Tag Archives: camping

Nar Phu Trek: Bye Bye Trekkers: Day 15 of 16

bye bye trekkers. farewell party in khudi

The farewell party in Khudi

Khudi: Here we come! It was yet another long day but I am not feeling pain in my thighs anymore. I am not very much tired too. I will be taking bus to Kathmandu tomorrow and rest of the group (now dropped to 7) will head for Shyauli Bazaar and then to Pokhara. Porters and kitchen staffs will be heading to Kathmandu too. So today is the last day in tent. It rained in the evening.

Song and dance in the evening was expected. Folks danced and sang in the dining hall of the hotel, where we were camping in the garden, till 10 PM. The camping ground is surrounded by beautiful flowers that are ready to be picked up for Tihar garlands. Every one of us danced. Like in all other dancing sessions, the colliding of asses by Gyanu and Brooke was the most hilarious moment. And I liked the way Suusan twisted her waist. Even boys like that and they switched to a song that praised the skill of “waist twisting of this sister.”

Inside the tent, Wanda recorded my interview about the trek and I recorded hers. That was quite fun.

Nar Phu Trek: Running Back To Home: Day 14 of 16

Chamje: My thighs are still aching and ah… it was one of the longest days. At the end of the day, I was certainly running and Wanda was closely following me. That happened especially after Tal because we wanted to make it to Chamje today so that it would be easier to walk Khudi tomorrow. I could sense some of the members are not very much happy with this decision. I was fine with anything. I wanted to stop walking probably because I was too tired of walking, may be because I wasn’t finding the Annapurna Trail as attractive as in Nar Phu circuit.

We arrived in Chamje only to face uncertainty about the camping spot. There were still grasses on the corn field where it was almost impossible to camp. Wanda and Gyanu had planned to camp in that field. Then there was a primary school with a small and dusty ground and donkey shits and urine on one side. It was out luck that we were able to secure that space. A group of trekkers who had arrived earlier couldn’t camp on the school ground because their tents didn’t arrive in time. Continue reading

Nar Phu Trek: Back To Annapurna Circuit: Day 13 of 16

Koto: Oh boy, my thighs are aching terribly. I can feel the pain and I know why. Yesterday’s descend was quite stressful. But I am determined to walk. I am already feeling like returning home. Work is waiting for me in Kathmandu. Have to write stories about Nar, the memorable traveling kitchen etc.

At about 8 AM we started descending from Nagwal to Pisang. Then the trail up to Koto was very easy.

After spending a challenging week in one of the remotest and highest located villages of the country, we are back in the popular Annapurna circuit trail. People from different countries in varieties of fashion were spotted in the apparently busy route. Hum, I spotted a very beautiful girl, Japanese probably, in Chame. She and her friends were heading toward were we were coming form. Too bad, I couldn’t even say Sayonara as I was inside the ACAP office. She, I don’t know her name, was really beautiful.

Apart from the Japanese girl, the amazing rock called Swargadwari Danda was the major attraction of the day. I talked with Wanda about the possibilities of climbing up to the danda and that was self satisfactory statement for sure.

It’s been several days that I have been virtually out of contact with news and other activities happening in Kathmandu and rest of the world. It felt strange to be away from news for such a long time. I really don’t know what’s happening in Kathmandu, the capital of the country, where I am sure many things must be happening. Life on the trail is isolated and it has its own dimensions. People crack jokes, laugh hilariously and most of the talks are overwhelmingly dominated by the people and things in the rest of the world. We talk about things that we have experienced before, seen previously. Even if we are far from the world, we still talk about those places, people and activities. I like this song, I like that man and I did this that year! Wow! We are living in our past glories and experiences!

This evening in Koto, I heard something, something similar to radio sound. True, that was a news bulletin from a FM station. FM station? Am I hearing properly? Yes. That was Image FM and it was talking about what Nepali Congress leader Arjun Nar Singh KC said about the fate of monarchy. KC said that the fate of monarchy should be decided by the constituent assembly, not by the referendum. Referendum would give opportunity to king to garner some votes. That is why, he said, Nepali Congress was against the referendum. I didn’t want to hear rest of the bulletin. I don’t know why.

