-me and a bike, pretty high up
The path heads off into the wilderness before me. I climb, pushing my bike along, i am too tired to even think of cycling uphill, especially not across rugged terrain like this.
While keeping a lookout for the landmarks the gatekeeper mentioned (first three buildings right, next three buildings left), I try to relax and enjoy the scenery; the lush forest looming up ahead of me, the sprawling mountains to my right, but there is a sense of nervous energy gnawing at my insides as i venture deeper into the jungle covered mountain and apprehension creeps into the edges of my conscience.
The urge to turn back is strong; I am least two hours behind schedule. But some part of me pushes me onward. The kilometres cycling up hill to reach L. Ron Hubbards peak approx 2300m above sea level, has pushed my legs to the limit. They’d cramped up during the last stretch uphill and a walk was all I could manage on anything remotely angled upwards.
The trail guide had promised a more or less downhill stretch down Scar Rd (which starts off as a series of rough foot tracks at the beginning of the forest reserve). But a quick consultation of my map and the vague directions in Lonely Planet confirmed my already increasing doubts; i was on the trail leading around the left face of the mountain, while i was supposed to be on the other one leading across the right face with ‘twists and turns that test the mettle of the finest riders across hairpin bends offering spectacular valley views as you hurtle downhill’.
My side, however, continued to rise demurely. The forest got shadowy and the foliage became denser. To make matters worse, the sky darkened and a few drops of what felt like light drizzle began to sprinkle my neck. I groaned inwardly, rain is the last thing i needed now. A few minutes of a good downpour and i’d be cold and shivering to the bone.
I was soon reduced to pushing my bike along a narrow path curving uphill along the edge of a ravine that dropped off steeply to my left. Wrong Turn came to mind more than once, especially when i heard eery rustlings in the greenery around me, but my chief fear was not being eaten by cannibals but being stranded up there in the night. I had no way of coping with subzero temperatures. And there was no way i was turning back. So if i couldnt make it out today i’d have to spend the night up here, an unappealing prospect to say the least.
But, i managed to calm my heart which was beating out of my chest and push on. And pretty soon as these things go, i came upon a wider dirt road which eventually led me back out into a different part of Katmandu. The road was gloriously downhill. And every cyclists dream. To earn it though, enduring the nightmare of that uphill climb and the dark dank jungle was prerequisite. Quite a nice metaphor for life, i thought.
Total Distance – 70km, Total Time approx 9 hours