Tips for Ghorepani/Poon Hill Trek – my definitive list

•I travelled in April & did not require a sleeping bag. All the guest houses I visited had blankets or quilts & I presume you could ask for another if you were cold.

•I took a sleeping bag liner. This is lightweight & takes up very little space. I really appreciated the barrier it provided from the, on occasion, grubby bedsheets.

•Headlamp was necessary for the Poon Hill sunrise ascent & also necessary for the power cuts in the guest houses.

•Bring toilet roll. No guest houses supplied it, although if you’re stuck you can buy it on the way.

•Filtered water. I purchased this along the way at varying costs from 40NPR to 110NPR. If I was travelling more than 4 days I would have considered iodine tablets or the UV filter but I accepted these prices for the short time I was trekking.

•If your guide specifies 3 meals a day please note that you will possible already eat breakfast on the morning you start your trek & you will probably be home before dinner time. This equates to 10 meals instead of 12. We only had 9 & our guide did not refund or apologise for misleading us.

•A porter was not required for this short trip.

•Bring snacks like cereal bars or nuts. I needed a mid morning snack when my stomach just felt full of water.

•I wore the same baggy trousers every day. I wore a different top every day. I had a separate set of bottoms & top for the evening, 1 hoodie & a lightweight waterproof jacket as well as fresh socks & undies for every day & 1 sports bra. Maybe take another bra if you want something to change into after you shower.

•A light scarf was really protective from the glaring sun. I didn’t bring one but a kind lady along the way took one look at my Irish flesh & insisted I take her spare scare. Thanks for saving my skin you wonderful Norwegian person!

•Sunscreen & bug spray are required.

•Small medical kit just incase: anti inflamms, pain killers, antihistamines, diarrhoea tablets, malarial tablets & rehydration sachets. I also took tape because I’m a physio & tape is never far from me. Is that true of all physios???

•Phone charger & battery pack if possible. Access to electricity in the mountain is unreliable & can be costly. On the first day I used some power saving methods e.g. airplane mode & low brightness & I used less than 25% of my power playing music & taking pictures. That’s pretty impressive for an iPhone!

•A good (thin) book. This is a tip I carry through life.

•Charged camera.

•Travel towel, although most of the hotels provided a towel.

•No need for hiking poles, we found sticks along the way & used these when required. My granny loved a good stick for hiking, she would have been proud!

•Earphones & tunes!

•Sunglasses

•A hat to keep the sun off

•Hand sanitiser

•Shampoo, shower gel, toothbrush, toothpaste

•Lip balm

•A miniature of baileys for your hot chocolate at sunrise

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Poon Hill Day 4: Terepani to Pokhara

My last day trekking arrived all to quickly. When I woke up at 7am my legs felt stiff & heavy for the first time on this trek. We said our farewells to the other group leaving for Annapurna Base Camp & started our descent to Nayapul. As we left Terepani my friend announced that she had a dream that I fell. Delightful. I walked with especial caution at the fear of her premonition.

The walk to Ghandruk was as lovely as the previous day. Cool forest, mostly ground & not many sets of epic stone steps. Bliss.

After Ghandruk I became quite hangry – a cereal bar & a litre of water couldn’t pull me out of this mood so it was earphones in until our lunch break. When we arrived our guide saw a bus for Nayapul & was pushing us to take it to Pokhara for some reason, I presumed it was cost efficient for him. He doesn’t approach these topics with a charming persuasion so I found his aggressive attitude uninviting & I felt we should stick to our original plan & finish the trek on foot as we had previously decided. It was only 2 more hours away he had said & I certainly had the energy reserve for it. My travel companion was also determined to finish the trek on foot so we declined the bus option feeling like our guide had just wanted to rush us back to Pokhara.

We had lunch & the guide was clearly unhappy with our decision. From that point when we set off he walked further ahead of us & I felt a very overwhelming negative energy from him. The bus option had never been spoken about before & I couldn’t fathom why he was so annoyed at us. The combination of his negative energy, the sun roasting me & my slow travel companion weighed on my mood so I put my earphones in, blocked them out & continued alone for 3 hours. Any time I asked the guide how much longer it would be his answers were inconsistent & different to his previous days debrief. I feel like he had made miscalculations & had wanted to make up for lost time with the bus.