By the way, back in Koto also means the completion of a circuit, Nar Phu circuit. Just like any other member of the team, I am also tired but my thigh, did I mention this before, are really feeling bad. Even Matt is apparently tired and he is putting his head over Brooke’s shoulders and Jenn is taking picture of that scene with Brooke’s camera. The porters are tired too. It was not because today was a long day but because yesterday’s uphill and straight 1600 meters downhill in about three hours.

Folks were literally running on the steep trail that began from Kang La and some of them were walking on dangerous and straight short cut paths. That is why they are also feeling pain on their legs. As I am writing these lines, Jenn is giving neck massage to Bijay and Matt to Brooke. “That feels good,” says Brooke. “Oh, that’s great.” Then: “Thank you.” Matt replies: “No problem.”

Nar Phu Trek: At The Top Of Kang La Pass: Day 12 of 16

dinesh wagle on kang la pass playing guitar

While his guitar gently smiles! Dinesh Wagle poses with Matt’s guitar at Kang La Pass. Pic by Matt

Nagwal: Today, as I am writing these lines, we are in Nagwal. We arrived here some two hours ago. Main attraction of the day was undoubtedly the 5300 meters high Kang La (bhangyang) pass. We started the trek early in the morning, around 5:30, nearly 1.5 hours ahead of normal schedule. It was obviously cold in the morning and as we headed upward and met encountered the first rays of sun, I replaced the down jacked with wind jacket.

dinesh wagle at kang la pass

Dinesh Wagle at the top of Kang La Pass Pic by Wanda

Now after crossing over the pass, I tend to forget all the pains and struggles that all of us had to go through. Being at the pass was simply superb. The majestic view of the Annapurna range is indescribable. I must use the word beautiful though that’s not enough. I think the painful and boring process of walking was obviously forgettable. At one point I was utterly disappointed to learn that the pass was still far away. I thought the pass was just behind the hill that I was climbing. No, that wasn’t. It was just a beginning of another uphill. So disappointing I was disappointed twice. I hated the trail. I wasn’t enjoying the scene because my concentration was in the walking. That was when I was barely moving and hardly breathing. I wanted to sleep there. I didn’t want to see upward because the pass was still far away.

But there was something that was pushing me upward all the time. The internal force. The desire to be at the top. Also the fears of possible descend back to Chame via Nar. What if I can’t walk? I might have to go back, all the way to Nar and Meta and Chame. That would be disastrous.

Wanda, Carole, Matt and Dough were already at the top as we approached a small lake just below the pass. Just below? Only for the eyes, it took more than 15 minutes to reach at the top from that point.

kang la pass show women baring it all

The Kang La Pass Show 1: Three women bared it all at the TOP of the pass. Here in the photo, Matt is seen (can you see him?) capturing the image.

As I reached at the top, I started loving the same trail. I was feeling great. Such is the nature of love and hate in such highs. You love the trail that you hated a minute ago. You start enjoying the scenery that you didn’t want to enjoy a minute ago. Now, as I was at the top, I was adding my voice and we were screaming at others who were still trailing behind. That was fun.

There were two other attractions at the pass, thanks to out team members.

First, it was the pair of Gyanu and Matt stripping off for the camera. Facing the Annapurna Range on south-west, the duo threw away their shirts and pulled down pants amidst roaring laughter from trekking members. Then there was a team of Annapurna Angels (Wanda, Jenn and Carol) that exposed their breasts to the brightness coming from the Annapurna range and the camera operated by Matt. Some might say Matt took such a long time to take photo but I would say no! I must have been difficult to shot photo in such a height with mountains all around.

boys stripping at kangla pass

The Kanga La Pass Show 2: Two men bared it all at the top of the pass.

I also tried to capture the scene (well, the scene would include Matt taking picture, not the subjects of his photos) and for that I had to delete an image to make space in my card. Enough with the photo-ups. Now the super steep moraine path that starts right from the Kang La pass and descends down to Nagwal. Down from 5300 meters to 3600 meters, that too in less than two hours! The trail seems so dangerous while walking over it but when you look upward from Nagwal, it doesn’t seem as dangerous. This is the specialty of trails in the highlands. You have to go there to experience the top.

Tonight was the night of farewell. Margriet, Carol and Dough will be leaving for the Annapurna circuit (crossing over the Thorang La) where as rest of the team will climb down to Khudi. Shyam Bhatta, the fabulous cook, made a beautiful cake baked by using two different pots (it was quite challenging, he said). Drinking and dancing were on the card. Gyanu, the sardar, distributed Raskhi to all folks. Boys started singing in the tunes of Madal. The ceremony was beautiful though I could sense that the Rakshi was starting to work more than Gyanu and his team of singers.

