We set out from Gokarna temple at 6:35: Upendra, Rekha, Peter, John and I (Roger). The plan was to try and do Shivapuri but add some trails we didn’t know yet.
The first bit from Gokarna through the pine forest hill – now being turned into a picknick area with an entrance fee (huge wall surrounding it) – then a couple of 100 metres of tarmac until one reaches the village where the spur from Shivapuri turns into a T with arms going down to Gokarna and to Kopan, up the ridge from there – this spur is fabulous trail running terrain – until the trail hits the scar road, West and up past Nage Gomba, to the Gomba/Hermitage below the Summit – even better trail running terrain, we knew already.
We decided to skip the Summit and take the ridge trail to Borlang Banjyang, a first for all of us, and great running. The first bit through great forest, then a trail coming in from the left – we assume from the Summit ridge, and the ridge trail continues East from here through more sparse and degraded forest, interspersed with open areas. Midway the Eastern ridge a jeep road crosses at a pass with three old chortens, we continued on the ridge until the trail emerged on the Sundarijal-Chisopani trail at the shelter just below Borlang Banjyang.
We took the well known descent towards Sundarijal, which is a great run, all the way past Mulkharka to just above the water reservoir. Here the trail hits the scar road again and we took it West back towards Nage Gomba. It initially descends even further until it crosses the Bagmati (another jeep road climbs North West from here through the village above and then crosses the ridge (see above). The scar road then climbs for quite a while to regain height, until it finally levels out and just contours the ridge. Apart from an occasional motor bike no traffic, a really nice trail (‘road’ is a misnomer), great running.
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We took the Gokarna/Kopan spur back to where we started.
We stopped a lot and for longer periods, and I forgot to switch off my GPS for at least half an hour at the end so I think one can knock off an hour of the time we took.
Pictures from Peter to follow.
There are some obvious alternatives to what we did:
- start at the gate in Buddhanilkantha, or where we started but continue beyond Nage Gomba to the Buddhanilkatha gate, and go up the trail to the pass West of the Summit, and then take the steep technical small trail to the Summit (with the great rocky view point just below the Summit); then bypass the Hermitage and take the direct trail from below the Summit to the ridge to Borlang Banjyang. Advantages: if one starts in Gokarna, it adds length and altitude to the circuit and gives you more of the spectacular old growth forest high up. Disadvantage: for all but elite runners, the Nage Gomba trail is more runnable than the Western trail.
- Descend from Borlang Banjyang to Chisopani and then take the scar road all around, past the wetlands, to above Sankhu (and descend to Bajra Yogini -“short” version) or continue to Mulkarkha and descend to Sundarijal (longer), or even longer , take the spur to Gokarna/Kopan below Nage Gomba that we took today. Advantage: lots of level trail running, great if one wants many kilometers, and level is always relative in Nepal, so it is a lot of what we Dutch would call “false flats”, both ups and downs.
- Take the Kopan spur and finish at Boudha – add some kilometres at the end.