It was 5pm by the time we arrived in Birepani & almost 6pm by the time we reached Nayapul. This was a much longer day trekking than the guide had told us we would complete. We sat at a cafe waiting for our taxi & after 20 minutes he told us the taxi would be another hour. Exhausted & desperate for a shower & bed I questioned this disorganisation & told him I was unhappy with this arrangement. He then he suggested I contributed to booking another taxi – despite already paying for the taxi inclusive of my package. He continually contradicted himself regarding the timing of the buses to make them seem like the better option despite previously quoting them as being twice as long & unpleasant when he wanted us to pay for the taxi in the package. He begrudgingly paid the extra money for the taxi & we all felt a bit deflated with fatigue & disorganisation.

It was a disappointing end to our expedition. He didn’t pay for all our meals as planned & was visibly angry at having to pay extra when it was his fault for not arranging the timing of the taxi with his friend. I obviously felt bad & even guilty (damn you catholic guilt) but I feel I was right to press him on getting us home.

We were happy to get back to the friendly faces in Little Buddha, have a long hot shower & get a hot meal in our bellies before bed.

Despite the less than ideal end to our trek, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I love a fitness challenge (with epic views) & this was perfect. The toughness was the perfect level for me. I was tired & I had to really push myself at times, but it was achievable. I adore being outdoors in the fresh air & nature. I really want to spend more time doing these activities.

Poon Hill Day 3: Ghorepani – Terapani

Upon returning to the hotel from the beautiful Poon Hill sunrise summit we had breakfast before commencing our trek to Terepani. We trekked with another group who were brilliant company. It is so easy to meet people in this type of environment. I adore the ease of openly asking people questions about themselves – something less acceptable to do in the streets of a town. Our new extended group has a great spirit & we chatted, sang & danced our way to lunch at Berepani.

We had gorgeous views of the snow capped mountains & Poon Hill where we could easily trace our steps from the morning & appreciate what we had already accomplished by 8.30am! Today the trek was mostly downhill although there were some inclines. My body felt lethargic compared to the people around me but after an hour I came into my own.

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I adored the surroundings today. Our first encounter was another long set of steps I struggled up but after that the terrain was mostly ground through forest with winding tree trunks & a cool breeze on my face.It felt much more like the walks I’m accustomed to at home & I took off from the group with my earphones in, singing, dancing & basking in my surroundings.

We stopped off for lunch & the view was incredible! I love being in the wilderness & I haven’t even missed the internet. I used it once to check if I had any messages from home but turned it off again soon after.

 

Our wonderful friends we were travelling with were continuing to the Annapurna Base Camp while we were returning to Pokhara the next day so we agreed to stay in Terepani together for the evening. There are really amazing, lovely people in the world with such open hearts. I love that travelling brings you to meet people you would never discover in your closed world at home.

Upon arriving at the hotel I had a glorious warm shower & read my book outside in the afternoon breeze. This is my happy place, feeling clean, accomplished & completely content. We chatted with our fellow trekkers & had dinner before all admitting defeat to our tiredness by 8pm. We had an early 4am start & our bodies were ready to be rejuvenated. I was sorry that it was my last night of trekking & thought it had went by all too quickly. I fell asleep smiling at what a great day I had with new friends & pushing my physical & mental boundaries.

Poon Hill Day 3: Sunrise at Poon Hill

In the quiet of the third cold, blustery morning I set off at 5am to conquer the last hour of summit before sunrise. After 3 steps up the path my lungs were faltering while my legs were fit & able to continue. I pushed through it presuming it was the cold or the altitude but my lungs could not keep up. It was my slowest ascent with many, MANY, breaks. The hue of the sun sneaking up behind the mountain was spurring us to continue. My neurons were dulled by the confusion of the altitude compromised biting cold air accompanied by the stifling sweat of my muscular & cardiovascular effort. The sun was rising faster than my footfall & I pushed hard to make it to the summit before the sun, challenging the elements on every aspect & pushing my physique & mindset.

Our guide kept encouraging us saying it was only 10 more minutes to the top – but with all these steps & my faltering lungs it felt impossible. Only one group of people overtook us which was a reassurance that our pace was not as dismal as it felt. Finally, after an hour of full blown effort at such a slow pace, we completed the 1000M final climb to Poon Hill 3210M. Flat land has never been so appealing!

