Bachelorette Party Nepal


The most epic Bachelorette Party I've heard of 😆

In the usual manner of things, this adventure started with a text message out of the blue from me on very short notice to Claire that approximately went like this:

L: "Hey you want to go mountain bike a 10 day loop in Nepal in March?" 

C: "Sure. Sounds great. Btw, this is your Bachelorette Party"

L: "Ok, ya, that makes sense" 

Start of the Adventure 

Sparing a lot of details of why Nepal ("why not Nepal?"), planning ("what planning?"), and how did you choose the Annapurna Loop (bizarrely, shoulder seasons are the best time to do this trip), we landed on the Annapurna Loop through Spice Roads . It was a 10ish day Loop of that started in Kathmandu (well, we started biking in Besisahar) and finished in Pokhara. It was advertised as challenging, remote, a mix of singletrack and dirt roads - going up to over 17,000 feet and involving "a wide mix of terrain" and sounded exactly like a Claire-Lo adventure (clo-venture). 

Our indomitable Guide Om

We met our guide Om, who is absolutely the person that comes to mind that might guide this type of adventure - he was a blend of vivacious, almost bouncing with energy, and chill-surfer vibes ("it's all good dude!") wiry with dreads that almost reached the ground. And a huge smile. Om is clearly someone who loves his job ("I get to mountain bike all day and other people cook for me!"). It would  be possible to do this loop without a guide, but I believe we would have had a lot more mishaps of the less fun kind. We also had porters who either bussed or hiked our (medium) bags + our guide's bag from teahouse to teahouse (I'd ask to bikepack this if I were to do it again, but it would be challenging, especially with the pass). 

We "started" in Kathmandu, the main city in Nepal. After a test bike ride ("yep, you all will be fine"), we drove 200 km in a Jeep with the bikes to Besisahar. Guess how long that took us? 2 hours? Nope. It took us 9 hours to go 120 miles. The major highway out of Kathmandu to the mountains is a packed dirt road that cuts down narrowly in switchbacks and back up (Nepal is only down or up. There is no flat.) 

We survived the drive, met our porters at our teahouse (hostel/hotels with restaurants and, of course, tea). When we arrived, a large Indian wedding was happening and we were encouraged (?) both by our guide and guests to join in on the celebrations. Everyone wore red and our guide explained that they had been doing traditional ceremonies all day. I was feeling quite popular / Ripley's Believe it Or Not as I had a line of women who wanted to take selfies with me... because I was about a foot taller than all of the men and women there. Claire just cackled in the background as my queuing line included children,  men, women...

The next day we started biking at 2500 feet and climbed up to 6000 feet. I wish I could say it was a nice long steady climb, but it was an endless series of up and down on gravel roads and some hiking trails. Our guide quickly realize we were not up for a shreddin' good time on the steep, rocky single track and were content to climb away and enjoy the views from the "highway" (re: two track). Also, little did I know Besisahar would be my last hot shower for a long while, and our last stay with reliable video-calling level internet (sorry Charles!). 

Normal trail views 

We made our way to the town of Tal, which had a lot of homes with metal blue roofs and was nestled in the river valley after a big climb. It was a great day - not an easy one, but we had a tea stop along the way and a wonderful dinner in Tal. All the food is fresh in Nepal - not all the teahouses have refrigeration readily available and most things either have to be grown or brought in by jeep. Also, the tea houses along the Annapurna Loop have "standard menus", so you always knew what you were going to get (my favorites: egg curry, the big breakfast, and dal bhat). 

and the unbelievable moments 

Day 2 we worked our way up to Chame, winding through a National Park (waterfalls galore) and climbing, climbing, climbing to 8000 feet (but +4000 ft for the day). The landscape started to change to more pine trees and moss, somewhat like Seattle (it could be that this day was cloudy and threatening rain!). The climbs started to get steep (my favorite!!!), with a 15% grade becoming the norm. Snow capped mountains now appeared around every turn. 

