KORI the beautiful Highlands of Kaski - Lockdown Series Ep 2

KORI the beautiful Highlands of Kaski - Lockdown Series Ep 2

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Security presence was heavy as we arrived at Besisahar. Curfew was being imposed on urban areas like Kaski, Lamjung, Besisahar from day after tomorrow. As COVID infected rate had increased drastically in the capital, the lockdown was going to be more strict which put us in a difficult position. Although we had completed our journey, we were not sure if we could reach home. Welcome once again to our Lockdown series. We are starting this one a little differently. We are in Besisahar now. We are not sure where to go, what to do but our first stop will be Damauli.

See you in Kathmandu. See you again. Bye Suraj bro. See you very soon.

Coincidentally, this is the same jeep that we used during our Manang trip. Our sticker is still here. We had used Netra dai's jeep back then. And this time also we had contacted him and he sent us the same jeep. The roadside scene had changed since the time we had drove in. There used to be frequent security checks. But as we were headed out, we didn't see security forces anywhere except in major entry points.

Which was expected since many security personnel had been infected with COVID and this caution was necessary. They would inquire where we were going from far away. The roads were so much quieter. Although there were fewer checks and fewer security police, the lockdown felt more stringent. Hello guys from Damauli. We have been stuck here for 1-2 days now. So, we are getting out to see if there are any nearby sites we can explore, visit. After about half an hour's drive, we've arrived at our team mate NB's in-law's home.

Our fishing gears being readied. Our fishing expedition failed but we did have great swimming time in Madi river. Our fishing and swimming attempt at Dulepani was not that successful. So, now we are planning to go to Manung hills for the night and have a barbecue. This was before Manung had become a viral sensation in TikTok.

There were hardly other visitors except Damauli locals partly because lockdown was still in place. It's 8.30pm. We've arrived at the top of Manung. It's very pleasant and so much cooler than Damauli. I'm recalling old memories and missing many friends. I've refused invitation to stay with my in-laws and spening night like this. But it's fun and chillax. The weather didn't open up in the morning.

After being held in Damauli for days, we had talked with Maila dai about a possible Kori visit. We were also talking to various other people to manage our travel. After some hassle, everything was sorted out and we were ready to leave Damauli. After nearly 8-9 days, our next destination has been finalized. We are going to Sikles. We will go upto Tangting today. I've visited Pokhara so many times. But never have I seen Lakeside so quiet....almost like pin drop silence.

We are really travelling in an abnormal situation. Everything is strange. We needed gas and some other trekking supplies. All major shops including lakeside was closed in Pokhara.

We remembered Bijay from Hotel Royal Image during this emergency. He called up one of his friends' who opened up the store for us and so we bought all the necessities. We will now be changing our jeep. This one is sent by Maila dai. We will pick Kiran on our way. "What's up King?" Finally we are at Tangting.

I had always dreamt of taking both Adhikari brothers from Pokhara - Rishav and Kiran - on a trip together. It's finally come true and so this trip is special already. In Tangting, we resided in Bhupal dai's Annapurna Cottage which was still under construction. Maila dai and group had not yet arrived from Sikles.

We had not momo for days in Damauli due to curfew. Annapurna Cottage sported photos of momo and chowmein in their banner so we promptly ordered the same. It started to rain as we were eating. "Oh after 1.5 years...long time" Finally our great Maila dai is here. We will follow his advise and planning and move onto the next step.

A short while after Maila's arrival, the mayor of Madi and ward chair of Tangting also came to meet us. We wouldn't have been able to come here without their special help. We are so pleased and excited that your group is visiting this hidden remote place. I want to welcome you all and thank you on behalf of our village.

Our Madi is very large geographically. It's about 563 sq km. It's Northern border extends upto Manang district. The Western border extends upto Machhapuchre village of Pokhara. And on the other side, it borders Lamjung district.

More than 14 mountain peaks lie in our territory which we share with Manang district. And we also have many glacial lakes. Dudhpokhari is a very beautiful and important lake. Kapuche glacier situated at the lowest elevation in Nepal is also ours. Beautiful expansive alpine meadows like Kori, Tulek Phat also are here which we have been using as our sheep pasture since forever. Those places have a lot of potential in terms of tourism. As soon as the global COVID pandemic is over, I want to invite all the domestic and foreign nature lovers, all the travellers to visit this new trekking route of our Madi rural municipality.

