“I read it somewhere how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong. To measure yourself at least once…” a dialog excerpt from the movie “Into the Wild”, my favorite movie which has always inspired me to travel. I had in my mind for long time about solo one day hike or something like that. But something always stood in the way. Country recently has been hit by devastating earthquake followed by the monsoon. So, I had to hold it.
One day while working at office, my friend Saroj messaged me on Facebook “Bro… What about hiking…?” and then my reply was not a yes or no. I replied “Sundarijal to Chisapani”. The message circulated among friends and then we were four (Amrit, Ganga, Saroj and Me) and the tour was the next day. We had less than 18 hours to plan about the hike but we managed to get everything ready for one of the longest hike route of our life (at least for now). Saroj and Amrit went for shopping the day before the hiking. We planned to gather at Chabahill chowk before six in the morning so we had to leave our room early.
Chapter One: The Hike Day
What a great day it was. The weather was cool and a bit cloudy. We left our room to reach the Chabahill chowk at 5 AM. We had to walk because no public vehicle was available at early hours. A middle aged man comes by his car and asks “Vai ka samma ho… Aunus ma lagidinchu” and then he left us to the point. After waiting for an hour, we finally took the bus to the Sundarijal at 7 A.M in the morning and reached there around 7:45 A.M. It was the month of Shrawan, the holy month for worshipping Lord Shiva. We could see people in Yellow colored dress coming there to collect “Sacred Water”. So, during our walk we could meet some groups on the way. We had a short lunch there and then we were ready to walk. We left Sundarijal at 8 A.M and after one and half hour of walk reached “Shivapuri-Nagarjun National Park” entrance where you need to pay 50 rupees fee. From there after walking for 15 minutes we reached a dam. We had some snaps there. And after that all we had to walk is up hill. Now, there was less talk and more walk. We were all on our own.
My “Ear buds Mode” was on. “Eddie Vedder” was on my playlist. Whenever I am on travel, these songs gives me wings. I was walking and enjoying my own company. I turned back to see where my friends are. I couldn’t see them. Then I went on. It was like solo hiking. Most of the time, the roads were confusing so, I asked the locals the way to Chisapani. After walking for an hour, I paused my music and it was time for the nature’s musical. I could hear sound of small water shed and birds chirping around me. On the way, I was capturing some of the wild things.
We were like one and half hour far from the Sundarijal. We expected that we will reach Chisapani in around four hours. I was little bit tired so thought to take rest and waited for the friends. And then we moved along. After walking through the fields for a while, most of the route was stairs. Locals suggested us to take the stairs if we want to reach Chisapani the shortest way. I was updating my Facebook status about the hike whenever there was mobile network available. Facebook timeline was more like a travel log. I was also writing small details on my phone so that I could catch things later on.
At times again the friends were behind me, I could see them from the other hill. I met a group of three guys who were also on the hike to Chisapani. I asked them about the destination and places but they were unknown and was on their first hike to Chisapani like us. I was with them for some time and then they went ahead when I stopped for taking rest. Sometimes the road were straight, the next staircase and sometimes it was like caves.
It was like three hours we have walked from Sundarijal. We walked half way and started to feel hungry. All the foods we had for the hike was in my bag. The other one was carrying water and energy drinks. Although we distributed the things so that we could ease the load on each other, we did it the wrong way. Here’s the tip guys, Distribute each and every resources you have in proportional because while hiking one of the group member could be miles behind and at times of need it could be difficult. Writing that point on my smartphone, I waited for the friends for some lunch and drinks. Under no ceiling and sitting at the staircase and with a great view a head of us, we eat.
We took the initiative “If we are here to enjoy green, let’s keep it green”. So all the plastics and wastages were packed and we carried it in our bags. I took the lead and started to walk towards the destination. So far the hiking route has been great with the majestic views of nature, floral and faunas. After one hour of walk, I saw group of four guys returning and thought they were from Chisapani. I asked them how far it is and will we be able to return to valley by today evening. They said it takes you about more one hour to reach chisapani and there’s a rare chance for return back. I came to know they stayed up last night on chisapani and they advised me better return back soon and stay at Mulkharka because the houses has been destroyed by earthquake and staying there might be difficult for you. We had limited budget since we were on plan to return back and thought it was possible to return.
It’s been four hour of continuous walk and I thought within few steps we will reach there. But as said by the guys, one more hour of walk was way more than we expected. Although tired, the favorable climate and awesome views encouraged us to keep walking. And we did keep walking.
Chapter Two: Reaching the Destination and Change in the Plan
After 5 hours (14 KM) of continuous walking from the Sundarijal, we all finally arrived the Chisapani. There were countable houses and all of them were destroyed by earthquake, leaning with each other. When we saw the destruction made by the earthquake, we asked one handicapped man about the place. We came to know that we were standing on the borderline of three districts: Kathmandu, Nuwakot and Sindhupalchowk. We came by Kathmandu, and lunched on Sindhupalchok.
