Currently Corona semi-lockdown is active in our city where we cannot travel outside the state. I can hear far away tall-snow mountains whispering in my ear and I am unable to reach them. Hope is alive and soon I will see them again. Until then I was on lookout to search for quiet haven of nature near me that isn’t known to many people. To seek quiet heaven away from city - to forget about work and responsibility for a while, and get myself immersed in sounds of nature. As if mother nature heard my wish I found an information about a secret creek in dense jungle located in hills some 1 hour away from the city. I have been preparing and waiting for little bushcraft adventure and this opened an opportunity. It would be great hiking adventure with my first attempt in starting bushcraft.I made a plan for hiking to that place and cook a whole roast chicken in little bushcraft style on campfire near that creek. Winter has marked their arrival but it’s not fully cold yet - still have one more month to feel the chilly needles into skin. I woke up early morning and prepare fresh countryside chicken from local farm near-me. I made all the preparation of spice-mix, additional seasonings, grill plates, matchsticks, drinking water and my camera equipment. We were set to go.
Hike was an uphill trail with landslide prone path at the beginning. After 15 minutes forest started to grow and soon we had a thick foliage and beautiful canopy above our head. More deeper we went, and old aged trees start to make appearance with their majestic girth and thickness standing tall reaching sky. Beautiful blue wild flowers were jostling playfully with wind. All stress and worrisome was forgotten. We reached the mountain creek.
I went outdoors to forest in hills of Nepal to forage mushrooms and identify them. Monsoon has announced its presence and marks the season for some edible mushrooms from Amanita family to be found in wild. Amanita is tricky family and recommended to avoid by non-experienced mushroom foragers. We were looking for mainly edible Caesar’s Mushrooms or Amanita Caesarea. There are poisonous imposters so be careful and be 100% sure.
I am an inexperienced mushroom forager beginner with no experience in mushroom identification. This marked my first field experience in identifying wild mushrooms. I brought along my mother who has some experience in identifying edible mushrooms - mainly caesar’s mushroom. Right now, Forest is lush green and so fresh like springtime of youth from monsoon rains and making appearances of Amanita mushrooms that is common native to this nearby region during from months of June to August.
January mostly is the coldest month in Nepal. This year we received heavy and lasting snowfall in mountains. The hills where snowfall is not frequent and rare were covered under white blanket. I planned a winter hike and outdoor cooking trip in Arghakhanchi district - to a small village Darakateri. There is an observation point surrounded by forest at the peak which was our destination.
I made a stop at my cousin’s place who lives in beautiful village Amlabas in Palpa district. Amlabas is some 30 KM away from Arghakhanchi district. Rain started pouring in noon. Generally it is a good indication for the weather next morning because it could become clear of haze and we have a perfect view of Mt Dhaulagiri. By evening rain had stopped and our decision to ride in motorcycle to Darakateri village was confirmed. We would stay a night in Darakateri and early morning we would start our hike to the peak. Late evening when sun did set half an hour ago we reached Darakateri village. It was freezing cold. We sat around wood fire and enjoyed the basking in heat to warm our bodies. After dinner we tucked in our bed early for our next morning.
I see the sleeping giants wrapped under red tint of blanket that covered the skyline. Birds with their beautiful chirps tries to awake them from night’s slumber. At home I never feel such peace running through my body. I kept watching at the horizon until red blanket spread by sun melted away into sparking cool blue hue.
At 2100 meters elevation above Swargadwari is located in Pyuthan District of Nepal. Swargadwari in English literally means “Door to Heaven”. In epic Mahabharata, Pandavas supposedly worshipped here before departing to heaven. This is a holy site in Hinduism and Hindu pilgrims from local and India frequently comes here every year.
Ghandruk Trek. A short beautiful hiking trail in Kaski district of Nepal that we completed in 2 days. We hiked a loop starting at Syaulibazar then Ghandruk to Australian Camp through Landruk. Last week I had an opportunity to visit Kaski District and made a plan to do a short hiking of Ghandruk during my short leave. I had total 4 days and had to be back home on the 4th day. That left me with 2 days of hiking. I made a plan to hike small section of Ghandruk loop trail that starts from Syaulibazar and ends in Kande after Australian camp. Ghandruk loop trek is very short beautiful trail in Nepal on foothills of Annapurna range. My cousin tagged along.
Here we go.
How tough is the Ghandruk Trek?
What should I carry on Ghandruk Trek?
How is food quality at tea houses on Ghandruk Trek trail?
Our hike started from Sisne Khola. It’s few meters after or before Jhumsa Bridge if you are coming from Butwal or Tansen. There is a message board with direction too but in Nepali language so if you are a foreigner you could ask tea houses. They will guide you to the start of trail.
Trail is very easy to identify because mostly they are of stones so very hard to get lost. Kinda stairs made of stone. We followed it. First half of trails passes through forest. After forest we met off-road dirt path for small vehicles. Don’t follow it. Trail made of stones is just across the road and follow that. You want to hike through nature not dusty road.
This weekend I did a short hike to Ranimahal or Ranighat palace located in the banks of Kali Gandaki River. My first time visit to Ranighat was in Jeep vehicle. Journey was very unpleasant due to bumpy and dusty road so have your expectations set accordingly. Near the end of road trip - view of Ranimahal from distant was spectacular with river valley behind and river flowing nearby the banks. Landscape was picturesque. The insides are vacant. Once again don’t have your expectations too up. There isn’t much to the architecture of interiors that could be praised about.
Later I found information on short hiking route/trail to Ranighat. This peaked my interest. What Ranimahal lacks in interiors is compensated by the beautiful landscape around it. I planned the hike with my cousin. The hiking journey was memorable where we passed through clean rustic villages, corn fields, green slopes of hills, lush green forests, lots of creeks and small waterfalls. There were countless small creeks and streams on the trails. I could feel the nature and that is the experience all hikers needs.
Photography and vlogging is my recent new hobby and the craft I am learning. Primary reason behind this new found interest is because I want to capture my hiking and outdoor travels other than my eyes. I want to share the experience with people.
Secondary reason is mental exercise that I recieve in a good way. I am from the field of software engineering and if you may believe or not it requires creativity to solve problems which is the most important skills required in any form of engineering. It’s an art too. No wonder why there are less good engineers among many in saturated market here. I learn new skills whether it is related to my work or if it is a new hobby. It keeps the flow of neurone active and sharp.
Remember new hobbies can be expensive in your wallet based on what hobby you choose so tread carefully and plan.
This weekend I decided to go doban and stretch some extra kilo metres to my daily hike. My daily trail extends upto 5 km uphill and back downhill isn’t a big stress, credits to the fresh air, smoky mountains and chirping of birds that are enough to heal my body and soul.
I decided to backpack for the weekend hike to cover small settlement called Doban beside Tinau river.
There is an official short hike trail from near Fulbari zoo in Butwal. Tourist and locals use it. I wanted to walk along the peak of hills and embrace the scenic beauty from top. Hence I took long path instead. Nuwakot village was my first destination from where Doban was 3 Km downhill. I started my journey from northwest outskirts of Butwal city, somewhere between Belbas and Jeetgadhi.