Monday, October 26, 2015

Trek Day 5 – Up, up, ever up!!!

 

Wednesday, October 7th

First of all, a couple of notes from last night…..

When we walked out of the dinner tent we looked up to see a million stars and the most gorgeous Milky Way that I have ever seen.   It was mesmerizing!!!   And then, when we laid down in the tent, the stars were still visible out of the “back door” window.   What a fun way to go to sleep!!!

When morning dawned there was just one wee, snow covered mountain visible in the distance…..IMG_3524

We were met in the breakfast tent with pump-pot coffee, boiled eggs, potatoes and all of the fixings.   I have appreciated the way that butter is served……DSC06308

It has been packed into a screw top jar which makes it so much easier to use.

Mark laughed that his egg cracking looked a bit like our views for today…..DSC06309

It was much colder this morning than in previous mornings and we went to breakfast in short sleeve shirts and fleeces, thinking that it was going to be a shock to the system when we had to take the coat off to start hiking.

As usual, we broke camp at 7:45, starting one of the days that I have been DREADING…..we climb 4,000 feet today!!!

When we came to this large stream, Badri pulled up right behind me and when it got to an even harder area, Sera joined him to help navigate me across the water….IMG_3531

…..my own personal guides!!!

They then posed for a “thank you” photo…..IMG_3536

Sabine was our leader for the day and he started to cross the next stream via one path but Badri  “suggested” another path.  There was a bit of discussion….in Nepalese….and then we went the way that Badri wanted….naturally!!!

We came across another interesting sign…..IMG_3538

It says “Dear Honorable Trekkers.  It is here by requested that, in this Holy Temple area, it is strictly prohibited to spit here and there its open defication free area.”   Not EXACTLY sure what that all means, but we named this photo “No spit, no poop” and proceeded to give Badri a hard time about spitting!!!

We got a Father and son photo of Sera and Monise…..IMG_3539

…doesn’t Monise look excited??

Michael turned around and asked Badri and Sera about a waterway that we were passing, wanting to know the name of the river.   They both said that they didn’t know but that they would be happy to make one up.  I mean, we would never know.  So after some discussion, they decided that it was the “Bamboo River”!!

We continued to climb steadily thru forest areas, with a definite pattern taking place…. up a few steps, flat for a few steps, down a few steps, cross a stream and repeat.  Who knew that I would find it fun to walk thru gentle streams that crossed the path!!!IMG_3544

We had steady rest stops about every 15 minutes with slightly longer ones every 30 minutes.   It was actually a great pace.

We continued walking thru Rhododendron forest areas and were still AMAZED at the size of the trees…..IMG_3545

At the top of one long pull, we came to this shrine……IMG_3559

Badri quickly placed flowers in it as an offering for good weather and travel.IMG_3552

By 8:45 we had climbed to 9,000 feet, an 800 foot increase in 1 hour and I needed a rest…..IMG_3556

On we went, coming to a ridge with a fairly steep descent. Sera ran up and looked over the edge to see if he needed to help me down.  I guess that he thought that I could make it myself because he moved away!!

From this point in time, we started seeing rock cairns along the path…..IMG_3560

We continued up…..

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We passed a woman coming down and I asked (with panting breaths)  if it was worth it. She answered that when she was heading our direction she would have said no but now she can definitely say YES.   Exactly what I needed to hear!!

At 10:20 we reached 10,000 feet and came to one of the landmarks that Michael and I had looked forward to….the Hinku Cave.IMG_3587It is not really a cave, but is a large overhanging rock that was a landmark for many of the earlier Annapurna expeditions which used it as an overnight
spot and often also as a supply depot. 

Michael and I had first heard of this cave when watching the Michael Palin show “Himalayas” and this is what sparked our interest and excitement about making this trip.  It was great fun to be there…..IMG_3594

Badri  took a photo of the group and said “look out….there is a Yeti behind you”…..IMG_3592

On the second shot he told us to say “Yak Cheese”!!!

He has proven to be quite a photographer and I started calling him our little mountain goat as I watched him hop from rock to rock to get the best framing of the photo…..DSC06314

 

The views from under the cave were gorgeous…..IMG_3597

….especially looking down the valley…..IMG_3598

As we left the cave, Michael picked up Badri’s pack and acted like he was going to carry it…..DSC06313

Badri laughed and said that it was HIS job and not ours!!!

We followed along the river, listening to the roar  as we walked….IMG_3609

Then all of a sudden we would turn a corner and the sound would change and get quieter.  It made for an interesting walk.

We did run into one trail traffic jam as our group, another trek and two loaded down Sherpas all arrived at the same bridge at the same time, however it gave us time to take a photo of this very interesting bridge complete with poles, dried vegetation and rocks…..IMG_3611

We continued up and up to the town of Deurali (10,400 feet)……DSC06321

and lunch in our very own reserved room with great views out of the windows…..DSC06323

We were greeted with warm Lychee juice followed by Ramen Noodle Soup and then a plate with toast, tuna, french fries and squash…..DSC06325 While we were eating, Badri gave us his version of why we say “Cheers” when we have drinks.  He said that the taste is for the tongue, smell for the nose, sight for the eyes and “cheers” for the ears!!   We loved it and now I think about it every time  we clink glasses.

While we were eating, one of the scariest things of the entire trip happened.   There was a loud noise and a lot of shouting outside and we looked up to see a rush of rocks and brown water coming down the chute from the last stream we had crossed. It was a small avalanche that took out the bridge that we had crossed about 30 minutes earlier, the one that is pictured above.   Fortunately, no one was on the bridge at the time and no one was hurt.

