Trekking from Kathmandu to Tibet V
Escaping the Dark Mist
Morning at Lama Hotel held the hope of a fresh beginning after my dramatic escapades of the previous evening. There is such a gratefulness & joy for little things in life after you’ve escaped the big things that can go wrong.
We had alot of walking and climbing ahead of us and were eager to experience our first glimpse of the snow capped peaks. The trail grew more rocky now as we started to climb above the tree line.
Now the valley opened wide to reveal a pasture filled with Yaks. Yes, yaks affectionate looking big hairy cows. They were high altitude beast and could only live comfortably around 10,000 feet.
Showers had not been possible in the cramped Guest Houses with no running water, but to our surprise nature organized one for us. Around mid day we came across the most perfect 15 foot water fall in an isolated spot.
Kirsten decide that icy water was better then no shower at all. With the sun at it apex it was now or literally never. I stood guard, but this area was sparely populated so there was not a soul in site. She stripped down to her natural self and screamed with shock and delight as the frigid water careened over her. It was somehow beautiful and wild, but I wasn’t going to show myself. Call me boring, but her screams and shivers were somewhat convincing. I’ll just stay dirty.
We had left our hiking companions Rob & Julie at Lama Hotel as they preferred a much slow accent. I was a type “A” hiker and loved to charge up the trail as fast as I could walk. Then after some distance, exhausted I would find a place to rest and wait for my tortoise companion Kirsten to arrive. She never stopped. She just padded along at her steady pace with little steps. This balance allowed both of us to feel free along the trail to walk in our own manner. It also gave us some alone time with nature and our thoughts.
Something about spending all day and everyday walking in the mountains rekindles your primal nature. It was as if the modern world had no place here. Only flowers, birds, and sky existed as I meandered along the ever-changing trail.
On the path there were different kinds of peoples. About every 3-4 hours we would go through a small collection of huts that formed a sort of village not on any map. These were populated mostly by Tibetans or Tamang tribal people. All the locals would greet us pleasantly with a smile and a NAMASTE folding their hands in the prayer position. It was inspiring.
I remember around one bend came a group of a few Herdsmen moving at a brisk pace. I said Namaste as they passed by. Since I was walking slightly ahead of Kirsten and I would always drop back to make sure she was safe when we past groups of men.
Just as I came in earshot I heard it! Kirsten said: “Namaste” and one of the Herdsmen said quietly and very shyly: “Namaste Sexy Mama.” It was a total surprise, since these guys typically don’t speak English at all. We laughed and laughed. I could only imagine that some mischievous trekker had taught him this phrase.
Our next cultural encounter was with a young Tamang boy around 12 years old. He started behind as as we traversed an irrigated field near a few farm huts. He asked: “You want hashish?” I said “No” and walked on. He followed and asked again: “You want hashish?” “No”, I said and walked on. Now the game begins. He thought I was bargaining. Naturally all trekkers want hashish. It is unheard of that they wouldn’t. I must have just been a good bargainer.
We walked. He followed. Only 500 Rupees per tola (10 grams). We ignore him. Only 200 Rupees. We ignore him. “How much you give?” he asks. Finally to get rid of him I say an outrageously small number: “30 Rupees.” “No.”, he continues: “100 Rupees OK?, 50 Rupees, OK 30 Rupees.
Oh my God!!! I have accidentally bought 10 grams of hashish. Oh well, what to do? More surprisingly when he opens his bag he pulls out a chunk of hash weighing about 10 pound. Chop chop swiftly with his knife he takes off a finger size piece and hands it to me. My mouth is gapping. Thing are sure different around here.
We walk along narrow paths through the sparely populated valley around some small planted fields. Then once again the trail evolves into a different venue. It becomes step with a far valley below and our first glimpse at snow capped mountain in the distance.
It’s such a wonder to view these enormous mountains with their snowy peaks. I was so exalted that my whole being became an inner smile. It opened me up inside to the simple beauty of life. I felt light. The top of my head seem to lift off with an AH-HA experience. It put things in prospective. In nature, there is no problem seeing the truth. It’s just there in front of you and it’s everything you need or want or could ever want. So simple.
As we wound around the valley we passed small villages. Each had some little guest houses and around 3 PM Kirsten suggested we grab one for the night. The latest you want to hike is about 4 PM, because when the sun goes behind the surrounding mountains it’s gets cold and a thick mist rise up to shroud everything.
On this topic, we had alittle heated debate. I wanted to chance making it to a small Tibetan Temple marked on our map. Kirsten wanted to quit early in one of the villages to savor the Himalayas at a slower pace. An argument insued and I stormed ahead on the trail to walk off my anger.
My anger channeled into a vigorous pace that got me to the remote guest house near the Temple in record time, but I arrive at dusk and my companion was still quite a distance down the mountain.
Ut-Oh, suddenly the argument had transformed into a dangerous situation. As the twilight mist was already floating up the valley I got worried. It would be very dark soon. I ask a Tibetan woman who came up the path if she had seen Kirsten. She understood my concern. I could see in her eyes a compassionate sympathy, but she spoke no english. She could tell me nothing
Against my better judgment, I left my backpack with strangers at the guest house and catapulted down the trail. Dusk was very close and I ran like I’ve never run before. I was lightning. I was a deer or an antelope bouncing from rock to rock. I was racing against time. My heart pounded in my chest. The light got dimmer. The mist was coming.
A couple miles down the bank I found Kirsten somewhat paralyzed and cationic along the trail leaning on an embankment. She had a panic attack with dark approaching and the empty trail. I didn’t have time to feel guilty or apologize. I just put on her backpack and grab her hand to get back to the lodge.
Almost in a dream I towed her along the winding trail in the half light. She was breathing unsteadily. The altitude was difficult for both of us. We stumbled and ran as best we could. The fatigue was overcome by the fear. If darkness came we would be absolutely lost. The cool damp mist was already surrounding us and obscuring the trail ahead. asurion customer service