Saturday, May 29, 2010

Thoughts of the day

Marcus Aurelius:

"Hyväksy ne asiat, joihin kohtalo sitoo sinut, ja rakasta niitä ihmisiä, jotka kohtalo tuo polullesi, ja tee tämä koko sydämestäsi."

"Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart."

Walt Disney:

"Kaikista unelmistamme voi tulla totta, jos meillä vain on rohkeutta tavoitella niitä".
"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them."
Eleanor Roosevelt:
"Tulevaisuus kuuluu niille, jotka uskovat unelmiensa kauneuteen."
"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

3xsauna at 24 hours

During the last 24 hours I had been enjoying sauna three times. On the Tuesday evening I was paddling to Haukisaari and having evening sauna and refreshing swimming at cold Näsijärvi lake. I had my sleeping bag and mattress with me and stayed overnight at laavu. Unfortunately I didn't had earplugs with me and couldn't sleep too much due to the gulls and other birds, which were noisy during the night :)

I was waking up already after 2AM on a beautiful sunrise over the lake. It was so beautiful.... There were even some mist over the lake and the view was like from the most beautiful paint in the world. I had a early breakfast and started to paddle back at 5:30AM. There were no others at lake and it was quiet and nice to paddle there when sun was already shining. Just wonderful.

When I got back at my home I put my sauna on and went there to warm up. The night was a bit chilly still... After having great morning sauna I was ready to go to my bed and had a good sleep and waking up at noon :)

I have been running on Jukola - orienteering cmpetition now five years on the row. When I quit my job this month I'm not able to join the team from the work. I had to search another team for this year. Fortunately I was lucky and got the chance to run 6th leg of the 7 leg long orienteering competition. Jukola relay is the most famous of all orienteering relay competitions and the athmosphere is just awesome! I just love this event.

Therefore I had orienteering exercise in the afternoon at Siitama, Orivesi and I had decided to run the longest track, a bit over 7 km this time. My body was tired already after paddling and not very well slept night. However this was good practice for the Jukola. My running pace needs clearly improvement, I finished the course at the time of 1:24.

And it was lovely to have sauna again after this orienteering exercise!!!!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Enjoying the sunset at Haukisaari island

At 21:30 looking over the lake

After running a 40 minutes exercise at the shore of the Näsijärvi I realized how beautiful evening would be coming. It was calm and sun was shining nicely over the Näsijärvi lake.

I decided to paddle Haukisaari island and stay overnight at laavu, having evening sauna, swimming on the lake and admiring the beautiful sunset, before getting into sleep at my sleeping bag on laavu. Laavu has been just built and is nicely located towards the west and sunset over the lake.

At 22:30 the view from the terrace of the sauna, water was refreshing!

The birds were singing and water was calm and still during the evening.

This was one of those moments, which you want to experience again and again. Feeling like living at every cell and the most memorable moments in your life. The Finnish summer is just amazing!!!!!

I wish You could have been with me sharing these moments...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Back to Tampere

I'm currently back at home. I should have been kayaking Swedish coastline right now, but I was physically and mentally totally broken. It wouldn't have been wise to start kayaking alone at that condition. I'm happy I was able to admit it to myself and make the decision to not to start at all, now I am relieved and need time for recover...

On the other hand I would be pleased to spend time during this summer with You, my friends. I would be delighted to have the possibility to have discussions and doing things with You. If you feel just drop me a call or mail me, I have plenty of time now.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Summer wine

Summer wine is playing on the background when I'm finishing the packing for the kayaking trip. This evening the ferry will take me and the kayak from Turku to Stockholm. On the Sweden I need to do still the last shopping buying fresh food for the first days of the trip. If everything goes as planned then I should be ready to start the journey late afternoon on Friday.

The closer the actual starting date has come the more thrill I'm feeling on my stomach, when thinking how to survive on the rough sea conditions. The first 1-2 weeks might be the worst, before getting the touch and routine for the kayaking. I'm expecting sore muscles, strong winds, cold, waves and long lonely days to be realistic.

First time I own mp3 player. I bought it just for this trip to get a chance to keep my mood up by listening the great records when kayaking. Normally I really love to move on the nature by listening the voices of the animals, wind, waves and the silence, but this trip is something else than going for a hike for a week.

I'll start my trip humble in the front of powerful nature...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Last working day

After coming back to Finland and home, I have had long list of things to do on this week.

Monday was the last working day and I returned all my remaining items like mobile phone, ID badge and access card. I said farewell to my colleagues and closed the door of the office last time.

