Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek Nepal With a Baby

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(Last Updated On: May 15, 2020)

Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek Nepal With a Baby

Family photo at the summit of Ghorepani Poon Hill
Us at the summit of Ghorepani Poon Hill

This post is dedicated to the memory of Patricia and the belief in living each day as though it’s your last.

This is the story of our December Ghorepani Poon Hill trek in Nepal with our 8-month-old son, P. If you’re already wondering, “Why in the world would anyone trek with a baby to the top of a 10,500 ft (3,210 m) Hymalayan peak in the middle of the winter?,” admittedly, by the end of our trek, we were thinking just about the same thing. To be fair though, we were also thinking about the overflowing hospitality we received from the Nepalese people we met along the way, the countless panoramic views of the Himalayas we savored in the Annapurna Conservation Area and the fact that our trip was a priceless lesson in Teddy Rosevelt’s belief that “nothing in life worth having comes easily.” 

Ultimately, we wouldn’t recommend doing a Ghorepani Poon Hill trek with an 8-month-old in December. Wait until the warmer months. However, overall we had quite a remarkable experience, and that is the story we’re going to share with you here.

If our story does inspire you to plan your own Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek then we will consider our work done. Before you start reaching for your backpack however, we recommend you read some of our practical planning tips in Family Trekking Nepal – Things You Need to Consider. And also check out our Nepal trekking packing list. And as always, if you have comments or questions, feel free to drop us a line below.

Why We Chose to Trek Ghorepani Poon Hill

The Annapurna Range
A view of the Annapurna Range from Poon Hill

Before getting into the details of our story, we want to share the 4 main reasons why we chose to trek Ghorepani Poonhill with our baby.

1. Ghorepani Poon Hill offers unrivaled panoramic views of the Annapurna Range. From the summit of Poon Hill, we saw nearly a dozen other Himalayan peaks. All of them ranged from 19,000 ft to just under 27,000 ft (5,700 m to 8,200 m), including the never before summited Machapuchare. To give you a sense of scale, Mt. Everest stands at just about 29,000 ft (8,800 m). Thus, the mountains we were able to see from Poon Hill were awe inspiringly massive. 

2. The trailhead for Poon Hill is relatively easy to get to. Poon Hill is located about 250 km west of Kathmandu, and about 50 km west of Pokhara. You can fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara in just about 30 minutes. Then you can drive to the Poon Hill trail head in about 2 hours from Pokhara.

3. For the Himalayas, 10,500 feet is not really that high. While AMS (acute mountain sickness) can begin at 8,000 feet, the effects even at 10.5k are not very extreme. Everest Base Camp is at 17,600 feet, and Annapurna Base Camp is at 13,500 ft. For both of those base camp treks, most people feel some altitude sickness.

4. Our trip organizer agreed to guide us on a winter time Ghorepani Poon Hill trek. He never mentioned that it might not be a suitable choice for baby trekking. Later, we learned that, in the decade since the company was founded, we were the first people to ask to trek Poonhill with a baby. Put more simply, we ended up being the “guinea pigs“ for our trip organizer.

So, How Was a Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek With a Baby?

A family on their Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek
An early morning mountainside family photo

If you don’t care to read about all of the highs and lows we experienced, here are the Cliff Notes. 

  1. Trekking Poon Hill in the winter time with a baby is possible. We are proof of that. But again, we wouldn’t recommend anyone with a baby trekking Poon Hill in the winter time. If you want to read our recommendations on when it would be feasible to trek Poon Hill with a baby, check out Family Trekking Nepal – Things You Need to Consider.
  2. Our overall Ghorepani Poon HIll trek experience was remarkable. This was due to the scenery, our excellent guides and all the Nepalese hospitality we received.
  3. We ended up cutting our trek short after summiting Poon Hill. In a nutshell, we did so because of the very low nighttime temperatures.

If you are keen to read about all the nitty gritty details of our trek, we’re finally getting to them. So scroll down a bit, and join us on our Ghorepani Poon Hill trek with a baby adventure!

Our Story Trekking Ghorepani Poon Hill

The summit of poonhill
The Poon Hill Summit Observation Tower

It’s an understatement to say that Julia and I love trekking. From when we trekked our Via Dinarica Trail itinerary in Bosnia Herzegovina and Montenegro to the fact that we got engaged while hiking Pat Sin Leng in Hong Kong, we live and breath trekking. When our son P was born in April of 2019, we hiked a bit less frequently for a few months. However, as soon as P was able to sit up (just around four months old), and thus ride in our baby hiking backpack, we were back out on the trails. And, Nepal was still number one on our hiking bucket list. And what better place is there to do a first baby trekking trip than Nepal? We can’t think of any.

