by Kusma Gongba, Nitya Poudel, Shaswat Badal, Abin Amatya, Utkrishta Mulmi
26 December 2016
It was almost mid-day. It took some time to reach the trail head. Once we went through the ancient township of Lubhu, we knew we were almost there. We did keep ourselves very busy in the van though, we sang many songs, some Nepali, some English. Off the van now,we took our stuff from the van and walked towards the hills.
We teased Nitya dada, saying that he looked like a Pokémon character, he was carrying the art material including the copies, pencils and flutes in two cylindrical containers on both sides, almost like the tank blasters carried by the cartoon characters.
Then we walked away from the road. There was a small narrow way and we went down that, to a stream and walked along the stream until we found a place to walk across the freshly planted wheat fields. The wheat shoots were fresh and deep green. This was lovely. Up a small hillock. But before wait for everyone to arrive. The best part about terraces is that there are so many comfortable places to sit down. There were holes in the walls and we kept teasing others saying that the holes were made by snakes. When Utu said that it wasn't, he was invited to put his hand inside which he didn't. He just was not sure it was not a snake hole for real. They could have been made by crabs though. A pity we did not have the time to find out. We caught a pretty large crab at a stream the last time around.
After the hillock, we met a couple of goats, we would see so many of them that day. Nitya got a pretty nice picture of himself there. And then we saw many people making a house. There were two paths now. The first way was a walk and a simple and easy way to the top of the hill and the other way was the difficult challenging way as it lead directly up a twelve foot cliff and into ajungle to the top. Guess where Pallav sir wanted us to go. The first to volunteer was Nitya. The he felt nervous. So Pallav sir sent Kusma along. She was pushed by Pallav sir and she caught the branch of trees to reach the place where she could rest awhile. Then it was Nitya's turn to climb. He was very, very scared but he thought he could also do it like Kusma did. So, he put his bag down and climbed the cliff. He could not do it alone so he also got Kusma’s help. Then Susmita and Pukar also climbed the small cliff with help from the others on the top of the cliff.Utu really wanted to go but he had become heavy and the soil would not support his weight so he was asked to come down.
While the four of them had vanished into the bush, we went along another pathway. Pallav sir went first seeking and finding and we followed. At first we could not go up at all because the cliff became taller and taller, high over the trees even. The we started a steep uphill climb. The path was almost as if it was used by woodsmen and women once in a while. Some said it was not path but out leader said it was and we went along after him.
As we helped each other up. Nanu, who is three, was also doing great but our new members Abin and Abhik had never done this ever before so they felt nervous. Since we had done this type of trip several times, we were used to it and comforted them. Pallav sir had already found the jungle gang and guided them up to him and we reached them they were so excited. Utu felt that he should have been with them!
After the first cliff we felt tired but we were also very excited. There was a place full of thorny plants. We had to go through was more than 250 meters. Pallav sir was ahead of us and asked if we wanted to go down or find a path up and some said down and some said up and we went up, of course. Pallav sir led the way and Utu followed him and after them were Nitya, Kushma, Neeva, Sushmita and Pukar. Abin and Abhik were with Nanu, Shaswat, Sabitadidi and Bhagwati maam. After 15 minutes we came across lots of pine leaves on the floor which made it very slippery and then through that we reached Amlisho bushes which had soft long flowers that brushed our faces. Amlisho is used to make brooms in Nepal and several of our friends collected handfuls. That was a very nice part of the walk but the path would disappear again and again through Pallav sir and those above us went along as if there was a clear path completely unconcerned. We would heard Utkrishta and sir talking to each other. Nitya would call out our names and we would call back and we could see them. They told us to come straight up. They finally reached the place we could rest.
After we reached the top of the hill we took a small break to eat biscuits and drink some water and rest. Then we walked for a while till we reached a steep and slippery downhill. We saw a huge tree that had fallen on the ground Pallav sir said that we are not going near that tree since it may fall and we may get crushed so we went down a way that avoided a potential fall. Now the path finally disappeared altogether. We were faced with a very steep downhill and Pallav sir wanted to go down that. Since we had been with him before, heard about all the adventures that other kids had had with him, we were very excited. The trees were sparse, mostly pine. The floor was spongy with fallen leaves and soft soil. We could see all the way down.Pallav sir was going first. Utu, Pukar, and Nitya were going right after him as they were fleet footed. Kushma and Sushmita were tasked to support the new kids and make sure they followed where our leads were going. Three year old Nanu was carried by Sabitadidi and Bhagwati and Bhavana maam was also ready and happy to test their outdoors skills.
