weekly photo challenge: forward

Saturday, February 23:  This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is FORWARD.

In a new post specifically created for this challenge, share a picture that says FORWARD to you.

Perhaps it’s a path you yourself have taken, the building where you’re starting a great new job, or the curve of your partner’s pregnant belly. It could be an image that shows a physical move, or something that evokes a major life change.

Here are some pictures of a 15 km hike I took in January from Nagarkot to Changu Narayan outside the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal.  Twice during this walk, I came across women walking forward carrying burdens of tree branches larger than they were. I couldn’t even see their faces, just their feet moving, moving, moving.  Forward. I actually tried to run to get ahead of them and take front view pictures, but I couldn’t catch them!  I’m sure they couldn’t wait to release their burdens.

these women were moving forward so fast, I was running to keep up with them!

these women were moving forward so fast, I was running to keep up with them!

another group of ladies further down the path, walking forward with loads that look a little different from the first ladies' loads.

another group of ladies further down the path, walking forward with loads that look a little different from the first ladies’ loads.

The views were beautiful.  My legs were aching, but I kept moving forward down the path, until we reached our destination of Changu Narayan.

moving FORWARD down the path to Changu Narayan

moving FORWARD down the path to Changu Narayan

continuing to move FORWARD down the path

continuing to move FORWARD down the path

I’ll post more on this hike in the coming weeks. 🙂

 

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a hike from nagarkot to changu narayan

Wednesday, January 23:  After breakfast and a shower at Hotel View Point, I meet my guide for the day, Prakash Bhattarai of Gurka Encounters.  We begin our hike from Nagarkot, at 1950 meters, at 9 a.m.

Beginning our hike: terraced hills

Beginning our hike: terraced hills

"God is at home.  It's we who have gone out for a walk." ~ Meister Eckhart

“God is at home. It’s we who have gone out for a walk.” ~ Meister Eckhart

Nepali schoolchildren

Nepali schoolchildren

We first walk downhill for a couple of hours to Tellkot, passing terraces planted with mustard and wheat.  Some terraces are simply brown dirt where farmers will plant potatoes and millet in the warmer seasons.

terraces

terraces

terraces and the Himalayas

terraces and the Himalayas

more terraced hills

more terraced hills

terraces & greenhouses

terraces & greenhouses

At some points along the route, we can see views of the Himalayas, snow-capped like some apparition, with the terraced Central Hills in the foreground.  There is a bit of haze in the air, so the view isn’t perfect, but it’s beautiful nonetheless.

view of the Himalayas

view of the Himalayas

the snow-capped Himalayas

the snow-capped Himalayas

the Himalayas rise like an apparition over the Central Hills

the Himalayas rise like an apparition over the Central Hills

We walk through the front yards of colorful painted houses with Nepalis squatting on their front stoops, doors open, cleanly swept dirt floors inside.  These homes seem surprisingly tidy, swept clean both inside and out.  Goats and cows are tied to posts, dogs are barking, and chickens and roosters are crowing.  The air is crisp and cool — a perfect day for hiking.

goats and washline

goats and clothes on the wash line

livestock, terraces and the Himalayas

livestock, terraces and the Himalayas

goats & mountains

goats & mountains

"The home should be the treasure chest of living." ~ Le Corbusier

“The home should be the treasure chest of living.” ~ Le Corbusier

cock-a-doodle-doo!

cock-a-doodle-doo!

farmyard animals

farmyard animals

"Home is where the heart is." ~ Pliny the Elder

“Home is where the heart is.” ~ Pliny the Elder

better homes & gardens

better homes & gardens

I have a small pack, the size of a purse, and a larger backpack holding my overnight stuff.  Lucky for me, Prakash offers to carry it for me through the whole hike.  I should have insisted on carrying it myself; if I ever want to do the Camino de Santiago, I’m going to have to get used to carrying my own stuff!  Admittedly, it’s quite pleasant for me not to have to carry my pack.  🙂  I determine to tip him well for his hard work, which I do when we return to Kathmandu.