We read the best trekking season in Nepal is in September and October. However, our work schedules do not allow us to travel at those times. Therefore, we began to wonder if it would be feasible to trek with an 8-month-old in Nepal in December, a time when we have annual leave.

Carpe Deim in Nepal

Couple our curiosity with some recent life events that have reminded both Julia and me that it’s important to live each day as though it’s your last, and you get us emailing a few trekking companies in Kathmandu about trekking Poonhill in December with our son, P. Shortly thereafter, three different companies replied that they were willing to guide us, even though December is not peak season. Naturally, we double checked that they understood that our son is 8-months old, and they all fully understood. Next, we read the reviews of each company, compared the prices, and then we settled on the one we liked most. 

Over the next few months, I emailed with our trip organizer. Eventually we created a 7 day trekking, 6 nights of sleeping up in the mountain itinerary. All we had left to do was pack our bags and fly to Kathmandu! (If you’re curious to know exactly what we brought, our Nepal trekking packing list details everything.)

Our Original Ghorepani Poon Hill Itinerary

This was our original plan for each day of our trip.

  1. Arrive in Kathmandu in the PM
  2. Travel to Pokhara in the AM
  3. Trek from Nayapul to Ulleri (1,540 m / 5,052 ft), 3-4 hours
  4. Hike from Nayapul to Ghorepani (2,860 m / 9,383 ft) 6-7 hours
  5. Trek from Ghorepani to Poon Hill in the AM. Trek from Ghorepani to Tadapani (2,590 m / 8,497 ft) 6-7 hours
  6. Hike from Tadapani to Jhinu Danda (2350 m / 7,709 ft) 4-5 hours
  7. Trek from Jhinu Danda to Tolkha (1,940 m / 6,364 ft) 4-5 hours
  8. Hike from Tolkha to Landruk (1,900 m / 6,233 ft) 4-5 hours
  9. Trek from Landruk to Dhampus 1.5 hours, Jeep back to Pokhara 40 min
  10. Fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu
  11. Depart from Kathmandu

Below is our original route mapped out on Google Maps.

Our Acutal Ghorepani Poon Hill Itinerary

This is what we ended up doing for each day of our trip. We ended up finding a ton of things to do in Pokhara.

  1. Arrive in Kathmandu in the PM
  2. Travel to Pokhara in the AM
  3. Trek from Nayapul to Ulleri (1,540 m / 5,052 ft), 3-4 hours
  4. Hike from Nayapul to Ghorepani (2,860 m / 9,383 ft) 6-7 hours
  5. Trek from Ghorepani to Poon Hill in the AM. Trek from Ghorepani to Ulleri. Jeep back to Pokhara
  6. Explore Lakeside in Pokhara
  7. World Peace Pagoda, Devi’s Falls, Tibetan Refugee Carpet Room
  8. Explore Pokhara Old Market, New Year Street Fair
  9. Relax in Pokhara
  10. Fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu
  11. Depart from Kathmandu

Below is the route we ended up trekking mapped out on Google Maps.

So, How Did Our Plans Change?

Julia and I are not people to pass up an adventure, even if it’s challenging. So, while at first we were reluctant to cut our trek a bit short, now, we wouldn’t have it any other way. What’s best for our family is, best for our family.

The full story of our trek starts in Hong Kong. It gradually takes all three of us through a frigid few nights up in the mountains. And ultimately, it ends with all of us safe and sound back in Kathmandu. However, it’s all the ups and downs in between that we most treasure. And it’s those ups and downs that we’re going to share with you here. So read on, and then plan your own Ghorepani Poon Hill trek!

It All Started in Hong Kong

When you’re baby trekking, it’s super important to have the right gear. Thus, our trip began with quite a bit of planning and packing. (Our Nepal trekking packing list gives all the details of what we brought with us.)

baby sitting in trekking gear for Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek
The gear we took to trek Poon Hill

Then, we crammed all of our gear into our hiking packs and our baby hiking backpack.

hiking backpacks are packed
P is happy we fit all our gear into our backpacks.

Eventually, we headed to the airport.

a family photo on the way to the airport
We’re on our way to the Hong Kong International Airport.

