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Great Himalaya Trail Part 2: Eastern Nepal

Rice terraces

Leaving Kathmandu, we ended up taking a direct bus to Taplejung. The downside is that it was a 24-hour journey. Most of the trip was through curvy switchbacks up and down mountains. At every turn, I had to brace myself so I wouldn’t fall out of my seat. Thankfully we hit a long, straight patch of road for a few hours in the night and could get some sleep.

We spent the next night in Taplejung. Technically our hike started further west. Instead of taking another bus, we decided to hike west to the start of the trail then find a jeep or bus back to Taplejung to continue east. We were tired of sitting and wanted to hike. There was a road for much of our first day. We opted to take shortcut trails whenever we could. Much of our navigation consisted of asking locals for directions. Only occasionally do we find English speakers, so most of the time we point and say the name of the next village. That’s been a pretty effective method for us.

Himalaya

For our first night on the trail, we camped down the road from the village of Lalikarka. Buckey found a tent spot for us on the river bed. I cooked dinner on our camp stove, and we listened to a few chapters of Game of Thrones on audiobook. Around 2 am, we were woken up to a thunderstorm and lightning so bright it illuminated the inside of the tent. I worried about the river rising up to where we camped. I fell asleep again after the storm calmed down. In the morning, I saw that the river had rose by a foot.

We hiked up, up, up for most of our second day. The trail took us through rice terraces where farmers tended their crops. We hiked through the jungle, and Buckey pointed out interesting birds. Every now and then, we walked through a village or small settlement. In every village, Buckey says “namaste” to every person he sees. There’s so many baby goats, chickens, and dogs all around.

After a long day of uphill, we came to the village of Kande Bhanjyang, where we had dal bhat for lunch. The owner spoke some English and was very friendly. Finally, we had a downhill trek to get to our destination for the day, Tellok. We asked around for the one guesthouse. The women who ran the property were nice. We couldn’t understand a word of what the other was saying. People in the village kept stopping by to come look at us and say hi. We were the spectacle of the town. One local man told us we were the twelfth group of visitors ever. We found a crazy, huge, jungle spider by Buckey’s bed.

View from our room

The following day, we hoped to finish our route and get ready to head back to Taplejung. We called it our “contour line day” as the maps showed it to be mostly flat and following the same contour lines. We covered most of our miles before lunch. Getting closer to the main road, there was lots of construction under way. At the river they were building a dam, and there was road construction as well. We walked too far down the road and had to turn around and go back the way we came. Upon arriving in the Thumbeding, which we thought was the correct place to be, we learned that there were no jeeps leaving that town.

A man helped us figure out where to go. His mother went to their crops and brought us handfuls of snap peas. The village homes had straw roofs, and there were banana trees everywhere. Finally we walked back down the hill and across a suspension bridge to Dhalgon. We thought there would be a guest house, but there was not.

It being evening, we were exhausted and just wanted to find a campsite. A teenage boy on a motorbike stopped to talk to us. His name was Promise. Soon enough we were walking to his house beside a school. The locals let us set up our tent on the playground. We cooked dinner as some shy locals watched from the hill. Others came over to examine our tent and watch me cook on the camp stove.

Rooftop jeep ride

We woke up before 6 to dogs barking at each other. We packed up and were escorted by Promise’s father to a roadside spot. We were told it would be a good place to catch a taxi (or jeep).

After about 2 hours of waiting, a jeep arrived. It was already packed full, so we hopped on the roof and sat on the luggage rack. The road was dirt, steep, and curvy. We bounced all over the place until finally arriving at the highway where things smoothed out. Now we can check off riding on the roof of a jeep through the jungle from our bucket lists.

We plan to spend the night in Taplejung. Tomorrow we will start the walk to Tumlingtar, the start of Makalu Base Camp trek. It should take us about 5 days to reach Tumlingtar.

Jungle houses

3 Things from Buckey:

  1. The people of eastern Nepal are rugged, weathered, hardworking, kind, and helpful. They are always willing to point us in the correct direction.
  2. There are many song birds out each morning ranging in size and color. One that stood out was a type of bird that is blue with an orange beak with a fan like tail that is over a foot long.
  3. Roxy the local home brewed millet wine is okay, but not really that good.

Miles hiked: 37

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