Nar Phu Trek: Kang La Phedi Spectacular Trail: Day 11 of 16

Kang La Phedi: After spending most of the day (till afternoon) we headed for Kang La Phedi, a place below the Kang La Pass. In the morning, I talked to some of the Koru thrashers.

While dragging myself up to Kang La Phedi I saw some of the amazing and spectacular scenes in my life. The trail went through the grazing field with a small stream on the left. The mountains were on the both sides of the stream. On the left was the breathtaking Pisang range and it was expanded some where up. On my front was my curiosity (where are you Kang La Pass?) while the enormous Kang Ru peak was standing tall behind me. I was full of such excitements because of being so near to the range. I wondered who the same place would look like at the time of heavy snow.

our trek team in Kang La Phedi
Our Trek Team in Kang La Phedi

Though the scene was breathtaking, I wasn’t feeling very well. Stomach was grumbling and I was quite anxious at lunch time: should I eat or not? But I knew that if I didn’t eat, I will not have energy to go up. The uphill wasn’t really uphill but I was having difficulties to walk because I wasn’t feeling well. But thanks to those wonderful scenes, I started feeling well. May be that was because of altitude change. We were heading to Phedi that was located at the height of 4,500 meters.

By the way, I must mention it here that I felt so cold last night in Nar that I could hardly sleep. I mean the sleeping bag was working fine but the mattress wasn’t. I was feeling chilling cold on my back. I tried to move this side and that side but the side facing mother Earth would feel damn cold that I hadn’t anticipated. It was -2 degrees in evening and I learned in the morning about the rainfall in night. I tried my best to keep myself warm. That was futile. I put my jacket on the mattress which felt like working but only for a minute. Then I added sweater. That also didn’t help much. I didn’t want to complain to Wanda as there was little she could do. Plus, I was convinced that it was yet another part of my first ever camping experience!

wagle climbing Kang La Pass

I am seen climbing the Kang La Pass Pic by Jen

Nar Phu Trek: Finally In The Village Of Nar: Day 10 of 16

Thrashing Koru in Nar Village

Thrashing Koru in Nar: Men thrash the grain where as women take part in the process by sifting

Thrashing Koru in Nar Village

Army parade or the heart beat? The sound coming out is like grap, grap, grap. For me it was like an army parade where as for Jen it was like a heartbeat. I found this observation cool.

Thrashing Koru in Nar Village

They wake up early in the morning, at 3 AM, and start thrashing Koru. “Soil is hard in the morning and it’s easy to thrash Koru,” said a man.

Thrashing Koru in Nar Village
Other than Koru, the village also grows potato. The process (planting to harvesting Koru) takes six months.

Nar: Finally we are in the village of Nar (the blue sheep). First reaction: it’s beautiful, it’s damn beautiful. Second reaction: But I wouldn’t live here more than a week. When you get the first glimpse of the village along with Pisang Peak and it’s range and, on the back of yourself the enormous Kang Guru Himal, boy, you forget all the hardship that you had just gone through while climbing the uphill that begins from the Chamjong bridge.

Some where in the middle of the trail, Matt requested me to take his photos: naked and standing on a dangerously placed rock. That was fun and girls laughed as they saw the ‘nude Aussie’ posing for the camera. Wanda, Brooke, Lorraine, Sanu Maya, Pemba and Gyanu all got their share of fun as they watched Matt stripping off. Matt said he wanted to bring out a calendar with such photos taken all over the places he had been visiting. The calendar shots were great. The camera only saw his back and white butt but a huge eagle flying on the other side of the mountain must have seen something more. Poor eagle, bad day for you.

Nar Village in Manang

The Village of Nar in Manang

Nar girl drinking water

A girl drinks water in a tap located on the upper side of the village. This reminded me of a yak that I saw yesterday drinking water from a tap near the village

Nar girl drinking water

At one point I felt like she was posing for my camera

Nar girl drinking water

music for koru harvesters in nar

Matt entertains Nar locals, who were thrashing Koru, with his guitar and the BIG O song!