With our bags packed, we boarded a direct flight from our home in Hong Kong to Kathmandu. If you’re wondering how to survive flying with a toddler, the short version is, be prepared for anything

After our five hour flight, we arrived in Kathmandu around 9:30PM. Laxman, our phenomenal trekking guide, picked us up at the airport and took us to Hotel Thamel Park. We quickly fed P a bottle, and then we all went to sleep. 

A Quick AM Wander in Kathmandu

Kathmandu in the early morning
Checking out some back alleys in Thamel, Kathmandu

Given the time change and our son P’s jetlag, our first morning in Nepal started around 3:30AM. Julia and I tried to lounge in bed for a while, but P was bouncing all over the place. Our parents always joke with us and ask, “Where do you think he gets that trait from?” So, by 5:30AM, we all put on jackets, hats and gloves, and began to wander through the narrow alleyways of Thamel, Kathmandu. Therein, we watched the city slowly wake. We saw students hustling to classes. There were vegetable vendors setting up on various corners. All the while, the sun was steadily creeping up overhead and bringing with it some much welcomed warmth. 

Thamel Kathmandu
Early morning in Thamel, Kathmandu

Historically, Thamel has been the most popular tourist area in Kathmandu, but it’s not a shiny and polished place. Instead, we found it charmingly dusty and grungy. It is packed with cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops ranging from ones that sell Tibetan singing bowls and hand woven carpets to counterfeit trekking gear. It’s a place where, in an abstract installation art kind of way, the massively tangled electrical wires overhead are fascinatingly charming.

Our First Taste of Nepalese Hospitality

After a little while we happened upon a corner store selling fresh hot chai. Our hands were cold, and we felt a bit chilled. The steaming hot chai looked beautiful on a number of levels. However, we didn’t have any Nepalese Rupees yet. We were about to head to an ATM when a local man noticed us, and he insisted on buying us each a glass. Initially, we hesitated to accept his offer. Embarrassingly, we assumed his offer was actually part of a hidden agenda to become our tour guide or to ask for money. Some of our past travel experiences where things like this have indeed happened primed us to expect the worst.

However, our assumptions were completely wrong, and the man simply felt like doing something nice. We all ended up chatting while we sipped our chai. What we didn’t realize until the end of our trip was that this first cup of chai was merely a preview of the kindness and hospitality we would experience all throughout our time in Nepal.

Flying to Pokhara

Soon we reached the bottom of our chai. Then, we headed back to our hotel and began to get ready for our flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara, the largest city near the trailhead to Poon Hill. 

Yeti Airlines in Kathmandu
Waiting to check in for our Yeti Airlines flight to Pokhara, Nepal

Driving from Kathmandu to Pokhara takes about six hours, and flying takes about 30 minutes. Since we were traveling with P, the flight was a no-brainer.

A family boarding a flight to Pokhara Nepal
Boarding the plane to Pokhara

Around noon we boarded our flight. The plane quickly climbed to its cruising altitude, and there we got our first unobstructed views of the Himalayas. The sight of them literally made the hair on the back of my neck tingle. 

A view of the Himalayas from the airplane ride on our Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek
A view of the Himalayas from the airplane

Just as quickly as the plane took off, it banked hard and steep to the left to land at the Pokhara Airport. The fast descent made my stomach drop a bit. We barely had time to let P drink some milk to help his ears equalize. But in the end, he was fine, and we all ended up safely on the ground in Pokhara.

Arriving at Lakeside, Pokhara

A car from the Trekkers Inn met us at the airport, and they drove us over to Lakeside. Lakeside is a popular tourist area right next to Phewa Lake. As it turned out, since we cut our trek short, we ended up having a few days to experience the many things to do in Pokhara. However, when we first arrived, we thought we would only have two afternoons to explore – one at the beginning and one at the end of the trek – so we set out with a bit of urgency.

Exploring Lakeside

We bundled up P in all of his layers, and then we squeezed him into his baby carrier. We spent a few hours poking around Lakeside and doing a bit of window shopping. At our hotel’s excellent recommendation, we had a delicious lunch of dal bhat at the Pokhara Thakali Kitchen

thakali kitchen vegetable thail in Pokhara
A Thakali style thail

At the time, we didn’t realize our dal bhat was a preview of what we would be eating nearly everyday on the trail. P ate some of his leftover baby food from his airplane meal. We also gave him a few tastes of our curries. Surprisingly, he seemed to like them. 

