Time to trek
“Who’s leader today?”
“When are we leaving?”
“How long is it going to take?”
“What’s happening when we get there?”
“Well aren’t those things you should be finding out?”
Time to get those roles working again. We moved on from Bandipur to Pokhara and it was time to start the trek.
The Poon Hill trek is a 6 day trek and has lots of steps, which some of the team were not ready for! Getting out of comfort zones is what expeditions are all about; learn and experience. This trek has some of the best scenery in the world, sadly we didn’t see much of it! Being the monsoon season in Nepal, the clouds were low and full of rain most days. It rained everyday but mostly a little in the afternoon and at night.
Overlooking the rain, looking down the valleys and seeing the jungle around us was incredible. Daily trekking times differed from around 7 hours a day to 3 days a day. Giving the students time to really enjoy and appreciate being in this diverse environment.
Wondering through villages and over bridges, seeing the locals in the paddy fields and admiring the complicated irrigation systems employed to feed the water to the right fields at the right time.
On the Poon Hill day, the plan was to get up at 0400hrs, head out at 0415hrs and be at the top for sunrise. I was up and the weather was horrific; pouring it down and windy. I had to decide “Do we get soaking wet to maybe see a sunrise or do we not?”
All credit to the team without fail they were up and ready at 0415hrs. Standing in the dark, not quite awake, fully kitted up with head torches on. The guides had got up which surprised me, but they had got to know me and knew I could say let’s do it. But we didn’t and at 0700hrs, we were up again for breakfast and the rain had gone. The full beauty of the Annapurna range was on display.
We headed up to the top of Poon Hill to stunning views of Annapurna, the fishtail and Dhaulagiri, which is the seventh highest peak in the world. It was a fitting reward to the team for all the hard work they had put in trekking.
Chitwan National Park
We spent the last few days at Chitwan National Park. It was an excellent few days to reward them for their efforts in the project and the trek. One of the things that the students were desperate to do was the Elephant Safari. These well looked after animals take you out into the jungle for about 2 hours. The interesting thing about being on the back of an Elephant is that you seem to be camouflaged to the rest of the wildlife. The main highlight was seeing the one horned Rhino. They didn’t seem bothered by the Elephants and therefore didn’t notice us sitting on the Elephants backs. The ride took us through swamps, jungle, grassland and rivers an amazing experience.
A time to reflect
Reviewing is an essential part of the learning experience. Every night of the trip, we sat down to go through the days experiences, how the roles had worked, issues anyone had and to discuss the plan for the next day.
Back in Kathmandu, it was time for the final review. Each student was given 3 matchsticks. These work as tokens, for each token, they get to say one thing. This ensures they think carefully about what to say. I summed up the whole expedition and highlighted the trials, the tribulations and the high points and the low points.
Reminding them of what they have achieved over the last 18 months through the whole youth development course. They spoke about some very interesting points and comments. Things they had learnt about themselves and each other, the realisation of how life is different around the world, what they had learnt, how they will think about the way they do things in the future.
It had been a life changing experience for all of them in many ways.