While sitting, sliding, creeping down the hill Pallav sir would told the leads to stop and wait for those falling behind. He would tell some to stop there and point out a better way.Since the way Pallav sir, Nitya, Pukar and Utu were going down was not easy, they would test this way and that but still they were far ahead of those following. We had a lot of moments of fun coming down. We would hold tree trunks, grab bushes, hook our feet on stumps, slide down on our bottoms, help each other, squeak and screech. At one place we were asked to stop and go touch a tree on the other side. We were really confused as to which tree he was telling us to touch because there were many trees. Some went this way and some that and everyone had become good at keeping their balance. Pukarreached and touched the tree and everyone went and touched the tree and came back. All of us got little scratches.
When we touched the tree our hands became back because of there had been a forest fire and the bark was burned. Each of us were very proud that we could go to such a place and back ourselves.
Now we could see houses. Kusma and Nitya were sad. Utu wanted the downhill without the path to go on forever. We reached an area where villagers had planted dale fodder trees for their animals and we were careful not to step on these. We reached a path and a settlement that had dogs. And after we went more down the hill it got more and more slippy, and because of that a lot of us slipped and fell.Wow this had been a good afternoon.
Abin and Abik did this type of hike for first time ever. Pallav sir kept saying this was a baby hike and of course our 3-year-old Vidheha had walked most of the way. Abik said that he also went on hikes in his school, but they were nowhere as adventurous. As we were used to this type of trip, which are harder but much more fun, we were annoyed because they kept complaining.
Some of us had brought the Amlisho all the way down. They wanted to make brooms for our school since the brooms at our school get worn out very quick. Pallav sir asked Utu to take out his camera, on these trips we are the so called official photographers.I reached into my pocket and could not find it, I had lost it in the jungle. Oh no! I would probably be asked to climb up and look for it. Everyone started looking for it. I thought it must have dropped from my pocket. Luckily Sabita didi had found it where we had rested gave it to me.Everyone was glad. Utu tends to lose his stuff that is why we have leaders and sweepers also who are charged with checking the area as they come down last.
The village we reached was full of domestic animals, especially goats. The village was very traditional and pretty. We climbed up, got to a house, sat on the floor outside a small house with the goats and their kids and played the flute as we rested. For some reason, the sounds were just not perfect but that was fine. The owners of the house were kind women and let us stay and play our flutes and use their toilet. We played our own compositions on the flute and some songs and village women, children and some college students going back home listened to us and we were on our way. Then we went towards the heap of straw. We took some photos near the heap of straw as well as those of very white cranes that kept flying away when we tried to photograph them.
Then the walk was very nice along the valley with streams, canals, snake holes where again Utu said they were not but refused to stick his hands in. There were nettles! We avoided those. We went along a small steam and near that stream, we saw a squash tree. There was a lot of nice and big squashes on that tree and on nearby trees also. We talked about the wonderful pumpkins and lapsi we had seen on the Lele hike and an old lady heard us. She asked if we wanted squash and Bhawani maam said, of course. We can boil them and eat them like potatoes Sabitadidi said. The owner of that tree gifted us many nice squashes and the people there were very kind. This was so nice because on our hike on Jharuwarasi there were a nasty man who complained and wanted to start an argument which we ignored. Pallav sir said that there are always people who are kind and who are not, those that are generous and those that are not, those who want to see children laugh and enjoy themselves and those who are like Scrooge.
We reached the road and walked towards a shop. We ate creamy bread and candy and it was fun as we waited for the van to come. The shop keeper and her husband were very nice people. While returning, we heard a lot of stories from Pallav sir in the van, the stories he told about outdoors and swimming adventures were very interesting this hike was a lot of fun.