Trek from Sundarijal to Chisopani
Having missed out on a 3-day trek to Kusumtang on the Helambu trail with the guys (Amalendu, Daulot and Yuyudhan) because of a stomach bug, I was glad that Kokila had enjoyed our Buddhanilkanta hike enough to agree to join me on an overnighter from Sundarijal. This is normally day 1 of a long trek out to Gosainkund or the Helambu area itself, but we could only squeeze two days into our schedule. IT was a cool, fresh morning when we arrived by taxi at the valley-edge, in the village of Sundarijal. A helpful map on a sign here shows the route to Chisopani, so after a stop for tea (above) we headed north on the main drag of the village.
The path became a flight of stone steps leading up alongside a pipe, following the river upstream past cascades and waterfalls.
After a short while we reached the gate of Shivapuri Park, and showed the tickets we already had from our previous trek.
Just above the park gates we passed a dam and reservoir and headed uphill further to a pleasant trail throught the pines. Occasionally there were signs, but if in doubt you can always ask a villager the way to Chisopani - just keep going uphill and you should have no trouble.
The higgledy piggledy village of Mulkarka is home to a community of Tamang people - the kids were cute but kept hassling us for chocolate as we waited for our tea at a house/shop in the middle of the village. The adults asked us not to give them any, or any of the biscuits we bought, and I guess thats because they can't afford to get their teeth fixed.
Once past Mulkarka the hillside was sparsely settled, though quite a few houses seemed to have stacks of bottled drinks for sale - maybe this is a good earner in the main trekking season but in January many of these "shops" were unattended. The climb went on and on, and we were both suffering a bit from the colds we had picked up. Still, Kokila struggled on despite being more under the weather than I was, and with the aid of my walking poles which she mastered very quickly, she and I made it to the pass at Borlang Banjyang after 1100m of steady climb.
Once down the other side from the pass, we found something the guys had not encountered on their trek a few days earlier - a rare glimpse of snow this close to Kathmandu! It was enough to make the descent slow and tricky but there was plenty of daylight left so we weren't worried.
With the snow behind us, but still up above 2000m, we came to this dirt track heading north to Chisopani.
The temperature was dropping like a stone and we were too cold to hang around in the lodge (there are several here, plenty of choice of accomodation) so we strolled out to take a look at the sunset. It was too misty for good mountain views sadly. Chisopani is a strange place - mostly just a string of lodges, and dead quiet at this time of year with us the only trekkers in town - and it was a little flat on atmosphere. We ate the usual dhal batt gratefully and went to bed mega early as there was nothing else to do and it was too cold to sit around - our evening meditation was pretty brief!
After a pricey, indulgent breakfast of tibetan bread, ommelettes, jam and tea we got back on the trail for the return trip. The clouds didn't lift, so we caught only a glimpse of the snow capped peaks, but on a clear morning it must be quite a panorama. Views down into the valleys flanking the Chisopani ridge were magnificent though, and we were in good spirits on the climb back up to the pass.
As the long trip back took us over the familar ground of the day before in reverse, we had great views down the valley and over the forested spurs that pointed our way back to Kathmandu.
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