Day 12 Stats
Miles: 12.3 miles
Starting elevation: 13,565 @ Tilicho Base
Ending elevation: 13,823 @ Ledar
Net elevation gain: 258
Total hiking ascent: 2,664
Total hiking descent: 2,406
Dal Bhat meals: 1 each
Cost for teahouse for 1 night (board, dinner and breakfast x 2): 1,860Nrs ~$16.86 USD
Day 13 Stats
Starting elevation: 13,823 @ Ledar
Ending elevation: 16,252 @ High Base Camp
Net elevation gain: 2,429
Total hiking ascent: 2,490
Total hiking descent: 61
Dal Bhat meals: 0 We each a had cheesy pasta with vegetables and then split a chappati pizza – hiker hunger!
Cost for teahouse for 1 night (board, dinner and breakfast x 2): 3,200 Nrs ~$29 USD We had to pay a little less than $3 for the room in addition to the food which we expected at the top by the pass. Totally reasonable. The food was pricey, but very good, and given the fact that everything is hauled up on mules – a steal!
Rob: The traverse between the high valley that holds Tilicho Tal (Lake) and the next even higher valley over was shaped like a “Y” where two mountain rivers met. It would take us two days to cross this span and to reach Ledar and then Upper Thorung La Base Camp.
Our day to Ledar was a long one. After just ascending and descending 3000ft each way from the high lake I felt it in every leg muscle as we started. We began, like most mornings, by heading out into the mist and clouds that would clear as the sun came up further through the mountains. The dew on some of the wildflowers created little droplets on every petal that made them look like they were made of glass. All of the mountain micro flowers that make me smile became the first real color you see of the day when you set out early as we do here. Passing over a short ridge we suddenly came upon the same Momma Bharal and her fawns that we had seen the previous day. Once again, we were within just 20 feet as they all slowly grazed their way next to the trail.
We knew we would start and finish the day at roughly the same elevation but what I didn’t realize was that we would lose and then gain back 2700ft of elevation in the process. I certainly added to the difficulty, climb and length of the trek by missing a small trail junction about an hour into our morning. It took us on a cow trail and too low below a suspension bridge we needed to use to cross a strong mountain stream. Another hiker made the same mistake and we all had to climb up a nearly vertical mess of twisting goat trails through brush and loose rocks to rejoin the main trail. When we reached the little village of Shree Kharka again on our way, we stopped for a breakfast of Black Tea and Pancakes having only accomplished 2 of our hiking hours of the day in the last 3 hours. The pancakes were thick, hearty and tasted great with a bit of the local honey. They have now become my new favorite mountain breakfast food over porridge by far. The balance of the day wound us through wildflower fields and a stand of ancient Birch trees.
In the high desert mountains we are accustomed to seeing Cedar, Juniper or Piñon trees that have been stunted, tortured and twisted into shape over hundreds of years by the wind, snow and harsh climate seasons. It was a wonder for us both to see the same treatment survived by normally tall majestic Birchs that had survived by growing huge roots into to steep rock mountainside and in between crevices out of the worst of the wind and weather. When we finally reached Thorung Pedi, our village target late in the afternoon, Lacy had ordered us a couple of glasses of raksi to complete the difficult day’s events.
Our next segment began the following morning after lots of Dal Bhat for dinner and a good night’s rest. Pancakes again with apple jam and honey were eaten a bit more leisurely today because we knew we only had a 4 hour hiking day. Although it would be short, we were also climbing past 16,000ft to reach Thorung La Base Camp and our last segment would be straight up vertical gain. We cruised up through the high river valley and well above the tree line again. It was a really picturesque day and we criss crossed along the trail with our new trail family as well as a couple other hikers and their guides / porters. We hit the last vertical climb hard and strong. After an hour and a half we came to an opening in the rock ahead. We walked straight up a slow running rocky mountain waterfall to reach Base Camp. Last night before the morning!