We left the Elbrus Home at 8:30am after some breakfast and storing our bags of food for later in the trip. We think we will be back there in about 35-40 days. I do recommend the Elbrus Home, but it seems to be iffy with the hot water for showers. They have signs saying to let them know if the water isn’t hot enough, but each time, it would start off warm and then go to lukewarm or cold. It just wasn’t worth getting out once already in. Just worth noting, but I really think that’s just how it is out here.
We got to the airport smoothly, going early to dodge the major morning traffic. I had moments of gratitude for how solid Griggs and Buck-30 have been. There’s just this security in being with two people who have their shit together and function at an efficient level. It’s so valuable on this hike because we will be encountering so many more challenges than a regular thru-hike. Being around people who don’t add extraneous challenge to an already demanding trip is just something I can’t appreciate enough!
When we arrived at the airport, Kishor (our required guide for the first two weeks) met us with plenty of time to relax. Somehow, he magically was speaking English! We had some hesitation in meeting him yesterday because he could not confirm that he spoke English and we could not seem to communicate much. We don’t know what happened overnight, but not only was he speaking English fairly well, he was also adorably energized and taking photos everywhere with his selfie stick. We knew we had the right guide when he and I were able to compare selfie sticks and joke around immediately. This is going to be fun to hang with Kishor. He says most of his guiding is in the high mountains of Kazakhstan-Russia. He has done this trek we are doing out and back to Kanchenjunga Base Camp one other time as well, so that’s nice. Our agent Urja with Alliance Adventures did a great job of picking the type of guide we requested. One willing to hike long days, not bring a porter, and carries a tent and some food to be independent of the houses if need be.
Our flight to Bahdrapur was 1hr 15mins delayed, so it was nice to get last minute things done on our phones before we soon lose cell service for weeks. Know that I see all your comments on the blog, Instagram, and Facebook. Although I can’t reply to them all, they are a great boost, so thank you! We’ve all come so far over the last 7yrs together. Just crazy when you really step back and think about it.
Our biggest x-factor of the day was what jeep or car we’d get for the estimated 12hr drive to the start of the Great Himalaya Trail in Taplejung. The Bahdrapur Airport security by the way was hilariously lax and unfathomable. We truly do wonder if we could have brought fuel canisters. There were so many people that they were just ushering people through even if the metal detectors were going off like crazy. We did get to weigh our packs including 7 days of food and were happy to find we were all right where we expected. Wired: 32lbs/14.5kg, Griggs: 31lbs/14kg, Buck-30: 33lbs15kg, Kishor: 20lbs/9kg. The 7 days of food is unfortunately more at the end of the leg, so Kishor is carrying much less food. Bhardrapur Airport was just out along a field. We didn’t even go inside. A big trailer hitch was filled with luggage and it was handed out in a calm chaos of crowds and bags.
Bhadrapur Airport arrival.
We were told the 12 hour drive to Taplejung could be $300 or more. It was great to watch little Kishor stand among a crowd of men shouting proposals to him in Nepalese. He calmly picked one, told us it was just $180 (what!? amazing!) for the driver to do over half the drive today and spend the night with us and finish up tomorrow morning. We had a vehicle with good legroom, but no seatbelts, and were off after our driver stopped by his house to grab his coat.
Kishor, master negotiator.
I’ll skip the details, but the 6.5 hour ride today started off more rural on quite bumpy roads, and then got on some paved roads, and eventually on very windy roads going up to 7,000ft at one point from basically sea level. I’m shocked the vehicle can take it. The views were nice, and it was surreal to be in such a far corner of the world. There was a ton of traffic with cars barely weaving away to avoid a head on collision constantly. The drivers have this mix of honking and hand signals to pass and weave in and out of one another. Our driver is awesome and smoothly dodges and weaves. It’s quite an art in a way.
Kids just riding open on the back of the van ahead of us.
Many scenic soccer fields today.
After almost 4hrs, we stopped to get food. I get car sick and was doing ok, but felt gassy as the day went on. I took Dramamine when we left the airport and wore some motion sickness bracelets I’ve never tried. I could tell what I was feeling was likely not motion related. I used the bathroom when we stopped and had some slight diarrhea. We had actually commented how crazy it was that none of us were starting with stomach issues because most hikers do as they are adjusting to the food and bacteria I guess. We all have tons of meds as we’ve been told we will have plenty of vomiting and diarrhea on this trip. It’s not a matter of IF it will happen, but WHEN. Unfortunately, for me, the when was today…
Say goodbye to flushing toilets and bring your own toilet paper.
