Trekking

Nothing could be easier.
Walk along a well signed, obvious path.
Ask a question if necessary.
Stop anywhere.
Be fed, housed.

Day two begins ... in Khudi at 1200m and ends 12k later at 1436m in Chamje
So good, so good. Last night as I'm snuggling into my sleeping bag, well, I'm giddy with pleasure. I giggle and would be boisterously silly if there were not so many people around. I was so happy. Bliss. I am awake with the lightening of the day. My room is pretty much open on the west side, where my head is. I roll over, put on my glasses and see the village. Stone houses, either thatched or with tin ... tin carried in by the porters or by ponies.
After breakfast I'm chatting with the manager. He'd heard of the Canadian farmer from my walking companion of the day before. Fun. My fame proceeds me. He'd also like a letter of support so he can come to Canada - a sponsor. He doesn't want to leave forever, just come and make a stake, then back and have his own guest house. Right now he manages someone else's property. "In twenty years we've radically changed everything." he says. It seems everyone along the way is now dependent on our money, at least to a certain extent.
The path this morning is gentle down along the river. I am soaring with my spirits. I stop at a tea house and have fun with grandma and her just-been-crying grand daughter. Some people I can have a bit of a human interaction with, most though .... I think about how I feel when a car slows down along my own back road. I don't like it I feel invaded, hostile. How do these folks feel as we traipse through their lives? The wide road has become a path, or a cobbled lane. I'm not out in a vast field, their stoop, their home and life, is right here in the path!
A woman just walked past with a load of firewood. The cord that binds her load is fancy climbing rope. The climber and trekker cast offs are everywhere. We cloth them in our charity. All loads are carried with a trump line - a rope that comes across the brow. The back is really bent, maybe 45 degrees. I'm wondering what is the best way for the human body to carry a load. We all have bags with belts which help bring the load down onto our hips. In India the loads are carried straight down the spinal column by carrying stuff on the head.
This morning I was thinking about Besishahar where the walking began. A complete town, 5000 bustling people. Along the street are jewelers, watch repair shops, restaurants, and strings of ponies. Everything you'd expect to find. The gateway to the hills. Here it goes either on a horse or on a person's back. Most strings of ponies are a dozen or more. They cost half as much per kilo as a porter. They seem to carry different types of loads though. The horses have large containers of oil or kerosene, and sacks of grain. The porters have windows incased in wood and straw, a towering package of mattresses. Some have a mishmash of stuff belonging to an individual. The lucky few have a trekker's gear. And there is a healthy percentage (1/3 ?) of my peers who choose not to pack their pack.
All day I've met couples, trios, groups, coming down the trail. They've gone up a week and met more snow than they care to deal with. Some have been within a day of the pass. They have stories to tell. Pleasantly, they have suggestions as well ... where to get a good meal, where to stay. The consensus seems to be that if the temperature stays up, and it doesn't snow any more by the time I get to the pass, in say 8 days, then it should be no problem. Of course that is exactly what I want to hear.
In Pokhara their was an atmosphere of fear. If a young man learned I'd go alone, well, the trouble I'd face ... thieves, killing, stealing, weather, trails. Simply, I'd be writing off my life. One man put it plainly, "A guide for three weeks was a small price for my life." How stupid! And yet I'd no idea what to expect. The pass was said to be closed, and Aussie friends told of a man who took 27 hours to go over the pass, had to sleep in some cow shed, toes had frozen. It was all very "nip and tuck". The story, and the hero, had made it to Katmandu and the tale now well known. And yet, the reality is, nothing could be easier. Walk along a well signed, obvious path. Ask a question if necessary. Stop anywhere. Be fed, housed. My only concern is my right baby toe and the shoe it is unhappy with. Really, not much.
After tea this morning I pass a fall. Not very much water, yet beautiful. The water forms a veil over the rocks. Ferns, and other happy vibrant green, crowd in on the sides. Fields with newly planted corn are below me. The sun is shining on the other side of the river. Ahead of me tower snow covered peaks. I'm walking straight for them. How deliciously close will I get before the river and I take a turn? Every day this fall sees streams of trekkers, strings of ponies, porters, groups of women, children running to school, locals going and coming. And one young man, a young porter, a trekker's bag on, a day bag slung carelessly over an arm, he has on blue flip flops and he is running. He is bounding like a dear through the first bit of sun to shine today. It is a good day ... nay, it is a better day.
Everyone who has been to India and Nepal always tell me how much nicer it is in Nepal ... the people so friendly, hassles minimized, and so on. "Visit India first" they say, "or the shocks will be too much." And I've been thinking about this. What I've thought is that people should say that "Nepal is easy." EASY. And it is. Show up at the bus station, a few people will take you to your bus. Show up at a restaurant, they have a menu printed in English and most of the items your mom could cook. They have the beer you like, the pop you know, and the candy bar you need. Easy! Nice for an evening, but after that ... I like a bit more resistance. Let's make it interesting. The food could be different, the shower a cultural experience. That is what I've been thinking.
Music is a wonderful thing, a beautiful form of communication. A German is playing a guitar a local lad brought over for him. He plays some Dylan, Neil Young, he learned a Nepali song, and now I think he is singing a Peter, Paul, and Mary song, in German. It doesn't matter. Everyone sits around, pleased and comfortable. We all have that place where music resonates. Around midday I am at a beautiful bend in the river. There are some fields, a tree, stones piled around the tree for a porter to rest his load on ... a porter doesn't go more than a few hundred yards before he has a rest. I have my little recorder and am playing along with the wind. A young boy stops, a cattle herder. He plays, wonderfully, for a while. Perfect.
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