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Briddim

January 25, 2021

March 1 Sunday. 

Psalm 121:1 

Descending from Thuman, Briddim on the far face.

We have had a deep and still sleep. No barking dogs. Just the calm dark of the mountains. The wind had dropped by 1800. We played cards until 2030, drawn to the radiating heat of the stove but once it had died down the chill crept back and we repaired to our down bags. The last couple of nights we have really appreciated these high end bags. In truth you can walk these tea houses and get by without a bag and manage quite well with what these places supply. We saw a chap do the Annapurna Circuit that way but he had done it multiple times and knew exactly what to expect at each destination. My only concern in these mountains would be the possibility of being caught out at night without accommodation. A down bag is good insurance.   Last night we could have raided other rooms for additional doonas. But only because they are trusting people and don’t have anything locked. All the other tea house had locked rooms. Fair enough. So do the hotels back home. The alarms have not been set but the lightening sky woke us at 0600 and we dozed until 0700 when the sun got a leg up over the Lantang ridge. We depart at 0850 after breakfast and arrive at Thurman at 1100. We have dawdled through forests and stopped for a long chat with a priest going the other way. Nagthali it turns out, is holy ground. 

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Nagthali

November 21, 2020

Saturday 29th February

We have a slow start, extending our morning by half an hour. That gives the sun time to reach us. It’s another clear day but it has of course frozen overnight and there is no heating in the room until the sun reaches us. The good news is that once the sun is on us we are instantly warm. We follow the retreating shadow of the mountain at 0800 only to find two boys scrubbing their faces with ice water out on the deck. Their mother, our hostess is kind enough to give us some hot water from her kettle for our ablutions. The boys don’t seem to mind that we have steam and they do not and they furiously scrub at themselves though they remain mostly clothed. Even for Nepalese in the mountains there are clearly limits. 

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Tamang Heritage Trail – Up to Tatopani

September 1, 2020

Friday 27th 

We sleep the sleep of the dead. I am in bed by 8.30pm and don’t wake until 4am. But from that point on our slumber is disrupted by barking dogs and rousing roosters, but after 6am especially by the bus driver announcing every ten minutes or so his imminent 7am departure on his musical horn. It gets less musical each time he uses it. But we can’t complain. We are warm under a couple of very heavy doonas. There are folk out there from 4am on who are heading out to collect firewood we were told last evening. They take a break at 10. I watch the vapour from my breath condense in our room and I’m glad I’m not on the firewood roster. We doze despite the noise. 

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Up the Hill To Gatlang

June 20, 2020

Tamang Heritage Trail

Thursday 27th

The town starts to wake about 0630 with a rising murmur of conversation. Workers on construction sites. People moving up into the mountains, others coming down out of them. A dog has barked right through the night but is now quiet – no doubt tuckered out from his nocturnal carousing. Remaining under the doona I peek through the curtain to uncover a clear sky but I have to crane my neck since the mountain ridge above us blocks out so much sky. We stay in our bed under the weight of a couple of doonas and don’t rush anywhere. Actually rushing would be problematic given the double bed mostly fills the whole room and entering and leaving it requires some negotiation and careful manoeuvring into the narrow space between it and the wall. It’s pushed up hard on the other wall so there is one way in which is the same way out. The buses announce their 0700 departure with their musical horns and so we are eventually prodded out of bed. As we do so the sun starts its march down into the shadow of the valley where Syrabrubesi sits, turning dun into gold. The tops of some mountains are dusted with fresh snow, no doubt delivered under yesterdays cloud cap. 

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Tamang Heritage Trail – Kochi to Kathmandu

April 11, 2020

Monday 24th February 2020.

Kochi dawn

Much to our surprise we push back at 0720 under a smokey orange disc turning shimmering silver over our wing. We are due out at 0730 and in this land that redefines procrastination the fact that Air India Flight 466 is ahead of time is worthy of note. We are on the keys at 0929. A train with 20 passenger cars hurtles past on the other side of the fence. The fellow passengers are silent, mostly asleep, including all the toddlers thankfully. Early to the airport (there is no traffic at 0300 thankfully) we were checked in and through to Kathmandu and off to security by 0420, a routine that was particularly thorough but reasonably good humoured. Rotate at 0734.

