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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 23rd, 2014

September 23rd, 2014
Chyamche 1450m.
First view of the Annapurna range this morning.  Passing through Tililje (2300m.) earlier, we found a man at the mill grinding his roasted barley and parched corn mix.  He was quite surprised that I offered to buy some, the ground roasted barley being known as Tsampa, considered a staple ingredient to many of those living in the mountainous regions and outlying areas, oftentimes being mixed with parched corn. The intermediaries who dealt with the affair seemed rather tentative to approach the man because the grain was more essential to his family's needs than the money that was eventually paid for it.  Nevertheless I found myself with a rather large plastic bag full of the mix, which had the most fragrant and pleasing odor.  It was perhaps this mix of Tsampa and parched corn that made me feel closer to anything Nepalese or Himalayan during the whole extent of our trip, but many would be befuddled by how bland and unattractive the taste actually i…

Nepalese Notebook: September 22nd, 2014

September 22nd, 2014 Goa Valley 2515m.

Beautiful morning in Bhimtang; the Dudh Khola begins its descent here as a clear and shallow stream with a bed of white glacial sand, almost surreal.  There are three or four glaciers to the north, the Salpudanda being the one which we came down along side of yesterday; above these sits the Himlung (7126m.)  To the east is the Manaslu (8163m.) but hidden, and to the south is the majestic Phungi Himal (6538m.)  We left Bhimtang reluctantly, looking up to the left and right, but mostly looking back, not because of any special feeling we had experienced, but because the highest part of the Himalayas was now behind us, physically and mentally.  Everything was downhill, the eternal snows would become less conspicuous, the landscape less alpine, and the feeling that links one to something unique in his experience merely a vague and undetermined memory.  No one really believes anything that can be said about such places anyway; perhaps in reality for the …

Nepalese Notebook: September 21st, 2014

September 21st, 2014
Bhimtang 3800m. by Larkya La Pass 5160m.
You close the metal door of your stone hut in blank wet darkness; a few hours later you wake in darkness again, but the door opens on a vast expanse of stars and the horned moon descending to the peaks of the mountains.  Space and the all-encompassing universe feel not so far away; the difference is realization.  The weather had calmed, no wind was blowing, and the silence of morning and breakfast began ringing in the dinner hall.  The keeper was there, no worse for the wear, and all were speaking of the fine day with eagerness and angst.


We left at dawn, and by the time we reached the moraine of Larkya Glacier, where there rested a beautiful jade-like pool of absolutely still water, the sun was shining brilliantly on the high summits.  The snow that had fallen the night before brought the good fortune this morning of showing us the tracks of a snow leopard which had followed our trail until just after the pass, leaving its …

Nepalese Notebook: September 20th, 2014

September 20th, 2014

Dharamsala 4460m.

Clouds and rain; cold and rough all day.  Life is very rudimentary here, the lodgings as well.  The Budi Gadanki, the river that we have followed for a week and a half now, passes us by as a small stream in the far-off expanse, something one would not easily recognize, nor give any importance to, had they not seen it swirling past them in Arughat.  Though we could see it become smaller and more rapid each day, it did not seem that it would actually disappear into the ground, or begin falling from a glacier, apart of the glacier itself even, and of the snow last night--but that's what seems to be the source of all things: there but not there.  It is hard enough to rectify this sentiment throughout the long chain of events we live, and whether it is because of the high opinion of ourselves or the low opinion we have of the things around us, the movement is never really close to what we expect its nature to be.  Now that the river is but a small s…

Nepalese Notebook: September 19th, 2014

September 19th, 2014

Samdo 3875m.

Yesterday was a rest day.  We took a short side-trip to Birendra Tal, a glacial lake on the trail up to Manaslu Base Camp.  On our way there we passed a Gumpa where  an old lady was drying yak meat on a blanket near the door.  Inside was a statue of Guru Rinpoche, the man who brought Buddhism to Tibet in the 8th century, perhaps along the same trails we are on now.  There was also another young woman who had a child that was crying hysterically--only later did we find out it was because of our presence.  Near the lake we had a marvelous view of the glacier higher up and could hear the cracking and grinding movements of the ice.  All around us were mountains of up to 8000 meters and the silence was so profound that between the few words we exchanged with our companion, the sound of avalanches echoed throughout the valley.
Short walk today; the altitude tires one quickly.  Samdo is perched on an eminence above Larkya Bazar, a place where a seasonal Tibetan…