We had a lot of fun at night. The food was amazing. We were also eager to spend the night at Bhupal dai's new concept hotel as the structures looked so inviting. The weather was foggy in the morning so we spent the time leisurely in our tents while sipping tea. We then took a stroll through Tangting after late breakfast. With this our stay at Tangting comes to an end. We will reach Sikles tonight however late it turns out to be. We want to thank Bhupal dai here for hosting us in Tangting and for such fabulous time.

"Thank you my brother for coming here. See you again." If you visit Tangting, do come here. How long will it take to finish the place? "Around a month" So it will be finished within a month. It's a great place. It's awesome guys. Just look at this place.

It's about 1263m here. Sikles is at around 2000. So we have to climb about 7-800m now. Now in about 5 minutes, we will reach a suspension bridge. It's actually called Friendship Bridge as it joins Sikles and Tangting. As we are heading to Sikles from Tangting, we've broke a record which shouldn't have been broken. The most late we've started our trek. At 6 PM. We're not sure when we'll reach Sikles. It's already 7 now.

"Two words from you. How far away are we?" "Not that far now. Maybe about 10-15minutes" Now we've stepped onto Sikles. Even as we were climbing up, I had a different feeling because we had already been here before. However late at night it is, this place feels like our own.

When we met Maila dai in Tangting, it felt like our own brother had come to take us stranded people home. So yeah, a bit emotional moment. Namaste, we are finally here.

Oh you've used twice. OK so we are finally at Namaste Guest House. We can call it our own home, right brother? Everybody is doing a leech check. "Oh look at these leeches. They are everywhere. Let's put them all in salt." "Let's finish their story with this salt."

"This one's so fat. Maybe it sucked a liter of blood." "This will ward off corona sorona." "Cheers that we were able to reach Sikles anyhow."

Good morning once again from Sikles everyone. A somewhat nostalgic breakfast because sister-in-law here had served us delicious selroti then and it's the same dish again. Oh Maila dai, it's awesome.

Before heading to Kori, we have just been invited for breakfast by Krishna who has just opened a new cafe called Hamro Khaja Ghar. We will stop there briefly. Thank you so much for the breakfast treat brother. The name of the place is Hamro Khaja Ghar. And everything will be home delivered in entire Sikles from here. Always remember Namaste Guest House and Hamro Khaja Ghar even if you are hiking here in mountain tops.

Everybody ready? Let's go sister. All our preparation is complete. It's about 1.30 in the afternoon. Our destination for today is very close. Maybe 3-4 hours at the max. So, we will have a leisurely trek today.

We have four special local supporters in our Kori Journey. Their brief intro before the journey commences. Hey all Ghumante team, good luck! Same to you big bro. Have a very successful Kori visit. We didn't think that we had to prepare our leech gun so soon. But even when sun's out, we see leeches everywhere. So better prepared than sorry.

We've reached Madkyu bridge after 1-1.5 hours from Sikles. The downhill stretch is finished. Now we climb up after this hydropower. Now, we are half way to our destination after this reservoir.

There used to be a small village here. There were about 8-9 houses here. People used to have buffalo sheds. They grew millet, maize etc. Slowly, the people here migrated to Sikles permanently building houses there.

Their children went abroad. And so this place is empty now. "Oh I've found some wild fruits here. They are still tiny now. Let's pick more when we return." "This is very sweet when ripe." "It's not fully ripe yet." "How's the taste right now?" 'It's all right." "Let me taste too." "It's a bit like cucumber."

We've climbed about 720m today and descended about 482 m. Total distance covered is 5.3 km. Not that much but hilly trails are tough. We stayed at Tekbahadur uncle's shed in Rora.

His shed was very clean and well managed. All his livestock and the young ones looked healthy and happy. One thing that was most pleasantly surprising was that Tek didn't milk the cows when they were tied up or by calling them. He would only milk them when the buffaloes themselves came into the front yard to be milked. He apparently has spent almost all of his 72 years of life in this pasture.

I go down to the village at the beginning of winter and come back up again before monsoon starts. I was born in the Kori highland and I was born during rainy season in a shed like this one. I've some 16-17 buffaloes, 50-60 goats. The goats are in a pasture above from here. My eldest son is tending to them. I have two sons and a daughter. All of them are married now. It's been two years since my wife has deceased. But life has been okay since I'm doing what I love to do.

Sometime ago, I encountered a bear while I was checking out some pasture. There was a small hill. I was coming from one side and the bear was apparently coming from the other. So, we met unexpectedly at the top. The bear attacked me with his claws and toppled me to the ground. I had a friend with me. If not for him, I would've died that day. My home is down there below. He carried me there.

