Nepal journals continue with Ryan’s perspective. Do note that spellings of Nepali names/towns, etc. may vary. In Nepal, every word has twelve variations of spelling.
Today we trekked from Khorla Besi to Salleri. About the same distance as yesterday (10ish miles). But the miles don’t come easy in this terrain. We gained a net 1500 feet, but probably ascended 2-3 times that up and down endless stone steps. The brief flat sections along the river almost seemed weird.
We met and chatted up a very nice Colombian girl a lunch. Tatiana, who lives in Munich, is trekking both Tsum Valley and Larkya La. Speaking with her made us very aware how fortunate we are with Crystal Mountain as our guide company. As if on cue, Rajbir came in with cooded fern fronds he had picked along the trail. Delicious!
The going was easier today, aided by cooler weather and partly cloudy skies. Jennifer seems to be doing much better and is likely looking forward to not being asked about her bowels every 5 minutes.
The river became increasingly fierce as we climbed, culminating in a tremendous 100 ft rockfall cascade/rapid/natural dam. Above this point, it calmed down and it was like a new world. The river bottom widened and snaked along, the villages are paved with smooth stones and we are seeing pines and cacti.
Oh yeah, during lunch, right as we were getting ready to leave, a huge group of hippies wandered in and took over the restaurant, singing weird chants and Thai massaging each others’ faces, with a guitar to boot. I felt like I was in that South Park episode. “I’m sorry ma’am, you’ve got hippies.”
Rain. It began last night as we settled into our lovely accommodations in Salleri. It continued all night and all day. A cool, intermittent mountain rain, like Two Med in May. For now the rain is cold and unpleasant. But more concerningly, it means snow in the high country. I hope it relents soon and stays away, or we may be unable to cross Larkya La.
Today was a shorter day, from Salleri to Ekle Bhatti, with a long (too long!) lunch stop in the terrific village of Philim. Today was meant to go all the way to Dyang (another 2 hours or more) but Rajbir convinced us to alter the itinerary so that one long and two short days become three medium days. The bit of R & R at the end is rather nice, affording me a moment to drink tea and read without having any rush. I’ve taken quite a liking to lemon ginger tea. And momos. And Dal Bhat. And Chipati. I think if I were here longer, I’d yearn for more variety, but for the moment, Nepal’s package of staple eats is suiting me well.
The upside of the rain is more spectacular waterfalls. And brief moments of high ranges wrapped in cloud. I see some small holes of blue now. Maybe the rain will pass.
Ahhh as I closed the pages last night, the clouds melted away and we had a clear, starry night sky with Orion just above the opposite ridge. The rain stayed away and we had warm, but not hot weather all day.
Today the trek took us from Chisopani at Ekle Bhatthi to Bihi Phedhi (below Bihi). The day was a terrific day of firsts as the Tsum Valley trail split and we took a left hook following the Budhi Gandaki through an even narrower canyon with lush jungle vegetation, steep walls and rushing rapids. There are few villages in this sheer canyon.
As we move higher, there is a distinct Tibetan vibe in the people and places. Lots of Mani stones, arches of stone with images of Buddha, and prayer flags. Sune pointed out that many people here call themselves Gurung, but are actually Tibetan immigrants. This was our first taste of the racial oppression and discriminations faced by the Tibetan immigrants living in Nepal.
We also saw our first rhododendron trees. I see what the hype is all about. They are quite striking. We also walked through pine forests that remind me of Montana, and bamboo forests that remind me of Thailand.
Our lodge at Bihi Phedhi is even more incredible than the last with amazing views of medium peaks catching clouds, and our first himal, Himal Tanji is not too high (20,000ish) but is very steep, rocky and awesome.
Sarah’s sickness has hit a rough spot. She hiked listlessly all morning to Ghap. We are supposed to continue 3 hours to Namrung, but Sarah is out for the afternoon. She can’t eat anything and is feverish with mild diarrhea.
I walked with Rajbir to a phone (about 45 min) and he got the forecast from Jwalant in Kathmandu. Not great, but not disaster. Heavy rain above 8000 feet today (10mm rain) and snow above 16,000 (the pass) then light rain through the 19th. No one is crossing Larkya. Spirits are a bit low.
Sarah got some nap in, then agreed to begin a course of Cipro. While walking to the bathroom she vomited profusely. Time for another Cipro. Maybe a good night’s rest will fix her up.
Photographs in this blog post by Ryan.