I got a flu and a bit of coughing in Nepal and therefore I went to doctor to check if I could start my kayaking trip already this week friday. The result was to postpone the start of kayaking. It's not sensible and wise to start long and tedious trip on this condition.

I have started preparations for the kayaking trip during this week, meanwhile I have been unpacking all the Nepal trekking stuff, washing all the clothes and starting to collect items for the coming trip...

It has been sunny days on this week and yesterday I realized how dirty my windows were, when sun was shining through them. Now they are bright and clean after cleaning them :)

Let the sun shine!!!!!

Back to Pokhara and Kathmandu

Pokhara is a beautiful city with lake and superb views to Annapurna range mountains. It has more quiet athmosphere than Kathmandu and is a very pleasent place to rest and relax. The extra day at Pokhara went rowing on the lake, taking the sun and walking around numerous trekking shops.

On wednesday 28.4 took the minivan and had 5 hours bus drive from Pokhara to Kathmandu. Part of the drive travelled on the roof of the bus with the backpacks. The sun was shining and it was warm. At every police check posts we were commanded from the roof back to inside the minivan, but when the bus was out of sight of the polices we went back to the roof.

Kathmandu was as chaotic as before and two days at this capital is just enough for me. The harmony and quiet of the mountains is as far as you can get at Kathmandu. There's noise, traffic, pollution, people, smells, garbage, shops, animals so much that you can just barely tolerate it.

At Tribhuvan airport at Kathmandu chaos continues. Flights are cancelled and people are trying to squeeze themselves through the officials, who control the entrance to the airport. It takes at least half an hour before we manage to push ourselves into the area, where we can do the check-in for the flight.

2000, 2003, 2006 and 2010 has been the years in Nepal for me. The trekking route this year was exactly the same as in my first trek at 2000. It feels like one circle has now closed within these 10 years and this could have been my last trip to Nepal.

But as Forrest Gump said: "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you gonna get".

Goodbye Nepal, perhaps we see each others after 10 or 20 years...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Nayapul, the end of the trek

Monday 26.4.2010 Ghorepani - Pokhara (Day 16)

First sunrays behind the Annapurna range

Poon hill lies 400 meters above Ghorepani and at the sunrise you can see all the major peaks of Annapurna range from there. We woke up at 4AM and started climb at 4:30AM with headlamps showing the narrow trail leading through the rhododendron forest to upper slopes of the hill. There were lots of other trekkers going to Poon hill at the same time and we arrived to the top just nicely before sunrise.

Dhaulagiri on the west

The view is lterally breathtaking, a Himalayan panorama stretching from Dhaulagiri (8167m 7th highest) to Manaslu (8156 8th highest) in the east, with the Annapurna range between them.

Ready for the photos

After Poon hill we descended back to Ghorepani, had a breakfast and started walk to finish our trek at Nayapul. It was long, long, long day over 13 hours. There’s one section called Ulleri stairs, where you’ll be waited by 3280 stone steps. After going down these steps my legs felt like a macaroni. Soon after Ulleri it started to rain and we had to put our Gore-Tex clothes still once more. The leg to Nayapul felt endless, but finally we got there and took a taxi to take us to Pokhara late in the evening. It was already dark when we arrived to Pokhara, but we were happy to get there and have a one rest day tomorrow.

Breakfast with Dhaulagiri views

Altitude : 850 m, Trekking time: 13,5 hours


Sunday 25.4.2010 Tatopani - Ghorepani (Day 15)

Today we need to climb 1.6 kms up to Ghorepani village. I have woken up at 5AM and have gone to the hot springs down to the river. There’s only couple of locals at same time enjoying 40 degrees hot spring. Half an hour relaxing moment, after which hearty breakfast will give a good boost for the day.

From the very beginning we start to climb and will climb altogether 7 hours through the green vegetation and small beautiful villages. Sun is shining brightly and I’m sweating like in a sauna. We are having lunch quite late today. Just before Ghorepani there’s a huge rhododendrons forests all over round. Unfortunately all rhododendrons has already blossomed and dropped their flowers. I can imagine how it would look like in March, when all the flowers would be booming at the same time, wow!!!

At Ghorepani we are having the best Apple pie on this trek (At Kamala restaurant) and we decide to have our dinner as well on this same Kamala lodge. We are not disappointed about the quality of the Kamala lodge, vice versa, excellent food. In the evening big Korean trekking group is sitting in our lodge having their dinner and taking photos from everywhere. It’s funny to follow the different people and especially the difference of behavior of Korean women and men.

The walls of the rooms at lodges in Ghorepani are really thin. It feels like the whole building will fall down, when somebody is coming the stairs to upper floor. These lodges have been built very cheap.