Just as we arrived in Nar, our hunting for the cover girl began. Cover girl of the book “Cloud Dwellers”. There are some full page photographs of the people of Nar taken in the April, 1981. Now we wanted to meet some of those people who are still alive and talk to them about the changes they have been experiencing over the two and half decades. What I told about the idea of meeting the “cover girl”, Wanda was excited. And we talked about imitating what National Geographic magazine did with their cover girl (an Afghan refugee).

[Read the story here.]

Collective thrashing of Koru by the men of Nar (women helped them with sifting and other things) was definitely worth watching. The rhythmic act of thrashing the grains with the help of Gyalpo, an equipment made up of four small sticks tied together by Yak leather and then joined to another longer handle, reminded me of army parade: Ghrap, ghraph, ghrap. Jenny was standing nearby and I asked her how she would describe the scene. “It is rhythmic,” she said. “Like a heartbeat.” Wow! That was cool observation. The heartbeat part was particularly striking. Lovely one. That may be because Jen is an artist and with warm heart. I wanted to count. Well, it is a slow heartbeat for sure: 60 beats or ‘ghrap’ ‘ghrap’ per minute. Thanks Brooke for the counter watch.

The village of Nar has definitely changed over the years. My impression of the village was formed after reading the book “Cloud Dwellers” and when I reached the village I found that the residents of Nar have been exposed to the rest of the world more than they were 25 years ago. They were no more isolated though geographically they still live in a different world. Kathmandu and rest of the world is jus a call away and those pine lamps have “miraculously” been replaced by, as the “cover girl” brilliantly put it, “the fire.” She was pointing out to a fluorescent tube that was glowing on her house’s ceiling powered by a micro hydro project in the village. The trail leading up to Chame (touching the famous Annapurna circuit trail) has been widened so that mules could carry stuffs up to 4,105 meters high residential

To be surrounded by the Himals from all sides while staying in Nar (and most of the places above Meta) was an unforgettable experience. I was surprised to see about 5 football grounds size of grazing field (almost flat) just above Nar residential area (less than a minute walk up to East). After seeing such a big grazing field (also on way to Kanga Phedi), I am convinced why there are so many cattle (Yaks, cows and horses) in the village.

Nar, compared to Phu, is bigger, more exposed to Kathmandu and has two hotels. We used the dining facility and camping site of one of those hotels.

Nar women in field work

Women in Nar digging the field so that it would be easier to plant Koru when the return in the village spending six month in Meta or in other parts of Nepal.

Nar Yak ploughing

Yak are the most userful animals in this part of the world

Nar Yak ploughing

Nar Phu Trek: The Amazing Bridge Of Nar Phedi: Day 9 of 16

Bridges at Nar Phedi

Two bridges, Old and New, at Nar Phedi

The Bridge: Yes, the bridge. One of the most exciting structures that I have ever seen. The location makes it even more exciting. I wouldn’t call it an ‘engineering wonder’ but it is built so meticulously that you wonder how they built such a thing in such a place! Then there is another five-year-old modern suspension bridge from which I crossed the Nar Phu Khola fearing that, if I walked over the old one, the bridge might crumble and fall down.

Wanda bravely walked over it showing no sign of fear. I was encouraged but only after she challenged to me go through it. “You must do at least one thing daily that scares you,” she said. At one point, Wanda was pushing me toward the middle of the bridge making me frightened like a child. That scene has been captured by Matt in a video from the new bridge.

Bridges at Nar Phedi
Bridges at Nar Phedi

Wanda over the old bridge

Wanda on the old bridge.

Turning the pages of Cloud Dwellers

Turning the pages of Cloud Dwellers: I am showing the book to Nar folks at Nar Phedi

The bridge, or Chamjong, has been unofficially re-named Mahendra Pul (pul=bridge), taking the name from the famous bridge in Pokhara where Seti river goes unseen. Here too, below 80 meters, you can see the river flowing through the narrow ridge but you can’t help remembering the Mahendra Pul. Each side of the bridge is supported by walls of stones and woods are used to hold them together.

But the world Mahendra must be removed from the Pokhara bridge because it reminds us the king, father of Gyanendra, who in 1960 overthrew the first democratically elected government of B P Koirala in Nepal and installed a party less autocratic system called Panchayat. Panchayat was removed by the popular uprising of 1990 that restored democracy in the country. And the April uprising of 2006 removed the autocratic system installed in Feb 1, 2005 by Gyanendra.

Maggie clicks old bridge image
Margriet clicks an image of the old bridge from the new.

