Thursday, October 2, 2014

A river, a bridge a climb and a flat road

A river, a bridge a climb and a flat road

Almost 5000 meters high, tried and panting like a dog, sweating like a pig, on an endless trail, almost as if the road would never end. I’m used to it, I mean I've done this many times, well not this trail but different other trails. But why is it that this one is testing my endurance, testing my limit. I’m fine, not tired at all and fit and fine, just heavy breathing. That’s why I’m trying to equalize it with slow walking, but the further I go, the farther it looks. The road/trail never seem to end, I never had such low will power to climb anything, it was plain torture, 3 hours of plain torture. May be it was because of careless walking for the 4 days before that and taking a challenge of doing a 2 days walk on a single day but I had its toll. As l lay down a cold stone on a landscape which seems far more a dream than reality, the lack of will stopped me to take my camera out and take a photo of it. I looked down, as down as I could see, almost 2000 meters below us was road that we took, where we were 2 days ago.  I glanced as far as I could see may be in a hope of seeing every road that we had walked which reminded me of how I ended up in one of the remotest part from one of the most Urbanized.

Back in Kathmandu
I was planning a trip for a very long time, specifically Annapurna Circuit Trek. Always been a dream to travel to Tilicho lake and cross the Thorang La. Out of no where a great opportunity hit me and then I had a chance to go there, as a part of my work. Going alone, though not hard would have been tiring as per my work so I took a friend with me, at least I thought there would be two of us. But  2 days before the trip I learned that a friend of mine from Peru had friend who was visiting Nepal. So we met with him and told him that we were doing the ACAP circuit trek and he crazy enough to say that he’d join us. I guess he thought it was an easy trek, which it was, well most of it. We arranged his permit, and parted and decided to meet at the bus park next morning! So we did and learned that he brought another friend, who was France. So it was four of us, taking on the challenge of Tilicho and Thorang La Pass. We took a micro bus to Beshisahar, which was supposed to take 5-6 hours, but it took us around 7-8 hours to reach Besisahar and after that it was a crazy crazy road on a jeep up to a small village called Chyaamche. We met 3 beautiful girls on the jeep one was gorgeous, and they didn't have a guide with them so they decided to join our crew as well, so we ended up at the same hotel that day and decided to start walking at 7, together, the all of us, at least we did that for 2 hours may be? Quoting one of those girls “ You guys are too fast for us”. In fact I asked them to join us up to the Tilicho lake, which they weren't doing, but if I had convinced them to walk up to the Lake, I swear they would have killed me there!

The trail is pretty easy as a whole, but we had to take a different road because of massive landslide, so we took a trekking trail which was better but came with a price, the price being plenty of leeches. Which we realized 2 hours or so after getting bitten.  The trail pretty awesome, as we walk beside the River Marsyangdhi, cross few suspension bridges. The first days walk was pretty awesome, everyone was fresh and fit enough. The highlight of the first day’s trip has to be the Daal Bhaat. I convinced my friend from Peru that Daal Bhaat is the best food ever, and asked him to have a Daal bhaat as well. Little did we know that the daal bhaat we were about to have was the second worst daal bhaat I ever had in my life, the first one has to be the one I had in Kalinchowk. We were crazy hungry as we had walked for almost 5 hours on just light breakfast. And the guy took about one hour and half to cook it and there was nothing other dhan plain rice, daal and few potatoes, yes just few there wasn't even a refill and the potatoes were as salty as anything ever could be. He was pretty mad at me for that! But it was just a bad luck that we had the food at the wrong place!

The thing is, the road to Manang is quite  easy comparatively with other trails, such as Gosaikunda or Langtang. The road is almost flat, but the funny thing is, where ever you stop, I mean the end of the days walk, when you’re about and hour away from the stop there’s a climb. So that means you walk on a flat road for 5 6 hours, which you think is easy and you walk fast and after you're all tired and beaten up you have to climb. I could sense the tiredness in every one so I had to lie to them about how the trail ahead of us is. So I just told them, to motivate them to walk that there’s a river few minutes ahead of us and a bridge and a climb and we meet the road and its done. And the funny thing is, there’s always a river, a bridge and a climb and we meet a road. That was the theme for most of the trip, and its always five minutes to go. But finally we reached out destination after crossing the river, climbing for 5 minutes which took about 45 minutes may be, and then we met road.

