The first two days in Nepal on the Dhaulagiri Circuit are all about getting to the start of the trek. As it happens, the weather has made it a lot harder than expected. There is a big cyclone in India and as a consequence it has rained non-stop since arriving in Kathmandu yesterday. Internal travel in Nepal is precarious at the best of times and the weather has now messed things up completely.
Last night we stayed in the Summit Hotel, by far the best hotel I have stayed in in Kathmandu although it's quite a way out of the city centre. The rooms are good, the food is excellent and everything is spick and span.
After a quick trip into Thamel to pick up some last minute items from the wonderful Shonas I was already for the next stage - a flight to Pokara. The rain was hammering down and in airports like Pokara if the pilots can't see the runway the planes don't fly. The flight was cancelled and after a bit of consultation the local agent for Jagged Globe decided that we would have go by bus to Pokara. It's a 6/7 hour trip but given that the weather forecast for tomorrow is not good this seemed like a good decision.
I've been on a bus to Pokara before and while it's a nice trip to do once most people would not want to repeat the experience. Today at least was a holiday which meant that the lorries that are usually grinding up and down from India were nowhere to be seen and the road was relatively quiet. On the other hand the weather was dreadful and the driving techniques that are universal here were even more scary today. Sure enough, about 4 hours out from Kathmandu there has been an accident just ahead of us with a minibus hitting a larger bus resulting in injuries to passengers and a trapped minibus driver.
Amazingly - despite the road being blocked - we were on the move after about half an hour but with three extra passengers - some Nepalese who had decided that the road was too dangerous and were going home. After 10 minutes we understood what had scared them. A crowd of people near the edge of the road were looking down a steep bank towards a swollen river where a bus had left the road. This looked like a very serious accident.
After about 8 hours in a bus on a rough road we arrived in rain sodden Pokara. If the original plan had worked we would have been there in the afternoon and had time to look around what is a nice town. As it was we were just relieved to have arrived safely.
I'm just starting to work out who everyone else is in the group. There are 12 of us plus Chris the UK based leader from Jagged Globe. There 10 men and 2 women including one couple (Mandy and Alexis). Apart from the couple, who I guess are in their early thirties, everyone apart from Nev who is in his seventies (and has a pacemaker!) is in their late forties/fifties/sixties. Nev used to be Jagged Globe leader and has done 27 similar trips. Included in the group is a cardiologist, an anesthetist and a vet so we should be OK on the medical front. There are a lot more climbers in the group than on the other trekking trips I have done and a lot of Mera Peak and Island Peak veterans. It seems like a nice group.
The weather forecast is rain for the next two days so it could raining hard on the first day's walking which is Wednesday. All this rain almost certainly means that there will be a lot of fresh snow when we get higher up.