I awoke last night in pitch blackness and knew instantly something was different. There was no longer the lively rain Tattoo, now it was the sound of vigorously flapping clothes on the line outside my window. The rain had stopped! Wind had come up and hopefully was blowing away those clouds. Fumbling around for my head lamp I wriggled out of my sleeping bag and out from under the enormous duvet on top of that. I settled my hat more squarely on my head, grabbed my down jacket, stuffed socked feet into sandals and headed for the door. It banged open in a gust of wind and what to my wondering eye should I see but a million blinking twinkling stars! Most of the wet stuff had dried, I brought it in off the line and thus settled the noise problem. It was too cold to spend more than a moment star gazing. I scampered back into my still warm cozy nest of sleeping bag and duvet and fell back to sleep happy in the knowledge that if the road hadn’t already washed out the jeep and my required travel companions will likely arrive In the morning. Life is very good.
It is now dinner time and we’re still in Kagbeni. The group we’re waiting for arrived sometime just before 3pm. Too late for us to cross the boarder and make it to the first settlement. The day was spent in anticipation of their unknown arrival time. This couldn’t be confirmed as land and cell phone communications were out for most of the day due to yesterday’s storm. With return of power and land line late this afternoon, and with the arrival of trekkers, guides and porters from Muktinath just above us, has come sad news. Nine Nepali and seven foreigners died yesterday on Thorung La trying to cross in the storm. Additionally there are 19 injured people who are currently being rescued and airlifted to medical aid. A Scottish couple who crossed successfully said there were people up there who were very under equipped for the severe conditions. They told me there were people who didn’t even have gloves and that the snow was deep, the path through it narrow and slippery. They met a young Dutch couple who reported having never seen snow of that magnitude. I feel sad for those who’ve died but wonder what possesses people to go out in a blizzard in this type of terrain without at least proper clothing. There seems to be some question as to how many other people may be missing.
(As I have recently discovered, the loss of life was far greater
than we thought. I’ll leave this post as I wrote it as it is the info
we had at the time.)
For those of you who may have forgotten From my previous Nepal blogs – Thorung La is the high pass on the Annapurna Circuit that I crossed last year in extreme cold, and a skiff of snow but in a small weather window of semi clear sky. It is the longest widest pass in the world. It is definitely somewhere not to be in a blizzard.
While I was out stretching my legs a little this afternoon I saw two soldiers coming down the street with a pole on their shoulders and a long heavy looking tarp wrapped package stung from the pool. It was only as they passed that I realized the bundle was a body. I felt a bit shocked. What kind of way was this to transport a dead person? I suppose under the circumstances it was the only way. Still it was a sobering sight. I stepped back into the comforting compound walls of our guest house and returned to my book.
And so this day of doing nothing but sit in the very warm sun and read draws to a close. Tomorrow we cross into the Upper Mustang….. I hope!