John Birch

Aardvark travels

John Birch

Asia » Nepal April 19th 2018

Pokhara R&R and reflections Well after three weeks on the trail we have arrived back in civilisation with a couple of days R&R in Pokhara. I won’t bore you with a detailed journal of our time here but needless to say we are enjoying the good food, some different beers and doing some shopping for our loved ones back home. I had a haircut and beard trim which felt like heaven followed by a massage on the first day. It was so good I’ve convinced the other guys to try a massage in Kathmandu before we depart of Friday. We did meet Himal, Suman and Tom for lunch and an opportunity to thank them for their hard work sharing the Manaslu/Tsum Valley with us. Himal brought along his son Yushan who is six. Lovely boy albeit ... read more
Fewa boats on lake in Pokhara
More Fewa boats
Chicken and egg delivery in Pokhara.

Asia » Nepal April 16th 2018

Nadi Bazaar – Pokhara (by bus) Well the trekking is all behind us now but we really do have some very special memories to take with us. Today we’re travelling to Pokhara using public busses. Pokhara is a major provincial town in the centre of Nepal and is quite touristy being the logical place to depart and return to/from treks around the Annapurna, Mustang and Manaslu areas. Up early, me with an extremely sore back due to the bed, and packed up before breakfast. Rohit following me like a shadow and trying his best to help me pack. All a bit frustrating because after three weeks there is a certain routine that I know works and having another pair of hands really confuses things. He is however well meaning and I think just enjoying the interaction ... read more
Crowded  back row of the bus to Besisahar
Gordie and Arch enjoying bus (before the novelty wore off)
Peter hanging out of bus

Asia » Nepal April 15th 2018

Jagat (1300m) – Nadi Bazaar (930m) Well somewhat sadly today is the last days treking for us. I’m going through the intial stages of divorcing my backpack, firstly telling it how despite my respect for it I no longer love it. Later today I may go as far as thinking about possible replacements or perhaps introducing other things to the relationship such as a day pack. Before the end though we do have one more day to complete, essentially along the Annapurna circuit. We decided to finish at Nadi Bazaar primarily because from there we can catch a public bus to Besisahar and connect with the regular busses to Pokhara. After breakfast at Jagat we set off, initially, on the road towards Besisahar. The porters remained at Jagat waiting for a suitable Jeep or tractor that ... read more
A change from the ubiquitous swing bridge, a suspension bridge.
Old chap weaving mats beside the trail.

Asia » Nepal April 14th 2018

Tilije (2300m) – Jagat (1300m) Well folks we’re really on the homeward leg now. This morning is the final section where we are on the Manaslu Circuit as we now join the start of the Annapurna circuit for the last day or so. Awoke to another glorious day and after packing went and sat in the kitchen of the guest house warming ourselves beside the fire while the ladies cooked breakfast. This guest house seems to be run by two sisters (probably mid thirties or so) but their parents and younger sister also help out. There are also a couple of young guys, presumably brothers, but like young guys the world over they don’t seem to be big players in the day to day work around the guest house. Traditionally in these guest houses the Nepali ... read more
Pony drinking
Matriarch of the guest house enjoying Dal Baht for breakfast.
Children beside the trail

Asia » Nepal April 13th 2018

Bimtang (3590m) – Tilije (2300m) Awoke in Bimtang to a fairytale scene of fresh new snow everywhere with icicles on the trees, clear blue sky and surrounded by high peaks on all sides. It really was beautiful, albeit freezing cold! Once I’d packed up and was waiting for the other guys I sat by the fire/stove in the kitchen and watched the lady make the breakfast for us. One interesting thing was that Tibetan bread and chipate are the same, that is a dough of barley flour and water, the difference is that the Tibetan bread is fried whereas the chipate is cooked over a naked flame. It was silly hats day today so as you’ll see from the photos we started out in silly hats although due to the warming day they were discarded by ... read more
Silly hats in the bitter cold!

