Wednesday 26th April 2006
Trek Day 3
Kutumsang to Magingoth
How are we feeling? Well it's just great to be back in Nepal, and
we're lapping up the whole trekking experience. We both love every
minute, and so far we are both well. No stomach upsets, no headaches,
no sore shoulders or sore feet, although now and again we do feel
the effects of the long days and long climbs. The trek hasn't been
too difficult but it hasn't been easy either, and there have been
quite a few long and steep uphill sections. We've fallen into the
routine of having early nights and early starts, and that has suited
us both. Generally we've been sleeping well, although I didn't sleep
well last night because it started raining heavily, and I was worried
that the tent would leak. The rain developed into a full blown thunderstorm
but fortunately the tent kept us dry.
weather is brighter this morning. My morning is brighter too, because
my football team, Arsenal, have held Villarreal to a 0-0 draw and
have thus made it into the Champion's League Final! By all accounts
they've been lucky and Jens Lehman, our goalkeeper, even saved a
penalty, to maintain our record number of clean-sheets.
Our evening meal last night was a Nepali Pizza. This is an interesting
variation of the Italian favourite, consisting of a chapatti-like
base, piled high with chopped vegetables, and topped off with yak's
cheese. This trekking meal is sometimes a bit of a disappointment,
because cooking a pizza on a kerosene stove is no easy task, and
it usually results in a soggy base with the vegetable mass cold
in the middle. This one was wonderful though. The base was thick
and crispy, and the vegetables were warm through, and incredibly
tasty. The accompaniment was a pot of potato patties which were
nice and spicy with added garlic and chili. We usually spend the
whole trek trying to persuade the cook that we really do like hot
and spicy food; usually without success. This time it seems that
they believe us.
My washing didn't dry before nightfall and when I brought it in
to the tent, it was covered in pea-sized black beetles. There were
literally dozens of them on my shirt; up the sleeves, and in the
pockets. Some were even celebrating by copulating!
Now the morning turns a little cloudy but the sun breaks through
occasionally. The birds are really active this morning. Last night
we saw a Bonnelli's eagle and this morning we see one of the beautiful
magpie's that you get at this altitude.
The trail starts off up a steep muddy path through the woods,
where we find some orchids, and what looks like a pitcher plant.
It then passes through a couple of clearings with teahouses before
levelling off on a ridge and descending slightly to Kutumsang, where
we catch up with the other trekkers who are having their usual late
start. With our early rising we've been starting at seven, whereas
the others seem to be starting around nine. I think we deserve a
rest and a drink, so we sit on the lodge's first floor patio which
is devoid of railings. Bamboo is growing along the path outside.
This morning, we've passed a few trekkers going in the opposite
direction to us.
it's a long climb to our lunch stop at 2950m. We pass the ruins
of a police post which was destroyed by the Maoists. We climb up
a steep rocky path through a Rhododendron forest. The trees are
bedecked in thick moss making the forest look quite eerie. There
are some more orchids here, and many birds, which are just too hard
to identify in amongst the dense forest. There is slight rain, and
we decide to put on our ponchos in case it gets heavier. This is
the first time we've had to walk in the rain. Before long, we come
to a clearing with the predictable teahouse which turns out to be
the site of our lunch stop. Our adopted dog is here, having chosen
to travel with the kitchen staff today, because they were the ones
who fed him last night. The Rhododendrons have changed here, and
the flowers are yellow and pale pink compared to the deep red ones
that we saw lower down.
When given the choice, I make the decision to have our lunch inside
the lodge dining room instead of on the lawn, knowing that Liz will
probably have preferred to have it out on the lawn. However it looks
like rain again, and it's getting colder. I'm wrong on two counts.
Liz doesn't object to dining indoors, and it doesn't rain! No it
doesn't rain but instead we have a tremendous hailstorm! The two
Israeli guys, Ohren and Ehrez, who it turns out, are brothers, stop
for a quick drink of coke, but end up staying for lunch, because
of the storm. The building we are in has a tin roof and the noise
of the hailstones hitting it is deafening.
Trekking cooks are very important people. If you get a bad one
then you aren't going to have a very pleasant trek. As the days
wear on and the altitude increases, your appetite varies. The higher
you get the more you crave tasty food; the tastier, the better.
We enjoy spicy food with plenty of garlic and chili. Chotti, our
cook is proving to be very good at stimulating our appetites. This
lunchtime he's rustled up some boiled potatoes in tomato sauce with
beans in curry and chili. There's also the usual Yak's cheese, chapattis
and tinned fruit salad. It's all very good, and amazing considering
the conditions under which they have to prepare it.
The storm subsides and we start the next part of our climb from
2500m to 3300m. Just like this morning, we are again walking through
Rhododendron forests, only now, many of the flowers have been beaten
from the branches by the hailstorm and the path is a mass of petals.
It is a magical sight.
path becomes steeper again and we reach a small pass at 3300m. Of
course there is the inevitable cosy teahouse, and we need no encouragement
to take a break. It is just as well that we didn't push on, because
as soon as we are inside it starts to pelt down with rain which
makes the dining room, with its central wood-burning stove, even
more cosy and inviting. The lady in the teahouse has a couple of
small dogs. Our dog must be really hungry because he decides to
try and catch one of them. Fortunately he fails. The Israeli brothers
plan to push on a bit further for tonight's stay, so leave before
us, but we order another bottle of beer and wait for the rain to
stop before walking the last fifteen minutes to our camping ground
at Magingoth. All around the room are hanging woolen knitted items
for sale. There are hats, glove, socks, bags and jumpers, all in
chunky knit brightly coloured wool. Even while she is serving us
the lady of the house is knitting away.
The rain stops, and we pry ourselves away from the warm dining
room to descend to Magingoth at 3240m, where according to the sign,
you can have "GOOD=FOOD" and "BIRD SHEE"! Our
cook can use the kitchen here, and we can occupy the dining room
which is rather nice, because both have wood burning stoves which
seem to be standard in these parts. After another epic dinner of
momos, and spicy sauce, we turn in early. We've had a long hard
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