Day 6: Ghorepani to Tatopani – The day of Rainy Forest & Nostalgia

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The way up to Poon Hill. Photo Credit: Zaid Kalbouneh

This is a day that I will look back at, and wish to relive again and again. There’s nothing superlative about the day, wasn’t the most difficult, wasn’t the easiest, wasn’t the most fun I’ve had, nor the happiest nor the saddest. It was just the day that I would chose to relive if I had to.

The start of the day was brutal to say the least. Hiking started at 4 am, well before the sun was up. We were hiking up to Pool Hill, a panoramic viewpoint more than 400 meters in elevation above where we’re at, and around a thousand stairs away. Upon last night’s advice from our Sherpa – Dundee, we’ve put on every warm piece of clothing that we’ve brought, didn’t have a coffee, quickly brushed our teeth (I know I did, and regretted it) in the freezing water, and onward we went up the stairs into the dark forest.

This is bad! I’m dizzy, cold, can’t breath, tired, and above all I’m worried about my new “medical” condition. I lagged behind the group around 20 minutes into the hike and contemplated going back to the lodge. Just as I was turning around, deciding to give up, in the dark I saw the other Nada. Through the dark my head-lamp illuminated Nada’s white face, and her eyes glistered as she smiled as said: “Shoo Naddoush, yalla let’s go”.

Nada AlKurd pretty encouraging face. Photo Credit: By someone, I'm not sure who!

She’s not a hallucination, or a figment of my imagination, there really was another Nada in the trip! Nada AlKurd is this sweet lady who is the designated cook of the group, the one with the goodies and candies and things you can’t imagine should be available in a hike. She’s been with the group since ages, everyone knows and loves Nada & keeps calling her name. First, it was weird to hear my name and not answer to it, but it quickly became interesting… people call me, but it’s not me they want! God outwardly ignoring people felt good :) but then again, force of habit would kick in, and I answer to the call milliseconds before my consciousness registers that it’s not for me.

We were in worse shape than one another, & the effing trail would just.not.end! Just before the crack of dawn, we’ve arrived to this clearing in the woods, and it was like my dead batteries were fully charged all of a sudden.

Dawn in Poon Hill. Picture Credit: Shireen Nababteh

The view was euphoric! على مد بصري، أيام ما كان عندي بصر is this breathtaking vista of white mountain range, tips sparkling in the morning light with orange and yellow hues, where the bright stars are still visible in the indigo sky. I took a breath, grabbed a hot masala tea with Fittiani, and started snapping pictures right left and center.

Fittiani is the Jordanian who joined the group from Kuwait. At first, my impression of him was this quite, deep person who does not like the childishness of the group that much, often staying away, observing rather participating, and seldomly speak. Boy was I wrong :) Fittiani is funny, warm and extremely suicidal (OK, adventurous), he’s the one going down the 1800 stairs at a speeding pullet acceleration, somehow gets on top of strange and dangerously looking boulders, and experiments with food – a lot. He’s a great camera man too.

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Mohammad Fittiani on some mountain the first second day.

On the way down, the frost was cracking under our feet and sparkling in the morning sun, the sub-zero weather didn’t bother me anymore, and hiked down almost effortlessly back to the lodge to have breakfast, pack and head out to another 10 km day. Although I should’ve been tired and beat, I was as energetic as ever, and the stairs to Tatopani didn’t bother me at all.

For a reason or the other, I walked alone this day. I popped my ear-plugs, put on an audio book (The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business) and pretended that it was the forest and me. Maybe because for the first time I truly was with myself, maybe because I got to reminisce the good old days, think about all the great people who are in my life, and the ones that are not anymore. I was too nostalgic :( Today I realized how much I miss dad, and miss having him around. I miss having a dad. Somehow, when a girl’s dad dies, a layer of protection drops, and she feels exposed.

As I was walking and looking at the ground, the stones and sand started to change, it’s not brownish grey anymore, it’s very grey and it sparkles. First I thought that my mind was playing games on me, or I’m simply too emotional and imagining it! But the whole groups were marveling the same thing, and from that point on, all the stones and sand had this amazing glittery in them that only added to the magic of the place.

Stairs: Picture by Effat Shiyyab

Even at lunch, I preferred to go into the lodge and lay-down in the rest house rather than chat with the rest while food was being prepared. I wanted to be alone. After lunch, the forest became denser, and the light became dimmer… It was a cold day, even with walking and sweating, my face and hands were cold and I put on my light jacket.