The next day’s walk was similar, walking along a flat road for 5-6 hours and then when were near the stop climbing for another 30 minutes which again had a bridge, a river, a climb and we met the road. But then we did what Robert Frost does, we took the road less traveled by, it was a crazy climb but it was fun. The next day’s trek was supposed to be good one because so far, all we saw was hills and rivers, no sighting of the mountains, but at then end of the 3rd day we were walking in Himalayan territory having crossed trans Himalayan boundary.
Manang- unliked Mustang, Manang is pretty green and awesome, I'm not saying Mustang is not good, Mustang is heaven, but Manang is different!! Both places are equally amazing but unique as well. The landscape are different and so is the culture and everything, though bordering with each other they’re just two different dimensions. The road to Manang , after Pisang is the best one, it’s a flat road for may be 3 4 hours until you reach Manang, it all depends upon how fast you can walk. And if black pitched, the road to Manang would look similar to any roads on Terai highway.

After reaching Manang, we had our lunch and started walking up to the Tilicho lake, well to the place where we would reach before trekking to the lake.  I was working along the trail, watching birds and any other animals that could be seen.  On the way to a place called Khangsaar, I found a new species, to my list that is, and I was taking a photo but it flew away few hundred meters below me. So I looking down hoping to see it again and then get a good photo, I started waking looking below and out of no where I tripped on this huge stone and fell down in the direction of the slope that was way over than 1000 meters drop. I don’t know how but I was able to get back to my feet, somehow, I had blacked out for a second there and thought that I was going to die! I took a photo of that place to remind me that I didn't fall there! The walk after that was pretty crazy, crazy in terms that we had to climb and climb and again there was river, a bridge a climb but sadly there were no road, just a small trail where barely two people can fit.  
We were walking pretty fast for the 3 days before we did the Tilicho lake, had walked for about 7 8 hours every day. We had skipped a day and reached there before a day. Furthermore we decided to go to the Lake and come back down to the place where were resting, that was doable, because we did it, but it was hard, meant walking all day long.  But we took the challenge and did it, which turned out to be a little pain in the back. We started early in the morning, had breakfast, took some Rotis with us and then the journey to Tilicho began. The first few hours of walk was a normal one, till we reached the Landslide area where the fun began!
The road to Tilicho, at least the landslide are, its crazy!! It’s a slope with a landslide, where small stones keep on falling regularly, and may with 1000 meters drop below, not sure about it being a 1000 meters but is pretty high.  We saw some blue sheeps high up in the hills as well. We were having lots of fun, at least till then. After we reached the Tilicho Base Camp, the torture began. For the first climb it was easy just a small climb, but then after that it was just climbing up and up. To be honest its not that hard, but since we did the trek from a stop way before the Base Camp and had walked almost 3 hours before doing that climb it turned out to be a tough one. If you start from the base camp the climb may not be that hard. It will be hard but not that hard! Thus the climb was torture, as for the altitude sickness we didn't feel anything at all, apart from heaving breathing, which happens even if you rest in that altitude.

I took a rest on stone and looked back the place where we came from, which all of you know already. I looked back and remembered all that Ive written above, and as I looked up, my friends were way ahead of me and I had to walk to the top that crazy Jig-Zag trail. I just took all the short cut there was to meet with them. Then finally we reached a place which said, Tilicho Lake 35 minutes! Finally I was motivated enough to walk fast to the lake, and every torture and pain we felt while walking up to the lake was washed away with a single glance of the lake as if the water passed through our bodies and cleansed us from the suffering! The view there was worth every single step and would have been worth it if there more climbing to it. The blue color of the lake shines on a background of white clouds and looks as if there’s no end to it, or as if the sky and the lake meet at that very spot. The lake sits silently below huge mountains . Its seriously beyond me to describe how it exaclty feels to be there!! I was speechless for a moment there, and breathless too as the point from where we can see the lake is at around 5020 meters. 

To be continued !!

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