My immediate thought was how we would get back across the river on the way back home, but Badri  assured us that it would be in place very shortly.  Sure enough, about 30 minutes after the slide, the men were out there with more poles getting ready to reset the bridge.  I guess that this is just a way of life in the Himalayas.

We had our packs back on and headed up the path around 12:40.  We came to several steep steps and often Michael would give me a little push to help me up.  The help was greatly appreciated!!!

Some of the rock formations were very interesting….IMG_3632

We followed along the rushing river for a long time…..IMG_3657

We passed another small shrine along the way…..IMG_3663

….and all day long, the mountains got closer and closer…..

DSC06329We continued to go up, up, up……. IMG_3667

During one of my pep talks from Badri he told me to stop and look back at where I had been and to never look up to see where I was headed.   Naturally after he said that, I couldn’t do anything but look up!!!

I loved this sunny little flower…..IMG_3682

Sometimes our path was just a step or two away from the raging torrent…..IMG_3696

We passed closely by a  glacier where an ice cave had formed….. IMG_3706

All of a sudden we realized that the trees were disappearing as we moved to an elevation of about 10,700 (above the tree line)…….

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We passed this local with a full load of wood in his basket…..IMG_3743

I found that walking after lunch was still hard but turning corners and seeing the mountains makes it easier….a bit!!   Also, Badri and Sabine are always on the lookout for something to keep us interested.  Today they found an interesting shaped beehive way up on a cliff and a group of goats (Himalayan Tahr) on a far away mountain.  (If you click on the photo, you may be able to see them)…..IMG_3747 Badri told us that where there are goats, there will be Snow Leopards.   Michael is VERY hopeful that he will get to see one!!

We took a short rest stop at 11,700 feet.  Part of our discussion at this stop focused on how this trip is made when the weather is bad.  Badri surprised us by saying that bad weather actually means shorter walking times because people just put their head down and walk and aren’t as intent on looking around or taking photos.

As the afternoon wore on, Michael asked how much further and Badri  answered 2 hours.  We both looked aghast as we thought that we were closer.  Badri laughed and said “no….only 30 minutes”. 

Michael and I were both starting to get cold and were debating stopping to get out our jackets.  Michael again asked how long and Badri answered 7 minutes, assuming that Michael doesn’t stop to take TOO many photos!!!

And then, at 3:05 WE MADE IT to Machapuchare Base Camp (12,000 feet)…..IMG_3762

We had been told to bring snacks for the trail, but it was becoming obvious that we would NEVER need them so we all decided to give them to our porters.  It was hilarious to see them passing the packages around and each picking out one or two things to eat.   The snacks didn’t last long!!!!…..IMG_3778

We moved into the dining tent for our afternoon tea, complete with biscuits (cookies) served on a “fancified” napkin……DSC06331

As we were finishing up, we heard a huge ruckus coming from outside and all ran out to see what was going on.  We found SHEEP in the camp!!  IMG_3788

In this video you can hear all of us laughing at the sheep and often returning the lamb’s calls ourselves.   You also see Monise who bounded up to the tents to make sure that they didn’t get into anything……

https://youtu.be/jvjurnZddrA

The shepherd trailed along behind them while his 3 or 4 dogs worked the sheep.  We were told that this shepherd winters his sheep at Chumrung and that these are not his sheep but he takes care of them for others……IMG_3793

They all bedded down just up the hill from our tents and we could hear their bleating thru out the night….

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The afternoon was spent swaddled in our warmest clothes and sitting in the dining room of one of the teahouses.   I spent some time writing up notes from the day….DSC06339

…..while Michael caught up on some reading…..DSC06341

We spent some time talking to various friends that we have made along the trail.  Vicki and Kumar have been at the last two stops and we have enjoyed getting to know them.  Tomorrow, they will ascend early to Annapurna Base Camp and then come straight back down so this is probably the last day that we will see them.

There is also a group from Spain that Michael has talked to and 3 men from the UK and US who get together to do Treks.

Most of these people are not trekking with an organized group but have simply hired porters and/or guides in Pokhara to take them on the journey.

At one point Badri came running up from our camp to make sure that we saw the gorgeous mountain as the sun was starting to go down…..IMG_3802

Our excellent dinner consisted of Momos (dumplings) with tomato sauce, steamed cauliflower, vegetable Pakora and a hash-brown patty…..DSC06343

The food was delicious but I have to admit that I am getting a bit tired of Carbs!!!

And then came the most wonderful surprise of the evening…….DSC06345

….hot water bottles for our sleeping bags!!!  They do think of everything!!!!

I actually put mine into my sleeping bag, but we used Michael’s to keep the cameras and electronics warm.  Don’t laugh….it was better than having to sleep with them!!!

The day ended on a very funny note.   Of course, at 9:30pm (after everyone has already gone to bed and to sleep), I have to get out to go to the “Happy”.   As I step outside of the tent with my headlamp on, the sheepdogs go nuts and start barking at me.  They bark the entire time that I am out and I found myself intoning “but I am NOT a Snow Leopard”!!!   As I was walking back to the tent, Sera unzipped his tent to see what was going on.   I said, “It’s just me”.   He laughed and continued to watch until I was happily ensconced in my tent again.

2 comments:

Nan said...

I'm so glad no one (especially your group!!!) was on that bridge during the avalanche. I guess it's easy to see where all the rocks in the rivers come from.
I noticed the colder temps and less vegetation just before you pointed out that you were above the tree line. Wow! The anticipation is building! :)

Karen S said...

I am finally catching up on my reading and loving your daily reports. The scenery is stunning. The change in the vegetation as you climb is quite marked. Isn't the sound of an avalanche incredible? Like lightning cracking on top of you. So pleased all were safe.
Love the saying about cheers for the ears. That is one to remember.
Your guides seem wonderful and so well organised.

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