower elevations. Our final destination was the Thorong Pass. We estimated it would be five days of trekking each way. We added two more days for any delay.
We were briefed by friends who made this trip the year before. They encouraged us to leave the tent, cooking and climbing gear behind. We would be staying at family owned tea houses located along the trail. We each brought a backpack, sleeping bag, sleeping mat and personal items. We were encouraged to purchase various high-protein cans of sardines, tuna, processed meat, jerky, dried fruits, candy and nuts. These foods would enrich the basic nepalese dish of rice, vegetables and curry.
We met several trekkers on the Pokhara flight who gave us valueable information about what to expect once we landed at Jomsom. The plane landed and we immediately left the plane with our bags. Along the incoming arrival fence was a large crowd of young male nepalese. These individuals were shouting in various languages attempting to gain our attention. These men wanted to hire-out and be our guide/confidant/porter for the trip. We selected at least five able men and invited them to breakfast. One person suggested a restaurant around the corner. We all sat down and everyone ordered breakfast and drinks. It was my intention to test these individuals on their ability to carry a bag, availability and knowledge of english. I began by asking basic questions. It became apparent that their english ability was not adequate and I politely told them they were not selected. The selection process was down to two individuals. I asked if they could leave on the trek in one hour. One person said, he could not leave for at least one day. This left the selection down to one person. I explained what his responsibilities would be. We told him that we wanted to be on the trail for six to seven hours a day depending on the local areas of interest. We offered to pay his lodging and meals on the trail which were separate from his salary. We were previously told what the average daily rate for a guide/porter. We multiplied this amount by the number of our trek days. The person accepted the amount and agreed to be paid at the end of the journey. We made some last minute purchases and we were off.
A few hours down the trail and we were met by a customs/permit agent who wanted to see our documents. We exchanged pleasantries and the agent stamped our trekking permits. Our guide/porter gave us confidence in the fact he knew the area and the people. We eventually stopped towards the evening at our first tea house. The house was constructed of wood with certain portions made from plaster. There was a large enclosed guest/visitor area which also served as the dining room. This tea house had bedrooms in the back and hot water for a shower. It is important that you ask questions of the tea house owner about their overnight accomodations. We visited the kitchen and instructed the cook that we wanted certain can foods mixed with our particular meal. We opened a can of sardines and shared them with the kitchen staff. They were eager to eat the sardines!
We had a comfortable quiet stay on the first night. We had breakfast the next morning and we were on our way. The ascent from Jomsom is gradual up to higher elevations. Trekkers should be aware of possible altitude sickness. Each person has a different reaction to altitude change. An immediate remedy is rest and hot tea inorder for better acclimation to the thin air. If the headaches become severe, the person must be immediately brought down to lower elevations and seek possible medical attention. Fortunately, none of my party experienced any bad symptoms, except for sore feet. We walked through many villages and were greeted by smiling faces, especially the children. Some people were eager to practice their english and ask questions. They were very suprised when we replied in nepalese. On this trek, we stopped a few hours from reaching the Thorong Pass. The area was completely covered in snow and there were numerous patches of ice. We did not have ice crampons. It was becoming very slippery. We decided for safety reasons to stop, take pictures and turn around. The trip was very enjoyable and brought me closer with my sons. There will be out treks, I promise you.