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Published: December 7th 2019
Sleeping at: Bardumal
Sleeping Altitude: 3305m
Trekking Distance: 27.6km
On the trail by 06:45, overcast but not really cold. We are taking an alternative route this morning back through the glacier as the conditions with the glacial rivers have changed (according to the porter grapevine), the first part is pretty easy and flat-ish through a big sandy, riverbed like area. We reach a network of riverlets and decisions are required to find the best part of this network to cross. Gen, Anthony and Danny are ahead and all get across having stripped off shoes and socks and pants- they are up to their mid thighs (Gen a bit deeper, he isn't the tallest of guys). Ashan is with Lynton, Ian and I and thinks we should walk further around to find a narrower section. Sounds good. He finds a spot but it is still quite deep and fast flowing so offers to piggy back me across- oh, Ok! It would have been groin deep for me - I wimp out and take the piggy back. Ashan then repeats the process for Ian and Lynton- the water is numbingly cold, each crossing is probably 5 minutes!
I don't know how he does it- the porters too, they are carrying so much stuff and have to get it from one bank to the next, and at speed. Every single day I think how tough they are, we tourists all have great boots and great insulated layers in amazingly technical fabrics and many of them are in plastic shoes, regular cotton shalwar kameez, thin jumpers and hand me down jackets (if they are lucky). As a group we have been thinking about what we can leave behind for them. Lynton has promised his jacket, Mary will no doubt give away half of her gear (which she tends to do every trip), I've packed fairly ruthlessly and we still have the Fairy Meadows trek ahead of us so the best I'll be able to come up with will be my heavy gloves and a couple of pairs of merino socks.
Once across the river we are back on higher trails opposite a hugely impressive glacier which is in the process of shedding massive chunks of ice - it is the most stunning colour where the ice has sheared off- jewel like. When a big chunk falls in to
Thigh high, watching the porters with their loads
the water below it is quite the spectacle. Truly excellent walking as we are losing altitude so not as much effort to oxygenate and it is so damn scenic. This continues for another hour or so until we have to cross the glacier to get onto the other side- I have completely lulled myself into a false sense of security - not only are we crossing but we have to climb. The people heading up look like little ants. It looks completely treacherous as porters, horses and trekkers wind their way up that steep, scree slope. Heart rate heads north! There are some significant drop offs and a couple of particularly hairy sections to get over. The photos don't really do it justice. It was hard and took a significant amount of concentration. I kept thinking about Mary on the horse and how she would be going as it would be to dangerous to ride. Even being near the animals on this section is dangerous as there is nowhere to go and the risk of falling rock is high. It took over an hour to cover the distance, needless to say I was very glad to get to the top
of the ridge.
Put on a real spurt over bolders and rocky track after this and I reached Paiju by 11:45 (5hrs)- the same distance on the way up took me 6.5 hrs. For only the second time of the trek I listened to music to push me harder, given the number of km's we had to cover it was a good strategy and was quite exhilarating. Think I got a bit of an endorphin rush but at the expense of stirring up my hip/groin issue. Limped in to meet up with Gen, Danny and Anthony and our kitchen porters who had already arrived and were set up on the lunch mat. There is a tiny brick shop at Paiju which I hadn't even noticed during our nights there last week- Danny had bought a 2L bottle of Coke to from the camp caretaker for AUD $8 (!!!!!!)- it was utterly amazing! If you ever read this Danny, you spent your money very well- thankyou!!! Nice to rest, get the shoes off and stretch out for a while.
We set off after 1pm crossing over the spillway area, still without the bridge that had washed away on the
"I don't mean to alarm you but prepare to evacuate" night. Once again, the campsite looked completely different- there was only 1 small group of people there rather than the full site of tents that we had experienced. Utilised the drop toilets! Luxury! Well not really, I think it's more hygienic peeing behind a rock, but it was nice to have a running hose to wash my hands in. Listened to multiple pod casts for the last 2 hours of the trekking day. Now that we are nearing the end I'm happy to use up my spare charger. The afternoon trail was back to the familiar- the Braldu river - fast flowing, churning and grey. Just before 3pm spotted the familiar site of our tents. This campsite was really nice- wide open, sandy and with some greenery. Even better was that there was a spring about 100m away with a hose. It was soooo good semi stripping off (very semi- I zipped off my pants legs and had a t shirt on!) and getting wet in that cold water. Met a few people here that we had crossed paths with earlier including one old guy from New Zealand that now
looked a bit worse for wear having slipped, whacked his face and cut his nose. Our Irish friends arrived a couple of hours later, great to see them.
Snacks this afternoon were the prawn cracker things with the last of the vinegar (halal certified) and tomato sauce- surprisingly delicious. Dinner that night was our second last on trek together (boohoo). We had a really nice night, lots of chatting and joking. Everyone is very comfortable with each other, the dynamic has been really good. Dinner was rice, vege curry, chappatis and I can't remember what else. What I do remember though is the tinned fruit- now that we have depleted the numbers there are a lot more tinned cherries to go round. Also delicious. We give each other trek names and start talking about highlights of the trip but decide to wait and get really sentimental tomorrow when we get into Askole.
Feel really good. Not ready for it to be finished.
Tot: 0.033s; Tpl: 0.019s; cc: 7; qc: 23; dbt: 0.0063s; 1; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.2mb