It’s the first day of spring! Today was warm until about 2pm when the afternoon clouds gathered and slithered down from the high peaks – cold, grey and slightly damp. We ate breakfast this morning outside in the sun. Sooo nice. Today’s walk was something of a Nepali shortcut from Kharikhola to Panggom. Up hill all the way for an elevation gain of 810 metres. It was nice to just climb and not have any deep river valleys to descend into. No mules, no mule pee or dung, no other trekkers. The trail was narrow and we mostly had it to ourselves as not too many locals take this route either. In the four hours we walked, we only passed a very few isolated farms until we arrived to this tiny but charming village. The most exciting thing about today besides the warmth and sun, (and that was exciting) was the five large zopkio that passed us by. I have no idea how to spell that word but it is the nomenclature for a cow/yak hybrid. They were coming down a steep narrow bit while we were going up so we beat a hasty retreat into a small alcove by the trail. These creatures are quite large. While not as shaggy as a yak they have impressive curved yak horns and are known to sometimes be a bit testy.
Grand vistas, blooming rhododendron forests, open meadows, burbling streams and a narrow litter free trail made today special. The beauty is quite astonishing really. As we walked we could hear monks chanting in a distant Gompa, birds singing, goats bleating, a pig grunting, the odd dog barking, our breath panting, our footsteps rustling in the leaf covered path, water rushing over rocks. There is the intimacy of ones own legs pumping slowly upwards, feet seeking secure footing on the rugged ground. The enormous distant scenery captivates from the peaks above and valleys below. The spring budding trees, unfurling new ferns, tiny gentian blossoms, and bouquets of primula add to the cornucopia of sights.
We arrived at our very cute guest house in time for lunch which we enjoyed outside basking in the sun while gulping back a delicious cold beer. I have to say though that the first order of business (yes before the beer) was to hand wash some laundry.
Let me describe what that entails. Into a large shallow metal bowl one collects water from an endlessly running outdoor tap. Needless to say the water is glacial. Scrubbing and rinsing ensues while ones hands become increasingly numb and blue tinged with the cold. Wringing out then hanging in the sun. Here is very upscale – there is a sagging clothes line on which to hang the clothes. Marianne and I use safety pins to secure our garments so they don’t take off on a mountain breeze to parts unknown. A fair bit of wind and sun assisted drying takes place before the clouds begin their insidious descent. We will end up draping still damp items over our packs tonight. In the morning they will be pined artfully around our packs to continue the drying process as we walk along.
Makes one really appreciate a washing machine!
Up to this point we’ve been mostly headed in a northern direction. Tomorrow we begin a more southern trajectory. We will also begin to loose altitude except for one 3565 metre pass a few days from now. Oh my!
I think it’s time for a hot rum. Marianne and I have been spicing up our hot water with Nepali rum – takes the edge off!!