Nar Phedi
Nar Phedi

The bridge in Nar phedi has a local name that I mentioned earlier- Chemjong- and this should be used widely. Plus, this bridge must be preserved for tourist attraction. In my meeting with locals of Nar, I raised these two issues and they promised to work to maintain the bridge with its old name.

This evening Wand and I went to a nearby monastery where we met a few locals from Nar. We showed them the book and asked them about the people featured in the publication. The bridge also came in to the talks. “Yaks still use that old bridge,” said a young man who was living in monastery because they were working on the construction of a new monastery by April. “Yaks never use the new one. Only men and horses use the new bridge.” The young man also told us that the bridge hasn’t been maintained recently but they were planning to do so in the near future.

We spent the night at a camping site just above the bridge.

Nar Phu Trek: Roaming Around The Phu Village: Day 8 of 16

Phu Village
Phu Village in Manang District

karma ringchhe

Karma Ringchhe studies in grade two in Phu school when she is not working in Koru field. In this photo, she is seen carrying Koru haystack

Trail leading up to Phu
Trail leading up to Phu: This trail is constructed by the Phu villagers which is destroyed by the heavy snow every year.

Phu: Make your lips round and blow the wind away, slowly. That’s the meaning of Phu in Nepali. But the blow of the wind in Phu is different than the definition. So how strong is the blow? Come here in Phu, at the altitude of 3900, surrounded by mountains like Himlung and others. “It’s totally understandable why the wind here makes people really mad,” says Wanda safe inside the tent. “Totally mad.” Oh… yea. It’s trying to blow away the dining tent set up within the camping area that was constructed two years ago on the back on Phu river.

I checked my temperature as I arrived in Phu. It’s increased. But I am not feeling the same uneasiness like yesterday. Still, as per the suggestions of Wanda, I took two tabs of paracetamol. I wanted to take nap but folks were planning to go to Gompa at 2 PM. “Its once-in-a-life-time opportunity,” Wanda encourages me to go to monastery. I followed them until we reached village and stopped myself there.

I went up to the village crossing over a newly built bridge (no wooden bridge is used anymore) some five years ago and started mingling with the villagers who were busy with harvesting Koru, the only grain produced in the village, on the rooftops of their or neighbor’s house. They spoke ‘perfect’ Nepali which was a pleasant surprise for me. I asked a few questions just like a reporter desperate for making stories from a trip. For me the trip was over, work has begun. The former chairman of the village development committee was too busy helping his neighbor to thrash koru. The bridge that I crossed to come to this town, I came to know from the former chairman, was constructed at the cost of Rs. 500,000.

Trail Leading Up To Phu Village
Trail Leading Up To Phu Village via the bank of Phu Khola

Children in Phu playing with water tap

Children in Phu playing with water tap

Then I went to the other side of the village to discover a vibrant community, all busy doing something: thrashing koru, sifting and carrying other stuffs to home from field. It’s a big village, I thought. From the camping site, you don’t see all this and feel that the village is small. A girl was carrying Koru haystack. She was too shy to identify her house but she told her name after I repeated the question. Karma studies in grade 2 in a nearby school where the only teacher rarely attends the classes. He was in Dashain, Nepal’s biggest festival, vacation. Some of the children wanted to see the photos that I took.

As I was talking to the kids, a man came riding horse and I asked the same question that I had asked at least three persons before: Where is the post office? “Oh… it’s there at the corner,” said the man after taking the horse inside a stable. “I am the Hakim (boss) of the office.” Yet another surprise in this remote part of the country! I was curious how a Post Office would function in a place like this where it takes a day to reach anther village and two days to reach Chame. Later in the evening, as I was returning to tent after making a few calls from the phone at the top of the hill, I met a halkara (postman) who told me how it works. He said that he goes up to Meta (or Junum) and swaps the postal bag with his counterpart from Nar. Then one of them or the third person takes the bag to Chame. There is a cave, just below Meta, on way to Chame called Hulaki Odar (Postmen Odar) that is, I was told, reserved specially to Hulakis. No other, for example porters, can sleep there!

