We woke early on day 2 and set off shortly after breakfast. It was cool and clear outside but already starting to warm up. I worked out how to attach my sleeping bag to my rucksack, which was smaller than Archie's, and thus relieve Santa the burden of carrying it!
We trekked onwards and upwards, past one of the traditional swings that was erected to celebrate Dashain:
And we soon caught up with Roxanne and David, and walked with them and chatted for some time (on almost any subject form engineering to politics to the environment to philosophy and eventually to psychology, which is David's profession), while their guide played music out loud on his phone (a rather unwelcome distraction).
For the most part, this day was really just a 3-hour amble through some pleasant woods as we gained height before arriving in Ghorepani (2860m). We were almost too early for lunch, and I could have easily gone on for at least the same again! But Ghorepani would be where we would stay....
After a bite to eat, I went to visit Roxanne and David and explore this village on a high saddle between Poon Hill itself and Deurali Pass. It was a bit more developed than Ulleri, and even featured an internet cafe, bookshop and (amazingly) a billiards hall, everything of which must have been carried upwards or built in-situ.
Alfie, Santa and I stayed at a charming lodge called Hotel Moonlight and our bedroom overlooked Ghorepani itself.
The lodge had a great amount of character, with a wooden living room with a wood burning stove in the middle that was lit in the mid-afternoon once the sun had vanished behind a mountain. The living room filled up gradually with people from almost every nationality - Argentinian, Italian, Dutch, French (lots of these), Chinese, German and more that I can't remember. Alfie and I were taught a new card game by a couple of guides, and once the sun went down I practiced my French again over dinner with a charming Parisienne who was by far the most French person I had ever met! She spoke very little English but I impressed myself (not less than Archie) by engaging her for over an hour, chatting about life in the UK and in France, jobs and trekking, skiing and families. Very enjoyable. With the Chinese couple and their 3-year old son (who had his own porter to carry him on the steep bits!) I practised the tiny amount of Mandarin I knew, but then eventually settled round the stove with everyone else while clutching a delicious hot chocolate.
Living Room and Kitchen.
Eventually, we settled into our room for a very cold night - thankfully we had our -20 degrees sleeping bags which were very snug. We took an early night in preparation for the pre-dawn departure the next day. And I will leave you with another of Alfie's excellent panoramas - this one of Ghorepani, unbelieveable from our hotel room!