the Central Hills and Himalayas of Nepal

the Central Hills and Himalayas of Nepal

hills & mountains

hills & mountains

It’s lovely walking in companionable silence with Prakesh.   I so enjoy a walk out in nature without having someone constantly chattering.  We pass one small Hindu temple that seems quite off the beaten track.

a little Hindu temple in the hills

a little Hindu temple in the hills

haystacks and hills

haystacks and hills

hill country

hill country

more terraces

more terraces

"Be grateful for the home you have, knowing at this moment, all you have is all you need." ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

“Be grateful for the home you have, knowing at this moment, all you have is all you need.” ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

At the end of our hike, around 1:00, we can see Changu Narayan, an ancient temple complex, perched on a 1541 meter ridge ahead of us.  Our destination is in sight!  Prakash tells me we’ve walked about 15 km, although Rough Guide to Nepal says this hike, all the way to Bhaktapur, is about 10 km.

me with my destination, Changu Narayan, on the hilltop behind

me with my destination, Changu Narayan, on the hilltop behind

Changu Narayan on the hilltop ahead

Changu Narayan on the hilltop ahead

fields of mustard with Changu Narayan on the hill in the background

fields of mustard with Changu Narayan on the hill in the background

my last views of Kathmandu Valley before we get to the temple

my last views of Kathmandu Valley before we get to the temple

This was one of my favorite days in Nepal, close on the heels of my lovely lake walk in Pokhara.

More on Changu Narayan to follow….

sunrise in nagarkot

Wednesday, January 23:   Someone is pounding on my door and yelling,  “Sunrise!  Sunrise!”  Although I had no intention of getting up at sunrise this morning, I am now wide awake in my dark icy room.  I know I won’t be able to go back to sleep since I’m suddenly feeling the cold in my bones, so I figure I may as well get up and see what all the fuss is about.  The way I see it is that I already saw sunrise over the Annapurna Range in Pokhara, and then I saw sunset over the Langtang Range here last night.  It’s my vacation, after all, and I would really just love to sleep.

But, I drag myself out of bed, grabbing all the warm clothes I can find, and climb to the top tower of Hotel View Point with the scores of Chinese.  I find myself jostling with them for the perfect view of the Himalayas.  I am pleasantly surprised that the mountains are not draped in clouds as they were last night, so we have a clear view of the snow-covered peaks.

Here’s what I can see when I can push my way in front of the hordes of Chinese.

Sunrise at Nagarkot

Sunrise at Nagarkot

sunrise on the Langtang Range

sunrise on the Langtang Range

sunrise!

sunrise!

Langtang sunrise

Langtang sunrise

early risers on a lower platform

early risers on a lower platform

sunlight on the mountaintops

sunlight on the mountaintops

getting brighter

getting brighter

breakfast time!

breakfast time!

the mountains in full daylight  :-)

the mountains in full daylight 🙂

the hotel and the mountains

the hotel and the mountains

Hotel View Point

Hotel View Point

Terrace on Hotel View Point

Terrace on Hotel View Point

the balcony outside of my room

the balcony outside of my room

After breakfast, I pack up my backpack and head out for a 10 km hike down to Changu Narayan. 🙂

arrival in nagarkot & sunset views of the langtang range

Tuesday, January 22: After our time in Bhaktapur, we drive up winding mountain roads for about an hour until we reach Hotel View Point in Nagarkot (Hotel Viewpoint).  As we drive up, I can see undulating hills indented with terraces.  Many of the terraces are brown or bare because it’s winter, but some are covered in yellow-flowering mustard.  I am enamored by these terraces, which are so all-encompassing that they cover nearly every slope in the valley.

the view during the drive up to Nagarkot

the view during the drive up to Nagarkot

Nagarkot is not really much of a village.  The primary reason for its existence is the views it offers of the Himalayas, most notably the panorama of the Langtang Range.  The standard activity is this: enjoying the sunset and the sunrise over the mountains.

a map of the Langtang Range found on the hotel balcony

a map of the Langtang Range found on the hotel balcony

According to Wikipedia, Langtang Lirung is the highest peak of the Langtang Himal, which is a subrange of the Nepalese Himalayas, southwest of the Eight-thousander Shisha Pangma.  Though not high by the standards of major Himalayan peaks, Langtang Lirung is notable for its large vertical relief above local terrain. For example, it rises 5500m above the Trisuli Gandaki to the west in only 16 km. It has a large South Face which long resisted climbing attempts. The list of the world’s highest 100 mountains puts it at number 99 (Wikipedia: Langtang Lirung).