After lunch we lounged in our room and gazed out at clouds rolling over the Annapurna Range. It felt like we were watching some hi-def T.V. show, but of course, we were seeing the real thing. We all felt tired from the day’s activities, so eventually we tucked in early for the night. 

A view of the Annapurna Range from Pokhara
The view of the Annapurna Range from our hotel room

Day 1 of Our Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek

Driving to the Poon Hill Trailhead

a taxi to take us to the poon hill trailhead
Our small but reliable ride to the Poon Hill trailhead

The next morning, at about 8:00AM, a car pulled up to our hotel. Laxman and Nosher, our guide and porter respectively, hopped out. Frankly, my first thought when I saw the size of the car was, “How are we all going to fit into there?” let alone all of our gear. But, just as a fine mason builds a stone wall, a fine trekking guide packs gear into a tiny car. 

Soon thereafter, we were slowly bumping our way down the dirt roads to Nayapul, the trailhead for both Poon Hill and the entire Annapurna Circuit. 

a tight fit in the taxi
Seth, Laxman and Nosher (from left to right)

Countless times throughout the two hour car ride, we saw the snow capped Annapurna Range, and as we drove closer to the trailhead our excitement steadily increased. 

view of the Himalayas on the way to our Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek
One view of the mountains en route to Nayapul

Trekking Nayapul to Ulleri

We arrived at Nayapul around 10:00AM. This was our starting point. We felt quite chilly in the shade, so we quickly unpacked the car, tied our shoes, and squared up our packs. Of course, we also changed P’s diaper, and then we tucked him into his baby hiking backpack. Then we started to trek.

P loves to hike. Rather, he loves when we carry him in his baby hiking backpack while Julia and I hike. Regardless, P’s grumpiness from the bumpy car ride quickly wore off as we made our way down the trail. 

Many carries baby in baby hiking backpack across suspension bridge on a Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek
One of the few suspension bridges we crossed

Rockabye Baby Trekking

In only a matter of minutes, the motion of my walking lulled him to sleep. The trail started out quite flat and took us over a few thrilling suspension bridge crossings.

Laxman, our trekking guide, helped us to get our TIMS cards (Trekker Information Management System). He also helped us pay for our Annapurna Conservation Area entry permits. Meanwhile, we enjoyed the beautiful river scenery. 

man standing next to a river and carrying baby in a baby hiking backpack
Enjoying the river scenery

With all of our paperwork squared away, we continued on though some small Nepalese villages. Then, the trail got a bit steeper.

woman hiking through Nepalese village
One of the many villages we trekked through

Shortly thereafter, we entered the Annapurna Conservation Area.

man and woman posing for photo near the entry sign to the Annapurna Conservation Area
The entryway to the Annapurna Conservation Area

A while later, we got to a nice sunny spot, so we took a break to bask in the mid-morning sun. For the next while, we snaked our way through a river valley.

woman taking a trekking break on her Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek
Taking a break in the sun
a river valley
The river valley we trekked through
a flowing river
A close up of the river

We passed a number of guest houses, shops and small restaurants along the way. The people in this region have grown accustomed to folks trekking through it. In response, they have developed a good bit of hiker related infrastructure.

a nepalese woman sitting in her shop
A woman sitting in her shop. The flower on the left is a Periwinkle Rose, one of our favorites.

Around 1:00PM we arrived at Great Point, a small mountainside restaurant, and this is where we ate lunch.

A woman smiling at Great Point restaurant on a Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek
We were happy to be at our lunch spot, Great Point.

We ordered momos, and we were surprised and delighted to discover they were made from scratch. Most importantly, they were scrumptious.

woman ordered momos
The momos made us happy.

P also needed some playtime out of his baby hiking backpack.

baby playing with mothers hair
P is giving Mommy a head massage.

Onward and Upward to Ulleri

After lunch, I felt more in the mood for taking a nap than hiking. Regardless, we still had to trek farther to reach Ulleri. Laxman casually mentioned that there was a good climb coming up before Ulleri. What I came to realize is that Laxman is in very good shape. His “good climb” is something I’d likely describe as “the stair-master from hell,” sans the breathtaking views all along the way. 

woman points uphill to Ulleri on a Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek
Julia pointing up to Ulleri.

