Back on the trail

Posted on 09 May 2018

Kathmandu was a welcome rest. Although the city was its usual hectic self, the weather was fine and the air quality was good, but most of all, the showers and food were wonderful. The sad news is that Ken was not feeling well and though he has recovered for the most part on doctors advice he is going to take a short break and plans to rejoin in a couple of weeks.

Stephen is joining us for the Langtang via Tillman Pass section, but we won’t be meeting up with on the trail until a few more days. In the mean time it’s me, Vince, going solo with my small entourage. I’ll do more introductions of the team once we join up with Stephen and his group. 

Getting to and from Kathmandu is a bit of a workout all by itself. It took over four hours by bus through road construction  sometimes an engineering marvel, sometimes a human marvel  considering that the roads are narrow and heavily travelled on.

After the bus ride, we hit the trail for a four hour climb to test my rested legs; it was beautiful and everything is still working.

The stairs to home

I rested out on the flat promontory extended from the trail. It was a natural resting spot as travellers from both directions had just climbed several hundred feet to get here, ascending stairs that seem endless. There are stone benches to sit and gaze at the view or just recover from the effort. We had covered most of the distance for the day and were taking our time. 

Below me I could see an older gentleman making his way up the steps very slowly, stopping to recover every few steps. The stairs here are like something from a Escher painting. He would speak to everyone that passed by and most would stop to talk for a minute and then keep going.

He finally reached the top where we rested. He smiled, walked directly to me, reached out his hand and grabbed mine as if we had known each other for years. “Namaste, How are you?” His English was very limited but we talked as best we could for several minutes with the help of the climbing Sherpa to translate some parts. He wanted to know all about our journey. 

He was the Lama at the monastery in Beding which was a long climb up the canyon we had just come down. He’s 73 now and says he was once a climber on Everest and can still climb the stairs to get home. As we left he had moved on to another traveler to hear their story but he stopped to wish us well on our travels. 

Standing in the wheat

I nearly walked right by. I’d been walking through the terraces for a while and the beauty of the tall golden grains had faded from the overload of hours of walking. The woman cutting the ripened stalks was one of many I had passed along the way, but something about the scene and her appearance made me stop. I paused for a moment and we exchanged the customary “namaste”.

She was dressed to work in the field but like many of the women had jewelry that made her look elegant. Her face was lined from years of working outdoors and her eyes had a stare that looked tired but proud. I asked if I could take her picture, expecting that she may refuse as many women do along the trail, but she said yes. I quickly snapped a couple of shots and was back on my way. She had made an impression that tumbled around in my head as I walked on through the day. I got lost in thinking about what constitutes a good life and the value of living simply.

We camped in the small village of Listi and, like most of this region, reconstruction is in full swing with most homes being rebuilt. The crops in the terraces look well on there way toward harvest. 

That’s about it for now. Up next, I'm making my way to Tillman Pass and getting across the last of the “mountaineering“ passes; that’s still over a week away, so I’ll try to post again before then. Thanks again for all the positive comments on the blog. 

All the best from Nepal,

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