Our usual morning routine. Awake at 6. Packed and into the dining room shortly after 6:30. Packs on and walking by 7:30. This morning there was the little addition of a few pictures taken of me and Dolma, the owner of our guesthouse. We crossed the path to the site of the village temple. The old one fell down during the earth quake. A new one is under construction. Thankfully the temple’s large bronze bell was undamaged. Dolma’s family had donated it to the temple in honour and memory of her mother. As we set off she tucked a beautiful brass and copper Tibetan charm into my hand. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by the generosity of the people I meet here.
For the first three hours we climbed. Steeply. There were no flat sections. There were no down sections. The trail simply zig zagged up the steep ridge, to heaven. In heaven (khoprang) we found a simple tea house. Here we enjoyed our lunch break. We all hung damp laundry that didn’t quite dry last night. I washed a pair of heavyweight leggings and started the drying process. We lazed about for a wonderful hour in the sun with mountain views in every direction.
An hour’s gentle walk took us through a magnificent forest of old-growth straight trunked spruce trees. The sun’s rays lit up the chartreuse new leaves of undergrowth shrubs, and the reds of unfurling pieris (spelling?) bushes. There were magnificent blooming rhododendrons- the red blossoms glowing as if lit from within.
At one point we came to a hollow Hobbit tree. One I remembered well from my previous visit. The tree was partially filled with snow but Dawa wormed his way in and up to a window about two metres up. From there he began lobbing snow balls. Michel and Lakpa wisely stayed out of the line of fire but Tendi and I got into the fray and a tremendous snowball battle ensued. Dawa in the tree was definitely the winner because Tendi and I took several direct hits. This was all welcome because we were warm from trekking.
It seems odd to be at 3300 metres, in short sleeves, roasting in the sun while quite a bit of snow is still on the ground. I think that less than two weeks ago this route would have been impassible due to the snow. As it was, we crossed several slopes still well snow covered and trudged through a fair number of snowy patches. Because the snow is rotting in the sun, this is often slushy business.
Our arrival in Sing Gompa – 3330 metres – was well timed as we were in, washed and settled into the sun room as a chill fog rolled up from the valley below.
We are now cozy by a fire in the dining room. A delightfully short 5.5 hr (one of them spent lolling around) day is behind us. More challenges await.
We’ve just finished dinner, and for the past hour the air around us has been alive with flashes of lightning and rumbling thunder. Strong wind is causing windows to rattle and doors to swing open in the blast. Hail is clattering down, covering the grass, the roofs, the ladder like stairs to our frigid room.
Tendi has told us to wear our gaiters tomorrow as we will be wading through foot deep snow.
This is getting exciting. Michel is wondering what he’s got himself into.