Day 13, Kagbeni to Marpha.
We arose early today – as we would for the next number of days – as we are now hiking down the Kali Gandaki Valley, which is situated between Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges, and as a result of the way the air flows between these ranges, winds end up howling up the valley around noon as the air warms. So we would be hiking early and ending early to avoid the worst of the winds, as this section would be rather more desert-like than the way up to the Thorung La, and the strong winds can pelt you with loose sand for hours – not very pleasant. We would be hiking down this valley eventually bottoming out in Tatipani at around 3,900 ft some 5 days from now, the lowest we will have been since the second day on the circuit. After Tatipani we will be turning in toward the Annapurna Sanctuary, although it would be a few days from there before actually entering the Sanctuary itself.
We had a good breakfast at our tea house, with one other couple from France who did not speak too much English so communication was tough. The tea house main room was rather dark – and cold – but this house had a fire burning in a grate under the lodge table we were seated at – with a thick tablecloth you could cover your legs with and trap the heat – it was really nice, although the room wasn’t necessarily that well ventilated so the engineer inside me was kind of prodding us to not dawdle at breakfast, as I wondering how much CO was building up in this room…
Despite my reservations, we survived breakfast (obviously), packed up our stuff and headed out. At the base of the stairs out of the tea house, as we stepped out onto the “street”, we were met with this:
That’s a herd of goats heading our way! There was a wall on either side as we came down the stairs, so it was a bit shock when we stepped out and had the herd bearing down on us quickly! The picture is a bit blurry because I took it as we were rapidly retreating down the the narrow lane, trying to stay ahead of the herd! We managed to survive the goat encounter 🙂 , but was a pretty unique start to the day!
Sky was much clearer this morning – nice view looking towards the restricted Mustang region.
Mandy hiking along the dry, gravelled riverbed that would sometimes be our trail for the next few days.
Broken sheep(?) horn in the riverbed
Someone planted new trees in the middle of the riverbed! Plus a nice backdrop.
Mandy, riverbed “road”, and mountains.
After a few hours we arrived in Jomsom. This town was hit pretty hard by the 2015 earthquake, but most infrastructure was intact. This is the end of the line for many trekkers, as this is the first town sporting an (albeit small) airport after the Thorung La pass, and many people will fly back to Pokhara after the crossing. As Mandy and I were doing the “full(ish)” circuit, we would be continuing on from here, and in fact were only halfway to “finished” at this point. But Jomsom is a bit of a “bigger” town (really not all that big though) and we were able to find a few more shops and items in town, and for the first time in days I actually had a cell signal (although it was 2G – Edge – so very limited usability, but enough for texting and simple – but very slow – web stuff). After stopping at the local trekking checkpoint with our permits we did a little light shopping – picking up some fresh fruit – mangos and bananas. Mandy was in love with the Mangos in Nepal from here on out, and tried to get one every day if she could. I don’t like bananas, but had one anyway, and here in Jomsom is where I discovered I actually like non-USA bananas – these bananas are smaller but have a different taste, and after this I frequently looked for bananas when we passed through villages (although I wasn’t as in love with them as much as Mandy was “bananas” for Mangos… sorry I couldn’t resist)
School wall on the way into Jomsom
This was the view out the window from the restaurant we stopped at for lunch…not bad.
After lunch, we took a longer route to Marpha, but one that bypassed most of the jeep road leaving Jomsom and passed by a large Gompa with nice views of the valley and mountains.
Along our alternate route to Marpha
Some pictures at the Gompa
Looking back towards Jomsom and the valley below
Zoomed in a little. Can see the airport runway on the left side just to the right of town.
Some artwork on the mountainside. May not look it, but that is really large – we were across the valley from this.
The jeep road was washed out as we approached Marphia. That’s a fast moving (suddenly new) river that’s taken out a like 15 foot section. That car is waiting trying to decide if to try crossing it. Not sure he ever did.
This higher clearance farm vehicle made it.
Someone had very conveniently put down a “bridge” for walkers :-). Keeping my balance in the windy conditions to avoid taking an unscheduled bath.
Marpha was a nice town that the jeep road bypassed (rather than passing through) – one of the main reasons it’s still a nicer town IMO. This town is famous for their apple brandy, and this region of Nepal famous for apples in general. Once we arrived in Marpha, we found a decent, mostly empty tea house. We had our share of rooms to choose from, the first one we picked had a broken toilet so we quietly moved to another room, only to discover later this one’s shower was broken. Since the original room we picked was still open, we used our ‘trekkers adaptability’ to take showers in that room before settling back into our new room. Food was really good at this tea house, but we lost power multiple times, and when I got up in the night to use the bathroom, discovered there was no running water now either. But still beats a tent!!!
Day 14 – Marphia to Larjung.
Me crossing a long metal bridge at the start of our day’s trek. Notice the wooden one still standing beside it.
Some apple trees looking down the long, slowly descending valley
Mandy on a ledge high above the river valley, where we are headed later today.
Back on the valley floor. Sort of a road, although looks like there’s a big chasm now in the usual path…
Our lunch break today. Studying the map and enjoying a (somewhat) cold beverage.
There wasn’t much to Larjung, and we settled into the Larjung Lodge at the south end of town. This was one of the nicer tea houses we stayed in, and their WiFi actually worked semi-decently (at many tea houses the WiFi is pretty much useless) – it might’ve helped that we (again) were the only guests staying here. Mandy had an awesome meal prepared here from the daughter of the owner, but she would discover tomorrow that the daughter was a much better cook than mom. But more on that tomorrow –
There was voting going on in Nepal around this time, so we can share some funny posters that were about in town(s):
No bribing voters with food?
No bribing voters with money. Pretty sure on this one…
No weapons at voting locations? Or no angry mobs? 🙂
No beating up the opposition?
Anyway, you can make up your own interpretations. Or learn Nepalese and tell us what they say.
Have to end with a mountain picture…because the last pic is what Facebook put up last time when posting – not sure that’s absolute but we’ll see… but anyway a nice pic to end on – enjoy –