The question “Where is the phone man?” was a conversation starter and, at last, I found him (Nyima Chhesang) busy with Koru. A big V-Sat phone at the top of the hill that hosts the village was another surprise of the day. I called my home (because, at that moment, that was the only number I could remember) and talked to Email. Told him I was in one of the remotest parts of the country wearing all of the clothes that I had! The clothing news wasn’t quite true but I am the person putting heavier clothes because I feel cold the most. And the wind is really terrible here. “I am fine with the temperature,” said Jenn while returning from the village. “But the wind is bothering me.” Bothering? It’s killing me, I told myself. Seeing me cold, she rubbed my hands and made them warm with her mild “phu” as Matt and Caroll watched.

Solar panels in Phu house

Solar panels are installed in Phu houses

Phu Phone Man

Phu Phone Man: Nyima Chhesang, 35, is the phone man of Phu, says that the installation of telephone in the village two years ago has made life easier. “Before we had to go to Chame (more than a day’s walk) to deliver a small message to people in Kathmandu,” he said. “Now Kathmandu is just a call away.” The yearly bill of the phone? Rs. 20, 000.

So I was talking on phone. I made another call to Deepak Adhikari (last of the two numbers that I remembered) and ended up talking with Shailendra Kharel and Prakash Mathema, both photographers at Kantipur Publications where Deepak works with me. Wanted to talk to another person but I couldn’t remember the number. Deepak, a reporter with Nepal Magazine, quickly briefed me on the recent political developments: Talks between the government and the Maoist this week were going well. Okay, I don’t want to know much about that. I have been out of contact with the news world for almost seven days. I don’t know what the hell is going on around the world. Wars might have been waged; Epidemic might have been spread, or whatever! I talked about this with Wanda and she laughs at me: Oh… you are such a news freak. Yes, I am but I am enjoying this disconnection with the rest of the world these days. I made these calls today (Rs. 15 per minute) just to give a try, to feel the aura of talking to someone from such a location. Oh… what a location it is. Huge rocks and mountains all over. Annapurnas are on the South, such a place it is!

I was also curious to know how the phone, installed two years ago with the Village Development Committee money, had changed the life in Phu if it had changed at all. “Kathmandu has become closer,” said Nyima Chhesang, the phone man. “It’s been really easy for people in the village and those living abroad or in Kathmandu to convey message.” International calls (Rs. 100 per minute for locals and Rs. 300 for foreigners) are more Incoming than Outgoing. Mountaineers and a few trekkers call back to their homes. The Phone Man who said that he keeps the rest of the money (some 20 percent) after paying phone bill to Nepal Telecom. [I would learn in the morning that he also looks after the camping site.]

Nyma Yangjee of Phu

Niyma Yangjee, 25, lives with her husband, two daughters and in-laws. She said that she will leave Phu for Kyang in two months.

So there was no Lama in the Phu monastery and other friends returned without seeing him. I didn’t go up to Gumba. Instead, I roamed around the village. Lama was busy in a Pooja ceremony in the village. Nobody went back to Gumba at 5 PM as all were tired to climb the uphill.

Sangma Tshiring

Sangma Tshiring, 42. She lives in Phu with her husband and a son. Another son and a daughter study Lama in two separate monasteries in Kathmandu, she said.

One of the ladies who were busy harvesting Koru told me that the life in Phu was beautiful. But I felt her tone was a bit sarcastic. Sangee Dorjee, 35, lives six months a year in Kathmandu where her husband and children live permanently and spends rest of the time in Phu. She grew 40 muris of Koru this year and plans to sell it before leaving for Kathmandu by the end of this month.

“Now is the time to swap the places,” Sangee said declining to be photographed. “We will live in Kathmandu and Kathmanduits should come and stay here to feel how we live in such a place.”

Nar Phu Trek: Wagle Is Not Well In Kyang: Day 7 of 16

A village near Kyang, winter settlment of Phu village. Khampa insurgents stayed here three decades ago.

Flowers below Phu trail
Colorful flowers on the trail leading up to Phu

Kyang: Arriving in Kyang, the winter settlement of Phu vilage was the point of attraction for Khapa buildings. Nearly three decades ago, Tibetan Khampa refugees (they are also called insurgents) came from the neighboring Mustang where they were taking temporary refuge and probably preparing to fight against Chinese occupation in Tibet. Khampas invaded places like Kyang and gave dikkats to Nar and Phu residents by occupying land and killing yaks. They were flushed out after Nar and Phu residents complained about the invasion to Nepalese authorities.

