Oct 5 – 7
We had to wait for our permits to enter the Upper Mustang (Lost Kingdom
) to become valid as we were a day early so we only rode as far as Kagbeni. I’m sure the porters needed the rest as well. These permits cost between $500US and $750US depending on the size of the group. Nepalis can pass freely. This fairly large area is the last enclave of Tibetan culture not controlled by the Chinese or absorbed into Nepali culture. It includes Lo Manthang, a walled town where the King of Lo resides.
We rode from Kagbeni to Samar, a trip of 26k with about 1300m of climbing. It starting out with rolling but mostly uphill cycling on what is good surface by Nepal standards then ended with a big climb into Samar. We are now in highly eroded deep canyon country with beautiful varied rock colors and formations. Nilgiri presents a big mountain backdrop with Annapurna 1 obscured by clouds. We stopped for lunch at a pleasant little village with rock lined pathways and short small rock tunnels moving you through the enclave. The tea houses now are more traditional in their interior structure and the Tibetan culture shines through in tidiness and dust-free cleanliness. The owner has a daughter in the US and a son in Korea. He is waiting for his son to return, marry, and give him some grandchildren.
It was my Birthday here in Samar. Bridget had brought along a bottle of Amarula from South Africa for all to enjoy. The cook made a big chocolate cake replete with candles that wouldn’t blow out. Much laughter followed then songs and clapping ensued which were improved by the Amarula. Kami, our Head Sherpa, then presented me with blessing ribbons and we shared the cake and liqueur with out support crew. Really a Birthday I will remember.
Our next day brought blue skies and a couple of passes to climb. We stopped a village early as the porters were tired from the long previous day. Annapurna 1 finally showed its face amount the rest of the huge peaks around us. It was the first 8000m peak ever climbed and the basis of a classic mountaineering book by Herzog. He was the leader of the French team that was successful. Reading that book was the inspiration for this trip.
Since we arrived early today, we spent a pleasant afternoon drinking lemon ginger tea and sitting in the sun. Life is good. Sent from my iPad