Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Trek

Squat toilets are, for the most part, a more sanitary option for a public loo in my opinion, but occasionally they can runneth over - or the lavs are simply a sloped concrete floor, in which case they may not runneth at all. But I do like them. The girls' first squatter had aromas that burned my eyes a bit...

... but when all they said was, "Which way do you face, again?" I knew we were going to be just fine.

Wanna join us on a trek? For some of you, skimming these photos might sound more fun than walking the 6-8 hours a day!

Sometimes you walk through the middle of a village and sometimes the middle of nowhere. But no matter where you are (or what you're stepping in) you always know you're somewhere special.

Prayer flags were always a welcome sight because it meant we were at or near the top of that ridge and the climbing was going to relent for a while.

This little one took a shine to Cayenne.

Love this

This lunch spot didn't suck too much

Tea time

Heading for Laurebina Pass.

15,125ft / 4610m. Woot!

Finally a recent family shot

We reached the top in T-shirts, but as our heart rates came down, the layers of clothing went up.

We climbed this hill to spend time by a cairn Nick built almost 20 years ago for his Opa, who had passed away just before he started walking. (If you go back to the family photo, the tallest stone peak in the background is where we are.)
The last time Nick was here there were no lodges and he stayed with yak herders in their shelters.

Gosaikunda Lake and village in the background (on the right).

We hung out here for a long time (lake from previous photo in front of us). 
So beautiful. Every August thousands of Hindu pilgrims from Nepal and India come here for a religious festival, this spot being the focal point.

Our first really good view of the Langtang valley we were heading into

 We found the perfect rock, held it all together, christened it The Cofman Stone and the girls placed it on top.

After a cozy night in Thulo Syabru and our first shower in five days, we were ready for what the Langtang had to offer. First we had to go down down down, cross a suspension bridge and go way up and then down and up for days - as that's how it is in a country of ridges.

A porter gave Acacia this bamboo walking stick and she used it for half the trek, until she forgot it at a lunch stop on our last day. She was heartbroken.

Traditional values; modern conveniences

Okay. So. I passed these lads earlier on the trail while they were resting, and I tried to lift one of their loads. I couldn't even budge one corner one millimeter off the ground. I chose a few words from my vocabulary of 35 (that includes counting to 20) to tell them I thought they were the bomb. They giggled and I was rewarded with two huge smiles. The Nepalese are good at that.

The clay ovens are built with a few bumps over each hole to raise the pots. I love this kitchen.

Doing the Eagle Dance

Leaving the Hotel Tibetan in Ghoda Tabela, with gifts of Mars bars.

See the monkeys?

Ooooooh. Day 7 in the village of Langtang at The Cheese and Bread Factory, a tiny shop serving just what we wanted: Homemade cumin bread with melted yak cheese and tomatoes. YUM!! Oh, and apple pie!

Cheese! Glorious cheese!

Check out the old man spinning his prayer wheel.

The mani walls, made of stones inscribed with prayers, were amazing.
They went on and on.

Is this what I look like walking next to Nick?

This very, very persistent, hard-working lady walked with us for an hour to her old lodge in Kanjin Ghompa, the end of the road. Hers was the last in town and the chances we'd get nabbed by another lodge on the way were high, so she stuck with us. We stayed there for two days.

Acacia getting the water prayer wheel moving again.

Rest Day: Hiking up to Kanjin Ri, 15,775ft. Only five hours today - but no backpacks.

The Happy Baker

And then.... we hit the mother lode. Kanjin's fromagerie. This room stank

Yes, please.
So yummy.

Recognize her? She looks taller in her little kitchen. She and I are the exact same age.

Her husband took the girls on a horse ride.

And then he grabbed Nick in a side-hug. This wasn't posed. He really liked Nick. 

Yak dung insulation

Another Tibetan Guest House (there are many), and had this one all to ourselves.

This is the aunt of the lodge owner and some ladies from a nearby village who'd walked over to help harvest the turnips for a few days. Without hesitating they invited us to join them to eat boiled potatoes dipped in a chili yak curd sauce. They were celebrating being done.

That's a lot of turnips. I'd celebrate, too, but probably with a martini.

The owner's 87 year old grandmother made a fire, and then after dark spent a couple of hours sitting next to it, fingering her prayer beads chanting "om mani padme hum," while we played cards. 

Looking back at the lodge.

Nice kukri!

This was our last day of walking.


And by the time we were on our way back to Kathmandu, no one needed to ask which way to face...

If you go back to the top and click on a photo, it'll open full screen, followed by the rest of them. 
A few of these have detail that need a larger viewing.

(Up next: The jungles of Chitwan.)