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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 …
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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…

Nepalese Notebook: September 17th, 2014

September 17th, 2014

Samagaun 3550m.

Clear morning; Lho was as a spring day in the sunshine of the early hours, and everything that seemed untouchable yesterday was for a moment understandable, creating once more another aspect to our journey.  There was a strange feeling of confidence all around, and it seemed that wherever we were going that day, was indeed the one and only thing that mattered to anyone who crossed our path, and most importantly, to us.  Manaslu Himal (8165m.) and Manaslu North (7157m.), covered in the whitest snow, were visible for the first time, along with many other unknown peaks, showing us what our trail had yet to encounter, and proving still that we had much more to climb. We visited the Ribung Gompa on the way out of Lho, a Buddhist Monastery, and were greeted with hellos from the monks who were busy making repairs far away in another building up the hillside.  A young attendant monk waited on us and showed what buildings we could look into and explained thi…

Nepalese Notebook: September 16th, 2014

September 16th, 2014

Lho 3180m. 


Arrived in the buffer zone of Tibet.  The landscape has gone from jungle to high plateau in the matter of a week.  Aside from all this though, there is something more pervasive, it is as if we have crossed an invisible barrier and now the opposites that seemed so far apart--good and bad, rich and poor, beautiful and ugly, all those things perhaps which define our lives--have been gathered into one original intention, the place where all things start.  Maybe it was that the first breath, the first thought, or the first idea, came down from such high mountains.  It is difficult not to fall in to the feeling that something sacred is at work, but the contradictory nature of all things at this level of altitude, perhaps even at this level of moral judgment, is of far greater importance and exceeds any majority.
Temples have appeared out of the clouds; people come back from the higher altitudes looking dazed and enter in and out of the tea-houses without cere…