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Amen and Amen (18)

August 8, 2012

And so it ends. I have clamped the emotion down and I distract myself with work emails and book launch details and diary commitments that I need to be thinking about over the next month or more. But then, just before we are due to leave for the airport (to Kathmandu) Lila appears out of nowhere with a bag of prayer shawls and proceeds to drape one apiece around our necks, and to tie a loose knot. Read more

Pokhara Unwind (17)

August 8, 2012

I wake at ten minutes to five and get up to check the weather. It’s not raining but the clouds are hanging around the hills. There is a 50/50 chance that we will see the snow covered peaks surrounding Pokhara, many of which we have just spent more than two weeks circumnavigating. Everyone tells us yesterday was clear as a bell and the views fantastic. So I am hoping this day will deliver the same clarity. Read more

How Has This Day Pleased Thee? (15)

August 6, 2012

Let me count the ways. A knock on the door at 5.25am and I think its one of the team playing a practical joke, even though in the same instant I think that I can’t imagine any of them up at this hour. But it’s Lila who is announcing ‘mountain view’ (though in my sleepy state I thought he said Mountain Dew and figured that could wait until breakfast). I click awake a few moments later and bolt out of bed. Read more

Led Down a Garden Path (14)

August 5, 2012

We wake to sunlight streaming in, and Marpa gains a more positive hue, the sun also helped in part by our beaming host who startles me with her excellent English and an expression of appreciation for our staying in her tea house.
‘If you trekkers did not come to my town I would be very poor.’
‘But the trekkers change your community and you have very little privacy.’
‘Ah, that’s true. But I would rather have foreigners in my garden than be poor. And nearly all trekkers are polite and kind. All your group are very kind.’

I am pleased to hear it. But it’s a town I’m glad to put behind me nonetheless. Read more

Down and Out in Marpa (13)

August 4, 2012

The light, but driven rain taps a distracting tattoo on the glass and smears the view of the river flats which fan out below me. This is the mighty Kali Gandaki Nadi, a tame and gentle beast over these stones and gravel, allowing careful petting as I ford it later in the day, but a roaring, tearing and violent dragon in the gorges further south, a beast which defies anyone to approach. It would consume anyone foolish enough to come near its den. Read more

Get Down and Get Medieval (12)

August 4, 2012

It’s 6am in Muktinath and the town is already moving. School kids across the road are already dressed and are joshing about as school kids do. There is plenty of horseplay underway as I walk out on to the street. I ignore them and climb up above the town and am reminded by my lungs that we are still at 15,000’ or so, a quarter of the height of Mt Cook again. So I slow down. Read more

You all Pass (With Full Marks) (11)

August 2, 2012

I wake at 0250 and am pleased there is no rain on the roof. The same was the case at midnight when I was able to look across this vast valley and see the ridge of rock that dominates this town. I am pretty much packed and ready to go but need to allow a little extra faff time to get my contacts in. They slip in without too much trouble but as I blink them into place the rain starts drumming on the roof. Dang. Read more

Yaketty Yak, Don’t Come Back (10)

August 1, 2012

(With apologies to the Coasters – check iTunes if you don’t know). We start out of Yak Kharka up a gentle rise, the track treating us easy. And yes, I hope we don’t come back. But we are at a height where I have to mentally prepare myself for the possibility of returning here with any trekkers who come down with altitude sickness. I know I am prepared to do so even if that means I don’t get over Thorung La myself. But it means I have to watch the track more carefully than I usually do and rehearse the back-tracking plan I have in my head if such a thing ever eventuates. Every intersection on the track is examined for what it might look like on the return trip. Read more

Eight Days Walking (9)

July 31, 2012

Writing here from Yak Khaka with fingers tingling – probably something I need to watch given it is apparently a first symptom of problems with altitude. Or so I thought – it’s actually a side effect of the dioxin I was taking. We’re now at 13,218 feet in yak country and higher than Mr Cook, my internal point of comparison since I know what that looks like. We are well out of pine country and have climbed up past the Gangapurna Glacier and into the head of yet another valley. It’s steep and very stony country covered, at this point, in low scrub that looks a little like salt bush. Some juniper remains. Slightly built cattle not unlike Angus loiter along the track. Higher up, across the valley I spot something smaller and very shaggy. And very black. A few of these spotted as we go and help give this place its name – Yak Khaka is local lingo for Yak Pastures. Though these pastures are nothing like you have ever seen. Vast, steep and seeming stretching ever upward. And barely a blade of grass in places but lots of that low scrub. And plenty of stone. Read more

And God Rested on the Seventh Day (8)

July 29, 2012

And so did we.  After a fashion. The plan is to spend two nights here at Manang (at 11’614 feet) to aid in the acclimitisation process. But there is a 1500’ climb we will do here as part of our ‘climb high sleep low” strategy. But we have woken to steady rain and getting everyone enthused about the climb will be something else I suspect. Read more

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