Asia » Nepal April 12th 2018

Daramsala/Larke Phedi (4460m) – Bintang (3590m) via Larke La Pass (5135m) The biggest day of the trek is finally upon us! The recommended plan for crossing Larke La is to leave very early in the morning (between 4.00 and 4.30am) in order to get to the pass before the winds get strong there. We set our alarm for a little after 3.00am planning to have breakfast (porridge) at about 3.30am and be underway by 4.00. A little optimistic as getting packed in tents with thick snow outside in temperatures, I would guess, less than -10degC is just so much more time consuming than expected. The good thing was the snow had stopped and it was not clear but bitterly cold. Porridge for breakfast, from the dirty kitchen, was interesting as it had peanuts added. The first ... read more
At the Larke Pass
Gordy on the way up to the pass
View back down the valley as we get near the pass

Asia » Nepal April 11th 2018

Samdo (3875m) -Daramsala/Larke Phedi (4460m) A shortish but high trek today worth a fair bit of altitude gain. Breakfast of porridge all around,for the energy, and we were packed and ready to go by 8.00. My boots still wet and squelchy after yesterday’s outing, unsurprisingly there is no drying at sub zero temperatures. It is a fabulous sun drenched morning with fresh snow on the hills around Samdo. The trail took us back along the route we took yesterday for about half an hour before we took the left hand fork and struck out towards Dharamsala. Lots of steep climbs and there’s no such thing as an easy climb at these altitudes. To put it into perspective we’re starting the day at a couple of Hakas above the summit of Mt Cook/Arorangi and only going up ... read more
Kitchen at Daramsala

Asia » Nepal April 10th 2018

Samdo – A supposed rest and acclimatisation day. Got up pretty early to find the cloud cover down below the village and quite cold. Had a leisurely breakfast and decided to go for a shortish tramp up the track towards the Tibetan border. Himal wasn’t sure how long to the border with estimates ranging from one to three hours. The track initially follows the main Manaslu track out of the village and past the cropping fields. Interesting how while in the Tsum Valley they had ploughed and planted barley here in Samdo they hadn’t even commenced ploughing for the spring. Obviously the temperature don’t become conducive to growing until much later in spring here. After about half and hour we branched of the track and climbed steadily for another half an hour or so until we ... read more
Yak and calf
Yak on field above Samdo
The elusive Himalayan Blue Sheep

Asia » Nepal April 9th 2018

Sama (3520m) – Samdo (3875m) The walk today was relatively short, only take 2.5hrs, but the altitude is starting to make any climb feel tough and today’s height gain was largely over two short climbs. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Up and usual breakfast at 7.00, Arch still not right but starting on antibiotics so hopefully will come good quickly now. Mornings up here are spectacular with sun rising against the mountains and clear blue sky, the price paid for this is that it is also very cold, perhaps -5degC. We left a bit before 8.00 not before McVet had realised his towel was hanging behind his door three nights back and had to return to the tea house for his poles having left them in the courtyard of the tea house. Anyway, good to ... read more
Peter Rabbit checking out Manaslu just after dawn
It hard to portray the true scale of this landscape
Peter Rabbit again

Asia » Nepal April 8th 2018

Sama (3520m) acclimatisation day Today we’re using one of the days we gained earlier in the trek for acclimatisation and a bit of r&r, such as that may be. Also with Arch still suffering from the dreaded stomach malady it is a chance for him to recuperated before we head ever higher Got up to a gloriously clear morning, albeit well below 0degC, with the sun reflecting off Manaslu straight across from our tea house. This really is what we’ve walked nearly two weeks to see and be part of. The scenery is all so big it is both hard to describe and even phots don’t fully put into perspective. Had breakfast a bit later (7.30) then sort of mucked around until about 9.00 when we left with day packs (actually the other guys had their ... read more
On the ridge beside Manaslu glacier with Manaslu in the background
Birendra Tal, the glacial lake at the base of the Manaslu glacier

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