I'm dancing around the mountains!
| Day 7 ... 5k from Dugra Phudi (3700m) through Pisang (3200m) to Gyaru (3700m)
|| Things in the written dept will be disjointed. It has been cold lately, in the eating areas where there is a table it is too cold to hang out. We've had a couple of overcast days. Now though it is gorgeous. I've my back to the sun. There are mountains all around that are stunning. I've again been vacillating. Will I continue walking today or not. I like getting away from a group. I need more time. I need to stop being swept along. I've decided no, and I'll stay up on the roof, with the sun on my back. And why not, I want to write. Let us start with this morning. I am staying in a place called Dugra Phudi. It doesn't appear on the map, which is perfect.
|| I am laying in bed, in my sleeping bag, on the border of cold. It looks gray again. I have just gotten a look from the young man here ... an awful look! I'm excited about the prospect of laying in bed, reading, maybe float down into Pisang later in the day. No rush. The snow up above needs days to melt before anyone is going over. I'll get some water and check my shoes, abandoned by the stove. I step out of my room. Wham! Right up side the head. The day is clear - crystalline. Not a cloud in the sky. I'm surrounded by mountains I'd only guessed were there. I'm pretty much startled by the beauty. There is only one course to follow - the Upper Pisang Detour. Five minutes later I'm packed, paid up and moving along. The fact that I leave without at least a tea mystifies me.
|| I'm floating, floating along. The whole zone in white, and the sun is still behind an incredible shear of rock. I'm so happy. A little lake on my left. A tiny amount, a dusting, of snow over the last set of tracks ... tracks left by our cook at 8pm after he fed me. His tracks lead me into town. I let out a yell, just so the beauty knows I'm here and that I'm part of it. The walking is easy. Enough snow for a bit of traction. Yesterday the trail became snow packed and slippery ... the going slow and precarious. We all took spills though for me the snow is an old friend, a friend I welcome by tipping my head back to catch snow flakes, by taking detours under pines and snow on pine carpets. An Aussie was scarred ... for him the environment had become hostile.
|| So, I'm happily walking along, thinking that I'm in paradise and it can't get any better. The mountains are serious and beautiful and stark against the sky. And the sky. A blue sky. But which blue. At any one time there are so many blues in the sky. Almost white if you squint up at the sun. The deepest blue seems to be up there above me. Lighter in the valleys and near the horizon. But there is no horizon. There are only peaks. From here I can see five or six peaks over 7000m. I can see Annapurna II, III, and IV, and two and four are over 8000m. That is a high hill, and amazingly it is right over there. I feel I can touch them. And they rise up fast . Nobody is going to ascend those hills from this north side. They are blue white black brown green, they are snow, glacier and rock. They are magnificent. The tops, if you watch, give off swirling clouds of snow ... wisps of white rising up into the air.
|| I'm dancing around the mountains! I am completely blessed out. I'm in a stone village called Gyaru. I've just ascended 500m from the bigger village of Pisang. Wow.
Day 8 ... 15k from Gyaru at 3700m, down to Upper Pisang at 3400m and on to Manang at 3606m
| I'm up and off from the high village. I drop down 300 meters and walk along a wide valley. The landscape has changed again. I feel as if I am moving through high desert. The vegetation is really sparse, with gnarled pines and what I figure are cedar, and much stuff with spines that keep browsers and trekkers at bay. The ground is soggy sand/clay. It sticks to my shoes and has me hunting for higher ground and rocks. There are still little snow drifts on the north side of trees. Much of the landscape is a series of wind eroded hoodoos, arcs and pinnacles of rock jut out and up ... all evidencing the scouring, waving treatment. Caverns exist in the walls. Everything is a dirty yellow colour. I see no one, and finally reach the flat valley and a joyful walk.
|| Some kids I happen along, join me in throwing rocks at the dog which has attached itself to me. Nice enough dog. He sat and listened as I played the recorder but it was time for him to go back to his village. He didn't think so.
|| I attend a talk on Acute Mountain Sickness at the health clinic. People die every year up here because of it. It was a good talk. Now I know its good that I pee all the time ... a sign my body is acclimatizing and balancing the pH. Anyway, come out of the talk and look down the valley ... well there aren't any other views. A huge wall of black is coming up to get us. You can sense the collective "Oh No!" Pleasantly it left a dusting of white, which never even stayed on the ground.
|| While the storm was blowing up, Kim, the Aussie doc, and I went to look at a near glacial fed lake. The glacier I can see. It climbs up the space between two huge mountains. It is almost vertical. The lake it feeds is frozen, but along the shore, and in a couple of other places, we can see through. Turquoise and emerald. Lighter here, darker there. Wild. Right at the end of the lake a tea house is under construction. The buildings are going up everywhere. Two or three new ones here, and a couple of yards stockpiled with materials ... beams, planks, cut stone. Yet, the number of trekkers has not increased over the last few years. You wonder what will happen. Kim and his wife have just come from the Everest Trek. There, he says, you can see some benefits. Along the route the people are better dressed, they have local environmental schemes on the go, they are replanting the trees.
|| Tonight I take a break from dahl baht and have lasagna. The altitude has not affected my appetite. The lasagna was nice, but not substantial enough. That is the benefit of the staple ... they just keep bringing it.
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