Altitude : 2700 m, Trekking time: 7 hours


Saturday 24.4.2010 Marpha - Tatopani (Day 14)

The section from Marpha to Tatopani is a bit boring walking on the dusty road. My legs feels heavy after yesterday’s long trekking day and on the way down we discuss whether to walk two days to Tatopani or take the bus and save one extra day, which we could spent at Pokhara. When we have a break at Tukuche after 2 hours trek, we are ready to make the decision. We’ll hop into the next bus and try to get to Tatopani still today. We’ll walk still from Tukuche to next village Khobang and when having the break there, we see bus, which is going down. Every seat is already occupied by the Hindu pilgrims and we get convenient standing place from the bus :) The 3 hours drive on these narrow and hilly roads is memorable experience. When you look on the left side of the bus and see nearly 1 km drop to the river down in the valley, you just hope the driver knows what to do. We need to change the bus once at Ghasa and arrive to Tatopani after 2PM. We haven’t had lunch yet and after couple of beers the lunch tastes like a dinner at Michelin restaurant.

Altitude : 1100 m, Trekking time: 4 hours + bus drive 3 hours


Friday 23.4.2010 Muktinath - Marpha (Day 13)

At breakfast at Jharkot

Another long day after yesterday, but now it’s all downhill. Enjoying leisurely breakfast at sunshine at the terrace at Jharkot with green fields and snow peaks surrounding us. This is a life! This is one of those mornings why it’s great to be life. I’ll never forget these moments and memories.

The first bigger village after Jharkot is Kagbeni, where we stop for lunch break. From New Annapurna lodge dinning hall we have amazing views to Nilgiri snow peaks, Kali Gandaki river and green corn fields. The view is unspeakable!

Nilgiri from Kagbeni

The wind is getting stronger we leave Annapurna lodge and head to Ekhlaibatti village in half an hour way. It starts to rain and there are dark clouds and thunderstorm, but we put our Gore clothes on and continue towards Jomsom, which is still 2 hours away from here. Fortunately the rain is quite moderate and we arrive Jomsom roughly at 2PM. After showing our permits in two check posts we are having a break to eat and drink something. Our plan was to walk to Marpha still today and when estimating the thunderstorm and weather conditions we decide to keep on going another 2 hours to Marpha.

View from the temple at Marpha

It’s a long day and I can feel it on my legs. 10 minutes before we arrive to Marpha it starts to rain pouring and we’ll get wet. Anyhow we’ll have a chance to get hot shower and have the dinner on the best restaurant of the village!! I just like this small village and it’s athmosphere.

The alleys of the Marpha

Altitude : 2600 m, Trekking time: 9 hours


Thursday 22.4.2010 Thorung Phedi - Muktinath (Day 12)

At Thorung La 5416m

I’ll wake up at alarm clock ringing at 4AM. It’s totally dark and we pack our bags in the light of the headlamp. When walking to dining area I can see already lights on the slope of the Thorung La, earliest trekkers has already started climbing 1 km steep slope. We’ll eat with good appetite and start our climb at 4:30AM. The first section of the slope is the steepest and the pace is very slow, but steady. Regular drinking breaks and breaks to breath normally naturally guide our way to Thorung High Camp. One hour later we arrive to High Camp and have a short break. At the same time sun is starting to rise and we don’t need anymore our headlamps. Altitude is 4.8 km. After two hours we have arrived to small Tea shop at 5.1 km altitude. Sunrays are already warming a bit, but there’s chilly wind, which prevents us to take off our Gore-Tex clothes. Endless ridges follow each others, before finally we see prayer flags and see the highest point of the pass (5.4 km). This is my 4th time at Thorung La pass, but first time at spring. It looks same as before :)

Descending towards Muktinath

Spending hour at the top and then starting 1.7 km descend onto Muktinath. It’s hard and tough to go down steep sections with backpack. I’m a bit afraid of my knees, but they seem to be OK. It’s again very beautiful and sunny day, our luck continues to have extremely good weather on the days we spend on the high altitude. After 9 hours trekking we arrive to Muktinath and pass the temple, which is second holiest place in Nepal for Hindus. The streets of Muktinath are full of horses, cows, chicken, dogs, cats, etc… But there’s also cars, motorcycles and buses, which is due to the road up to Muktinath. There is constant traffic to temple by young motorcyclists, who drive Hindu pilgrims onto temple and back.

