Something isn't right here! After days of descending and relatively easy walking we were suddenly confronted with the idea of going uphill again. Not just a little bit either, the route to Ghorepani involved an ascent of around 1700 metres just when it seemed as if all the hard stuff was behind us. In any case it was another fine sunny day, and we began the day with a great view of the Nilgiri behind us.
Just below Tatopani we left the valley that we had followed for several days and with an initially fairly steep climb we reached a broad track - the result of road construction work. We were climbing up a green valley with small attractive villages scattered amongst the terraced fields of rice, millet and corn.
The path was not difficult, and often paved inside the villages. Some stretches were made up of stone steps which certainly helps to preserve the path but which also became tiring to walk up on a hot day. About half way we passed through the beautiful village of Sikha. Some of the houses even have their own beehive.
After this point the landscape began to change as we got higher. Soon we reached the beginning of the rhododendron forest that dominates the upper slopes of this valley. In my ignorance, I had been completely unaware that there was such a thing, having only thought of rhododendrons as being smaller ornamental bushes. Some of the trees in the humid forest had thick, twisting branches. Almost everything had a coating of lichen.
The latter part of the walk was tough, not so much because the path became more difficult, just a result of the long climb and perhaps some effect from being again at a higher altitude, around 3000 metres. The views were fabulous looking back down the valley we had ascended.
Ghorepani itself is not an especially attractive place, but there were plenty of people there and the reason for that is called Poon Hill. This nearby hill is supposed to be one of the great viewpoints for admiring the surrounding mountains, and we had high hopes for it following the disappointing time we had with the weather over on the other side of the Annapurna massif. It was a bit cloudy in the afternoon, but we got some glimpses of distant peaks from the village and the weather had been so good the past few days that we didn't really expect to be unlucky the next morning on Poon Hill.
It was cold up here though, especially after the heat of the previous couple of days further down. By later afternoon we were already ordering tea and huddling round the stove in the hotel. It didn't matter too much, we were not planning to stay up late as we would be getting a very early start before dawn the next day.
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