My trek to the highest lake in the world, Tilicho Lake, has been successful so far and continues to bring new adventure everyday in the Annapurna Region of the Himalayas. I have made some great Nepali friends in the short time I’ve been in this country and my recent trekking journey began with one of my Nepali brothers, Parash, his brother Numbish and their uncle Suraj. The weather is getting colder and none of the guys are serious trekkers so we took it slow. We ggot dropped off in chaos of the ‘bussing area of Kathmandu where the guys told me to hang back since my white face would only cost them more to travel! They ended up getting us our 7 hour bus ride from Kathmandu to Besishara for $5.00. At one point we started in the back of the bus, then we switched buses in Dumre, where we got on top of the bus, after riding for just a bit we stopped for lunch at a local roadside stand for Dal Bhat (of course) then proceeded to get on top of the bus for another 1/2 hour until the the police indicated we had to get off of the roof. Due to the petro crisis they are being far more lenient on allowing people on the rooftops but in some areas it is just too dangerous. We were definetly climbing in elevation along the cliffs where I would rather be on top of the bus so I can jump off….I just heard of a public bus leaving Kathmandu that fell 100’s of meters and killed 70 people. It is risky traveling in the country by any means but especially up in the mountains where landslides and washouts are constantly changing the road locations.
We got into Besishara at 7:30 and walked around looking for a hotel Shree told us about which we never found. Shree is another Nepali ‘brother’ I’ve come to know in Bhaktapur while staying at his hotel, Bhaktapur Paradise Hotel, he also manages iTrek Nepal and New Hope Society which is the charity I have been working with. After walking the village streets in the dark and listening to these guys talk Nepali to everyone I just hung back and waited to hear where we were landing for the night. I have no doubt I am in good hands and the trip is going to be quite inexpensive because I am with locals who are negotiating everything down to the dollar ;) It cost us $1.50 to stay at the hotel – it was a common room but noone else was there. More dal bhat for dinner and we shared a few beers before heading to bed. From Besishara in the morning we proceeded to get into a jeep for more adventure up the winding, rocky, cliff side road. The jeep ride to Chame was quite the journey, taking over 8 hours and 3 people had to sit on all the bags in the back of the jeep facing the rear as we bounced our way up over 1500 meters of elevation getting stuck and having the kid jump off the back every 1/2 hour to ‘rebuild’ the road. It was nothing short of terrifying!
We saw some amazing waterfalls, a beautiful rainbow, sunlit valleys and never-ending landslides. A 35 yr old woman who also rode in the jeep with us was teaching at a school way up in a small village for the last 1.5 years. She has taken this jeep ride at least 8 times and flown over 4 times just to go back into civilization for a bit at a time. We dropped her off in this quaint little village.
The 8 hour jeep ride kept me bouncing all the way into my sleeping bag that night- it was bumpy as hell and have never been in such a dangerous road that long! In Chame we got 2 rooms and readied ourselves to finally hike to Hongde. Mainly road walking but will feel good to not be in a jeep and see some mountain landscapes!
After only a few hours of hiking toward Hongde the first day Parash’s brother opted to hitch a ride on the back of a motorcycle with the 2 backpacks the guys had and he waited for the remaining 3 of us to arrive later in the day. I continued to carry my pack and looked forward to the trek although it seemed my Nepali brothers were a bit more hesitant in their enthusiasm for hiking!
More amazing details to come as we conquered the trek to Lake Tilicho. I swam in a glacier lake just outside of Manang and continued to take on Thorung La Pass solo in the freezing temperatures at 5400 meters. I continue to feel safe and inspired to keep breathing in the fresh mountain air.
Sneak Peak at what’s to come…