If the Himalayas are a symphony, Pun Hill would be the overture.
DM and I wake at 4:45 to hike to the top of Pun Hill for our first glimpse of the Himalaya since our arriving flight. The stars are blazing in a black sky. We don our headlamps and set out. 500 meters along, the fog sets in. 100 meters later, about 20 of our number, including DM, turn back, convinced there will be nothing to see. Bettina (from Illinois) Jennie (from NM) and I press on with two guides. 45 minutes later Bettina, who has gone ahead, lets out a war whoop. We turn the corner and there is Annapurna Thang rising grandly above the ocean of fog like an island in the sky. Far off is the twisted double peak of Macchapucchre – the Fishtail Mountain, the sacred peak that no-one is allowed to climb.
As we go on, other peaks rise out of the fog – it is not quite sunrise, and they are peachy pink. By the time we are at the summit (10,532 feet), the peaks are glowing golden, and we are jumping with excitement, taking pictures of the mountains, taking pictures of and with each other, and with the guides, who are also excited (and relieved). We drink hot tea along with the views. Finally about 7:15 the guides suggest descent. WOW! It is hard to leave so much beauty. I am drunk with exhiliration! (Maybe the altitude had a little to do with it?)
The rest of the day is downhilll – literally. DM and DB had caught views of some of the mountains when the fog lifted at the guest house, so they are not too crushed at missing what I saw. So we start down, down, down. DM has Swiss ancestors and confident feet and leads the way, but Dianne and I have both experienced slipping on the wet marble or stone steps, so we clamber down like infants one step at a time sideways.
It take us 10 hours to get to our next stop – Shika, at 6348 feet. (It was supposed to be five – we took a lot of breaks!) This is a small guest house with rooms too small for 3 beds, so they put me in the “lucky room” – with the family shrine. Vishu, Ganesh, and Shiva watch over me as I sleep.