On the last steps my already shallow breath was taken away by the ferociously stunning impact the breaking dawn etched over one of the worlds highest peaks. The view of the Annapurna mountain range was overwhelmingly striking in all its majestic grandeur. I gazed, entirely absorbed, unable to tear myself away from the powerful encompassing beauty. The view at the top was magnificent. We could clearly see the vast Annapurna mountain range. The sun slowly crept behind them taking us into a brand new day.

There weren’t many people on the top when we arrived but quickly this turned into 100 people. It didn’t feel too crowded though & I felt like I was able to enjoy my surroundings in relative peace. I got a hot chocolate as a toasty reward & chatted with my fellow trekkers. I gave myself a good 10 minutes of flat land before I went up the viewing tower. It was incredible. Did I mention I love mountains??

Once we felt our third eyes were truly open & had enough of taking pictures we made the descent back to our hostel. Keen to go to the bathroom & recharge my phone for the day I quickly skipped down the steps in 15-20mins. My legs were like jelly at the end! The power was out at the hotel so it was wasted effort for my phone. I had a ginger lemon honey (my current beverage of choice) & told my wobbling legs that everything is going to be ok.

 

Poon Hill Tips:

-Make sure your phone & camera are fully charged as the cold weather quickly drains the power.

-Layers are best. I was so hot on the climb I stripped down to a t-shirt but had to put my hoody back on when we were standing around at the top

-A splash of Baileys really would have made my hot chocolate quite special

 

Poon Hill Day 2, Ulleri – Ghorepani

Day 2 Ulleri – Gorepani

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With a belly full of porridge, bananas & honey & a ginger lemon honey tea I skipped up the mountain steps at 7am. The cool morning air was a welcome change from the heat of the day before. My legs felt surprisingly fresh! We passed by various tea houses ‘namaste’ing everyone we seen & admiring the cuteness of the small children. I flitted between discussing everything from childbirth to Nepalese politics to popping my earphones in & getting lost in my music. Bliss.

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The walk was not an easy one with continuous up & down hills (to be expected when trekking in Nepal) & plenty of sets of steps – in case we needed to be weaned off them after the epic 3200 steps yesterday. We met a lot of trekkers on their return from seeing the Poon Hill sunrise that morning. They were the happy ones who were mainly going downhill! They confirmed it was beautiful & spurred us on when we were feeling fatigued.

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We reached Gorepani for lunch & I had a Dal Bhat 24 hour, full power! This is what most Nepalese eat twice a day, everyday. It has rice, a curry, pickle & veg plus it is bottomless! While you’re eating you will continuously be offered top ups of everything until you tell them enough. I didn’t even get that far! The portion was huge!

After another TIMS check in we climbed steps for 15 minutes to reach our hotel for the evening – Hill View Hotel. The majority of the hotels & restaurants feature the word ‘view’. We passed numerous places called Hill view, mountain view, super view, annapurna view, nice view, etc, etc.


Our guide booked us into the hotel closest to Poon Hill to make for an easier climb the next morning. I was exhausted & had a cold shower then a nap. I love a sunset & was keen to climb Poon Hill to enjoy it but the cloud cover & my heavy legs made me opt against it. Big mistake! Just before dinner the clouds dispersed to reveal a beautiful sunset on Mount Fishtail. Glorious!

In the evening we sat in the restaurant/lounge area & chatted with other trekkers. Everyone was feeling tired but exhilarated at making it this far. For dinner I had some slices of pizza, my body keen to take on any fuel I’m feeding it.  After dinner I went straight back to bed & read my book before going to sleep again. I feel like I spent all afternoon sleeping since arriving at 1pm. My body must need it – clearly in shock with all the work it’s doing. Good work body! Sorry I didn’t prepare you better! Next time I will, promise!

The Other Side

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I am delighted to report that I have made it to the other side. I have unpacked, settled into my new home, met up with my friends for drinks & contracted altitude related VerbiAids. It happens to even the most seasoned seasonnaire.

I have left my native Ireland for my second ski season in Switzerland. I am working in a beautiful & exclusive resort as a masseuse & sports rehabilitation therapist. I won’t even begin to describe how striking my surroundings are. I will attempt to transport you here via photography however the only way to fully appreciate the beauty is in person.

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I am being hugged by the Swiss Alps. They are comforting, superior & extraordinary. They elevate my mood & render me speechless. They exude class & unrivalled perfection. I feel so blessed to be able to call this home.

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