????, first and only time I have seen this
16 - 18 km day today and I am excited, best porridge so far. We head out via one of the little shops, picking up a photo enhancing scarf. A company of Nepali Army soldiers jogs past us (they will be an almost daily occurrence after today). The early cloud lifts quickly to reveal another glorious day (showing my age here- no one uses the word glorious anymore). Our first couple of hours is hiking through pine forest, it smells fresh, the air is crisp, I get to wear my new scarf, I take a few (hundered) photos. This is easy trekking, mostly flat.
First sighting of snow on the ground ie- not distant mountain top stuff, is from an avalanche from the mountain down to the river. It's a bit exciting. The Marayangdi accompanies us again today and I just love it. We are then crunching through snow on either side of the trail- I actually walk in the snow rather than on the track because it is such a novel experience. The trekkers before us have written messages in the snow (good messages). Snow gives way to slush and mud (equally as exciting) and we head uphill. The
Dhana, me and the scarf
proposed cup of tea stop is at a village called Brahtang. Brahtang, however, proves to be utterly deserted. Deserted except for a handful of fellow trekkers all wanting a cup of tea. It is still cool to explore the village despite it being slightly eerie. Apparently the villagers have picked up and headed for Pisang. We pass a bare apple orchard, wrong season for fruit.
We cross paths with The Israelis, The Barvarians and The Swiss throughout the day. We pass the memorial to the Japanese climber who died in an avalanche crossing Thorung La. The scenery changes significantly, for half an hour we are travelling in the shadows of huge rock faces and the utterly majestic views of AP II, Himalchuli and Ngadi Chuli. The wind is whistling through the rock trail and it gets chilly (where is my new photogenic scarf?). Dukhur Pokhari is the next village along so we end up there for lunch ( as do The Israelis, The Barvarians, The Swiss and newcomers - The Korean (62) and his wife (57)). Peel off the boots for foot sunbathing- Mary has a few blisters that we have taped with Fixomul, my feet have been great
(thank you Columbia Trail shoes). Quick Nepali lunch wrap today and we continue on to Pisang (3240m). It proves to be just a short distance away on a very flat trail.
We stop at Hotel Maya (our 2nd Maya); rickety little 2 storey lilac and white place. Desperate for the loo- damn, another western style toilet to contend with. Check out our room -another river view room- the walls are patched with whatever is available - I love it! Head off to Upper Pisang (3310m) to have a look around. We cross the suspension bridge and head up the many steps. Santos joins us and kills us getting up those steps (in thongs). The village is ancient, it is so picuresque. There is a fair bit of construction going on up there which apparently will house the travellers who visit via the new road. There is ice and snow on the ground in the darker corners of the village, we navigate that pretty easily. At this point, however, we are stymied- there is a cow blocking the way and it won't move, we scale an ancient wall to get around it, the cow promptly moves...
We reach the
monastery at the top of the hill - Urgen Choling Gomba. It is quite new and very ornate. It has a huge red door. We are ushered inside by a monk and take our place with other foreigners on the carpet against the wall. The monk brings us tea, it is utterly tranquil. After an hour of sitting I feel completely at peace, I don't want to leave. It is one of the highlights of the trek for me. Before heading back down the hill we sit against a wall in a windbreak in the last remains of the sunshine and eat misshapen Cadbury easter eggs (hauled from Coles, Vic Park- thanks Mary) looking at the glorious Annapurna II - surreal.
Back to Maya II for dinner with the The Israelis, The Barvarians and The Swiss. By torch light Mary kills me in Scrabble. Tonight is an early night.
PS- Sorry about the first photo- I can't get it to rotate
PPS- If anyone is reading this, sorry again about the number of photos, I am having trouble editing them down!
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