Day 2 Stats:
Starting elevation: 4,480 @ Jagat
Ending elevation: 6,050 @ Dharapani
Net gain: 1,570
Total hiking ascent: 3,270
Total hiking descent: 1,700
Leech bites: 8 (Lacy. Rob zero still) During the morning we were hiking through wet grass and foliage. At one point Rob looked down and saw he had leeches on his shoes and socks, but no bites. I looked down and had several leeches fat with my blood clinging to calves, socks and ankles. It was like a horror movie. I freaked out and made Rob get them all off me. The bites bled for more than 6 hours.
Dal Bhat meals: 1 each
Cost for teahouse (board, dinner, breakfast & teas for 2): 1,140 Nrs ~$10.37
Day 3 Stats:
Starting elevation: 6,050 @ Dharapani
Ending elevation: 8,690 @ Chame
Net gain: 2,640
Total hiking ascent: 3,002
Total hiking descent: 362
Dal Bhat meals: 1 each
Cost for teahouse (board, dinner and breakfast for 2): 1,200 Nrs ~ $11 USD
Lacy: We have developed a really good rhythm in just 3 days. We wake up between 5:30 and 6am, have our oatmeal breakfast with black tea at the teahouse and begin hiking by 7. It hasn’t been raining at all when we start and we arrive at our target village each day by 3 at the latest to avoid the afternoon showers. We ask for our dinner of Dal Baht to be served at 5-5:30 because we are normally starving from lunch at that time and ready to eat and go to bed! Typically, we are asleep by 9. Back to a good sun schedule! Aside from the first day, we have found a teahouse and settled in just in time for the first sprinkles to begin. Our stride is strong as we have gained 6,000 ft in 3 days and 36 miles. We had 2 separate guys wave us ahead of them and say we are fast. We don’t feel we are going very fast, but it’s always nice to hear. This last morning we gained 1,600 ft straight up from the teahouse and I was moving slower than my normal pace. Rob called me “slow poke Rodriguez”. Maybe it’s the altitude, but maybe not because Rob is a beast and moving right along. Our spirits are very high even though Rob has been struggling with an upset stomach for days. That’s a real bummer anytime and especially when hiking. I feel for him.
We are developing new little jokes which is always the highlight for us as we travel anywhere new. Surprisingly, every single day we have had a dog join us for part of our hike. The first day we thought it was interesting. The second day, pretty cool and today, the third, we fell in love with the pup. It was pretty sad when he left us. The teahouse situation has been working out really well. We have been the only guests each night even though we see half a dozen other hikers along the path. Since it is low season it’s very easy to negotiate for a free room and pay $500-$600 rupees each for dinner and breakfast. It’s about $10 a night. We imagine prices will go up as we get higher. The next few days we will climb to 12,000 feet and take 2 days to rest and get our lungs prepared for the increased altitude gain ahead. Our highest destination is Thorung La Pass,17,700 ft, the highest mountain pass in the world. We are taking a side trip on the way to Tilicho Lake, the highest lake in the world, which should be nice and full this time of year.
Today our hike began in the lush waterfall landscape we have been in the last 2 days and then we entered a forest covered in moss, ferns and lichen that reminded us of hikes in California. Emerging from the forest, we changed landscapes again into a mountain countryside of evergreens and exposed mountain rock that made us feel as if we were in Colorado. Days like that when you pass through so many environments are really special. This whole experience has been so special. The people are very nice. The Didis at the teahouse make us delicious meals and are kind. Gizmo is enjoying the view and all in all, we are happy as clams.
Tonight we are in the village of Chame at 8,690 ft. We can definitely feel it getting colder at night and ate dinner in our jackets. There isn’t any insulation in buildings and we are not high enough and cold enough yet for anyone to make a fire. Especially with precious wood and for just 2 people. But we are comfortable and will be nice and snuggly tonight as we rest and get energy for an even bigger day tomorrow climbing over 2,000 ft net.
Rob: On each one of our days, we have picked up a guide dog buddy who has spent the majority of the day with us. They are naturals and seem to just appear as we are starting to leave each town in the morning. There are dogs that lay and sleep all day and then there are these guys who just love to trot ahead of you and show you the way for miles and miles. They even sit and wait when you stop to drink or rest a minute. They are so happy to please you by showing you the way and encouraging you along. All they want is a head scratch and some positive verbal reinforcement for a job well done. These dogs have been better companions than some people we’ve hiked with in the past! We have never experienced this before and I’m guessing it is the product of dogs being more attached to a particular village or two than a family or owner. We ended our day yesterday waving goodbye to “Little Black Pup” when we came to a long suspension bridge and he was too scared to cross it. He sat at the opposite side as we finished crossing. Our hearts were aching a bit as we waved and called goodby to him. Today, we picked up “Blackfoot Pup” who was really fuzzy black all over and much bigger than a pup. He adopted us for about 10 miles and 2000ft net elevation gain. His feet were much bigger than our first 2 guys so the metal slats of the suspension bridges didn’t bother him. That was good because we crossed 4 or 5 today. His tail wagged when we caught up to him before he hopped on ahead of us up the road. On one long stretch of forest trail, he slotted behind me but in front of Lacy for that whole segment of trail. He certainly helped us turn toward vs away from upcoming towns when the trail wasn’t marked. He was fun and our favorite guide thus far. At one point he was watching a ridge above us and getting excited. We looked but couldn’t see what was getting his attention. A little further on, he did the same thing except this time he climbed up the edge of the cliff a little. We heard the screech calls first then saw a whole family of monkeys bounce from tree to tree so they could get a better look at all of us. They were big as far as monkeys go and all had a perfect ring of fluffy white fur around their black faces. We would have never known they were watching us from above if it hadn’t been for our own big black fuzzy guide. When we reached the town of Chame, Lacy was really hoping that we could have him hang out until morning so we could hike with him again. But, as we entered the village gates, 3 of the Chame village dogs wouldn’t let him follow us in. Once again, we had a little heartache moment as we waved goodbye to our little buddy.