It’s really crazy how the altitude plays with my psyche at night. I was already on the verge of wanting to go down again. But then the alarm rang, I slipped into almost all my clothes (3 layers on legs, 5 layers on top), got a coffee – and calmed down again. Everyone scurried around more or less excited – and then all the breakfast was in the belly, the luggage packed and we formed a long queue in the dark and took off.
I came to walk between the Scottish lady and her porter Durga – best place! She has a very calm pleasant manner and Durga and I have discovered our heart for each other anyway. He is 19, small, carrying superman, happy, cuddly and this is his 3rd Thorung la crossing. We were a really long line and then trudged uphill together in the headlamp light. I was a bit emotional because I found it so nice to be included in this big group.
The walking went amazingly well, I had zero difficulty taking even slightly larger steps at times. The tracks of the walkers were also very good to walk on – even without mini-crampons I never slipped. And my foot fears (too cold, wet due to snow) were in vain, the snow was probably too powdery and I had good blood circulation. I didn’t freeze otherwise either, although I even had to pull my hood over my cap in windy places. It was really cool to trudge through the darkness like that. But then the light slowly came.
And then a teahouse appeared with expensive tea, of course, but still great. In the meantime, the people from Thorung Phedi had also caught up. They had started 1 hour earlier. And because of the large Intrepid group, it was quite crowded.
The sun conquered more and more terrain and I found this landscape with the little people in it so great and produced one picture after the other.
And then it was suddenly there, the Thorung la! After not quite 4 hours, we were at 5,416 m. I just checked: it is the 8th highest pass I have ever crossed on foot. But it was a very special pass – with all the snow and the people and everything. We happily hugged each other, took pictures, danced and I was quite amazed that I had actually made it up to the last few metres of altitude quite easily. There is a song that often pops into my head when I am happy in the mountains. It’s called Mountain Sound, but its content doesn’t have much to do with mountains at all. Except for the song line in the blog post title. Here is the link: Of Monsters and Men “Mountain Sound”
But there was still a tough descent to come. I said goodbye to horseman, shouldered my backpack (it was great that it was carried up) and trudged off alone. The line had broken up anyway. But we had all arranged to stay in the same accommodation – the organised people had already all been organised there and we, who went alone, were then keen to be with others again. I was curious how it would look on the other side, what my knees and legs would say and also I was a bit worried about the slippery snow. I not only didn’t have any mini-crampons with me, I didn’t have any poles either. But I was really fit – only one small slip, but otherwise everything was manageable. Even if it was a bit slow in parts. I was surprised at myself.
And soon a completely different landscape revealed itself. True, there were also high snow-covered mountains everywhere (with a nice layer of cloud interspersed), but where there was no more snow, it was bare and high mountain desert. And it was quite steep downwards.
Whereas on the ascent the valleys were virtually climbing up with us, here there was simply a long slope down. But what a view! When I took a break around 11:00, I was confused that it was still so early. And yet I had already been walking for 6 hours.
And then it was soon done. Delicious lunch was waiting for us in the small group of huts. And then I didn’t take any more pictures. It just kept going down, the snow became less and less and stopped, I met these and those people and at some point I reached Muktinath at an altitude of 3,760 metres.
I reached the hotel, where Suresh and Gakul were already happily shouting down from above and Durga hurried to the reception to get me a room. What a lovely welcome! The room was clean, large, carpeted – but there was already not enough hot water in the solar shower. Mrs China besieged the gas cartridge communal shower for a miserably long time, but then I had also cleaned myself with a few drops of hot water. How nice! Unfortunately, the restaurant room was not sufficiently heated, but the mood was still cheerful. And there was decent wi-fi! We were only a little worried about Sofi, the Vietnamese woman who was walking alone. But shortly before dark, she arrived and was greeted with great applause. She hadn’t been able to cope with the snow, had ice hands despite wearing gloves, and therefore took a long time. But with her calm perseverance and a fighter’s heart, she kept walking slowly. A remarkable woman.
The others all wanted to take the bus straight down to Pokhara the next day – only I wanted to spend a second night here, rest my legs, look at the big temple – and then continue to walk.
So I’ll leave this day like this for now – in the next blog post, i.e. on the rest day, I’ll write a few more thoughts about the past days.