Northland Controls Mardi Basecamp Challenge
Beyul got another opportunity to host 22 participants from Northland Controls. Initially, we had planned to go to Chetang Village and hike the Gosaikunda Circuit. But, due to devastating landslides at the village, we had to change the destination. We had a meeting with Guy Morgante, team leader from Northlands on one Saturday, and within an hour of the meeting, we decided to try Mardi base camp trek for the participants. Contributing to the community while being in Nepal was something we didn’t want to miss. Ghampower arranged for another site at Gorkha where participants could help install the solar system in the school. Then, we changed the itinerary to include Gorkha and finalized the itinerary last week.
Everyone arriving in Nepal for the first time was very excited. From the exchange of emails between participants, it was clear that everyone was looking forward to this trip. On the 7th of October, all participant arrived, and after visiting a few shops at Thamel, we were ready to start trekking. To avoid the traffic the next day we left early at 5:45 am. Everyone showed up on time and had breakfast on the bus. The bus ride was fun. Everyone introduced themselves and started the bonding process between participants and guides. With a short bathroom break in between, we stopped for lunch at around 1 PM. After lunch, we took a different bus, since the road was unpaved, and we needed a four-wheel drive to get to the solar installation site. The road was a bit narrow in spots and participants had a few interesting moments.
We arrived at the village, and we began helping in the solar installation. Groups were divided into battery section, panel section, and community section. All participants were feeling very useful and challenged as part of the solar installation to bring consistent power to the school, specifically the computer room. Stephanie from Grid Alternatives was very busy making sure that every participant was safe and busy. We could not be more thankful to Grid and Ghampower for that community experience. After the cultural show, we had to leave before it was dark to take the narrow roads to our hotel.
Arriving later than expected at the hotel, we were treated to a wonderful dinner. After the long and hard day, most of us started with a beer, which was well deserved. The next morning, we left for the hike around Gorkha palace at 7 am. This hike proved to be very fruitful to know everyone’s pace and to make sure everyone was ready for the bigger trek. After breakfast, we left for Pothana, our first day of the trek. We had lunch at Pokhara, and due to some traffic, we started to hike after 5:30. All groups arrived at Pothana around 8. Rooms had been allocated and, most of us again started our dinner with beer. 🙂
The next morning, the view was clear, and everyone was fascinated with the mountains (the first of many photo opportunities). This day’s hike was an easy one so we didn’t start until 8 am. Just after 1:30-2 hours of hiking we stopped at Pritam Deurali. The amazing view, ginger tea, light snacks, we were good to start the hike to Forest Camp, the destination for that day. The silence of the forest, the chirping birds, few unkind uphills, and other friendly flat land walks, we were having the time of our lives. We arrived at Forest camp around 4. The noodle soup in between was something everyone was talking about. That really was yummy and refreshing. Not sure why, but after hiking all day, noodle soup and dal-bhat taste amazing.
Because of the size of the group we split into two hotels within a stone through of each other. It had started to get chilly now, so everyone bundled up. After a few fun games during dinner that Matt initiated, everyone went to bed early. The next morning was a tougher hike since we had to go through lots of up hills, and totally different vegetation. The pace of each group was different, so each group had a guide to support them. We left at 7 am after taking breakfast at the hotel. From the start of today’s hike, we went uphill, this really tested the fitness of the participants. We arrived at Badal Danda at around 12-1 and stopped there for the lunch. Everyone wanted to have the noodle soup again, but later we found out that dal-bhat was pre-ordered. So, everyone agreed to have dal-again.
The hike from Badal Danda to High camp was amazing. The trees were starting to decline and were completely null after some time. We were a bit worried about the altitude sickness, but, with the amazing view, grasslands, mountains, and the whimsical weather everyone were savoring the moment and altitude sickness wasn’t an issue. Nasfra, despite being an asthmatic, was courageous on that trek and made it to High Camp. The laughs we shared, the talks about principles of life, and with everyone having a good time cemented the bonding relationship for all.
It was a bit cloudy at High Camp when everyone arrived around 4 that day. The weather changes fast so we could see clear mountains in front of us for a minute, and the next minute it would be covered by clouds. The place had lots of hikers. The hotel we stayed at was so hospitable and managed everyone’s needs with a smile on their face. We had dinner, took a look around, gazed at the stars for some time and everyone went to bed early.
Next morning, we started hiking at 4 am. With the early start required our headlights so using our headlights on the first day’s hike turned out to be a blessing. It was very cold in the morning. The hike was difficult and very narrow as expected. We took it slow, took lots of breathing breaks and hiked again, repeat. The first group made it to the viewpoint before sunrise. All groups arrived in time to be treated with amazing views. The view from the viewpoint on that day was mesmerizing. Surrounded by mountains all around with very clear blue sky, and lots of happy faces around, the place looked like a fairy tale. We had tea there, did a circle-of-silence with the team and took a lot of photographs. This moment will stay in our mind forever. None of us wanted to leave that place.
We then started hiking back to the hotel. Everyone made it pretty fast and had breakfast at the High Camp hotel. We took 1-1: 30-hour break there and started hiking back to Low Camp. All participants made it to Low Camp at 1 and had our lunch there. Most of us again had noodle soup. The next day’s hike was supposed to be at Lwang Ghalel village, which was again long. So, as it was only 2 after lunch, we decided to hike downhill until Sidding to shorten the hike distance for the next day. The trail was tough, and slippery due to rain. The rain and the difficult trail made everyone go slow, so we arrived in Sidding from 7 to 9 pm.
Next day, we decided not to go to Lwang Ghalel, instead head back to Pokhara. After a few phone calls, we were able to manage the same hotel that we were supposed to stay the next day. We arranged for Nasfra, Paula and Eric to take a jeep to Lumle. After 2-3 hours of hiking, we arrived at Lumle. There, we had an amazing time, with picturesque views, lots of beer and an amazing lunch. We had a thank you ceremony to our porters, without whom we could not have imagined the success of this trip. The fun bus ride from Lumis to Pokhara was another event that would stay with us – lots of laughs and more beer, and a belly dancing show by Jerry.
We arrived in a happy mood at the hotel in Pokhara. That night a few of participants decided to stay back at the hotel and take some rest. While most of us went to explore Pokhara’s nightclubs. We had some amazing time there and danced late into the night. Next day some participants went on to try Paragliding while others went white water rafting. After shopping and strolling around the city, we again headed back to bars after dinner. Two days in Pokhara that were full of laughs and lots of memories to take back home.
Next morning, half of the participants made it to Stupa as we were driving at 7 in the morning. The view of Stupa is amazing.
We then took flight from Pokhara and arrived at Kathmandu hotel. We had more time the next day visiting Swoyambunath, the monkey temple, and Patan. The amazing architecture of Swoyambhunath, friendly monkeys all over, historical architecture of Patan was fascinating.
That night we had our last dinner at Thamel. We were able to show the glimpse of the tour via video at dinner and had some reflection on the trip. We could see that group was having a hard time to say goodbye to each other, so they shared beers and promised everyone to meet next time. Everyone went home with amazing stories and friendships that will last forever. We felt that we were able to show the participants a true Nepal experience, along with creating an environment for team bonding.