Sunday, May 25, 2014

Mustang Trek, Day 7...Eets NAH-ting!

"For those who develop high blood pressure rushing about Paris or New York, in and out of planes, taxis and buses, it would be a marvelous therapy to purchase a yak and follow it around on errands. Its frustratingly slow pace would be the best possible antidote to our modern age of rush. "...Michel Peissel, "Mustang, The Forbidden Kingdom", 1967

Mustang trek, Day 7; Ghemi to Samar. 7 1/2 hours, 15 miles, 3600 feet of climbing. High point, 13,000 feet. 

As I write this in my little wood paneled room in Samar, right next to Nance and Trina on one side and Ron and Sheila on the other (where I can hear them breathing, the walls are so thin). I have a view of the high, snow capped mountains and a goat herd is moving by under my window, their bells ringing away and the goat herder is yelling and whistling some kind of goat language to keep them moving. We just finished another hard day, but were here by 3:30, as we left earlier than normal. We just finished off three big bowls of fresh popcorn and now can rest for a couple of hours before dinner, when I will have the Nepali national dish of dahl bat. 

This morning we immediately went straight up a mountain, 1200 feet in one hour. Sheila, who has been feeling awful, got a horse for the first half of the day, which they rented from our tea house in Ghemi. Once we got to the top of the pass, at 13,000 feet, the view was tremendous of the Annapurna range. We were able to see all the way down towards Jomson, 20 miles away, where it looked like it was raining. The Kali Gandaki runs between Nilgiri and Daulagiri peaks and this we saw well from the pass. Behind us, where we had just come from, was the town of Ghemi, way below, and the long mani wall that we passed on the way up. 

Sheila rides a Tibetan pony...

After the first pass, it was down 500 feet then up another 1000 feet to the second pass of the day. Of course, there was the rock pile (make sure you go around to the left!!), and by this time, Sheila had caught up to us and passed us (she started a 1/2 hour after we did). We went through another beautiful valley with a small village with prayer wheels and a very nice chorten. Up another small pass, then it was down to our lunch village of Syanboche, where we spent the night 5 days before. This is where our old pal Toto had left us, but he was nowhere to be seen. Maybe he had hitched onto another group of Trekkers for the walk back to Kagbeni. 

Then it was up another mountain, about 800 feet, where there were more beautiful views. When Sheila, who by this time was, remarkably, walking and doing an amazing job, asked KB if there were many hills to go, he said, "Yes, but eets NAH-ting!"  This is what he always says when we have done the hard part and the rest is "relatively" easy. 

"We have met no man, nor seen his trace, only the dried dung of goats and horses and the old campfire at the ghost by Ghelling Khola"...Peter Mattiessen, East of Lo Monthang", 1995

The saddle...

Beautiful scenery along the way...

Nance, laid out to rest...but it's only lunch time!

We hiked along a mountain ridge and through a very small village. In fact, you couldn't call this a village, really, as there were only two buildings, one being a tea house. What I imagine was the entire population, 4 adults and two kids, was playing a local form of dice, where the chips are small sea shells. There was the dice box in the middle, which one person would plop down on a small leather square. There would be much laughing and talking, but I really couldn't figure out what they were doing. On the side of the tea house, where we were sitting and watching, was a big straw basket which had a baby goat underneath.  One of the locals was a 1 year old girl, who was crawling around, looking up at us foreigners and saying, "Namaste!".

"Gambling for money is an affliction of the Himalayan peoples, and there is nothing a Loba will not bet on, whether it be how many donkeys will pass the city gate in the evening before a yak appears, or a Tibetan game of dice played with little bone sticks and beans."…Michel Peissel, 'Mustang, The Forbidden Kingdom', 1967

An old, twisted juniper, growing in unbelievable conditions, 12,000 feet above sea level.  A nice bonsai, if a little smaller...

Well, we still had another big hill, then down a VERY steep and rocky cliff with the trail cut out of it, cross a creek, then up another few hundred feet until we reached our lovely little town of Samar. 

The tea house here has two things that we all love...#1 is an instant hot water shower with unlimited hot water (best $1.50 I ever spent) and #2 is fresh popped popcorn, which three of us (Trina, Ron and me with a little help from our guides and porters) devoured in record time.  

Trina on a steep descent...

Samar's town gate...

Small chortens in the village of Samar...

Dinner was dahl bat, especially good because they will give you seconds of both the dahl (lentils) and the bat (rice). This is what Niragan, KB and our porters ate twice a day, every day. They also use this chili sauce, bright, bright red in a white bowl. I said I'd like to try it and Nirajan and KB looked at each other in horror. Then I said, no problem, I'm from California, we have spicy food all the time. They said to try just a little bit, so I put what I would call a microscopic amount at the end of a tine on my fork and put it up to my nose to smell.  Somehow, my aim wasn't too good and the tine went right in my nose.  Not too bad, but then I tasted it. Well, needless to say, I have never tasted anything so spicy in my life, just this tiny amount!  I had to drink half my beer just to quench the heat in my mouth!  Let me just say, I'll never say "I'm from California, I'm used to spicy food" again!  Everyone got a good laugh at that one.

We washed it all down with Everest beers then we were all snug in our sleeping bags by our normal bedtime of 8pm. 

The spicy concoction

Dahl bat

My boots and hat after a week of trekking...

1 comment:

  1. Craig,

    I'm so inspired. This is the type of adventure I would love. Can't wait until the next episode. Your writing is all inclusive. Meaning I feel I'm there with you. I sense at times my breathing is strained trying to cross a pass at 13K.
    Our new Throckmorton Choir just had it's first concert. I sang a solo -Maria from West Side Story. Very tough for these old vocal chords. Our 25 year old daughter returns home to attend UCSF Grad School and our 22 year old graduates soon from UC Santa Barbara. Our home will be filled with the sound of youth again.
    Finally I'm trying to upgrade my Bonsai. Got a grape that is closer to your fantastic one. It's so beautiful to contemplate. On the hunt for another plant that has show quality.

    Be safe and enjoy your days of physical effort and mental and emotional peace.