Pilgrim trail to Panch Pokhari Lakes

Posted on 19 May 2019

Greetings from Panch Pokhari (Five Lakes), a sacred Hindu pilgrimage site where we are enjoying a rest day on May 10 – day 71 of our trek.

When we last wrote, we said that we would soon be headed to Kathmandu where hot showers and other luxuries awaited us. That wasn’t quite the whole story. As Brian and Bill made their way to Kathmandu on May 1, Jasmine, determined to walk every step of the GHT, continued westward with a most excellent small crew of four. With relatively few kilometres to cover, she greatly enjoyed her four-day mini link, especially the first camp, where rhododendrons, in a rainbow of colours, were in full bloom against an incredible backdrop of snow-capped mountain ranges.

Thanks to the low elevations and excellent meals, by the end of those four days she felt well rested and mostly recovered from the rigors of Stages 1 through 3.

On May 5, we re-joined at Listi, home to a Hindu temple at one end of the small village and a Buddhist monastery at the other, and at the centre of town a Hindu shrine and a Buddhist stupa peacefully coexist.

For Jasmine, the high point of the day was discovering that Juddha Rai had accompanied Brian and Bill and would be our lead guide to Panch Pokhari. Back in 2016, Juddha had been her guide for Stages 5 through 7 of the GHT, a trek she could not have completed without his support and good cheer.

On May 6, we trekked just a short distance to Bagam, a small village where wedding festivities were underway, entertaining trekkers and crew alike – well into the early morning hours.

The following day we set our path on what was true “Nepali flat” and, after 8 hours, we found ourselves camped at about the same elevation as our previous camp (2800m) – with around 1000 metres of elevation gain and loss in between.

The faint trail offered several rewards: a sighting of a large group of langur monkeys and some delicious edible mushrooms that made their way into our trailside lunch.

The next day was anything but Nepali flat, as we first descended steeply and continuously to the Nyasem River then climbed equally steeply to a small, sloping streamside camp populated with stinging nettles and just a few leeches. Good times!

But truth be told, this was an ideal camp because it put us in a good position for the next day’s climb, which amounted to about 1800 meters, making it our greatest climb thus far; and, of course, delivering us back into the snow zone.

That climb also brought us within easy striking distance of Panch Pokhari, where we would meet Maia and Peter, our companions for the rest of Stage 4. To our great good fortune, their guide for the approach, and our guide for the remainder of stage 4, is Bikash Rana, who accompanied Jasmine to this spot in 2016 and Brian in 2017.

Indeed, for Brian and Jasmine, Panch Pokhari holds special significance because this is where each of them previously joined the GHT for an extended trek; Brian completing Stages 4 through 6, and Jasmine completing Stages 4 through 7. So, for Jasmine, arriving at Panch Pokhari marked the moment when she completed the entire Nepal GHT.

Congratulations Jasmine! Read her post where she shares a few words about this incredible milestone.

Stay tuned for our thoughts on the other half of our Stage 4 experiences where we approach the remote and glaciated Tilman Pass (5308m) for another challenging crossing.


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