As it turned out, we trekked another 2.8km (1.7 mi) and gained about 600 m (2000 ft). In essence, we walked up stairs, like the ones pictured below, for nearly 2 miles.

woman walking up steep path
The stair-master from hell (with beautiful views)

The climb to Ulleri was grueling, but the views along the way made it all worthwhile. 

views looking back to Nayapul
On the way to Ulleri, a view looking back down into the valley we just hiked out of

Around 4:00PM, ecstatic but beat, we arrived at Hotel Curious Camels in Ulleri.

A couple is happy to arrive at Curious Camel Hotel in Ulleri
We’re happy to be at the Curious Camel Hotel.

As soon as we arrived, the proprietor showed us to our room. Once inside, we noticed two things. First, the view from our room and the nearby porch was amazing. It looked down into the valley we had just climbed out of.

a family photo in Ulleri on a Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek
Time for a family photo in Ulleri

It also gave us a perfect view of the sunset.

a sunset in Ulleri
The sunset in Ulleri was spectacular.

The second thing we noticed was our room was not heated. Our trip organizer told us to bring sleeping bags. However, he never mentioned that the rooms themselves were not heated. And, while there was a wood burning stove on the first floor, it didn’t do much to help warm up our room on the second floor.

Trekkers Lodges are Rustic

As it turns out, trekkers lodges, such as the ones we were staying in do not have heat beyond a wood burning stove in a common area. Tea houses are even more rustic. Nevertheless, we changed out of our sweat soaked hiking clothes. Being in wet clothes and in cold weather is a perfect recipe for hypothermia. Next, we bundled up P in a few layers and also put him into his snowsuit. Then, we then gave him a bottle and relaxed for a bit.

man feeing baby a bottle of milk in Ulleri Nepal
P loves his milk!

Eventually, we went down to hang out in the warm common area. We also chatted with a few other hikers who had just arrived. Bringing the proper gear is important when you go trekking, especially when baby trekking. If you’re keen to read about what we brought with us, all the details are in our Nepal trekking packing list.

Woman playing with baby in a trekkers lodge
Julia was happy P could play on the foam mats, and P was happy too.

We spent the evening of our first night enjoying some more dal bhat and talking with Alex and Merica, the folks we met earlier in the evening. There was even a section of the common area with foam padding. P was very happy to crawl around in that spot. Although, he couldn’t move too well in his snowsuit. Eventually, we retired to our room upstairs.

More than usual, P tossed and turned throughout the night. We suspected it was because he was sleeping in a new environment and because of the cold, but as is so often the case with a baby, we didn’t really know what was going on. All in all, we ended up sleeping for a handful of hours.

Day 2 of Our Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek

The next morning, P was still a bit jet lagged, so again he woke up quite early. However, this allowed us to watch the sunrise. Bundled in all of our layers, we watched the color and light of the day slow seep into the valley below. We eagerly welcomed the sun’s warmth on our chilly faces. 

Ulleri to Ghorepani

Eventually, we ate breakfast, washed up, packed up our backpacks and put P into his baby hiking backpack. Then, we headed back out on the trail. The next section took us through a shaded stretch of forest. Even in December, the forest was quite lush, but it was also quite cold in the shade.

woman treks uphill on a Ghorepani Poon Hill trek
This section was quite cold.

To that point, in the forest section, we encountered some ice and snow for the first time. Our trip organizer never mentioned to us that there might be snow and ice. Had we known beforehand we would have brought our ice cleats. Nevertheless, we were fine in only our trail running shoes.

woman treks on snow and ice in the mountains
The first place we encountered snow and ice

Eventually, we reached a small river crossing. The river was serene, and the water flowing through it was crystal clear and icy cold. Something we learned about prayer flags is that the five colors represent the five Earth elements. Blue symbolizes the sky and space. White symbolizes the air and wind. Red symbolizes fire. Green symbolizes water, and yellow symbolizes Earth. The color order is intentional and the purpose is to spread positive vibes far and wide.

prayer flags draped across a river and waterfall
Beautiful prayer flags over a beautiful river

We eventually made our way out of the shaded forest and to a sunny spot. In the sun, we took a break to warm up. At many places along the trail to Ghorepani Poonhill, the local people have built stone walls that are at the perfect height for resting your pack on.

woman sits in sun on stone bench to rest
We were happy to warm up in the sun.

At this point, P was also ready for a new diaper. We we took advantage of the warm sunny spot to change him. Our trekking guide, Laxman, lent him his hat to keep the sun out of his eyes!

woman changes baby's diaper
A warm and sunny diaper break

Of course, we gave P some time to play in the sun too.

man plays with baby on picnic table
P was playing with Laxman.

