Deep gorges and Tibetan influences

Posted on 05 Jun 2018

For the past couple of days we trekked up the Buri Gandakhi river and it has been a beautiful, gradual climb up toward the mountains and passes of the Manaslu and Annapurna region.

There is a different feel to this part of Nepal with an influence of Tibet in the building architecture, the facial features of the people and the strong Buddhist presence.

The weather has been great, giving us the chance us to see the high mountains towering above the canyon. The hiking has also been much more modest on wide, well-used trails with relatively easy climbs – given the current conditions and the fact that we’re at lower elevation. 

Once we emerge from the canyon, the walls open up to a wide fertile valley with larger fields than we’ve seen on this expedition. Green fields growing crops that are primarily corn, wheat, potatoes, and small plots of onions and other vegetables spread across the valley, with stone fences and buildings nestled beneath the mountains – it's a wonderful sight.

Women seem to be the primary tenders of the fields and even take their young children to the fields with them. As with the other regions we’ve passed through, the people are all working.

Women and men are up early and in the fields, tending animals, building homes, driving donkeys, teaching at the local school, or tending to their shop or lodge. Much of this work is strenuous and with long hours; our hats are off to the hard working people of Nepal. 

A striking contrast

Water rages down the canyon over giant boulders that have been thrown from the side of the canyon centuries ago. This isn’t the sky blue water from Kanchenjunga or even the grey water from the glaciers, this looks like dirty water after washing filthy clothes.

Clean streams from side canyons flow in and the pure water is swallowed into the dirty flow. I imagine the water is being cast off from someone cleaning Himalaya mountains high above us, a never ending movement of dirt from the mountain tops to the lowlands below. 

As we make our way up the canyon, there are places where the cliff walls have collapsed and temporarily blocked the flow of the river. These natural dams back up the water and let the sediment fill in a portion of the canyon before the dam eventually breaks and drains the reservoir leaving behind a rich flat area that is farmed and grazed. 

We work our way up through the area. The hiking is relatively easy and the river is beautiful in its own angry way. The trail is a highway here as mule trains carry the goods needed to supply a large population that lives in this region.

The ever expanding Nepali road system has not clawed it’s way up the gorge yet, so the donkeys and their young tenders still carry their loads every day. 

The days are warm and we sweat as we make our way back up to elevation. Fat lizards sunbathe on the rocks next to the trail and scurry away as we approach.

Our porters and guides are used to the cold air of the high mountains and complain about the heat, but the daily breeze coming up the canyon makes it comfortable for me.

This is a different side of Nepal than we have been traveling through with the feel of the high desert canyons of the American West.

Some of the locals even wear the outback hats of Australia but, of course, it’s pure Nepal just a different flavour than we’ve seen before.

Up next: Larkye Pass and Thorong La

We are back into the high country and have two 5,000 metre passes in the next week, with a drop of below 2,000 metres in between. For those not familiar with that metric that’s 10,000 feet down and 10,000 back up this week. We’ll have our first rest day in almost a month sometime in between the passes. The weather is looking a little more unsettled but we’re hoping for good views of the Manaslu and Annapurna range.

We’re doing well but looking forward to having people join us for the last couple of sections.

All the best from the GHT,
Vince, Ken, and Bikash

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