I was hardly conscious. I regained some more sense when my daughter fed me porridge. Then all the villagers came and carried me to my main house. There's a ritual here of wiping the face of nearly dead with chicken. So there was some buzz of maybe doing the chicken ceremony and taking me out of the house.

A lot of people had come to see me. Maila nephew here also came to see me. With him there were two ladies and one gentleman foreigner. They took my photos. And nephew here briefed them about me so they gave ms Nrs. 7000 for treatment.

I was attacked at about 11 in the morning. I reached hospital at Pokhara at 12 in the night. I had to stay at the hospital for 18 days. I still have scars all over my body like these. Here, and there, and here...

They were all over my body as the bear had literally taken out my flesh. All over my head and my cheeks, it had smashed me badly. What to do? Life's like this here. Our team started prepping for dinner. Jitman cooked delicious curry from the long beans growing right outside the shed. Even Hyatt's food is not this delicious. Us 9 people somehow fit ourselves into the cozy shed for the night.

Maila dai what you doing? What's that? This is milk. Milk tea today. Wow special milk tea. We had kind of discussed moving early from Rora yesterday night. But now we've kind of changed our plan. We will have lunch here and then only head towards Nho Ta. The porridge is boiling so much. This is curd not milk.

We've had lunch and packed. Now it's time to move. "Ok we're moving on from Rora. Stay safe uncle." We've one thing left to do before leaving Rora. A big thank you to our Tek uncle here. We had such a grand stay here. We had milk, curd, yogurt, cheese everything.

'Uncle, we will surely meet again if the stars align." "Stay safe. May your wish of electricity be fulfilled soon." We had planned for a different route which was a bit long and gentle but now we are taking a different route. But at the last moment, one of our team mates recommended this route so we changed our plans. Only one of us in this group has walked this route and that too a long time ago. This resting place is Chyumine.

Chyumine means resting place of gnats. There aren't that many gnats because of the rain now. After the uphill and downhill of a while back, now we've lost our way. Some of the guys are over there, some on other side looking for the trail. We've been looking for the trail for 10-15 minutes down. From the noises, maybe they've found the trail. It's always like this for us. Adventure.

Now people might say that this is all scripted. Where's the trail guys? "North?" Now we've found a small resting spot. It must have a name but none of us know it. We've been walking for over 3 hours. So we will have tea and some snacks here. Then Nho Ta is not so far from here.

We reached a shed in just a few minutes after our coffee spot. Seeing that somebody was there, Kiran headed over there. He had gone to ask for some whey but was given fresh curd instead.

Look what I got! We are having some popcorn and curd here. What's up Kiran? Everything's good bro. This curd is amazing. I'm so happy. We got this rich curd in place of whey. The curd is just like you. We've just crossed 3000m altitude for the first time in our Kori journey.

Now, we are trekking at high altitude landscape. We have to say this one thing to all of you... Treks are always hard but due to elements of nature, monsoon treks are specially hard. The uphill climb had finally ended for today. The meadows we came upon at the end was full of wildflowers.

We reached Nho Ta soon after we started a gentle descent through the wildflowers. There Maila dai's cottage was under construction which was our shelter for the night. We had climbed about 1100m that day. The fog of all day cleared up slightly during the evening. "Look you can see Annapurna mountain."

Mt. Annapurna and Lamjung played hide-n-seek with us from behind the clouds. The weather opened up unbelievably in the morning. Greenery as far as the eyes could see, the warm sun of monsoon. Our hearts leaped up. Maybe it was due to the sun, an avalanche formed in the mountain in front of us.

Fixing the leg of this drone. We also met big Maila dai again who had a shed in Nho Ta as well. We were meeting him after 1.5 years. "How're you doing?" "I'm good." "My cattle is here in Nho Taa now. I don't know how long you will stay but we are meeting only now." "Yes, I'm so happy to meet you guys once again."

"We've met after such a long time." "Good luck on your trip upto Kori. The weather is also getting better." "Dai, you look younger even more hero." "On it's because I've cut my hair, trimmed my beard and so on."

"You've reduced your narepa (liquor) intake as well?" "Haha the secret is that in Hugu there was plenty of liquor to go around. But here you've to carry all the way down from village." "So we can have liquor only occasionally here." Our lunch in Nho Ta today is extra special. With this warm sun, Maila dai has made this platform out of planks. Royal dining even it's just lentil soup and dried spinach, it's amazing. And we have some milk whey here.

Let me serve. Our Nho Ta stay is at an end. We've finished lunch. So there's a meadow called Toya Li with vast wildflowers one hour away from here. We will spend some time there. Kori is not that far from there. Maila dai tells us that today's hike is relaxing and will feel like walking in paradise. "What's that?" "Goat milk."

