Thursday 27th April
Trek Day 4
Magingoth - Phedi
An easy day that isn't!
Barcelona has beaten AC Milan, over the two legs of the Champions'
League semi-final, so it will be Arsenal v Barcelona in the final!
I can't believe how Arsenal has done so well in Europe after what
has been a pretty poor domestic season for us. I'm well proud of
This morning we have a later start and don't get away until twenty
to eight. We climb gently through more mysterious Rhododendron forests.
Now there are patches of snow around, but I'm able to walk in shorts
and a thin short-sleeved shirt, and still remain warm enough. Through
the trees, there are breathtaking views of the mountains. It's a
magical morning, and I can sense that we've left the lower hills
behind and are now entering the real mountains.
dog is still with us. We've named him Khukri, after the famous Ghurkha
Knife. There was a Scandinavian couple staying at the lodge last
night, and we chatted briefly. They are dressed in woolen clothing.
I guess it must be stuff that they picked up in Kathmandu. They
don't seem to have any modern mountain gear, and even their shoes
seem a bit inadequate for the higher altitudes that we are heading
for. I seem to remember that we did the same on our first trek.
We did have boots but they were uncomfortable so we soon switched
to trainers; which performed quite well. I seem to remember that
we did hire some down jackets, and trousers though, and didn't rely
solely on woolly jumpers.
As we sit down to have a rest beside the path at 3,500m, we are
passed by a small group of trekkers going down. They don't stop
and seem to be in a hurry. After one and a half hours walking from
Magingoth, mainly through a thin layer of snow, we reach Tharepati,
a collection of stone-built tea-houses on a broad col at around
seems to be a crossroads, with tracks leading off in several directions.
We can now see clearly across to the pass that we'll be crossing
tomorrow. It looks pretty steep, and is completely covered in snow.
We can see a high trail contouring round the valley to the pass,
but it turns out that it's a difficult route, and we'll be taking
a lower path which we can only just make out because it's partially
in the forest. It looks like it should be quite easy because it's
a contouring path with very little height gain between here and
Phedi, our destination.
We decide to stop for a break at Tharepati, to admire the views
and have a drink. A small but convenient cloud drifts along the
mountainside across the valley just to the left of the pass. Nurbu
uses it to help us locate the site where a Thai Airways Airbus crashed
in 1988. It seems terrible that such a tragic, violent accident
could occur in such a beautiful place.
set off again and the snow gets deeper. We are in another thick
Rhododendron forest, and the path becomes rocky. This is glacial
moraine, and we have to concentrate hard on our steps, to avoid
twisting an ankle. After another hour walking, we round a bend,
and find the kitchen installed by a stream in a small gulley. It's
a beautiful location, but the path is quite narrow and there isn't
much room for anyone to pass. Fortunately, the route isn't that
busy and only the Finnish couple pass by.
It's so warm that I consider doing some laundry. Luckily I decide
against it, because the clouds come in, and we are soon surrounded
in mist. We finish our lunch quickly and get walking before we get
too cold. After thirty minutes we reach Gopte where there's a camping
ground, and a couple of tea-houses. We decide to press on to keep
now on, what appeared from a distance to be an easy day's trek has
become much more taxing. The path is constantly either descending
into, or climbing out of, deep valleys full of snow. It is slippery,
so we have to take extra care on the descents, and because we are
now at a higher altitude, the climbs have us puffing and blowing.
We have to cross many sections where the snow has avalanched, and
several times we are up to our waists in snow. Some of the slides
look a bit unstable to me, but we just grit our teeth, cross our
fingers, and hurry across.
After seven and a half hours walking, we finally approach Phedi.
It starts to rain a bit, and this then turns to snow. The last few
hundred metres of narrow path before Phedi is quite steep, and perched
precariously above the raging river below. I think we'd normally
be a bit scared here, but we're too tired for that, and just press
on without thinking too much about the consequences of a slip.
We dash up the final steep climb to the huts at Phedi just as
the snow turns to a heavy hailstorm. Just in time we duck into one
of the dark and dingy huts, closely followed by Khukri. Phedi looks
remarkably like many of the other Phedis that we've passed through
over the years. There is a collection of unattractive stone huts
and a strong smell from the wood burning inside. It's a pretty desolate
looking place, maybe more so due to the current weather conditions.
we shelter inside, we find the lodge owner lying to one side on
his bed. He's sick and after a few questions we discover that he's
been feeling sick all day. Liz offers him some pain killers. It
looks to me that he's suffering from an overdose of alcohol from
the night before. (We find out later that this was the case.) In
the meantime, his son is in charge. He's doing his best, but he's
very young, and the whole show is pretty chaotic. Our kitchen boys
have taken over the fire, and soon have a brew on.
The Israeli brothers, have been in front of us all day. We caught
sight of them at another lodge situated about ten minutes climb
further up on the moraine. The Finnish couple have arrived and join
us sheltering inside the hut. After a while, they move to an adjacent
building where the sleeping accommodation is. I hope they've enough
warm clothes. It looks like it is going to be cold and damp night
in this Phedi. They invariably are.
Our dining and sleeping tents have been erected on a couple of
flat spots above the lodge, and we make our way there; happy to
leave the smoky hut behind. The cramped camping area is pretty filthy,
with the detritus of many previous visitors, scattered around. There
are the inevitable foil wrappings from medications, and some discarded
syringes, in amongst tin cans, and plastic bottles. We don't have
big appetites this evening, so we elect to just have some noodle
soup instead of letting the kitchen staff cook a full meal that
would just be wasted on us. We are very tired, and want to get to
bed early after a tough day. We need to get some rest for the climb
tomorrow morning, when we'll go from here at 3,600m to the Laurebina
pass at 4,600m.
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© Roy L Richards 2012
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