The Perks of Porters

When you hire a trekking guide in Nepal, it is very common to also hire at least one porter. As an aside, the term “Sherpa” refers to one specific ethnic group of people that live quite near to Mount Everest. Thus, while a porter may be a Sherpa, that is not always the case. Thus, be careful when using this term. The reason we mention this information about a porter is because we hired one, and we were very glad we did. 

three trekkers on a Ghorepani Poon Hill trek
Julia, Laxman and Nosher (from front to back)

Plenty of people carry their own full packs when they do a Ghorepani Poon Hill trek. However, doing so is a lot more tiring. 

Baby Trekking is Tiring

One thing we learned from this trek is that baby trekking is a whole different animal than simply backpacking on our own. When we go backpacking on our own, we are tired when we get to camp. However, we can simply kick back and relax. When backpacking with P, getting to camp means the work from the hike itself is over, but as any parent reading this certainly knows, the work of taking care of your child is more or less constant.

For all the bits of advice we developed while baby trekking in Nepal, be sure to check out Family Trekking Nepal – Things You Need to Consider. However, one bit we will share right here is we highly recommend you hire a porter if you’re going to do a Ghorepani Poon Hill trek with a baby. Doing so will allow you to have some reserve energy for taking care of your kiddo once you’ve finished trekking for the day.

Baby Stretch Breaks

Around noon we arrived at a trailside restaurant, and we stopped to eat lunch. We also took P out of his baby hiking backpack, and he played around on the table and chairs. Usually, P likes to take a stretch break every two hours. He gives us a good excuse to take a break.

baby playing on a chair in the sun
P loves his stretch breaks and his playtime.

And of course, P had his lunch too. As often as P would tolerate, Laxman would whisk P away to allow Julia and me to enjoy our food without having to tend to P. On a number of occasions we glanced over to see P hamming it up as the center of attention in a group of locals.

woman feeding baby a bottle of milk
Lunchtime for P

Arriving at Ghorepani

Around 1:30PM, we arrived at the entryway to Ghorepani. Poon Hill was still quite a bit higher than this entry way, but we were excited to be closing in on it.

family photo at the entryway to Ghorepani
The entryway to Ghorepani

We hiked for another 40 minutes, and then we reached the place we’d be staying for the night – The Fishtail Guesthouse. In the Ghorepani area, in December, the warmest hours of the day are from about 9:00AM until 2:00PM. Nevertheless, up at 2874 m (9429 ft), even at around 2:30PM when we arrived, we still had to bundle up in hats, gloves and jackets to stay warm. We only wore shirts and tee-shirts when we were working up a sweat on the trail.

Room With a View

Once we were inside our room, we could not stop looking at the view. It was mesmerizing. Simultaneously, we could feel that the room was quite chilly, and this was during the peak of the afternoon sun. Without any heat in the room, we both were a bit worried about how cold it might get at night. However, since there wasn’t much we could do about the situation, we simply bundled up and headed out to explore around Ghorepani.

view of the Annapurna range from Ghorepani
The view from our room of the Annapurna Range

The Fishtail hadn’t yet started a fire in their common area fireplace. So, we walked next door to another guest house and warmed up by their fire. Sitting right next to the fire, and looking out the window, we had front row seats to the Annapurna Range. Just as we had felt in Pokhara, it was hard to believe we were actually looking at the Himalayas and not a hi-def TV screen. It was hard to process the sheer beauty and size of the mountains. We sat there for a while nearly hypnotized by the mountains and tried our best to take it all in.

view of machapuchare from ghorepani
Mt. Machhapuchhre with high winds blowing snow around

Nighttime up at Ghorepani’s Elevation

Around 5:30PM the sun set, and The Fishtail Lodge started their own fire. So, we headed back from across the way, and we got ready for dinner. In just the short 30 or 40 foot walk outside to get back to our own lodge, we could feel the temperature had dropped quite a bit since we had arrived in the afternoon.

We huddled around the common area fireplace, and we ordered some dal bhat for dinner. A short while later, our food came out, and then we ate. Soon thereafter we decided to head upstairs to get ready for an early bedtime. In order to see the sunrise at the top of Poon Hill the next morning, we had to begin hiking by 5:30AM. That meant we had to wake up at 4:30AM to have enough time to get ourselves and P ready, so we wanted to get to bed early.

