The evening before, there were guides who had an oximeter with them: my oxygen levels were good. Talk with the lodge owner: porter to the end point Muktinath costs too much money, he advises one to the pass. Tilicho Lake was dead for me – sounded too unattractive with snow. And I was also beginning to fear a change in the weather after these sunny days. So I wanted to cross the pass! With Porter. The price was high (but absolutely within reason, as everyone assured me afterwards) – but certainly well invested. It remains partly a dichotomy: carrying it alone makes you prouder (at least me), but the local people don’t earn enough (just after Corona) and can make good use of my money.
In the evening, there was also a big discussion about the new April rule that obliges one guide. Opinions were quite diverse and divided, even among the guides. The “stupid” thing about the guides is: if there is no emergency and they don’t carry any luggage, you don’t really “need” them and in principle they had little to do. Unless they had additional skills such as a lot of knowledge about flora and fauna and/or a willingness to translate for further conversations with others, etc. It was interesting to see how they interacted with the customers. On one day, however, I was startled when one of them assigned a famous Hindu temple to a completely wrong deity (Kali instead of Vishnu). So good knowledge is not always there. More about that later.
In the morning the sun was shining, my porter (who actually knew zero English) came, took my comparatively quite light backpack and started hiking with me. He was of Tibetan descent and lived in the upper Manang part. But first I had to register (for which I had spent the 37 euros – again interesting: in the lodges my name was not registered anywhere and in the end I didn’t have to sign out anywhere either. If I had got lost, I would have been interested to know how and where they would have looked for me). And the goats took off to graze.
The path meandered upwards, at first broadly developed, later a path. The heart laughed and I hummed Irie Revoltés “Jetzt” with the blogpost-line (in english: “because life won’t be tomorrow but now”). Very content with my decision.
In Manang, we passed by the porter’s house. There his wife gave him his horse and later he loaded up my backpack and I was even happier. It is more comfortable for me than when he carries it and the smell and sounds reminded me of Ladakh trekking. I only carried my camera and mostly my water bottle. But he also stayed close to me all the time.
We passed houses and a man ploughing his field
You could look up a valley and see people on the path below, heading for Tilicho Lake. We turned into the valley on the right.
The path went along the top of the slope – so beautiful! There were other trekkers on the way – including a large group from the Intrepid tour operator. There were also horses, supplying the lodges and people further up.
The most frightening thing for me is the suspension bridges. I squint my eyes, grab the right rope, make sure that no one but me steps on the bridge (because of wobbling) and feel my way forward and when it goes up a bit and swings more I turn my eyes back on and am about to arrive. Then I’m drenched in sweat and my legs shake a little and relief spreads.
Shortly before noon, we reached Yak Kharka, a collection of lodges at 4,020 m above sea level. Many were already stopping here for the night. I had lunch and made a mistake. I am allergic to capsicum and had not asked and got a dish with them. I quickly sorted out the big pieces – but afterwards I felt sick and got stomach pains (they kept coming back), threw up a bit (not any more afterwards) and only after a little soup in the evening did the nausea disappear again.
After midday, the weather changed, it became cloudy and it was not far to Ledar at 4,200 metres.
Ledar also has only a few lodges and few residents. From here on it was barren, i.e. no real washing facilities, no toilet of my own (and I have a very nocturnal bladder) and it was cold. But here we slowly got to know each other.
“We” were quite international: Sofi, the sole Vietnamese trekker from my day 1, 2 Chinese women who were also travelling alone, 1 Russian with 1 guide, 2 Americans (ultra runners) with 1 guide, 1 Scottish/English couple with 1 guide + 1 porter, 1 Dutch + 1 Swede brought together by agency with 1 guide + 1 porter, 1 Australian couple with 1 guide + 1 porter, 1 couple from Taiwan (little contact, they were not so group cuddly) also with guide + porter – I think that was it. We squatted around the stove and I think hardly anyone knew first names, we always just addressed each other by country of origin.
2 guides and 1 porter from an agency were particularly nice and enjoyed joking around with me and Ms Vietnam and Ms China. It was really an evening to my taste with quite some laughter. And then another guide told us something about ghosts. They could haunt the place at night. So far, only snowflakes have been ghosting around. Brrr……
Cheerful, I went to bed – and got a headache, stomach ache and insomnia (plus several pees) and was already preparing myself inwardly for the descent. Despite continued OK oxygen levels. Shit night!