A word to the wise:
If you’re in Nepal, and you get invited to join a group of 15 year-olds from Nisarga Batika School for their six-hour spring walk, ask a few questions ahead of time:
- What kind of “walk” are we talking about?
- Is a spring walk what we Americans call impossible mountain climbing?
- Is this just a warmup for their upcoming seven-day trek in Pokhara?
- Does your trip leader, Sudeep, happen to be a triathlete?
- Did he recently come in third in the Pokhara triathlon sprint?
- Are you older than 15?
Despite my lack of forethought, I not only survived the trek, but had a great time. We climbed Deurali danda, which I thought from a map lookup was far west of Kathmandu. Apparently, though, it just means hilltop, of which there are many in Nepal, even in the Kathmandu Valley. The summit is near Chandragiri Hill, where there is now a modern cable car for tourists.
Our ascent was gradual at first, but soon we heard some alarming advice from our trek leader: “It now becomes a single track, steep, and slippery from the rain. Watch your step. Stay in groups of four to watch for slips.”
Also, “Be alert for wild animals. We saw leopards on the last two treks. Clap your hands and yell when you see one.”
There were no leopards as far as I could see. Our mishaps turned out to be minor. There were many screams when one student picked up a leech. One had minor cuts and a sore wrist from a fall. Another sprained an ankle, reinjuring some previous damage from sports.
I broke the ice, or rather the leaf litter, when my foot sank through a deep hole. No damage except to my pride. That recovered a bit when I saw one after another of the others have minor slips.
The students were all in better shape than I was at their age, but a few appeared to have had a bit too much screen time, for which I was grateful. There were frequent calls for rest breaks.