Early to Bed, Early to Rise

We reluctantly pulled ourselves away from the fireplace in the common area. Then we climbed the stairs to get to our room on the third floor. I grasped the metal doorknob to open the door. It was freezing cold. At this point, I began to worry a bit.

We turned on the lights in our room, and even at around 8:00PM we were able to see our breath inside our room. I felt a sense of worry creep up in me. However, I pushed it down, as there wasn’t much we could do about the cold. So, we bundled P in nearly all of his layers, and then we put him inside his snowsuit. Next, Julia and I got dressed in all of our own layers. Then we piled all of the blankets in the room on one bed. Finally, we all snuggled under our mountain of blankets.

Fighting the Cold

At first, Julia was having a bit of trouble warming up, and P was being restless. However, we were all exhausted, so eventually we drifted into a light sleep. A short while later though, P started to toss and turn. Julia was also still struggling to get the chilled feeling out of her body. We picked P up, rocked him back to sleep, but the moment we put him down, he would wake up. We couldn’t get him to sleep.

Flirting With Hypothermia

Normally, once P falls asleep in our arms, we can lay him down, and he’ll sleep nearly through the entire night. However, for some reason, he wouldn’t go to sleep. Compounding the situation, it was freezing cold in our room. Julia and I took turns getting out of bed and rocking P to sleep. However, eventually we both started to get chilled. Since our room was a veritable freezer, we began to worry about hypothermia.

To put it mildly, this was not the most enjoyable part of our Ghorepani Poon Hill trek. Moreover, we were craving some rest. Additionally, we were starting to worry about the feasibility of waking up at 4:30AM to summit Poon Hill. 

Day 3 of Our Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek

P Still Won’t Sleep

Around midnight, we reached a tipping point. P still wasn’t falling asleep, and Julia and I were still feeling chilled. Out of pure discomfort and frustration Julia suggested we go down to the first floor common area and sleep by the fire. I was reluctant to go, as I didn’t want to burden the other guests or the proprietor. However, I also didn’t want any of us to suffer any more than we already had. So, we gathered up our blankets and pillows and headed downstairs.

Fortunate for Fire

Thankfully, all of the other guests had already retired to their rooms, and we had the entire place to ourselves. Fortunately, we caught the proprietor just before he went into his own room. We quickly explained the situation, and without any hesitation, he put more wood on the fire and showed us how to feed the stove so that we could keep the temperature up. He even brought us an extra blanket for P. Again, the hospitality we experienced while we were in Nepal was second to none. 

By now, it was around 12:30AM, and we were desperate to sleep. We unzipped P’s snow suit a bit so that some of the warmth could get in, we rocked him to sleep, and then we laid him down. For a few minutes, he slept, and Julia and I quietly celebrated our success. But then, just a few minutes later, he woke back up. By this point, we were starting to worry that something might be wrong with him. At 1:30AM, P would still not sleep, and we were beside ourselves.

Desperate Times, Desperate Measures

I’m not exactly sure where Julia’s next idea came from, but it’s proof that she’s a super-mom. In essence, Julia began to wonder if it was the snowsuit that was preventing P from sleeping and not the cold. Admittedly, at first I scoffed at the idea. However, Julia pointed out that P normally sleeps curled up in the fetal position and that due to all of his layers and his snowsuit P was essentially forced to sleep with his arms and legs outstretched in a star position.

By this point, it was nearly 2:00 AM, and we couldn’t think of anything else to try. So, with reservations about taking him out of his snowsuit, we did so anyway. Next, we cuddled him under our own blankets, and in a matter of 10 seconds, no joke, he curled up into a sweet little ball, and went right to sleep. We were both shocked that the snowsuit itself turned out to be the problem. We were both also ecstatic that we were going to be able to get a few hours of sleep before trekking to the summit of Poon Hill. 

Laxman, our trekking guide, later told us that the temperature that night got down to -9 C (15 F).

Sunrise Hike to Poon Hill Summit

After sleeping for about 2 hours, we woke at 4:30AM to an alarm we had set for ourselves. In the chilling cold and dark of the early morning, we brought our pillows and blankets back up to our room. We bundled ourselves, and we bundled P. We gathered the small amount of gear we needed to make the 45 minute trek up to the top of Poon Hill, and by 5:30AM, Julia, P, Laxman, Nosher and I were out on the trail again. Of course, we felt exhausted, but we also felt invigorated by the crisp morning air. And the brilliantly bright stars still visible overhead motivated us even further.