"Is it for us?" "Yes. For you guys to drink at Kori." We found a small meadow full of wildflowers within 15 minutes of leaving Nho Ta. We found another heavenly meadow just after that. And after that. We were like kids in a playground. By the time we reached Toya Li, the hills and mountains were all covered by clouds. And why not as we had taken almost 3 hours to cover trail of about an hour.

And we found that Toya Li was the most heavenly of them all. Oh my this place is really surreal. When Maila dai and others were walking through here, it hurts to see the flowers being walked on. Yellow, red, white, purple-flowers of every color is here. If you come here, do set aside half an hour or an hour for this place alone.

Yellow flowers, sister-in-law. What do we remember when we see them? You of course. We miss you. Remembering you with your yellow backpack and modeling for us in similar fields. Our heart didn't want to leave Toya Li. As we headed uphill, we were feeling both elated and sad.

How much more lovely Toya Li would have looked had we reached it when the sun was out. We are at an altitude of 3600m now. This point is where three trails converge. As we were coming from the woods yesterday, there were paths to go to Nho Ta or Kori. Here, one of the trail goes down to Sikles, another to Nho Ta and another to Hugu. Now, it's just 10-15 minutes to Kori. "Who makes these Deurali (cairns)?" "Pilgrims who visit Kori during holy Janai purnima festival."

"For good fortune." "Shall we also make one?" "Yes let's do it." "Maila dai here is responsible for construction." "Similarly, we pray that the weather opens up from tomorrow, that we may get to see pretty flowers." "May we all be protected."

"Oh Ghumante our team." "It's wet and not sticking well." "Oh I've found a two rupee note from 1998 here marking Visit Nepal Year 1998." "Oh mother goddess, may we be blessed with good views wherever we go." "Let's also click a group photo here." "Let's click a selfie together. With the Ghumante team." "Higher so that we can all be seen." So all of us from Namaste Guest House, Sikles and Ghumante have made a small cairn here.

If by any chance you come to this place, either through this video or other means, please click a selfie in this place. Send us the photo. We'll be very happy to see them. Another exciting thing here is that we couldn't paste our sticker here. So we will hide one of our stickers somewhere inside this cairn. We will place it in easy place so you don't have to dismantle the cairn. If you find it, send us a photo. If you find it DM us, and you will get a free drink in Maila dai's guest house. "Dai are you ready to sponsor the drink? Authentic local drink." "Yes welcome drink."

"Oh let's not show where we are hiding it." This is bear's paw print. After nearly 4 hours from Nho Ta, we've finally arrived at Kori. We came here to this Kori view point from our camp. The weather had opened up briefly. But we are returning back as it closed up again. Our camp is somewhere near here. But we don't know where.

"It's this way." "No this way." "The fog is so dense." "It's just down there." "No this way." "Oh I'll take Kanchan bro with me and go this way." In such high altitudes, thick fog can make you lose your way in just a moment. So please make sure you are always at seeing distance with your guide. No gaps. This is our setting for Kori tonight.

The shed is tiny but all of our hearts big so 11 of us are camped here tonight. We have to have lots of lentil soup. Our sleep arrangments. If this was a movie, this would probably be the interval. The weather opened up only partially the day after.

The mountains on the North were all covered in clouds. Our guys sitting over there at the hill. Amazingly, ncell phone network works there. So everybody is busy calling up friends and family. It's such a surprise that the phone network is working in such a place.

Kori highland is vast in area. There are many lovely hillocks. Wildflowers were blooming in abundance. We spent our whole day strolling here and there. We also met with Jetha dai and Krishna Bhai who had reached Kori within a day from Sikles. "It's so fun Maila dai...so fun."

This is Day 2 in Kori. NB, Kiran, Rishav, Aashish. Aashish are you reading the book or dozing off? All of you must have heard the song "buki ko ful jasto (like a pearly everlasting flower)" We also thought we knew Buki flower. But the ones we saw turned out to be the small species. Our brothers here who've just arrived from Kyumi are showing us the real Buki flowers. Here, see the actual Buki flower. "What do you do with these flowers?" "To ward off evil at our houses. We hang this above our door."

"It is believed that it prevents all bad luck and incidences from entering the home." "For good fortune?" "It looks like cotton." "Looks like snow." "Where can we find these giant ones?" "This is found in meadows of around 3800-3900m altitude." "Yeah almost at 4000m."