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Tamang Heritage Trail Diary – Via Kochi

April 6, 2020

Friday 21 February 2020

Kochi Harbour – Dawn

Getting launched this morning was a factor of lasts nights preparation which might sound like I am organised but that would be misleading to imply The previous evening had been complicated by the need to drop Mak at the vet, then shop for last minute kit – mainly hand sanitiser. The COVID19 story is starting to ramp. We have a couple of half used little bottles we regularly use but the coronavirus panic has resulted in a dearth of this stuff in our Chinese centric community.  But there is plenty in the Miranda pharmacies . We actually were resigned to buying sanitiser in bulk then loading up a couple of smaller dispensing containers purchased at Paddy Palin. The idea is that we have this stuff hanging from our packs rather than hidden inside. That might prompt our use of it. Home from shopping to an online exam followed by packing at 10pm. Fortunately most of my kit is ready to go and bags are reclosed shortly thereafter. A slow start this morning on a temperate, humid and overcast day. Our first Uber ride (ever) to the airport is painless and far cheaper than the usual cab connection. Price is never really the metric of concern in this city (within reason) but whether or not Sydney’s traffic will conspire against your travel plans. This morning everyone is on our side and we arrive with plenty of time to spare and with few fellow travellers. The airport is relatively empty and we are through the barriers and into our bacon and eggs before we know it. SQ232 is delayed, not helped by a very non Singapore airlines crush at the boarding gate but it’s not a full flight and this 380 had plenty of vacant seats. We lift over Botany Bay at Magicians time – which is of course Gandalf’s ‘ precisely when he means to’.

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Barrington Tops

March 2, 2019

Australia Day Weekend 2019

We clear town while the dawn sky is being scrubbed with a small dose of bleach, taking the colour out of the horizon leaving the white sky to hint at the hot day to come. The air is cool for the moment and we are deceived into thinking the humidity is low but in truth the lightest effort raises a sweat. It’s Saturday morning and we have a three hour run up to Barrington Tops followed by a 19km walk and we want to beat the traffic which will bottleneck Sydney over the next hour or two – by the time that happens we want to have packs strapped, boots on and metres behind us. 

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Snow at Bonanza

December 15, 2018

Saturday 14thJuly

The perpetual daylight keeps things well illuminated but not so much that we can’t sleep. We have been advised to bring those devices the airlines hand out to shade your eyes but I have not had to use them.  This morning it’s not the light that wakes me but the pitter patter of light rain. I listen to it at 5am and let it lull me back to sleep. I wake an hour later and lie there enjoying the warmth of the tent, even to the point of opening up the sleeping bag to cool off. Read more

Fire on the Mountain

November 1, 2018

Friday 13thJuly 2018

There is ‘fire on the mountain” this morning. Cloud shifts swiftly in long ribbon strips along the hills, white against the green, following the contours as it were, and a light rain intermittently scatters itself, sometimes so light the first awareness is the sound of the drops in the Alder, a fine pitter patter that barely registers on the ground, but after some time leaves you quite damp. We are up fairly early getting gear ready but despite even the best preparation and most comprehensive warning some are still not ready by 8.30 when everyone rushes out of the Lodge and charges up to the footbridge. We arrive there at 0836 just as Hollis arrives in his van, though we had booked him for 0900. Other trekkers or visitors (likely the latter) are waiting and expect to be given a lift but are to be disappointed when Hollis calls out “Are you the party of 19?” Read more

Fireweed Mountain

September 28, 2018

Thursday 12 July 2018

 

Around here the locals tell us they use the Fireweed flower as a weather barometer of sorts. The plant pushes up a single flower stalk which is preloaded with hot pink buds. These open from the bottom and over a period of time the initial blooms drop off and are replaced by new blooms opening further up the stem. So on and so on will the buds at the very top finally open. At that point, when the flowers have expired and the last ones transformed into ‘smoke’ filaments the first snow is due to arrive. There is no prospect of snow right now  since these flowers are only blooming halfway up the stem. However there is another metric at play. Fireweed Mountain, which looms high above us to the northwest of our lodgings and which forms the western buttress through which the Kennicott Glacier attempts to squeeze, is also a winter canary. Read more

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