Hotel View Point and the Langtang Range

Hotel View Point and the Langtang Range

the Langtang Range from the hotel

the Langtang Range from the hotel

a view from the balcony of the hotel to the gardens below

a view from the balcony of the hotel to the gardens below

Hotel View Point balconies

Hotel View Point balconies

When I arrive at the hotel, since I didn’t eat lunch in Bhaktapur, I have a wonderful lunch of Nepalese Vegetarian food: basmati rice, black lentils, vegetable curry, spinach green curry, pickle, papad (some kind of mushroom curry?), salad and curd.  I top this amazing lunch off with a banana lassi.

Nepali vegetarian food

Nepali vegetarian food

After lunch, since it’s still a while before sunset, I take a walk down into the village, where I see some interesting little shops and cafes.

Chill out

Chill out

Chill Out Restaurant and Nepali writing on the blackboard

Chill Out Restaurant and Nepali writing on the blackboard

funky business in town

funky business in town

I also see, coming out of a wooded area, several women with huge bundles of sticks on their backs.  They are being propelled forward at high-speed down the mountain by their heavy burdens.  I try to run to catch up and pass them, so I can take a picture of them from the front, but I can’t catch them, they are moving so fast.  So all I get is a rear view of their bundles and their rapidly moving feet.

Ladies carrying bundles of wood

Ladies carrying bundles of wood

scurry, scurry

scurry, scurry

I pass one shop that sells those droop-bottom pantaloons, or whatever you call them, that all the Western hippies wear in Nepal.  It always looks to me like they’re carrying a load in their britches.

pantaloons with droopy crotches

pantaloons with droopy crotches

After my walk, I treat myself to an Everest beer on the terrace and then I get cozy in my room for a while before dinner, where I continue reading What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt.  The book is so good now, I can hardly put it down; I read it every chance I get.

an Everest beer before sunset

an Everest beer before sunset

the Langtang Range view enjoyed with an Everest beer

the Langtang Range view enjoyed with an Everest beer

my room at Hotel View Point

my room at Hotel View Point

Finally, when I think it’s about time for the sun to go down, I climb to Hotel View Point’s highest tower, accompanied by about 25 Chinese tourists.  I am the only non-Asian person in sight.  All the Chinese are wrangling for the best view with their fancy cameras.  We all take pictures and I position myself at different spots around the hotel balconies, of which there are many, and take various shots, some of which are posted here.  It’s freezing cold!!

Sunset

Sunset

sunset at Nagarkot

sunset at Nagarkot

sunset at Nagarkot, looking away from the Langtang Range

sunset at Nagarkot, looking away from the Langtang Range

sunset over the Langtang Range

sunset over the Langtang Range

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the sun sets over the Himalayas with Nagarkot in the foreground

Sunset amidst the trees

Sunset amidst the trees

the sun sets over the Langtang Range

the sun sets over the Langtang Range

After the sun goes down, a buffet dinner is served in the chilly dining room.  I eat small pieces of fried chicken, lukewarm spinach, cold steamed cauliflower, broccoli and carrots, noodle soup in brass bowls (the only warm thing!), and some limp oily French fries.  Believe me, it’s not even worth taking a picture of this meal.

the dining room at Hotel View Point

the dining room at Hotel View Point

By the time dinner is over, I’m so tired of listening to the Chinese, and I’m so cold, that I go to my room and burrow under as many blankets as I can pile on the bed from the cupboards in the room.  Brrrrr.   I plan to pass on sunrise in the morning because I already saw the amazing sunrise in Pokhara and one is just fine by me, thank you very much.

Looking out over the hotel grounds to the Himalayas

Looking out over the hotel grounds to the Himalayas