November 9, 2010

Day 6, Pokhara

Pokhara is no doubt one of the best place to visit in Nepal, perhaps more so than Kathmandu for some travelers.  It is a small town, a charming town, and the right size for travelers on their feet.  It is also located with the convenience to see and to photograph one of the most beautiful peak in the world - Machapuchare, nickname Fish Tail Peak.  Of course, you need good weather to really appreciate its magnificent beauty.
For non-mountaineer climbers, may be it is difficult for them to understand the somewhat craziness of the climber's emotion toward the great mountains, especially those sacred and high mountains.  Remarked by George Mallory when asked why he climbs Mount Everest - "Because It is there", perhaps it will only be understood when one stands in front of the mountain, to feel the irresistable charm. It is not something people can realize when looking at those breath taking pictures!  One will certainly feels his mouth dry when he sees the mountain in his own eye!  And one has to go there to feel it!
Today, we are going to Sarankot, a small mountain village to have best location to observe the Machapuchare.   After a comfortable bath last night, and a sleep on the 5-star hotel bed, I woke up 4am by the morning call fully rested. And prepared.  Last night I tried to pack enough cameras and lenses for this day - one of my most expected day in the trip, and it was not an easy decision.  I do not want to pack too little so I have more limitation to shoot; nor do I want to pack to many so my backpack becomes too heavy - because it requires a good climb to reach a hill top to observe the Machapuchare.  So I ended up a Phase One P65+ on Hasselblad H2, with HC 150/3.5, HC 50-110/4.5-5.6, a Canon 5D II and 35/1.5L, Macro 100/2.8L IS, 24-105/4L and 70-200/2.8L IS, and a Panasonic GF-1 for quick snaps; heavy it is, but manageable.  After 20 minutes on the bus, we reached the foofhill in darkness, there are some porters already await there but I leave them for helping the women travelers.  Put on my backpack, tripod, and turn on my head-lamp, I started my steady climb.
It is in the darkness, silence, with a heavy backpack, I heard my own deep, slow and rythmic breath and steadily heartbeat, that I remembered those climbing of the past.  Oh yes you get tired, but somehow you also enjoy the kind of familair tiredness that you just keep going. It is someting as if you become someone else that fly above your own body, watching yourself on the move, almost forget where you are moving to.
Steadily, I reached the top, among the earliest of this morning.  Enjoy the fresh air on the hilltop, setup my tripod, and my camera, waiting for sunrise.
I can see the lights of the households in Pokhara, a nice panoramic view in front of me, so I use my Canon 5D II with EF 24-105/4L IS, set the ISO to 400, to a make series of captures and stitch them together for this image. And wait for the Machapuchare to appear from the thick morning clouds.

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