A bit of a delay... Not good after trying so hard to get back to the present... but what to do, after arriving in Cape town I managed to get fever and not feel very well for almost two weeks. In the beginning I hardly even touched the computer and that means something!
I think that finally reaching a place I can call home (for a while) and where I can unpack my suitcases allowed me to shed all the tensions build up over the last year. Still I am sniffing and sneezing but feeling quite a bit better:-) (By the way it's nothing serious, just Capetownian flue, and I am not alone...)
Well lets jump back in the not to distant past...late January, in the high mountains of the Himalayas.
|Wind swept valleys||noon break|
After all the lush green from the lower area we arrive in the Alpine climate. The valley was once filled with a big glacier, but now millennia after the last ice-age it's a flat area with lots of round stones and the river winding in between, changing it's course every year. The wind is enjoying itself very nicely with all the dust and the people trying to walk... Often we had to walk backward just to keep our eyes free of the biting dust. I must say I enjoyed it too, I like to feel the force of the elements (within limits...)
Later we reached Marpa where we took a late noon break and prepared our lunch. The photo above is quite funny for those who know (and can read the signs...) It tells 24hour hot water... this is the biggest joke around as normally the water is freezing cold, only if very fortunate and you are the first there is a slight chance that the solar heating took at least the bite out of the cold water. Guess in Summer the hot water is indeed available, but than you may prefer a cold shower anyway!
Cooking our meals is an other adventure as due to our diet we cook ourselves. As the kerosene cooker is a bit wind sensitive we have to find a place inside. Sometimes people invite us in their home, curiously looking what these overseas trekkers prepare, sometimes the hotel or shop where we buy the vegetables allows us to cook there. Most Hotels were we stay are not so happy as they make little profit on the rooms and enormous amount on the meals. So when a big group comes to their place they often see big $ to be made... but by the time it comes to negotiating the cooking those hopes evaporate. Mostly we still leave as friends:-)
Above Marpa towards Jomson you can see what the forces of nature are doing in their free time, the rocks bend like dough in the process up pushing up the Himalayas. Also the first Yaks, and Oxen, and few other members of the bovine family.
Jomson is a little bigger town with small airport, but otherwise not so interesting. It has a bit of Wild West feel to it with the wide, windblown dusty roads and lots of hotels. We decide to walk to the next town, an other three hours walk over the glacier bed.
|On the way to Jomson||Challenge of icy trails|
There we actually had a really hard time to find an Hotel which allowed us to cook our self but finally we managed. Actually beside our diet which is hard to get, cooking has some other advantages... one we don't get sick and we can cook good quantity and actually feel satisfied. The meals you buy are expensive and too small to be filling, so you have to buy two plates... Capitalistic system has definitely reached all the main trails:-(
Next morning we start the final leg of the trek, we leave the Kalimandaki river and go right into the valley which bring us to Muktinath. After an hours climb we got to the point of the photo below. Mountains and snow all around. The photo above is taken somewhere on the ridge you see straight below. In the far end you can see two peaks, in between is the famous pass "Thorong La" at 5400 meter above sea level. The highest point we go is just below where the main ascend starts. That point is just 4000meter. To cross that pass is a very tough journey (and insane in winter) one has to leave like 4am and reach the next village after the pass late afternoon after a 10hour walk! No, we take it just to Muktinath:-)
The valley to the right is where we came from and the valley to the far right (or the very first part on the left) is where the Kalimandaki river continues to Upper Mustang an independent Kingdom. It pays tribute to Nepal (and is part of it on the map) but in character it's Tibetan. Till 150 years ago it was part of Tibet. Next tour we hope to visit there instead of Muktinath.
I apologise if the photo doesn't quite fit on your screen... but trying to catch the vast views of the Himalayan mountains is not so easy. The photo just fits on my screen:-)
|Police playing pool||Spinning|
We normally stay in Jarkot, which is not so touristy and just half hour walk from Muktinath. Muktinath is quite sleepy this time of year as few venture this high in the middle of winter. Still everywhere are handycrafts displayed in the hope someone will buy. The police is registering all the tourists and stamps their trekking permits. Also not much work and pool is played to pass the time. This game you can find all over Nepal and people get very exited playing it. It uses disks, not balls and they are shot with the fingers but otherwise it looks the same as billiard to me (not that I know that well)
|Close to 4000 meters high||Desolate valleys|
Visiting some of the temples above Muktinath and relaxing in the sun.
|Our transport back to Pokara||Last view on the way back to India|
Finally our trek is over, after walking down from Jarkot we stay the night in Jomson where we catch an early and breath taking flight back to Pokara. From the windows we could see all the high peaks and a lot of the route we walked.
We stayed few more days in Pokara, with boat rides on the lake, going round with rented bicycles but finally there was no escape from ending the tour returning to India. It's always a sad moment when each is again going their own way after having become like close family during all the trials together.
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