"But we didn't see any." "Look at the texture just like cotton." "It also has eyes." "Ok have a safe journey back." "Good bye." The weather turned worse in noon. It rained non-stop. Sometimes the wind blew so hard it rattled the roofs.

At dusk, the clouds slightly parted in the lower horizon. The rain of all day has stopped now. The view had partially opened on that side. We saw golden light but on the other side the snowfall is intense. The cold has increased but hopefully the weather clears up tomorrow. For our dinner, our mates had made delicious rice and lentil soup. But we had no vegetables.

We spent 2 listless days waiting for the weather to open up. It rained again at night. Finally, the morning was clear on the third day. There were some clouds at dawn but everything cleared up soon. After eventful planning of more than 1.5 years, we finally made it to Kori. And after a wait of 3 days here, this is Kori for you. We've come to this Kori View Point after about 1.5-2 hours of walk from our camp at Kori. It's called Tochopa in Gurung. We were hesitating to come here but now that we're here, we know that we made the right decision coming here.

The view is stunning. We can see mountains like Manaslu and others which are not visible from Kori. If you visit Kori, do not miss this place. That mountain on the beginning is Fishtail. This pointy one here is Annapurna IV. This massive one right in our face is Lamjung Himal. This meadow down below from where the clouds are forming is Thulo Lek area.

"That one?" "That's one of the Manaslu range." "Is that the mountain behind Chame?" "Yes." "We don't know the name but its a 6-7000er." "Over there we can only see faintly but that's Himchuil mountain which we saw in front of Meme Lake." Hey all, like we've been saying. Don't forget to follow us on Instagram, facebook and twitter.

As you can see, we have not one but two great photographers with us this time- Rishav "shutter psycho" and Kiran "posing himalaya" And another thing, if you have to contact us, inquire or anything Instagram is the best way to reach us. It's harder to respond in facebook mainly due to notification issues. And make sure to follow our photographers whose handles will be in info and in the video. And don't also forget to follow Aashish who is filming right now. Make sure we haven't forgotten anything. Don't forget all the cameras.

Ok, now we are all descending down from the view point. It's already 10:41. We are heading down to Kori. The fog suddenly covered everything and our members are lost once again. All of them are screaming somewhere down below. It's this way guys." There are no trees here in Kori meadow. The treeline finishes some miles below.

Whenever somebody spends a night in one of the sheds, they will have to stock up either equal or preferably double of the firewood they used up. So, our three strong team members over there have just gone down to fetch firewood to re-stock what we burned. The woods is at least 40-45 minutes downhill. "Give my greetings to your parents. Come to Sikles soon and I'll find some dates for you."

"Ok I'll give you a call." "Yes. You should meet Dilmaya." "Let's move" As we leave behind, we will take a group selfie in this resting place which Maila dai initiated to build and it also has a signboard. It was around 2004. A group of 50-60 of us had come to find Yarcha Gumbu here.

There was a constant hailstorm for 2 days. We had to stay put here. So, with my guide, we built the resting place then. Now we can find some faint phone signal here.

This is also a great view point. We can see Pokhara, Sikles, all the mountains from here. So we built this resting place as a strategic vantage point. Thank you all who built this resting place. I had been meaning to come to Kori since I was 13 but I came here for the first time today when I'm 43. "So how're you feeling?" "Mostly fun except when we nearly lost our way."

"May all who come here be protected." "God bless." A heavy rain againt caught up with us as we were descending down to Sikles.

It was late at night when we finally reached Sikles. Welcome back to Namaste Guest House. Kori was a sweet blessing for us stranded by the lockdown.

A big thank you to our Maila dai who took us to this heaven on earth. Lots of love to our amazing supporters Lalit, Dudh and Jitman. Big Maila dai who we met in Nho Ta, the brother who gave us yogurt when we asked for whey, Tek mama of Rora, Khadga dai who gave us sheep ghee, Saroj bhai who ran all the way from Sikles to show us Kyumi, Krishna bhai who fed us delicious breakfast, sis-in-law from Namaste and daughter Yumika we miss you all.

We stayed at Lilbahadur brother's shed for 3 days at Kori. Though we didn't meet him in Kori, thank you so much. Resplendent with wildflowers in monsoon, blanketed by snow during winter and dazzling mountains all year round, Kori is waiting for us all with its enchanting beauty all year round.

The second lockdown was not over yet when we returned. Long hard trail and steep downhill had exhausted us to our core. So we rested for a couple of days in Sikles. After that when we were wondering what to do, where to go Bhupal dai called us from Tangting. He said, "lil bro let's go visit Karpu of Tangting as well."

2021-01-18 14:43

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