In Chame, Om told us we were lucky to come in only cold - most people arrive in Chame wet too (ha). Chame felt like an experience unto itself, a beautiful glaical melt turquoise river cutting through a town that almost looked like it belonged in Switzerland or the Dolomites. It also marked the beginning of our new daily pattern of arrive at teahouse for night, immediately go sit by fire in companionable silence for 1-2 hours to get warm as the sky darkened. Now above 8,000 ft (solidly in the mountains if comparing to Colorado!), as soon as it was dark, it was really cold, like well below freezing. We had another outstanding meal, passed out, and repeated again. 

Chame was also where I caved and started taking Diamox, which helps lessen altitude sickness symptoms when you rapidly ascend (we were rapidly ascending). I had headaches both mornings above 6000 feet and I didn't think my odds were good to stay upright when our plan to keep going up. Om fortunately had Diamox on hand (he knew what he was doing!). 

The next day (hard to believe this was only day 3 and we had only done about 40 miles), we made our way up to Manang (11,000 ft). This was when the "highway" started to break down into muddy, snowy double track as we continued to climb up and up. But the views... for me, this section had the most breathtaking views. We were at 10,000 feet, could see mountains that looked like the Colorado Rockies looming around us, and behind them, looming ... Holy Himalayas. We went through a corridor in the mountains that had 25000+ ft mountains on both sides, statuesque in and out of the clouds. 

Behind these mountains were the Himalayas

More climbing, another big mountain pass up to 12000 ft. Just as we reached the top of that one (epic views), I realized I had dropped my phone somewhere up the climb (dang!). Fortunately only 1/4 of a mile down or so I found it, and whew, we continued on. 

We then biked through a cleared avalanche field, with snow over 15 feet on both sides of us. At this point, the weather started to change at the tops of the mountains around us, and we focused on making it to Manang before the snow hit us (spoiler: we just made it as the flakes started to fall). 

Manang had been this promised city of sorts -- a gateway to the mountains and the last town along the highway. We were looking forward to Manang, and it did not disappoint. Manang appears as this almost castle-like city at 11,000 ft surrounded by epic mountains covered in glaciers (see below). If I were to stay in one place in Nepal, it would be Manang. 

View from Manang Teahouse - I stayed in the pink cabin!

Manang also was a two night stay for us - we had a built in acclimatization day factored into the trip. For me, this rest day was badly needed as I started to come down with a cold (nooooo) as my immune system deteriorated with increasing elevation. I'd like to thank hot lemon ginger tea for keeping me alive and moving. We hiked a bit on our rest day in Manang, but mostly we slept, journaled, played with an adorable puppy, drank tea, talked, and read in the sun and hoped the snow would keep melting (otherwise we'd be riding in it...). Claire also decided to take the Diamox -- which was a good choice because the westerners we met who didn't all seemed to have trouble at the pass (re: vomiting, dizziness). 


All great rest days come to an end, and Day 5 Manang to Thorong Phedi, was the hardest one on our trip. The highway was reduced to muddy, snow covered singletrack. Morale was shaky as we worked our way up to 14,500 feet across 14 miles. It doesn't sound awful, except we couldn't bike much of it; most of it was a sloppy snow-mud yuck fest of pushing or carrying our bikes along steep "caution: landslide" paths. 

This was the day I decided to start wearing the veil I had brought with me, and we had a lot of big smiles as people asked where the groom was and we told them that this was a "Bachelorette Party". 

I mean, what a view to slog along with your bike

But we made it, cold and exhausted to Thorong Phedi. Om warned us that this would be a rustic stay, with limited water and food. I barely remember what we ate that night, just that I was cold, had an incredible amount of mucus that was coming out of my nose and throat (I had a great 'definitely have the plague' cough now too). We talked briefly to some Canadian friends we had met in Manang and made some new ones from the Netherlands who had not taken the Diamox and had to delay a day because one of them started vomiting (always take the Diamox!!). Then 10 hours of sleep. 