Walking into the forest, it started raining, more of a drizzle. Droplets of water that adds to the magic of the walk without adding discomfort. And all I could think of was how much I miss Tara, and miss having a best friend that understands without explaining, without talking. That one person who knows without judging, and loves you despite knowing who you really are.

I arrived to the lodge just after the sun went down. for the last 30 minutes, Dr. Ramzi caught up with me and we hiked together to the lodge in comfortable silence. When we arrived, I grabbed our bags and went into the room, setup my orange sleeping bag on the bed and changed into sleeping cloths. Maha tried to convince me very hard to join the group for dinner and stay out with me, Effat (aaah Effat :) ) joined in the convincing quad, but I just wanted to stay in tonight. I wanted to really reflect on the day, process and feelings, and  nuzzle up in the warmth of the sleeping bag.

So I did… I was awake when Maha came in to sleep – what a great spirit, and a real pleasure to be around! I’m so happy I asked her to join in this trip. We chatted a bit about their evening, and as she slept I knew that today has ruined the rest of the trip for me because it was the day that I want to relive. Just like reading a really good book ruins the upcoming 3-4 books for you.

I decided that I will not let it do that, and expect tomorrow to be as good, and give it a chance to wow me.

Tomorrow is too soon, the sun is almost up! But tomorrow, I write again.

The Wall Street Journal • Financial Times


A young woman walks into a laboratory. Over the past two years, she has transformed almost every aspect of her life. She has quit smoking, run a marathon, and been promoted at work. The patterns inside her brain, neurologists discover, have fundamentally changed.
Marketers at Procter & Gamble study videos of people making their beds. They are desperately trying to figure out how to sell a new product called Febreze, on track to be one of the biggest flops in company history. Suddenly, one of them detects a nearly imperceptible pattern—and with a slight shift in advertising, Febreze goes on to earn a billion dollars a year.
An untested CEO takes over one of the largest companies in America. His first order of business is attacking a single pattern among his employees—how they approach worker safety—and soon the firm, Alcoa, becomes the top performer in the Dow Jones.
What do all these people have in common? They achieved success by focusing on the patterns that shape every aspect of our lives.
They succeeded by transforming habits.
In The Power of Habit, award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. With penetrating intelligence and an ability to distill vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives, Duhigg brings to life a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential for transformation.
Along the way we learn why some people and companies struggle to change, despite years of trying, while others seem to remake themselves overnight. We visit laboratories where neuroscientists explore how habits work and where, exactly, they reside in our brains. We discover how the right habits were crucial to the success of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, and civil-rights hero Martin Luther King, Jr. We go inside Procter & Gamble, Target superstores, Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, NFL locker rooms, and the nation’s largest hospitals and see how implementing so-called keystone habits can earn billions and mean the difference between failure and success, life and death.
At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive, building revolutionary companies and social movements, and achieving success is understanding how habits work.
Habits aren’t destiny. As Charles Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.

Praise for The Power of Habit
“Sharp, provocative, and useful.”—Jim Collins
“Few [books] become essential manuals for business and living. The Power of Habit is an exception. Charles Duhigg not only explains how habits are formed but how to kick bad ones and hang on to the good.”Financial Times
“A flat-out great read.”—David Allen, bestselling author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
“You’ll never look at yourself, your organization, or your world quite the same way.”—Daniel H. Pink, bestselling author of Drive and A Whole New Mind
“Entertaining . . . enjoyable . . . fascinating . . . a serious look at the science of habit formation and change.”The New York Times Book Review

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5 thoughts on “Day 6: Ghorepani to Tatopani – The day of Rainy Forest & Nostalgia”

  1. Can`t find the (magical?) link that made it THE day :) , but it was a full of full thingies day, ha!
    “Maybe because for the first time I truly was with myself” <— I can kind of guess what yr reply would be but (the sleazy but ma'3airha :D ) I blv it never reaches that for us humans (AKA self-troubling creatures), the incident/experience/sequence of moments that we truly find ourselves, it`s constantly emerging, always evolving. The (Maybe) is my cling!
    *It`s a good book, I never read it in full though!

    الله يرحم الوالد، الموت حق و لكنه (دومًا) صعب!

    1. No, can you?

      The thing about those moments is that you only realize them in retrospect, and once the moment has gone, but never while you are living them.

      It’s good, but absolutely not great. 3/5 stars maximum.

      الله يرحم امواتنا اجمعين

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