Trek – Part Three

Gillian Holdsworth’s Trans-Nepal Trek Diary

Part Three: 9th – 16th September

Sunday, 9th September

Crossed Rara Lake in a canoe (of sorts!) this morning and then started climbing through pine forests and alpine meadows where sheep and cattle were grazing.

As we climbed higher we walked through forests of rhododendrons, azaleas (sun Patti) and silver birch. The bark of this silver birch is used by mountain people as paper.

We crossed the pass at 3,984 metres and saw the aeroplane flying into Mugu below us!

Spectacular views of the Kanti Himal range to the north and Lake Rara to the west. Continued along a ridge heading east – lots of edelweiss and gentian growing here. Finally, descended through a beautiful valley to the village of Bulbuli in the Jumla district where we stayed overnight – a beautiful day!

Monday, 10th September

Another fantastic walk!

We dropped down through a narrow shaded valley full of wild flowers to the village of Chauth.

We passed water-driven mills where women were milling wheat. The district of Jumla seems more organised and affluent. Another big apple growing area and we had many debates with local people as to which apples are the most delicious, Humla, Mugu or Jumla apples!

After lunch by the Tila river, we climbed up to the Dafé Lekhj and camped for the night. We were joined by a train of 30 horses carrying cement from Jumla to Mugu for the construction of a drinking water supply.

Tuesday, 11th September

Dropped down from Dafé Lekhj (3,650 metres) to Jumla (2,449 metres).

Walked with an elderly lady who stopped to clean her gold ear-rings with a tooth brush before heading to town! I wondered if I should follow suit.

Jumla is a large hill town and the zonal centre of Kanali zone. There is a fair weather rod which is currently closed because of landslides.

There is a hospital, army barracks and airport. A river flows through the two centre with willows growing on the banks. There are two important Hindu temples here – Bhairbab and Chandarnath. Chandarnath boasts an ash covered yogi.

Wednesday, 12th September

Siobhan arrived from Nepalgung with too many bags and Toblerone which had melted in the heat! However, we are still waiting for more staff and unlikely to leave today. Gamba took us on a “city tour” and we saw an ox, apparently too scared to cross the bridge over the Tila river, try and swim across. He did finally make it but it was touch and go as he was badly buffeted through the rapids.

Thursday, 13th September

Left Jumla en route to Dolpa. We walked east, up the Tila river where we became involved in the funeral of an elderly lady from a nearby village who had died during the night. After her body was finally on the funeral pyre we were asked to join the village mourning period of thirteen days. This apparently meant that we would have to eat in this village for the next thirteen days as we had attended the funeral! We apologied and continued on our way! We passed many trains of mules being taken to Dolpa for sale. This is because the road to Jumla is nearly open and mules will apparently become obsolete. They hope to sell each animal for approximately £600 – we wondered if they might buy a jeep with the proceeds!

Friday, 14th September

We walked through a series of interconnected river valleys – absolutely stunning!

We stopped at a police post in Munisangu. The head policeman showed us his collection of yasogomba – the secret to eternal youth apparently!

Yasogomba is the Nepalese equivalent of a truffle, found above 5,000 metres. It is half insect, half fungus and fetches £10,000 per kilo in China!

He kindly gave us some yasogomba and we drank it in hot milk in the evening (apparently the best method of preparation) – the youthful effect is not instantaneous!

Saturday, 15th September

Today we climbed out of Jumla, crossing the Muri pass (3,850 metres) and descended into Dolp district. We stopped for lunch in a pine forest where we met an Australian and his two porters en route to Mount Saipal in Humla. He didn’t think I would make Taplejung by 17th November! We continued through forests of Himalayan oak on a beautiful winding pass, dropping down to 3,000 metres in the village of Rimi where we camped at the local school. All night long we were treated to a canine chorus which didn’t induce sleep!

Sunday, 16th September

Left Rimi school en route for Kagmara La (5,115 metres). We walked steadily up the Bheri river valley passing through a number of villages. The people in this valley describe themselves a Lama Chetri and practice both the Hindu and Buddhist faiths. Finally, stopped for lunch on the Jagdula river, having crossed into the Dolpo National Park. We had a porter revolution on our hands – they were deeply unimpressed by our late lunch at 2.30 p.m. and the path ahead appeared bleak – no water and no camping sites. However, an unlucky goat which had apparently fallen off the side of the mountain and was subsequently butchered by three men heading down the valley, proved our redemption! We bought four legs, the back and half the ribs for a meat dinner and Gamba, who is blessed with an extraordinary charisma which allows him to turn a crisis into comfort and almost luxury, discovered an unexpected camp site which required “excavating” as it was on an angle but had no dogs! Everyone was happy and Gamba explained to the porters that sometimes “in order to see the rainbow you have to put up with the rain”!