At the altitude of 3840 meters, Kyang is an exciting place but, alas, what a bad day for me. It wasn’t really long day but I wasn’t feeling well. I was hardly walking. I was dragging myself. As the Sun got hotter I started taking off thermals but kept on wearing windproof jacket to save my chassis from the strong blows of cold wind. I was feeling dry and dehydrated and facing difficulties in breathing properly. I was drinking but that wasn’t working. We were walking above 3500 meters.

big rock near phu gate

A huge rock stands tall just below the Phu village gate

Wagle returning from Phu

Wagle returning from Phu

As soon as I arrived at the camp site, I lied down on the ground. I wanted to sleep, take rest, and of course, get well immediately. It wasn’t a place to be sick. It was definitely not a good time. We would be in Phu tomorrow where I plan to go around and interview local people. I have to make stories for newspaper. What will happen if I became sick and unable to walk? I also thought of staying in Kyang next day and joining the team when they return from Phu. Terrible thoughts came to my mind as Jenny put a piece of cloth dipped into cold water on my forehead. Oh… that felt so good, thank you Jenny. Wanda tried to provide some shade on my head opening my umbrella. “It’s futile,” I heard her saying as the blows of wind made it difficult to fix the umbrella. She suggested me to go under a tree and we when I went there, at the end of the camping site toward river, strong blow of wind nearly sent me up in the sky. I started to write diary (of previous day) sitting behind a small rock. Wanda came with the digital thermometer and she said that I had slightly higher temperature (.5 point high, she said). I couldn’t eat all of my lunch. I wanted to take rest and went inside the tent for nap.

So it’s my turn to be sick today. But how long will it go? I don’t want to be sick here in this remote mountainous region, totally different geography than where I was born and raised for the first 10 years. I was born in the hilly region of mid-Nepal but here the hills are so big, they can easily be called mountains when covered by the snow. They seem deadly, lifeless. There are no plants, there is no life. Yes, a few birds are flying over these huge rocks but I wonder what those birds see over there and hover around.

Jenny wasn’t well on the first day. Then it was the turn of Lorraine, I think, on the second day. Then the guitar started weeping gently when our George Harrison started feeling grumbling stomach. Life is like this, dining tent is so much silent these days. You know why? Suusan, the talkative lady from New Zealand (remember her waist twisting ability?), has lost her voice, and she is not having very good time, health-wise speaking. And here is one irony with me. The other day in Meta, I was asking who else was in their best condition other than me. No one came forward with an exciting answer except perhaps Wanda. And today, look at me. I am feeling terribly bad and when you feel bad in this kind of trail and geography, it’s really bad. I took four tabs of paracetamol this afternoon and in the evening. I really hope to get well by tomorrow morning.

near kyang... phu khola trail

Near Kyang, on way to Phu: The trail just above this is described by maps as ‘dangerous rocky trail’

Nar Phu Trek: World Of Meta (Plus, Base Camp Adventure): Day 6 of 16

As seen from Meta. Our kitchen tent, blue, is seen on the right.

Meta: Arriving Meta, the winter settlement of Nar village, was like coming to a different world. This place is slightly above or at the end of the tree line. The uphill leading up to Meta is, as Wanda put it, really mean. That makes you feel really tired but when you are here, you forget all those difficulties and you want to enjoy the cool breeze. It’s another thing that the same cool breeze becomes crazy and cold wind in as the day comes to the end.

At 3500 meters, you might feel already being at top but snowy Himals on virtually all four sides make you feel a dwarf. There is no sign of life in this ‘village’ but I can see a triangular, the national flag of Nepal, flipping proudly near a Buddhist prayer flag, at the top of a building. National flag in such a remote location? May the residents have gone somewhere, I think. I felt that people here need one flag to make feel that they belong to a country called Nepal with unique flag among the countries of the world. I wonder who would have put that there. Oh… it is a hotel, newly built but without any facilities. No one is here but I see smoke coming out from the building. The door is locked from outside. Other doors of the hotel rooms are open and I can see beds with a little bit of clothing.

I climbed a newly built and, apparently recently installed, wooden staircase and reach at the top of the ‘hotel’. Neat and meticulously build to save the structure from heavy snow.

