There is not too much to say about yesterday’s trek other than to mention that we climbed 940 metres and it was brilliantly sunny all day. We arrived at our very pretty destination – Sanam – just after noon, in time for lunch. Marianne and I spent the entire afternoon lazing in the sun and reading. It was extremely pleasant after a couple of hard days. The guys enjoyed the afternoon of leisure as well and got up to all sorts of antics on the lawn. Odd feats of prowess and co-ordination. Our hostess was a charming Sherpa woman who seemed to be the sole occupant of this delightful farm. While our bedroom door did not close, there was a toilet just across the hall. This was something to be joyful about!
Today however has been a slightly different matter. As I write this it is absolutely pelting rain! We arrived just before this deluge started, after a remarkably hard seven and a half hour trek. The entire day was either up or down and many of the downs were quite precipitous. Today’s trek was made harder than normal because the place where we were supposed to be able to get lunch and stay the night was closed. Additionally Marianne is feeling a bit under the weather. Combination of crossing the 3565 metre Salpa Pokhari La, the general weariness of life on a trail with few creature comforts, and the monotonous food choices. Good thing we’ve staggered our “off” days or Tendi would really have his hands full!
Today began – as do most of our days – at 5:40am. We pack up and have breakfast at 6:30 and set off at 7. The idea is to make the most of the clear weather which is usually before noon. Most days, the afternoons bring ominous clouds over the peaks and down into the valleys.
After descending to a small stream at the base of the valley we climbed for about three and a half hours to the pass. An elevation gain of 715 metres. Most of the time we were in a “Tolkienesque” forest. Oak trees festooned with moss, the stream burbling over water rounded boulders, mist swirling amongst the trees, a monochrome landscape of muted greens and greys. As we achieved higher elevation the trees gave way to scrubby rhododendrons, then they gave way to a rocky barren landscape that reached up to a moody grey stone chorten marking the pass.
We took a few pictures then headed down the other side. This is our fourth pass on this trek and it will be our last. From here on we generally descend south towards the lowlands just north of the Indian border. As mentioned our proposed stop for the day was closed so we had to continue. Thank goodness for Marianne’s granola bars!
Of most interesting note was this crazy high narrow ridge we had to follow down into the valley. First we had to do one more steep climb. Thankfully it was of fairly short duration. We met three Germans coming down. They were as surprised to see other foreign trekkers as we were to see them. The ridge was spectacular. By far my favourite part of the past two days slog! Along its top it is about eight metres wide. On either side cliffs drop away about one to two kilometres into valleys below. Anyone with vertigo would have been in a sorry way! Despite thick cloud below we were able to take a few pictures before descending again – down and down and down on slippery rock steps to this place – Jaubari (2040metres) if you do the math you will note that is 1525 meters lower than the pass! We figure we’ve actually descended a total of two kilometres today! No wonder my knees feel a tad the worse for wear.
The only draw back to where we are now bedded down is that the outhouse is a bit of a distance across a slick muddy yard and it’s pissing rain! Blah! Marianne and I are both curled up on our beds in our sleeping bags. It’s the only way to be remotely warm. The guys brought us soup to eat in bed! Seriously decadent don’t you think? At least we are dry! Until we need to use that out house anyway! I sure hope the tin roof above our heads doesn’t leak!