On a break after 7 hours trekking

I’m really tired when we get to Muktinath. I’ll check my temperature in the evening and it shows a bit fever. I have felt a bit cold on the other side of the pass and crossing the highest pass has taken it’s toll. Hopefully in the morning I don’t have fever anymore and we could continue trekking as planned.

Altitude : 3700 m, Trekking time: 9 hours

Thorung Phedi

Wednesday 21.4.2010 Yak Kharka - Thorung Phedi (Day 11)

Looking back to Yak Kharka

This last day before crossing the Thorung La is fortunately a short day. We climb only 400 meters and walking distance is relatively short. The day is windy and head wind will blow dust against our faces. Slowly and leisurely we walk towards Thorung Phedi, which lies on the bottom of the pass. We plan to climb still to Thorung High Camp for overnight, but when we are enjoying our lunch at Thorung Phedi and resting before 400 meters ascending on the steep slope, it will start to snow. There are dark clouds on the sky and after making the estimation of the weather we decide to stay overnight here than start for 1,5 hours climb on this weather to higher slopes. On the afternoon we have a walk and descend to the river some 100 meters below the lodges. The last rays of sunshine are hitting the river and when the sun is setting behind the mountains is time to get back and have a dinner at the warmth of the lodge. We have early wakeup at the morning, at 4AM and therefore we are going to sleep very early today. There’s no sign of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) and I’m pretty sure we don’t have any problems tomorrow to pass the highest pass on this trek. So far the trek has been succeeding amazingly well :)

Altitude : 4400 m, Trekking time: 6,5 hours

Yak Kharka

Tuesday 20.4.2010 Tilicho Peak Hotel - Yak Kharka (Day 10)

Gate to heaven

Although this is my 3rd Annapurna Circuit I haven’t taken this route from Khangsar valley to Yak Kharka never before. What a positive surprise this will be!!!! This is one of the most beautiful and quiet routes. We don’t see anybody else during the day, until the trail unites onto main trail before Yak Kharka. Lots of porters and trekkers are walking there, but we had a beautiful and memorable trekking day just by ourselves on the slopes of Himalayan peaks with superb views. I just feel to live at my full heart today.

On the viewpoint

This is the only section where I have seen small birches, like in Lapland. When crossing the roaring rivers, we set for a break to wash our feet and take for a rest after 3 hours walking.

Rest break at the river

Yak Kharka is a village with bunch of lodges at 4 km altitude. We arrive relatively early and have delicious lunch. It’s pleasure to get warm water and have the possibility to wash ourselves and our dirty clothes as well. The afternoon will be used for care activities like taking shower, washing clothes, charging batteries for GPS, camera, etc… The lodge owner is friendly old woman and we are extremely pleased we chose this lodge for staying overnight.

Small birches on the slope

Altitude : 4000 m, Trekking time: 5 hours

Tilicho Peak Hotel

Monday 19.4.2010 Tilicho base camp - Tilicho Peak Hotel (Day 9)

On the way to Tilicho Tal lake

Today is a great day. The plan is to climb to Tilicho Tal lake roughly 1 km up and first time break 5 km altitude on this trek. The morning is amazingly bright and sunny. We are lucky to have a beautiful weather on this day. The silence is unbelievable when climbing the slope with zigzag trail higher and higher on the end of Khangsar valley. On the left hand side we see white Annapurna massive with Tilicho Peak closest.

Close to lake already

The climb will take us 2,5 hours and there’s lot of snow nearby the lake. We have only light running shoes and regularly my shoes and feet sink into the thick snow. I can feel how my socks get wet and a bit cold. Fortunately we just spend half an hour at the lake, which is frozen at this time of the year.

Frozen Tilicho Tal

When the wind is bit chilly we decide to start descending after taking photos and admiring the views. When we arrived there were other 3 people at the lake, but now there’s nobody else. Slowly turning around and start going down we meet a bunch of porters carrying stuff and equipment of the trekking group, which is going to take Mesokanto – pass onto Jomsom via this route.


The views to Khangsar valley are fabulous when we finally arrive back to Tilicho Base Camp after 5 hours and 10 kms “wakeup walk” :)

Khangsar valley

After enjoying the lunch and sunshine we have still roughly 3 hours walk back Khangsar valley towards Khangsar village. However we are not returning to Khangsar, but stop overnight at Tilicho Peak Hotel 1 hour before Khangsar. Tomorrow we’ll take another route over the viewpoint towards the other valley and Yak Kharka village on the way to Thorung La pass. We have dreamed a hot shower for a couple of days, but there’s no water coming at all on this lodge and we need to forget the shower and fresh feeling today…