We started the next day early at 5 AM -- you have to cross the top before noon because thunderstorms can roll in fast. Without exception, Claire made us and our hosts delicious coffee every day of the trip and it was badly needed on Pass day. We also shamelessly hired porters to help carry our bikes to the top of the pass. I know we could have made it with the bikes, but it would not have been pretty, especially with me in my role as Typhoid Mary on the trip. At this point, I was out of toliet paper (which I really needed to save to wipe my butt with) and was using a shirt to cough/blow phlegm out of my body. Yay. 

We were one of the first groups to cross the Annapurna pass, the highest pass in the world, for 2024. We weren't sure the night before with the snow and conditions how hard it would be, but we found it snowy but with a clear path ahead (we let the other hikers start at 3 AM and 4 AM to stomp it all down for us :D). It took us almost 4 hours to go 2 miles and 3000 feet of elevation gain, with Om carrying his bike (what a legend), but we made it. 


The feeling at the top of the pass, the world's highest pass... I mean, you want it to be this incredible awe inspiring moment that you look around and absorb the beauty and accomplishment of all you've done... but it's not. It's more of a relief, like 'omfg, we don't have to go up much more today, I hope.' We sat behind a hut for a while to shield from the wind and talk to the hikers up there, were offered cigarettes and pot (...), but then began our bike ride down. 


As you can imagine, a snow covered pass is not magically not snowy on the other side (although, the other side was sunnier and did clear up faster). So we half rode, slid, and walked our way down in the snow/slush/rocks/mud. I crashed 3 times, one of the falls banging up my knee decently (that was dumb). But eventually after acquiring several Lo-adventures worth of trauma and terror (my friend Jenn calls this blog my "trauma-log"), we made it to a Teahouse for a quick tea break and then "easier" (re: half on bike, half off) downhill to our stay for the night in Mukinath. 

Now getting into Mukinath (12000 ft) felt like a relief. It was deceptively sunny and warm, but still at an oppressive elevation. We played cards, napped (I remember sleeping like 2 hours and then 11 hours after dinner), and still no shower. Mukinath is known for a famous temple at the top of town, and what was immediately striking was the strong Indian influence in the town. Whereas on the other side of the pass seemed to have more Chinese influence, Mukinath had more Indian food and a larger Indian presence comparatively (this is coming from a Westerner and I know these are broad sweeps of huge diverse ethnic populations). 

The beginning of the single track (straight is the trail here)

So you may at this point, like I foolishly thought, that it might be all downhill from Mukinath to our end at Beni. This would be incorrect. We started off our 30 mile, 3100 ft of climbing day with a 1500 ft climb / walk up over a small pass outside of town. I actually thought this part of the trip would finish me off, I genuinely had no more left in me after getting over the pass and my phlegm was a whole rainbow of colors at this point. But hey, we made it. I even took this picture with the veil on when I realized we made it to the top: 

"pure relief" *snot rag in upper left pocket

Again, my total relief at surviving was somewhat misplaced. We started a steep single track descent that in no way felt safe or within our skill level (Idk, this was somewhere between "downhill riding" and "really stupid downhill riding") with rocks and sharp cliff drops. We almost rage quit on our guide Om 1/3 of the way down, but thank-all-that-is-good-in-the-world, it leveled out and became a delightful flowy trail (Magic Lubra trail). Now instead of dying and grumpy we were euphoric and happily wind swept. 

Adventures in river crossings and finding our way to somewhere (photo: Claire)

From there, we had a rough headwind into Kolopani that wasn't exactly "downhill". After at least almost 2 more mutinies, Claire kindly and with great sacrifice giving me her buff because the dust was aggravating my cough, and Om taking us on a two track off-the-highway route that was less dusty and reminded us of Oregon (we loved this section, it was beautiful with lots of pine trees)... we made it to Kolopani! 

