The variety of dishes on the printed menu cards in the tea
houses was yet another gratifying affair. What would you
say when you’re granted the choice to order Mexican
burritos, chocolate-banana pancakes, steaming
hot thukpa or momos high up in the mountains? I would
call it extravagance! I felt truly pampered when I ordered
eggs for breakfast, and was asked “How would you want us
to cook the eggs for you ... boiled, masala or cheese
omelette, bhurji or sunny-side-up?”!
For lunch, I always went in for the freshly cooked dal-
bhat (Nepalese staple thali meal comprising of soupy dal,
rice, dry vegetable, pickles and papad). Dal-baht platter is
very similar to Indian food. For dinner, it was always the
piping hot Thukpa for me.
All the food is locally grown and never fails to gratify the
taste buds. The ubiquitous honey-ginger-lemon hot drink,
kept my stomach acids neutralised, keeping colds, nausea
and other maladies at bay. It was a drink I looked forward
to during the meal breaks. I added garlic cloves to my
breakfast as a preventive dose to mountain sickness, as per
the local wisdom.
4. The terrain: A trek with mostly even trail or grass would
be graded as easy; however, a trek with extensive stretches
of boulders to navigate, narrow slippery snowy paths to
tread on and multitudinous steps to climb, would be
considered difficult. ABC had all of these in good measure!
There were countless and seemingly never-ending array of
steps, undulating boulder-laden trails, and treacherously
narrow and slippery snow paths. In some patches, these
snow paths were just wide enough to hold one foot; you
have to stabilise it, and then place the next foot forward.
Great focus is needed as the drops are precipitous. Such
stretches of the trek would be truly demanding for a newbie
trekker. The zillion (they can feel like that to an exhausted
body) steps can be knee-breakers for many. They form the
essence of the ABC trek. So, if you have knee issues, you
need to think twice before embarking on this trek.
5. The Weather: A blizzard while on the trek, or an
avalanche blocking the narrow trails can definitely up the
difficulty quotient of a trek. Sub-zero temperatures is
another aspect that can add to a trekker’s woes. During our
trek too, temperatures crossed sub-zero in Himalaya, MBC
and ABC, but barring these stay-overs, the chill was
bearable and the climate temperate. Luckily for us, the trek
was in April, which happens to be one of best months to get
a clear sky. The sun was sharp but bearable, and there were
only a couple of sporadic rain showers during our return.
But, even sudden weather change can convert any trek into
an arduous one in no time. We faced the consequence of
suddenly changing weather first-hand. Crossing the crude
wooden bridges over rivers and streams was much easier
while on our ascent to ABC. In fact, prancing and leaping
over rocks, and traversing the bridges was fun! But to our
utter surprise, these bridges and big exposed rocks
disappeared under the swell of the raging river due to heavy
rains in the lower regions. It raised the water level
substantially. I still shudder when I think of how I made my
way to the other side of the river by jumping over a barely
exposed tip of a sharp rock and then extending my trekking
pole to be pulled by our guide to the safety of land. In the
same week sometime, I learn that a Korean woman and
another man got washed away in the river while trying to
cross it in the same manner.