We are officially totally culturally immersed. Our food was cooked in a store that also seemed to be a home. They whipped up one of two choices; chow mein or a noodle and veggie soup called thukpa. It was just $6 for all five of us to eat including drinks. Just crazy!
We got back in the car for another two hour chunk, and I really wanted to sleep. Not sure if it was my stomach or the Dramamine or the jet lag. Because of space, I was in the back and had let Griggs take the front for today. I don’t think that had such an impact on what I was feeling and think it’s more of a digestive issue. It got pretty bad, and I managed to hang on until we stopped in Phidim. I was spinning and my stomach was cramping. I basically peed out my ass as soon as I found a bathroom. Let me add that toilet paper is not a thing out here in the more remote areas. I brought a generous amount of toilet paper for the next month, but am plowing through it now. This will be interesting. The way it works is that there are buckets of water in the bathrooms next to a hole in the ground that you squat down to use. If you poop, I guess the locals use their left hand and the water to somehow wash off. Then you scoop water from the bucket and “flush” it down the hole. I can’t even begin to explain how difficult it is to squat while you’re weak and your head is spinning. Especially with diarrhea. I found the crab position best for getting as low as possible to avoid splashing all over myself. Really, so terrible.
I was spinning so much that the guys assessed the rooms and I was able to get one to myself with a bathroom for just $6, amazing!. It was about 7:40pm when we arrived. I was really depleted and peeing out my butt every 20mins. I crashed and woke up around 10:30pm with more diarrhea and threw up a ton. Then again at midnight. By 2am, the cramping started to lessen and I was able to take in fluids without spitting it back up. I took Imodium (thankfully I brought!) and it helped quell some of the diarrhea. I also had a rehydration salt packet that came with a prescription I have for real serous giardia. I slept, blogged, and drank and got it down little by little.
My room and bathroom.
Still though, some of it is going right through me. It’s like my anus has become by urethra. Totally clear liquid just going right through. It’s 5:30am now and I’m going to finish getting the full liter of electrolytes down and attempt to eat. I’m super weak and spinning a bit, but the goal is to assess if I can do another 3hrs of riding in the car on super windy roads in the front seat. Then we hit Taplejung and we can assess if walking is doable. I do sense that I’m rebounding and was told this exact thing would happen throughout the trip. You’ll spend a night vomiting and having diarrhea and then wake up and walk it off. Plus, an extremely high percentage of those that start the trail start it with similar digestive issues. It’s just part of the challenge out here and you just have to assess where your boundary is. Ok, we will see what happens…I’m not intentionally leaving a cliffhanger, but I really need to post this and get packed up to go and try to eat. Again, you can check the “Where’s Wired” tab up at the top of the blog to see movement (or no movement) each day. It now may be weeks before the next post. To be continued…
Oh, Wired. Your post had me cracking up and feeling oh so sympathetic for you at the same time. I once had the trots on a 12hr bus ride through the Bolivian Andes.
I laughed hysterically and felt horrible for you all at the same time. I am already immersed in every detail of this adventure…even the ones I didn’t want to know?. Sending positive mojo across the globe. May the force be with you! ❤️
I carry vitamin c with me, and take it in high doses for any infections, does help speed up recovery.. calcium ascorbate is better tolerated
You went on this trip knowing how terribly sick you would get, yet there you are. That is drive, determination, courage and passion. I am so impressed. I will think of your horrific experience anytime I face sickness with a flushing toilet and toilet paper.
Oh you had the dreaded “tap ass”. I had it in Central America.. We spent one whole day going up a river in a little canoe with a motor. My ass was hanging off the edge for most of it. So bloody embarrassing. I can laugh about it now, but at the time it’s no fun. Hang in there mate and wishing you a quick recovery!
Kind of like prepping for a co!onoscopy but without a flushing toilet.
Too late, but a nurse lecturing about colonoscopy prep recommended wipes to stave off that hot poker feeling.
Wonder if probiotics would help.
We will all be anxiously awaiting the next installment, whenever that is possible!
I guess the town vortex won’t be a problem but I’m sure you’ll still appreciate the basic way of life out there. Mother Nature is Really calling.. Stay safe
Oh my. Sounds like the same thing I had in Chiapas in January. The good news is that it really only lasted about a day. I’ll hope for the same for you. Thanks for taking the time to blog.
