Chame to Pisang to Manang:
Left Chame at 7:50, but not before enjoying a bowl of tsampa (buckwheat) porridge with apple. The portions of snow are gradually building up to a complete snow cover and it is getting deeper. At one point walking and falling into snow at least 3 feet deep.
Walked into Dhikur Kopari at 11:15 and had an early lunch of steamed veggie momos (dumplings) before setting off for today’s destination of Upper Pisang. The trail while through deep snow had been trod on by many and being packed it wasn’t too difficult to walk it.
Reaching Lower Pisang, I ascended up to Upper Pisang to Hotel Mt. Kailish. The manager, Maela, was friendly and sent me up a little higher in town to enjoy some fabulous views. While the snow is making the trekking more difficult the views are more spectacular than normal.
The dining room had a nice warm fire, and they served up one of the better dal bhats, with some fried potatoes and pickle.
Woke to a beautiful morning, and departed at 7:30 sticking to the low road due to the snow. Coming into Humde I inadvertently stepped into a puddle completely soaking my right foot boot. Normally I would be cursing to the moon but it was such a beautiful day I had to laugh.
Stopped at what looked like a brand new restaurant but it had no name or markings of any kind. The owner Bishnu was in kitchen with 2 older Tibetan looking sisters. This was a wonderful visit as the 3 women were as friendly as can be and her kitchen was spotlessly clean with a nice warm fire, and plenty of sun coming in through the unusually large window. The sisters gave Bishnu some little gifts and so I gave them each a piece of chocolate. Getting ready to leave, Bishnu filled my thermos with hot water without my asking. So I stayed and had a turmeric tea with her and her husband. Enjoyed watching him direct the melting snow water away from their entrance way.
Went on in tough snow, in a cheerful mood after a typically pleasant encounter with friendly Nepalis. Stopped in Mungii for sea buckthorn juice, a wonderfully delicious juice made from the highly nutritious sea buckthorn berry which is one of those superfoods packed with nutrition. It’s nice hot or cold. A German girl from yesterday’s lunch stopped in and sat by me and pointed out some burns on my upper arms from reflecting sun off the snow. You have to be really careful of the sun at these high altitudes especially when there is reflecting snow providing a double whammy.
The walk on to Manang ( 3,519 meters/11,545 feet ) was surprising as there was a bit less snow and more wet, muddy, ground. Views are spectacular with the heavy snow up high. A dog followed me for the last hour even coming into the hotel with me. Got room for 200R($1.90) with toilet. 100R for no toilet. Had some garlic soup. Talked in wonderfully warm sun room with American couple from Libertyville. Brad and Chris. Had a delicious veggie burger covered with yak cheese.
In Manang, it is highly recommended to take a rest day, so I did just that. Well lets call it an acclimatization day as it is better to walk up some and return. Walk high and sleep low as they say. There is an old monk up in a cave a good 425 meters up above Manang so I walked up the steep crossback trail to Praken Gompa (shrine) and the cave and sure enough the monk supposedly at least in his late 80’s gave me a blessing for the rest of my journey. He focused on the throat as I was experiencing deep congestion in the chest.
Back down in Manang, I went looking for crampons but there did not seem to be any left. Also took the time to visit the Himalayan Rescue Society, who offers a daily lecture on Mountain Sickness Prevention and Treatment. I also got some antibiotics for my deep throat and chest infection. They say that noone who has attended the class ever died from Altitude Sickness. That was good enough for me.
Walking back to Hotel Tilicho, another trekker mentioned to me that he heard Hotel Yeti had some crampons. Nobody was there but the guy in the coffee shop next door who was managing the Hotel, in the owners absence, helped me out. The crampons were 2500R, which was much higher than in Pokhara but I suppose high demand/no supply was the reason. The Manang people are known as shrewd businessmen.
When I balked at the 2500R he pulled out a funny looking, flimsier pair, which were only 1000R. I thought what the heck I just need them for 3 days so I opted for the cheaper ones.
Talked at dinner with Aussie couple, Brit and Nathan, who are shipping a car van to Antwerp and will travel and live out of it for a year or two. Sitting by the fire watching the snow fall most of the afternoon into the evening, I finished the wonderful book, “Touching My Father’s Soul: A Sherpa’s Journey to the Top of Everest.” It’s by Jamling Tenzing Norgay who is the son of Tenzing Norgay, who along with Edmund Hillary were the first two to peak Mt. Everest. I had read Jon Krakauer’s ‘Into Thin Air’ and ‘The Climb’ by Anatoli Boukreev, preferring the Russian’s volume. That said, I loved Norgay’s book getting the perspective of a Sherpa who lived in the shadow of the great mountain. The Sherpas revere Sagamartha as they call it with respect, reverence, and fear. They consider the mountain to be a god. It is a great way to get into the mind of the people of the Nepali Himalayans.