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Nepalese Notebook: September 25th, 2014

September 25th, 2014Besi Sahar 760m.
You never expect it, but the high mountains soon give way to the low, and the day comes when it is cloudy and humid and easy to forget what is near.  Everything simply disappears without importance, and even if we believe in it, have seen it with our own eyes and accept it wholeheartedly, the lapse is too great, change is too certain, and what was once a thousand year old glacier is now the fountain you drink out of.  Now it is only a busy little Nepalese town where colorful buses pass, where street vendors and shops remind you of the growing indifference of what had once seemed normal, and a fleeting sense of accomplishment gives way to restlessness.  Could we have done more?  Having the trek over is short-lived, and looking back upon the hardships of the trail reminds one of a melancholic sort of comfort that creates new adventures and even more hardships before the time it takes your muscles to recuperate from the previous journey.  Pushing onese…

Nepalese Notebook: September 14, 2014

September 14th, 2014

Dyang 1860m.


The mountains grow and the scenery has taken on a massive aspect; rocks, trees, or the sky, no longer have that habitual feeling but seem to turn the absolute most normal thing into a sacred and almost surreal picture.  We are always repeating: 'This is different...  This is bigger...  This is strange...' but there is really no time to savour any of it, not because we are moving so fast or cannot take our time on the trail, but because we do not realize all of these sights are interior, and before we have tried to cope with them, they have already become a part of our imagination and ideal.  Lunch this afternoon was one of the best we have had so far. Our tea-house tonight is quaint and we are the only visitors.  Here they cook by wood-fire, and smoke from the kitchen fills the whole dining area.  From our table we can see that we are surrounded by high mountains now, but cannot yet see the tops, and to pass the time to evening we look out, hud…

Nepalese Notebook: September 13th, 2014

September 13th, 2014

Upper Jagat 1340m.

The country people are remarkable for their stature and muscle though none of them are very tall.  A boy of no more than 8 or 9 years old came up the trail today carrying a bag of damp sand from the river bottom; it must have been at least 50 pounds and as tall as him because he had to bend over with the tumpline almost perpendicular to the ground to be able to move forward.  Further down we saw the father and another boy filling up more bags to be taken in turn, and these, as we found out, were for house-constructing and repairs.  A woman in the village before, where we stopped for refreshments, spoke in a rather lively tone of voice about how she wanted to have 12 children with her husband, already had 3, and was pushing 31 years old. After we passed the hot springs of Tatopani where we cleansed our hair and face, the more prevalent signs of Tibetan culture began to appear, most notably the women wearing vibrantly coloured aprons of knitted woo…

Nepalese Notebook: September 12th, 2014

September 12th, 2014

Machhakhola 869m


Many bugs fill our room tonight, which overlooks a small street near the water-pump where everyone in the village comes to congregate.  The looks of the people here are menacing and berating and we can only keep our heads down and act in a kindly way though it serves little purpose.  From the rooftop, we may discern in any one direction 3 or 4 waterfalls of enormous height plunging down from the cliffs into the river; some even coming out of the clouds, where hidden beyond, they flow from the upper Himalayan range. The trail ran high over the river today, the weather cloudy and humid for the most part; half of the time our clothes were damp and covered by a mist, but whether it was from rain, or the gushing of the waterfalls, was hard to tell.  Before arriving at Machhakhola, we crossed through a large river-bed surrounded by cliffs on either side which, when the Budhi Gandaki begins to flood here in the rainy season, must fill and make the river a…

Nepalese Notebook: September 11th, 2014

September 11th, 2014

Soti Khola 700m.

Kindness is without a voice and lives in quiet places, and when it is secluded, it is wide-eyed, rugged, and delicate.  We have come to the end of the gravel road that leads from Arughat; behind us lies an unstable bridge and before us a deep gorge with a new bridge spanning its edges.  The donkey caravans pass through, however, loaded with bags of unknowable merchandise for Tibet, and this turns out to be somewhat of a comfort as we sit on the porch of our guest-house and watch them.  The family that owns this place consists of a grandfather and grandmother, their two daughters, one child and one baby, the baby and the child being so well cared for that I could not tell to which daughter they belonged.  Sometimes we want so much to experience something that we forget to be genuine, and it almost seemed in vain to compliment our hosts for their cooking or their care because of how uninhibited they were amongst themselves.  The grandmother carlessly…

Nepalese Notebook: September 10th, 2014

September 10th, 2014

Arughat Bazar 608m

3 hours of muddy road in a pick-up have brought us to our starting point on the banks of the Budhi Gandanki.  We passed buses stuck in ruts the length of a man's leg and watched as the drivers tried to dig their way out, some rocking the bus from one side to the other, others pointing down to the hole and calling out orders, while all the passengers stood alongside, jumping on the moment the bus seemed to free itself, but then hopping back off once they saw it was going nowhere.  Only once or twice did these buses actually block our passage, the rest of the time we drove right by on the edges of the mountain track.
Arughat is the most isolated town I have been to, but it has not the sort of magic and mystery one would expect from such a place.  The street that leads into and out of town, as if it were made from just misplaced rocks, is lined with mountain gear shops, ration stores, and tea-houses; there are no visible Buddhist temples and all…