Up at seven. Finished packing, had breakfast and by eight we were in a taxi on our way to Nayapul. The taxi ride took about an hour and there were some nice views - the road was quite mountainous. One pleasant change from India is the driving - it was almost civilized and they even slow down for pedestrians! In Nayapul (really just a half dozen stalls on the road) our driver parked behind about thirty other taxis and we set off on foot down a steep path. At the bottom there was a picturesque suspension bridge then we entered into a small village with a few tea houses - from which we really started our trek.
I was worried about the number of people on the trail - there were lots, both foreigners and Nepalese, but as we left the village the traffic spread out and it was nice - though there was still the occasional group of trekkers going the other way. The trail is nice and wide and well maintained - the steep bits have stone stairs, and the river crossings are mostly steel suspension bridges (though there was at least one wooden suspension bridge). The scenery started out good and only got better. The trail wanders through very little incredibly picturesque villages each with at least one trekkers' tea house. Around noon we stopped at one of these tea houses for lunch. It had a covered deck perched on the edge of the canyon with an incredible view looking down the steep terraced valley. We ordered our food and sat down to wait. An hour later we started eating and about twenty minutes after that it started to rain. The rain quickly got ugly and a few minutes later conversation was difficult due to the hammering on the tin roof. We decided to wait to see if it would pass. The storm was beautiful - loud and violent, but somehow appropriate for being in the Himalayas. After another hour the rain tapered off and we resumed hiking.
A few hours and half a dozen villages later we started up a steep set of stairs that just kept going! After more than an hour of climbing stairs we met a guy coming down who informed us that there were more than 3,200 steps! Another very hard hour (I was really dragging by then) and we finally got to Ulleri. We continued through the large village (at least a dozen tea houses) looking for a recommended tea house. We continued climbing the stairs (the village is on the slope) and eventually reached the far side of the village without seeing our place. We asked direction and turned around. I had thought that going up was bad - going down was even worse and much slower. Around 4:30 we found a place with a name close to what we were looking for and checked out the rooms. It's very small, just large enough for two small single beds, the floor and ceiling is rough wood and the walls are very thin painted plywood. But it's clean and better than what I expected. Even better and more unexpected was the hot (well, warmish) shower - well needed and very nice as it was getting cold. We showered and changed into dry clothes then went down to the dinning room and ordered dinner. The clouds parted a bit and we could see one of the snowy peaks in the brief space - this place is so incredible! The break in the clouds quickly closed and then it really started to rain - and then it even got harder! When it started to hail the noise was deafening - and we were very glad to be inside. It was all very appropriate. After diner we sat at the table and read - there was a gas lamp and nothing in the room. Around eight we were tired and got a candle and retired for the night. I forced myself to work on my journal for an hour. I was days behind at this point and wanted to at least do today's - I'd hoped to do a couple other days and go through the photos I'd taken today, but just couldn't stay awake. All is all an incredible (and exhausting) first day on the trail.