A trek in the Himalaya in Nepal was a dream of ours, but our daughter was already almost 3 ½ years old and starting to get to heavy to carry. With the child carrier and some clothes, drinks, etc. for her, I was carrying almost 20 kilos and it seemed like more when my daughter was sleeping. In other words, it was then or wait approx. 10 years.
The Everest trek had altitudes too high, since you do not know whether a small child is only cranky or has altitude sickness. The trek around Annapurna also crosses the Thorung La pass at 5,416 meters, which ruled that out. We wanted a route with sufficient villages along the way where we could get food and accommodation, so the Jomsom trek was the obvious choice.
The trek starts in Pokara at 1,400 meters, a tropical area with banana trees and Hindu culture, goes up to areas with deciduous trees and a mixture of Hinduism and Buddhism before finally ascending to a barren landscape with only Buddhist culture.
We hired two friendly young men to carry my pack and my daughter’s. We had a lot of clothes for her in case she got diarrhea and we had to change her clothes often. We started off with beautiful weather and great views, which only got better. There were signs of roads being built to the villages along the way, which would be a shame if they followed the trekking trail, although it is certainly understandable that the locals wanted convenient transport.
On the second day, we arrived at Deorali at 2,835 meters and got up the next morning a 4 a.m. (which was very difficult, since every day hiking was strenuous!) to climb up one hour to Poon Hill, from where there are spectacular views of Dhaulagiri I, Tukuche, Nilgiri, Annapurna I, Annapurna South, Hiunchuli and Tarke Kang.
Then it was downhill to a suspension bridge at 1,180 meters, which meant that we had to climb back up that much again. The trail then goes up the Kali Gandaki gorge, which is reportedly the deepest one in the world situated between the peaks of Annapurna I and Dhaulagiri I, both higher than 8,000 meters, while the gorge is 2,200 meters at its lowest point.
Usually, the locals did not pay much attention to trekkers, since they were not few in number. However, when we arrived with our daughter, sometimes the whole village would come out to see and greet us: Namaste!
I also took advantage of walls where porters rested their loads.
Supplies for the guest houses: there was fantastically good food along the way!
The trail gets quite steep, but the fantastic views more than compensated for the effort. We had to cross the Kali Gandaki on the 5th day at 2,560 meters, and the bridge construction was anything was reassuring.
A local child backpack carrier
And light snowfall
On and on, finally to Jomsom where the airport is located
Then on to Kagbeni at 2,810 meters, the last village going north where foreigners were allowed to go at that time. We saw the trail leading north to Mustang and were sad that we could not continue there, having read Michel Peissel’s book Mustang, The Forbidden Kingdom not that long before.
The children in Kagbeni were very curious to see our daughter, since I suppose not many young Western children visited the area. They even gathered outside at the window of the guesthouse where we were staying and watched us.
The view toward Mustang
We hired a horse for trek up to Muktinath the next day, because the trail was very steep and I was exhausted carrying my daughter.
We first passed Jharkot at 3,500 meters where we saw woman giving a traditional baby massage and another one weaving. The town really seemed like one out of Medieval times!
Muktinath is at 3,710 meters, the highest altitude we dared go with our daughter.
Then it was back to Jomsom to catch our flight back to Pokara. We were very lucky, because the next day there was a heavy snowstorm and all flights were canceled.