15 January 2013
I decided to hire a porter for one day; I was starting to feel run down. It took only minutes to arrange it from the time I told Lal this morning. The price was 2000 rupees. The porter is a teenager wearing jeans, hoodie, red plaid scarf, and flip-flops. Lal says that it is an expensive price compared to what I would have paid in Besi Sahar.
On this day I chose to use my poles for the first time, instead of letting Lal carry them. For the rest of the trek, I used them every day. I liked them even though they were only occasionally useful.
About an hour past Bagarchhap, near Timang, we got the first stunning view of Manaslu, 5 kilometers higher than us. Since my iPad was accessible in my fanny pack, I did get some photos. Normally it was buried in my backpack, so most of my photos from the trek are taken in the morning or evening near a hotel.
A little later we caught up with the Koreans resting by a bridge. Last night they had pushed on past Bagarchhap. They gave me some jerky.
We hiked through some tall pines that Lal called Highland Pines.
Lunch break was in Thunchok, at the Himalayan Restaurant. The usual 270 degree picture windows; visible were some minor rocky peaks of only a few thousand meters. Ordered chicken soup, which had a lot of garlic, and veg steamed momos, which came with a relish made from local tomatoes. Superb. In a glass case next to my table were cans of tuna, mackerel in tomato sauce, and sardines. Product of Thailand. Also jars of marmalade and fruit jam. Red Bull, Fanta Orange, Sprite. Cans of Tuborg, bottles of Everest beer. Nescafé coffee. Packages of spaghetti (So they don’t make their own).
As we approached Chame, Annapurna II towered over us. Although it is a few hundred meters lower than Manaslu, it is much closer.
I added a rs. 500 tip when I paid the porter. It was a real treat not to carry my backpack.
We checked in to the Marshyangdi Mandala Hotel, Chame, Manang, elevation 2670. From the dining room I could see Manaslu framed by the downstream valley through the window. I tried taking a photo when the snowy peak was catching the last rays of the sun, but the iPad didn’t like the contrast. A man started a wood fire in the stove; I had gotten used to eating in an unheated dining room.
Another Korean family checked in. They had come from Manang, where the young man came down with altitude sickness. He graduated from Harvard in ’10. In ’04, he had been on a motor trip through Tibet up to 5000 meters, and didn’t get sick, while this time he got sick in Manang at only 3500 meters. At that time Nepal had a king, and you could live on 5 dollars a day. He said the accommodations are better up higher, where they use planks of pine in construction.