Some of you thought that it would happen. But it didn't. And I wasn't. Or I shan't. Maybe I couldn't. But I don't remember. And who really cares anyway?
Yes, its almost been an epic month since I last posted. I have done so much in that time that my head has been exploding with the bloggability of it all. Let's start at the very beginning (I have it on Julie Andrews authority that its a very good place to start). You all thought that my friends Lauren, Jojo, Naomi, Clint and I were zipping off to Everest Base Camp for a romp in the snow before falling back down the hill again. You'd be absolutely correct. That's exactly what we thought we were doing as well. However Yeti Airlines, did not appear to think that it wasthe best plan in the world. In fact, they were so concerned with the last group of Aussies that they sent there were such a bad omen that they didn't want to send any more and cancelled our flights to Lukla (the most horrifying and probably one of highest air strips in the world) not once but twice.
Catching on that it just wasn't going to happen and obtaining the services of a very bouncy and happy little Nepali guide called Kamal (who has a very interesting life story that I will share another day) we re-organised our trip and decided to head into the Langtang range to the north of Kathmandu instead.
You see, although Everest is very famous, the whole top third of Nepal is Himalaya and there are plenty of other places to go wandering through hills if you really feel like it. Luckily Langtang is accessible by car (well, sort of, there were roads in the parts that hadn't been wiped out by landslides or floods) and is remarkably less touristed than its sister regions Everest and Annapurna.
Day 1, Jojo on a mission to prove to himself that he can do... ummmm stuff like climbing hills almost died as the pollution in Kathmandu had basically turned his lungs into tarpits. Determined to carry his bag all the way, by lunch time Kamal had taken over and was carrying not only Joe's but his own bag as well. As we sat down to our dinner the rain came in and apparently brought some snow with us as it peppered the mountains above us with a beautiful little jacket of white.
Day 2, we got to the actual village of Langtang that was settled by Tibetan immigrants more than 900 years ago if I have my stories straight (which I probably have not). There were a great many children running about our ankles as we investigated the town all with horribly runny noses, dirty faces and wind-blown cheeks.
Apparently there's an Australian bloke that lives there who runs down and back from inside a few hours where we started 2 days before simply to check his email.
Day 3, from Langtang village we crawled up an epic altitude that almost killed Jojo and had Clint speechless on account of altitude sickness at about 3800m from sea level. Kamal and I were going to climb to one of the nearby peaks when a freak snowstorm blew up from Langtang and made visibility impossible.
After a lunch sitting in a freezing dining room with no wood heater to keep us warm we rushed back to Langtang for the relative warmth of our sleeping bags only to be woken in the middle of the night by terrifying winds blowing through the cracks in the wall.
The rest of the days blurred together as I started to forget what day of teh week it was and what the outside world was like. It was beautiful to spend time walking from one teahouse to the next with everything I needed strapped to my back and the beaitiful mountains and jungles we walked through to see.
We came back down from Langtang, much to Naomi and Clint's relief as they were both very poorly from climbing so quickly the day before. The down didn't last long before we started back up towards the east on our way to the Gosaikunda Lakes, a group of beautiful high altitude Himalayan lakes. Lauren always led the pack, charging ahead at times about 20 minutes in front of everyone else. Apparently she got some training in scooting up Mt Buninyong with textbooks in a backpack cos she was afraid of letting everyone else down. In all honesty she just put us to shame.
Death threats were murmured about Kamal as he pushed us to our limits "just 30 minutes more, it couldn't be more than that, I promise" but we always took them back when we reached our destinations. The walking was incredibly hard, but the views were spectacular and I think many of us were pushed beyond what we though were our physical limitations. To quote Jojo "Rob, I'm having the time of my life...I can't lift my arms above my shoulders, but I'm having the time of my life".
Passing the lakes on the coldest night yet we started to see a pattern in the weather. We would get beautiful morning with sunshine fresh snow underfoot and time temperatures. But come 1 o'clock the cloud would set in bringing snow, hail, rain and misery. Our moods always plummetted in the afternoon. At one point I think I was carrying around an extra kilo because of the snow that had accumulated on my pack.
We had two porters, a 19 year old called Subas and a 50 something called Krishna. Both were absolute guns. Carrying Lauren, Naomi and Clint's packs they were absolute machines. Charging ahead of us in the mornings, and always having our rooms ready and waiting for us by the time we arrived of an evening. Krishna was a very pleasant old man, but he really kept to himself. Subas was the real entertainer "Subas? Do you know where the toilet is?"
"OK Mr Rob Daai"
"Yeah, OK. But do you know where the toilet is?"
"OK, OK, OK"
Climbing the Pass after the lakes was the hardest except possibly for coming down them afterward. That's where Clint had an innovative idea. At one point he said "Rob, hold this" and promptly gave me his stick, sat down on his raincoat and toboggoned down the hill. The man is a genius. He even caught up to Lauren who had made a massive head start on us. She turned around at one point to see a large man coming down the mountain at her on his belly screaming like a yeti. Not before he got this cracker of a video of Kamal coming down after him.
There are plenty of other notables, including the Almost But Not Quite Nearly Snow Leopard Sighting (which I swore was really a Yeti), everyone was sick on something except for me, however I made up for that by trying to knee cap myself on a rock whlie walking down a mountain side over what was probably mainly ice. There was the epic Middle of the Night Toilet FAIL (its supposed to go in the hole dufus) among others. But that's enough for now.
Enjoy the photos, and wish jealously that you took up a 12 month volunteer assignment in Nepal.
[for those of you receiving this by email - don't be lazy, visit the blog and actually see the photos, they're wicked!]