Fun animal encounters on the trail

Posted on 28 May 2018

Sweat has soaked through my shirt and most of my shorts as I reach the crest of the ridge. The forest is blanketed with fog and there’s a breeze funneling through the gap which the trail runs through; so even though I’m hot, I throw on a jacket while I wait for our crew to regroup after the climb.

My thoughts go back to only a few days ago when we were traversing through alpine climate zones with barren hillsides and hanging glaciers. What a difference a few days make on the GHT. The forests or jungles, as they call them are dense but beautiful. A combination of giant pines and rhododendrons are still in full bloom, but just past their prime.

We’ve spent the last week walking through the “foothills” of the Himalaya to link the Langtang section with the Manaslu section of the trail. This region drops to much lower elevations than we’ve been in for a while and warmer temperatures as well. The terrain continues to be challenging, with days that are typically a combination of steep climbing and descending, as we make our way across ridges that separate the bigger Himalaya ranges. Villages are also frequent in this area with lots of farming, building and people to keep it interesting.

For the most part, the weather has cooperated as we’ve had dry days and rain during the night as we’ve slept. There has been fog and clouds over the mountains with some breaks in the mornings to remind us there are big mountains all around.

Ken is back and in good form. He is fully recovered from his short sideline in Kathmandu. He would like to give a shoutout and wish a happy birthday to Noah and Taylor in California, and a very special birthday wish to an “old” friend, Debbie in Sydney.

Smile moments: animal edition

•    So many yaks have huge horns and look so fierce but for the most part are just very mellow.

•    We passed a donkey train all dressed up for a parade but somehow got stuck carrying cement up the mountain.

•    We love roosters that shine in the morning sun.

•    We stopped for lunch at a little shop along the trail and one of the local goats decided to test our lead guide, Bikash, with a shoving contest. We’d say it was a draw.

•    While this is a list of animal encounters, we have to throw in some smiling prayer flags.

•    Couldn’t help but smile at the pika that joined us for lunch.

•    Most of the mountain dogs in Nepal are very friendly but this dog (pictured, bottom left-hand corner) had a real attitude and fortunately a leash.

•    You've got to smile at the cutest red panda hiding in the trees.

•    A mongoose romping in the snow stopped to pose for a portrait.

Up Next

Tomorrow we officially start the next stage of the GHT, the Manaslu and Annapurna section. We are looking forward to this section as we move beyond the forest ridges and make our way gradually back up to a couple more high passes. There are three 8000 metre peaks in Nepal we haven’t yet seen and this section is named for two of them. Fingers crossed the weather will cooperate and we’ll see them in the next couple weeks.

Mostly new crew today, and we bathed and washed our clothes in the river. We’re ready to roll on tomorrow; the GHT train never stops.

Look for an update in about a week.

Vince, Ken and Bikash

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