Meta houses
Meta houses

Pema Gets Massage From Matt
Pema, the ever smiling kitchen boy, gets massage from Matt as he brings tea in Meta

Rocky Spring
On way to Meta, we passed from this spring. I am seen going backward for photo up. Pic by Wanda

Oh… here is a sign of life. A man is here, a real man, just outside the hotel. I want to talk with him. Amazing, he is from Dhading district and is here to carry planks from the jungle below to Nar. Planks to cover the roofs of Nar house probably. [I am wrong, I would discover when I reach Nar that roofs are not covered by woods but by the mixture of gravel and stones. They use planks for other purpose like making basement etc.]

Destination Kang Ru Base Camp?

This afternoon was the perfect time for some adventure. You always want to challenge yourself and the nature when you are feeling fine. I was no more a sick Dinesh. I had overcome to the initial problems related to common cold. Arrival in a new place was giving me extra energy. How about a little bit of exploration in the treacherous and deadly region just above Meta, on way to the Base Camp of 6, 700 meters high Kang Ru Himal? Wanda, Bijay, our kitchen staff and porter, and I were ready to climb up to the Base Camp situated somewhere at the height of 4500 meters. We started the journey, no backpacks!, with Wanda on the lead.

This woman called Wanda is an iron lady, I have concluded. She climbed the ‘mean’ hill leading up to Meta twice today: first with her backpack and latter she went down to bring Sioux’s bag. She walks fast, is so fit and takes care of all trekkers in the team. I know she is a group leader and it’s her duty to do so but I think I couldn’t have done the job. Some people are born to walk and I think Wanda is one of them. She reminds me of Narayan Wagle, the trekker journalist, one of the most widely traveled folks in the profession, who brought so many amazing stories to the front pages of Kantipur from deep and remote parts of the country. Even in the city, his favorite means of traveling is walking. That is why I talk of Narayan Wagle with Wanda most of the time.

girls squeezed by women

Nepali porter girls squeezed by Canadian trekker women: As the cold wind became colder in the evening, clockwise from left, Caroline, Jennifer and Wanda found warmth in the bodies of three porter girls.

Ah… just as we were starting the exploration, Wanda stepped over ‘something awful’ which I instantly recognize as human shit. While Wanda is cleaning her shoes, Bijay and I take the lead. Oh.. I can see Lorraine Marie Harrison following us. The 60-year-old lady has some experiences of climbing mountains in Nepal including a trail adventure on Pisang that is standing tall at the other side of Kang Ru. Good that we are a team now. Not anymore. As soon as she sees tents arriving down in Meta, she descends. But hey there is another woman in the team: Brooke Martens, the always smiling ‘nanny’ who, for me, turned out to be a surprise in the exploration. She is a little bit fat and walks slowly. But she walks so well, in a reliable and constant pace. And I like her way of pronouncing my name.

Kang Ru Expedition Back Pack

I inspect a bag that we saw on way to Kang Ru Base Camp. 19 people had died here last October after an avalanche swept away tents at the base camp set up by an expedition team. On my right is Brooke and the boy on my left is Bijay Pic by Wanda

Well, it seems, we are in wrong trail. We are on and off the trail. Actually there is no trail. Seems Brooke is following the right trail but Wanda, Bijay and I have missed that one. We are now climbing like a monkey. This is a deadly place. People have died here before. Last October, an avalanche from Kang Ru killed 19 people, members of an expedition, who were camping on the base camp. Some managed to survive. We can see remains, clothings, tent parts, bags and gloves, scattered on the banks of the stream coming from Kang Ru. Bijay finds a glove and I pull out a bag.

Now we climb up to a steep ridge, it is scary to see down. We can see red tents in Meta but they are small. We finally managed to climb up to 4100 meters, 600 meters up from Meta. That was a great feat though base camp is still up and hidden. It’s still higher. Now is the time to return. Wanda feels raindrops. We walk down after sitting for about 5 minutes there.

We climbed like a monkey and now we are climbing like a leopard. But we are seeing something like a lion down on the stream. Wand and Brooke are sure that they are two yaks but I don’t want to believe them. I feel that’s a lion. Or, if not lion, that must be something else. How come yaks are so small? They are confused. Finally, we discover as we descend, they are yaks. One of them is black and the other is brown. They were there to drink water. Now they are grazing in the grass field near by a small jungle.

Wow, Bijay is descending faster than a leopard. He is already down, my god, I scream, how fast he went down. Did he jump? He, he.

We are back, with the feeling of achievement, but seeing where we reached from down doesn’t really excite. That doesn’t look so high though, altimeter is the proof, we climbed 600 meters.