It felt like every 15 minutes or so we were wandering in and out of little villages - most no larger than a strip mall. Each would have one or two guest houses, a little shop with candy, chips, and drinks, and a tea house/ restaurant. Sometimes we would stop for lunch or for a long tea break, but just about every place we passed Graham would buy a snickers bar, or mounds bar (which is called Bounty here). He would then take out his trusty Swiss knife and cut the candy bar into equal squares and share his "Bounty" with each and every one of us. Thus he became --- Graham Graham the Candy Man! Our whole group was very giving like this, whether it was a bite of someone's delicious meal, a slice of pie, a piece of Tibetan bread with honey, or a happy cola gummy (thanks Liz!). We really did become just like a big family.
Also at these villages were tables set up with Tibetan trinkets and other wares. Peggy and Graham especially would have a field day at each of these little make-shift shops. And I did a fare bit of damage myself, buying a couple of elephant figurines (surprise surprise!), a laughing baby Buddha figurine for my niece, Bella, a warm wool ski hat (that matched my new friend Lal's hat ), a bracelet (I have decided to get one in each country I visit), and, get this, a bottle opener shaped like a mermaid! (My NYC peeps will understand the excitement. Probably not the best idea since everything I buy is just one more thing I have to carry. Oh well, I did try to keep it light at least.
When we arrived at Ghorapani I was pleasantly surprised with the little town and our accommodations. Even though the walls were literally ply wood, and the water pipes were frozen 1/2 the time, the room was clean and I felt confident that I would not have to worry about spiders (very important to me) and it had the most beautiful views of the mountains we had seen to date.
We spent a rest day in Ghorapani which was really nice because in the afternoon of our rest day, when we were all cozied up in the lodge by a warm wood stove, it began to snow/sleet. It would not have been fun to hike through that. Earlier that morning, much earlier, at around 4:30am we woke up to take a hour long night hike up to Poon Hill to watch the sun rise. This was such an amazing experience, hiking through the snow in the dark, with only our head lamps to guide us. And to see the sun peek up over the mountain tops to greet us and congratulate us on a job well done was so worth the effort. The feeling was just triumphant. And after awe-ing over the sunrise we took some of the cutest group photos and had some fun in the snow. (Best moment was watching 6'5 Jeremy run and tackle 5'3 Lal in the snow). On the way down Lal got a little frisky, throwing huge snowballs at Liz and me while we tried to descend the slippery slopes. We got him back though at the bottom, when we ambushed him with snowballs. Victorious!
The day we left Ghorapani we were rewarded with more amazing views of the mountains - it never got old. After one more day of climbing we would finally begin our gradual decline.
More to come in Part 4...