When our eldest son, Alex, was three and number two son was three-and-a-bit months we travelled to Pokhara and walked up the Kali Gandaki valley with the aim of visiting the holy flame that miraculously burns in the mountains at Muktinath at an altitude of 3710m. The trip meant crossing the Himalayan watershed and took us up onto the edge of the Tibetan plateau. I think the trek took around three weeks.
Then, a few weeks ago a now very much grown up Alex came up with the irresistible idea of a motorbike road trip and, in the spirit of Hell’s Grannies, I asked if I could join him. I'm pleased to say he was willing to humour his mother.
We’ve decided to make this a truly transHimalayan adventure and will again head west then enter the Kali Gandaki gorge near Beni and then north to the undying flame at Muktinath. There is now a road of sorts (though it is not shown on the map we’ve just bought) so it’ll be interesting to see how tough this trip will be. We’ve chosen underpowered Indian-made bikes that should be relatively easy to lift if we get bogged down anywhere, or slip into a ditch. Local mechanics should also be able to find spare parts and fix them too if we have any mechanical problems.
We expect to have a few challenges. Alex’s total bike-riding experience amounts to a one-day Compulsory Basic Training course four years ago and I’m developing a huge fear of heights, having recently frozen in fear while crossing a landslide. I made the mistake of looking down and clocked a 200m sheer drop beneath the sand-strewn, newly fallen boulders on which I was perched. But that’s another story.
I intend to write about our transHimalayan trip when we get back to Kathmandu but meanwhile I'll post some photos on instagram (@wilson.howarth) and if you want to read my account of our first trip when Alex was three you’ll find it in chapter six of my memoir A Glimpse of Eternal Snows.