In Kolopani, the lower elevation (8200 ft) helped me recover faster, the cough receding. The most remarkable part of our stay here was meeting Mark, one of the first Americans we met on the trip. Mark loved Nepal; he would work for a while as a chef in Vegas and then come to Nepal to, quite literally, wander in the mountains until he ran out of money and would go back. He was wild, with crazy stories of almost dying several times, drugs under his bus seat, and kept the 3 of us laughing for several hours. As I told Charles later that night, "Well, we met this crazy American guy tonight. He gave us his blessing for our impending marriage. Not sure if that's actually a good thing but I'll take it". (Charles: "please come home in one piece and without that cough"). 

the great downhill and all smiles

The last day to Beni was finally that day of just all downhill I had been waiting for, and it was as glorious as we thought it would be. In happy sunshine, we coasted down over 4,000 ft across 40 miles on curving gravel roads. In my version of heaven, there's a slice where I just ride down from Kolopani over and over again. 


About 3 miles away from Beni, I lost my phone again (dang Lo! Stop putting it in your vest pocket like a newbie!). Except this time, when I found phone-y two miles up the road, phone had a rougher end to the trip, with a screen completely shattered (it had been run over by a jeep). I did what I feel like is the only reasonable response, which was to squeal with excitement that I even found it (imagine retracing a road searching for your phone for 2 miles and having no idea where you might have lost it, up to 10 miles up the road) and then burst into laughter when I saw the screen was done-zo. 

RIP Phone! 

But in a stoke of luck, our driver who would take us and the bikes to the city of Pokhara (3 hour drive away), knew a place that would be able to fix the screen. So there was hope! 

For the drive to Pokhara, Claire and I got to sit in the back part of the jeep in the truck bed with our bikes. This was one of the best highlights of the trip for me, we laughed and talked and enjoyed the majestic mountain views all around us as we bounced our way on the dirt road to Pokhara. We hadn't gotten as much time to just talk and relax on the trip, with so much of it (genuinely) being very hard and about making it to the next stop or to the next day. This part felt like us, celebrating another Clo-venture, and talking about what this trip meant to us. 

In Pokhara, we fixed my phone (!!!!, truly, did not even think that was an option when I found it on the side of the road) and then settled into our swanky hotel. We had hot showers (!) and a fancy dinner at Om's friends place. My hair had devolved into almost dreads by this point (my hair stylist ended up having to cut off a good chunk of it later because it was fried from wind, dust, sweat, and no shower for 8+ days). We slept, we were tourists, and we wandered around Pokhara enjoying one more day together before Claire and Om continued on "bonus trip" biking back to Kathmandu. 

Me, on the other hand, I had nothing left! I was looking forward to sleep, future husband, and two cats. When I got home, I pretty much slept for 3 days straight (no exaggeration), barely summoning enough energy to (1) have a slice of cake Charles made me for my birthday and (2) make a cake for Charles on his birthday on the 20th. Also, as an interesting trip souvenir, I had food poisoning on the 21st, 24 hours after Claire had food poisoning with identical symptoms and 6 days after I left Nepal. Ah, one more attempt to get me, Nepal! 

Sunset Paddle with Om in Pokhara 

I think here, I'm supposed to summarize how life changing this experience was. I don't think I can. It was hard, I am grateful, I am impressed by the Nepalese people by their kindness and fortitude, and I am so very glad to be home with my cats, hot showers, and mountain bike. 

Did I love this trip? Absolutely, I will be savoring memories from it on my death bed one day. 

Am I glad I did it? Absolutely. Do Nepal while you're young and the food poisoning won't actually kill you. 

Would I do it again? ... you know, there's so many other places I want to see in the world. This was a great Bachelorette Party with one of my best friends in a mind blowing place full of epic adventure, and that is more than enough for me. 

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