With our headlights illuminating the trail in front of us, we began to make our way to the summit of Poon Hill. However, we didn’t dare move too quickly as the majority of the trail was covered in hard packed snow and ice. We tried to shut out thoughts about how we’d safely make our way back down this icy trail, but admittedly, they crept into both of our minds.

Nearing the Summit

As we continued to trek to the top of Poon Hill, slowly but surely the night sky faded into dawn. And then every so slowly, the sun started to gently illuminate the mountains all around us.

pre-sunrise photo of Annapurna Range
An early morning view of the Annapurna Range
morning photo of the Annapurna Range
The sun rising on the Annapurna Range
A bit more light on the Annapurna Range
Annapurna Range in early morning

It was as though we were hiking in lock step with the rising sun. Just as we reached the top of Poon Hill, the sun peeked over the horizon. 

a sunrise view from Ghorepani Poon Hill trek
The sun rose just as we reached the summit of Poon Hill

A few minutes later, the snow capped peaks of the Annapurna Range began to glow orange, yellow and pink. The sunrise atop Ghorepani Poon Hill was truly divine. It is a sight I will remember for the rest of my life.

Annapurna Range with prayer flags in foreground
The Annapurna Range

For the next while, we enjoyed the beautiful views and took our fair share of pictures. 

family photo at the end of a Ghorepani Poon Hill trek
We finally made it to the summit of Ghorepani Poon Hill!
family photo at the base of the Ghorepani Poon Hill observation tower
We’re standing in front of the Poon Hill Summit Observation Tower.

Mid-Trek Hot Drinks

To our surprise and delight there was a hut at the summit of Poon Hill, and they were selling hot drinks. I enjoyed a black tea and Julia enjoyed a milk coffee. We were even able to get some warm water so that P could enjoy some warm milk. 

man feeds baby a bottle at the summit of Ghorepani Poon Hill
P was happy to have some warm milk.

After spending a while up at the summit, P started to get a bit cranky. From the looks of his red nose and cheeks, it was because he was getting a bit cold. We began to make our way back down the icy Poon Hill summit trail.

Considering Our Path Forward

On the way down from the summit, the views were still spectacular.

mid morning view of the Annapurna Range
A mid morning view of the Annapurna Range

However, I asked Laxman to tell me about both the terrain and the accommodations over the next few days. He explained that the next section of trail, as well as the one the next day, would likely have a decent amount of snow and ice. Laxman also explained that for the next two nights we would stay at accommodations at nearly the same elevation as the chilling night before. He also explained that while the rest of the trek had nice views, Poon Hill by far was the most scenic spot in our circuit trek.

A Difficult Easy Decision

Once we were all back in the lodge, Julia and I discussed what Laxman told us about the next few days. The big question was, would we continue trekking or cut our trip short? While both of us were eager to see more of the Himalayas, we were even more eager to avoid another bone chilling and sleepless night, let alone two. In addition, P had started to develop a cough. Julia was also starting to feel like she was coming down with something herself. Quite immediately it became clear to both of us that the best decision would be to cut our trek short and take a Jeep back to Pokhara.

Initially, we were a bit disappointed about having to cut our trek short. However, with all of our brilliant memories of Poon Hill and the spectacular trek leading up to it, with every step closer to the Jeep pick up point, we felt increasingly satisfied with our decision. Adventuring in the great outdoors is just as much about knowing when to push forward as it is when to turn back, particularly when you’re baby trekking. Later that evening, when P was comfortably sleeping in our warm hotel room back in Pokhara, we were certain beyond any shadow of a doubt that we made the right choice. 

Closing Thoughts on Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek

Over the next few days we explored the many things to do in Pokhara. During that time we were able to reflect on our trek. We thought back to the magnificent landscapes we experienced, to the abundant hospitality we received and to the countless warm moments we had with our guide Laxman and our porter Nosher. Our Poon Hill trek is an experience we will always treasure, though it certainly didn’t come easily. And naturally, our minds also wandered to our sleepless nights up in the mountains as well as the various challenges that innately come with baby trekking.

But ultimately, by the time we were sitting in the departures area of the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, we were already discussing our plans about where we would like to trek the next time we go family trekking in Nepal, with one small caveat being: The next time we do a family trek in Nepal, we’re going to wait until the weather is just a tad bit warmer.

If you’re keen to do a Ghorepani Poon Hill trek (with or without a baby) and you have any questions or comments, leave us a message below, and we will be glad to get back to you just so soon as we can!

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