The other three guys I’ve met on the way were about to return after having lunch there. We asked them if they are returning the same way and they were. We went to a small hotel where the old guys were playing cards. We ordered for the chow chow soup and four plates of Sukuti. We calculated that it may takes us about three hours to reach Sundarijal if we returned the same way because we don’t need to walk up hills.
During lunch we were talking about borders and one of the local who was playing cards said “uuu tyo kukuhara vakkarai Sindhupalchok bata Nuwakot chiryo…” and we returned back the joke with the locals “Dai ya ta sajilo raxa tapai harulai… Nuwakot ma kukhura ko daam badyo vaney tya gayera beche huney raxa”.
After reaching Chisapani, we came to know that the way continues to Nagarkot which was about 18 KM from Chisapani. The locals said that the way to Nagarkot is easy then you have travelled so far. It was about three hours of walk as suggested by them. It was 1 PM at the time of lunch at Chisapani. We finally decided to walk for the Nagarkot, the other 18 KM.
No one among us had research this route on internet before the hike. None of us has travelled to Nagarkot before. All we had in our mind was we had to reach there at 5 PM and catch the bus to the valley and anyhow land on our bed for the tonight’s sleep. And now we walk again.
Chapter Three: Getting Lost and Search for Human
We left chisapani at 1:30 PM and walked down the hill. So far the weather has been supportive but on the way, we were hit by heavy rain. We all looked like yeti in our raincoats. After walking for about one and half hour we reached the point where the way goes to four different direction. We are now confused which way to take. For the first time in our 6 hours of walk, we took the help of GPS on our smartphone which was not functioning properly. There was a small board point the way to Nagarkot. It was of thin metal that wind could shake it.
We started to back check the every trail we passed on the maps, calculated the total time we walk after Chisapani and after a long mathematical equations we solved the puzzle and figured out that we are walking at the rate of 4 KM per hour (downhill , no stairs). Nagarkot was more like 10KM and there was another way pointing to Sundarijal (11KM) and other one was pointing to some resort named “Prakriti Resort” which seems to be far.
Although the way to Nagarkot seems to be narrow (the left way on the above image ) and mostly inside jungles, we wanted to take a new route back to home. We were now moving in group because we were kind of sure we will not find any groups and people on this route like before. There was no single mark of vehicles on the way, so were pretty sure we had to walk all the way, no chance to hitch hike even if we are late. After walking for about 45 Minutes, we were inside intense jungle and it was dark. There was conflict among us whether to continue or not. In confusion and fear, we were taking steps and we used to see light and a bit wide way, and hope was driving us. But then came a place where we were in no state to continue further cause no signs of humans and villages till now and ahead too. And if we didn’t return in time, chances were to stay the night at jungle with no proper shelter. We voted and majority decided to return back.
Now we were planning for what to do next. Either to head towards the Sundarijal or the Resort. I suggested to move towards resort and let’s see if we could get some help while the other friend said let’s not waste time if we walk towards sundarijal its 2.5 hours of walk at out average speed. We came back to the point where the way leads to four places after 30 Minutes of walk (Total one hour wasted). I had 5 Jukaas and Amrit had some on his body. If the hiking route is jungle it’s better to be in trouser rather than half-pants. We were planning and deciding what to do and after few minutes group guys came in motorcycle from Sundarijal and after talking to them we decided to head towards Sundarijal. It’s 11 KM away and the time was 4 PM.
We had to reach Sundarijal before 6 or at least 6:30 so that there’s a chance to catch the bus to the valley. We walk. The way was easy so we thought we could reach in expected time. Two of the friends (Amrit and Saroj) were hurt badly so they were not able to walk properly. We had figured out the budgets earlier if any how we had to stay the night. No snaps, no talking, no majestic views, no sideways thrills, only we were walking. Whenever we see human face, we asked how far it is and all we got is miscalculated information (Maybe for us). Ganga was leading all of us and after about 2 and half hour of walk he reached there and called me on my phone and said there’s only one bus available but not sure if it goes or not. Chances are high if it finds enough passenger. Then we speed up our walk. We finally reached Sundarijal at 7 PM. The bus decided to go. We finally arrived room at 8:15 PM.
Chapter Four: The Conclusion
It was yesterday we went on hiking. The total distance we walked was approx. 35 KM and about 9 Hours of walk and 15 Hours to return back to the bed. We have internet now and found that the lost way which we decided to return back would take us to the destination (Nagarkot) but we couldn’t continue that any further. I might have missed may thrills, experiences, lesson learnt but I tried to cover the most in this blog. Yesterday, I spent 48 hours in a day. So, guys we have this limited span in our life, make it worth living that in the end you could say that you’ve lived more than enough… Concluded…!!!