Trek – Part Seven

Gillian Holdsworth’s Trans-Nepal Trek Diary

Part Seven: 15th – 18th October

Monday, 15th October

Walked from Dhunche (2030m) up to Lanabina (3900m). A beautiful walk through ancient pine and rhododendron forests where I saw two young deer (nilgar) on the path. We stopped halfway at Sing Gompa for lunch and some “seabuckthorn juice”. I had seen this advertised in the Manang valley but had not bee able to try it. It is produced from a small orange berry which grows on a thorny scrubby bush at about 4000 metres; in fact we had seen it growing in Dolpo. It is a very refreshing drink and worth the Rs.80 per cup we paid!

In Lanabina we stayed at the Mountain View hotel where we should have had stunning views of the Langtang and Ganesh Himal range, but alas there was low cloud. I asked for a discount on the bill as there was no mountain view – in jest!

Tuesday, 16th October

Continued up the mountain from Lanrabina to Gosainkund (4380m). Gosainkund has a small lake . It is sacred for Hindus and Shiva devotees who make a pilgrimage on teh day of Junai Purne to bathe in the waters.

There is a small island in the middle of the lake which is supposed to represent the head of Shiva. The lake is said to have been created by Lord Shiva when he pierced a glacier with his trident to quench his thirst after eating poison.

The story is that the water flows from the lake through a subterranean channel to the Kumbeshwar temple in Pathan, 60km to the South.

We arrived at 9a.m. and it stared to snow.

After a quick breakfast we attempted to cross the Pass (4610m) in the direction of Helambu.

The weather closed in and we were caught in strong winds, blizzard conditions and poor visibility forcing us to turn back.

We arrived back safely at 12.30pm and sat out the storm in the Hotel Peaceful View with a Canadian who spent the whole time complaining about the standard of the lodges. The temperature in my room that night never rose above freezing, so maybe he had a point!

Another group who attempted the crossing were not so lucky and didn’t make it to Gosainkund until 8.30 at night. It must have been terrifying for them.

Wednesday, 17th October

It stopped snowing last night and we decided to move with the other groups over the Pass. Less risk of getting lost! The owner of our lodge walked with us to cut a path through the snow in order to ensure we didn’t follow the tracks of the lost group who had arrived late last night.

We dropped down through snow fields with gentians dotting the path. The Tamang people who live in this area say you should never pick gentians as you climb but you should pick them on your descent as a “thank you” for a safe passage. So we picked some and left a small bunch on the chorten at Fedi.

After a lunch of boiled potatoes in Fedi we continued on a narrow path on a steep hillside. We went uphill and down a lot but never really changed altitude, passing through ancient rhodendron forests to the village of Tharepeti.

Thursday, 18th October

First clear morning for a number of days giving stupendous views of the Pass we crossed yesterday. It is still heavily snow covered as is the Langtang range to the north (Gauri Shanker and Dorje Lakpa).

We dropped steeply down to from Tharepati to Melemchigaon, a small Sherpa village which has benefitted significantly from the activities of “Community Action Nepal”, a charity started and supported by the mountaineer Doug Scott.

The whole of the upper Melemchi valley is Sherpa and in Melemchigaon at the Gompa they were preparing for three day festival. All of the men were making “torma” – representative statues made of maize flour and coloured with red dye. Torma play a key role in many Buddhist ceremonies before being consumed with lots of “chang” (barley beer) by the festival participants.

During the festival traditional masks will be worn with lots of singing and dancing. Unfortunately we will be unable to stay. We need to head down the valley to Kathmandu to pick up some cash and renew my visa. It seems my presence is required for a visa renewal and as it is the Desai holiday now I am not too sure how long this will take!