I caught an impressive stomach bug while flying to Kathmandu and vomited every 20 minutes or so from Bangkok (during a 5 hour layover) to Nepal and then overnight (15 hours total). I was super-nervous about heading up to trek (Everest Region) in 2 days but our guide suggested white rice and yogurt to naturally stop me up and add some probiotics – and I was shocked that I recovered because I had never been so GI distressed in my life. I never took immodium because I wanted the bugs OUT. I only trekked a couple weeks but the day after we returned to Kathmandu, I enjoyed part two (shorter-lived but still impressive). So – it’s not the abominable snowman you must watch out for, it’s the abdominal microbe!
You ate a bug 24 hours previous, which should be better in 24 hrs. Now you are immune to that strain of virus and less likely to get a severe episode. Avoid food when you have V/D, but take lots of liquids. It takes 1-3 days to get salt depleted.
Use tea house often, they are cheap and sustaining. Guides are very useful and usually tough.
Stay strong, Erin! Thinking of you.
Sorry you are having these problems and I hope they clear up soon. it is hard to imagine being that sick on the trail while you are attempting to hike. I am so glad you have a couple of experienced guys to help. Hopefully they are surviving all the germ issues. Good luck to all of you.
Way to go Erin-great positive attitude, sure you will be up and running in the next one or two days. I had the same thing on the drive into Skardu on the K2 trek, did not make it out of my sleeping bag one time in the night! Looking forward to your journey ?????
Erin, sorry your not feeling well 🙁
Hopefully your body will adapt to the microbes and you won’t have to deal with this
On a happier note Becky started the PCT on April 6th. Her base pack weight in the desert is 10 pounds! She learned allot from you in New Zealand last year 🙂
Once you pass the mandatory diarrhea stage you will be fine and you will truly enjoy Nepal, the land of smile. People are so nice and relax. It is an amazing country. You may have to extend your visa!!!! be warned 🙂 I wish you a great trip and thank you so much for all the information on your blog. One of the best blog ever.
Welcome to my past existence. I grew up in a second World country. Our toilet paper was always a crumpled up newspaper. I remember in the eighties while making a film in Mexico, all the Americans were getting really sick with the same problems like you. Perhaps because of my upbringing, I was eating with the Mexican crew. Never got sick. I hope that the same will hold up in Nepal. You will eventually love it. I love the freedom you describe. No seat belts and kids are free to ride in the backs of trucks. I miss those times. Enjoy. I am learning so much from you from these blogs. This trail, is definitely the plan next year or 2020.
Hang in there! This too shall pass. I had the curse during my Nepal trek also. Never been so sick for a day. Glad you’ve gotten it over so the rest of the trip can unfold in all its magic.
Such a fun advernture to follow! Sorry about the belly, it will get better, but maybe not until you are home and even then depending on the bacteria, can linger for awhile. Be super careful about not just what you eat and drink, but how it is prepared. Hang in there!!
Wow! And here I am complaining about my hike in Mexico! At least my guts are okay. I hope the three of you enjoy this hike and I can’t wait to read more!
“Kind of like prepping for a co!onoscopy but without a flushing toilet.” This is exactly what I thought. A few of us are far enough along in life to have had this procedure and the totally awful “prep” to ready for the procedure.
I’ve really nothing to add but to ask that any soup be boiled in an effort to kill the bacteria. Not sure what can be done with most other food though. But I know you and the other two are way smart and will do your very best. So glad you are with two top-notch travelers. Much respect for you three.
Warren, it did occur to me that these three are not into colonoscopy are (unless a very close relative had colon cancer in the 45-49 range).
I know we won’t hear real soon, but hoping Erin is past this digestive stuff AND that she will
be away from needing transportation and that altitude is kind.. Knowing Erin’s issues in those areas.
I want for all three to have the joy that is typical of Griggs!
Welcome to wonderful Asia, Erin. Enjoy the tremendous hospitality and of course around any Buddhist temple, stupa, holy mountain, or prayer wheel, go clockwise, or move just like the Buddhist tradition knows as truth – time only moves forward….Tashi Deleh!
Whew. I was a bit worried about how your stomach would do after reading your blogs on past hikes. Sounds like the fun has just begun…doh! I wish you safe and butt-pee free travels. I know its going to be tough, but if anyone can you can 🙂
“Tap Ass”… 20 years ago my sister and I did the Annapurnas (sp?) Circuit in Nepal and she made the mistake of having coffee with milk… She slept for 24 hrs and was ‘tap assing’ nothing but water towards the end.
Wow, sounds like you went for the gold straight off the bat! Overachiever 😉
I’m so eager to hear how you’re doing now, and do hope that you just got it all over with at the beginning.
Sending the good vibes your way and so much love!