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April 18-20: Trekking (Himalyas)

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Picture Above:  The climb up to the top of the ridge is about 3000 feet.  These old 1950’s Landrovers are the only vehicles that can make it and take supplies

Since the mountain wasn’t “coming to us,” we decided we’d “go to the mountain,” by signing up with a trekking company.  We chose a trek that took you up to a ridgeline, where we were hoping for a better view. The trip would take us to the top in one day, where we would spend the night at a hut, and then come back down on the second day. We were told that this was in a different valley and might have clearer weather. We took off on a misty morning, hoping for the best, but knowing that, even if the skies didn’t clear, it would be nice to be out in the mountains and countryside.  Our drive to the trailhead was pea-soup fog most of the way – not an auspicious beginning. After a lunch of Tibetan “mo-mos” (dumplings), we headed up, and UP and UP. The trail was straight up for the first two and a half miles. When it started raining, I wasn’t sure we’d make it. We had rain jackets, but we were still soaked (just pants). I was picturing getting to the top (still 4 miles to go), and being cold and hungry and staying in a cold, dark hut.

Several hours later, we were so surprised  to come into a warm fire and a dinner started that smelled wonderful! There was a small “village” (2-3 houses) at the top that offered lodging to trekkers. We all had a great time that evening around the fire in the eating area, or around the cook stoves in the kitchen area, talking with other trekkers and experimenting with millet beer and rhododendron wine.  In the small-world category, we met another trekker was from Seattle, and knew my home town of Poulsbo. As we got talking, I detected a Midwestern accent, and asked her about it. She was originally from Rockford, MI – the little Michigan town that Tim and his brothers called home when their parents were still in Pakistan! It’s the second time something like that has happened on this trip. Weird.We all enjoyed shooting the breeze with other travelers there, and I think Josh was relieved to hear that other travelers had some of the same frustrations with India that he did. Annika was just happy to play with the puppies and Tasha curled up in a quilt with her book. It was all a much better ending to the day than we pictured when we were huddled under some trees during the downpours earlier in the day!

The next morning, we got up at sunrise and lo and behold, we could see the mountains! They weren’t super clear, but we could at least see that they were there. The hike down that day was sunny and beautiful. The landscape looked like what I would picture in Scotland or northern England. 

Below Picture:  Many tourists take treks along this ridge up to 6 days. 

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The whole way up we  were in this thick fog.  The first two miles were straight up (60-70% elevation) and climbed about 1000 feet or more.  The fog was incredibly thick as the next pictures show.

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Little huts are stationed 2-3 times up the route for tea and cracker breaks.  This is the kitchen area of a typical local mountain persons hut. 

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It looks bright only because of the flash.  Even this high up the homes have TV.

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We needed to try the local Yak cheese.

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Our rain jackets that we have been carrying around in the heat for 3 months finally came into use.  It did start raining among the fog.  The legs of our pants were soaking wet – Tasha and Annika had to try and find more reserve in them to keep going, and they did.

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A couple of groups were with us on the trek up.  Everyone was getting a little tired and cold and we finally came to this military outpose on the boarder with Nepal.  A welcome sight.  We warmed up in the hut with tea and soup.

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We didn’t know it but we crossed over into Nepal.  Another country in our feather of countries traveled.

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A Buddhist shrine

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Heading out of the village to the ridge line

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At the top of the ridge, this family runs a guest house for trekkers.  We are all (including other groups) sitting around the kitchen warming up, talking, drinking tea etc. 

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It is a small world.  The lady to my right is from Seattle (where Natalie grew up), but she was born and raised in Rockford, Michigan were Tim’s relatives and his Mom grew up.  That town was kind of put back on the map due to his Uncle’s business/tourist development projects and she went to school with cousins of Tim’s. 

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The guides said I had to try the local beer, millet beer.  It is some kind of wheat.  You put hot water in it, let it soak, then drink from the straw.  I am not much of a beer drinking person so cannot explain what the taste was like.  It seemed more like a wine. The red nose if from the windy, rainy conditions, not the beer?!

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After soup and bread we thought that was good and figured that was all.  No.  The lady of the house served us a 5 course meal and even desert.  Not what we expected, but the owners were great.  Incredible service including hot water bottles at night to help with the cold.

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The area had been socked in for weeks.  Other trekkers had not seen any of the Himilayas.  Everyone was praying for sunshine and good weather, or at least clear for a little to see the mountains.  We woke up at 5:30am and were told it was sunny and clear so better get up and see the mountains.  Hallelujah!!  This was the guest lodge we stayed at, high up on the ridge about 10,000 feet.

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They provided hot water for washing in the morning. They really took care of the trekkers.

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These pictures are out of context.  They were meant to be at the end of the blog; just family fun shots.  However, once you start loading you can’t put pictures back in at a different place. 

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Okay, back to appropriate sequence.  5:30am we walked up a small hill.  Sunrise looking back at the lodge location.

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This is the typical view from the ridge.  That is the 3rd highest mountain in the world, Kachajuna.

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This is what we got.  Not crispy clear, but hey, we saw it.  The kids got the idea of the Himalayan mountain range.

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Hiking to the top. 

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Annika scarmbling to the top (my mountain goat) and using the binoculars to see the mountain.

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There it was.

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Hiking back down shots just to show the hillside.

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Indian army patrol – we are on the boarder with Nepal and the Moaists have been causing trouble.

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For the teenager, a 5:30am rise with a 6 hour walk just doesn’t cut it.  I do think he enjoyed the experience in some manner.

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