Altitude : 3900 m, Trekking time: 9 hours

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tilicho Base Camp

Sunday 18.4.2010 Khangsar - Tilicho base camp (Day 8)

Viewpoint at 4.7km

We start early after surprisingly warm night towards the Tilicho Tal - lake. The weather is sunny and the steady climb starts immdiately when leaving Khangsar village back. The small trail will lead us higher and higher every step. After 1 hour climb we arrive to the oldest Gompa in this region. The views are getting better all the time when getting higher and higher. We are having well deserved break at Gompa, until climb continues passing a new lodge "Tilicho Peak Hotel" on the way. When trail forks to lower and higher route, we have decided to take the higher route for the superb views. However locals don't want us to take the higher ropute, because of the landslides and there's even stones on the path to prevent trekkers to choose the higher route. Despite of the advices we start a gruel 800 meters climb to the viewpoint with prayer flag standing alone in the wind on the ridge, from where there's roughly 1 km drop to the valley.

Descending from the ridge

After viewpoint we check the route onwards on the slope, but it looks so dangerous, we have easy decision to turn around and descend back to the point where higher route and lower route are starting. It took us roughly 3-4 hours to do this side trip, but the views were amazing!!! We have used nearly all of our water, when we finally approach Tilicho Base Camp lodge at 4.1 kms after 7,5 hours trekking.

On landslide section

The lower route has some sections of landslide areas and I'm a bit scared at some sections. Anyhow we arrive safely to Tilicho Base Camp and have delicious dinner before getting to sleep.

Yaks on the way through landslide area, guess who was giving way...

Altitude : 4100 m, Trekking time: 7,5 hours


Saturday 17.4.2010 Manang - Khangsar (Day 7)

Have to drink a lot at higher altitudes

Today is the acclimatization day and there's no need to wake up early. It's already a bit chilly up here, but when sun starts to shine it warms up nicely. We'll buy necessary items for the Tilicho Tal side trip, like mineral water, chocolate bars, etc... After lunch at 13, we'll head towards the Khangsar valley and start climbing up to 3700 meters to Khangsar village, where we arrive two hours later. I can feel the yesterday's tough climb of high route and I'm happy to have shorter day today. Khangsar is a small village with couple of lodges and we are staying night at Himachuli owned by a characteful old lady. I don't see any other trekkers in Khangsar at this time, it's really quiet here.

Somebody is spying us at Khangsar

Altitude : 3700 m, Trekking time: 2 hours


Friday 16.4.2010 Upper Pisang - Manang (Day 6)

Annapurnas at the sunrise from Upper Pisang

Early wake-up, because today we are going to take the upper route to Manang. Breakfast at 6:15 after which we are ready to go. It has been freezing during the night and it's cold in the morning. The first one hour is moderate climb through the pine forest. The ascend to Ghyary village takes one hour and it's steep climb. But the views from the Ghyary are fantastic towards the Annapurna massive. The day is hot and beautiful. This part of the route has one of the most beautiful views to the snow capped mountains of Annapurna range.

At Ghyary

After short tea break we head to Ngawal village and have lunch there after 5 hours trekking. There's still Holiday hotel, where I and Frank were sleeping in our first Annapurna trek 10 years ago. The price of the room has gone up from 20 rupees to 200 rupees.

Frank, do you still remember this Holiday Hotel at Ngawal :)

The last leg to Manang feels endless, but before 4PM we arrive to Manang and stay at Tilicho hotel. At Manang I'll meet my colleague from Poland and we'll chat for awhile at bakery enjoying hot chocolate and buns. We are going to Tilicho Tal lake and they are heading towards the Thorung La pass next day.

Altitude : 3500 m, Trekking time: 9 hours, total climb 1600 m

Upper Pisang

Thursday 15.4.2010 Chame - Upper Pisang (Day 5)

On a way from Chame to Upper Pisang
It's new years day today, year 2067 in Nepal. There are big events in Chame today, but we need to trek further and won't be participating new years parties. The morning is a bit chilly but warms up soon, when sun is starting to shine. First two hours we follow the river to Bhratang village and continue upwards until we reach 3100 meters altitude and stop for a lunch at midday. The day is beautiful with sunshine and sky with no clouds.

Coming to Upper Pisang village

We'll arrive to Upper Pisang early and I'll wash my dirty trekking clothes after shower. The Marsyangdi lodge is the best lodge so far and it has very friendly owners. During the evening we climb to the Gompa still a bit higher, from where there's a beautiful views to Annapurna II and Annapurna IV.

The boy at Buddhist Gompa

Altitude : 3200 m, Trekking time: 7 hours, total climb 1000 m