Where We Be
|The scenery becomes more dramatic as we make our way higher
|Annapurna Circuit, Nepal (Days 4-6)
|A long mule train crosses a suspension bridge on the way from Tal to Danaqyu (Day 4)
|The incredible human effort going into building the road -- mostly by manual labor -- was something to behold. Here men are harnessed together to drag cables
(for a suspension bridge?) up a very steep slope. Mules couldn't be used because it took men working in careful unison to drag the cables up the treacherous slope.
We reached a jumble of rocks due to road construction and weren’t sure which way
the trail went. We saw a young woman ahead of us and asked her, “Manang?” [the
next big town] and she nodded yes and started walking ahead, looking back to see if
we were following. At first we thought this was the main trail. However, the further we
got, the more we realized this was a shortcut used by local Nepalis only, because
there was no way a mule or any sane human would do this, especially with a pack on.
I asked the girl again, “Manang?” just to make sure, and she nodded and smiled and
told me in broken English to go forward past her. I did, and things only got scarier.
My pack scraped against an overhanging rock, so I had to bend over while trying to
inch forward at the same time. The shifting dirt made for two steps that had me
seriously freaked out. I thought, this could be it. A huge dropoff loomed just to my
right. But there was no going back at this point, so I took the last two steps, praying
the packed dirt wouldn’t give way, and it didn’t. I heaved a huge sigh of relief as I
reached the safety of the road, then turned around to see how Robin was fairing.
The young woman had taken Robin by the hand and, step by step, was leading her
across the dangerous section of the shortcut. At the same place where I had been
most frightened, she told Robin, “Slowly, slowly,” and even offered to swap packs.
Robin told her she was okay, and in just another few moments she was. Pointing
back from where we’d come, we asked, “Is this the main trail?” She said, “No—
shortcut—main trail take very long,” and she pointed far above. We could see a
bridge way above us and realized we’d saved ourselves a significant amount of
climbing, but at no small risk to our lives. We found ourselves laughing with that
adrenaline rush feeling that comes after doing something really stupid -- and living.
|Men rapidly assemble wire "cages" for bundles of rocks to be used as reinforcements for road embankments
|This is the young Nepali woman who helped us across the shortcut
|Crossing a suspension bridge over a chasm on the way to Danaqyu (Day 4)
|Long line of prayer wheels at Danaqyu
|We stayed at the comfortable and friendly Hotel Tibetan in Danaqyu
|Tasty lunch of veg fried noodles and potato pakoda; it's assumed you will eat dinner at the lodge you're staying at, as food is where they make most of their money
|We played a fun version of "volleyball" with a bunch of kids in Danaqyu (we still don't know why the ball was covered in a plastic bag)
|A horse peeks over the fence, hopeful for its feedbag
|A misty afternoon in Danaqyu evokes the mysterious side of Nepal
|These two horses are really anxious for their dinner!
|Typical oversized porter load in Nepal
|A brilliant red rhododendron brightens the morning during the hike to Chame (Day 5)
|Waiting our turn to cross the bridge -- you can hear the donkey bells coming before you see them
|Interesting mix of drunken jungle trees and white-capped peaks (Day 5)
|Nepalis put heavy rocks on their tin roofs to keep them from blowing away
|The mountain scenery turned more dramatic near Chame (2710 m / 8943 ft)
|Finally feeling fit by Day 6 on the way to Pisang
|The mountain scenery near Pisang (3310 m / 10,923 ft) is reminiscent of our home state of Colorado
|Locals call this the "Gateway to Heaven" and believe the spirits of the deceased must ascend this wall
|The scenery opened up and became drier and flatter as we neared Pisang (Day 6)
This was a good three days. We felt like we started
to get our hiking legs back, and the scenery turned
more lovely the higher we climbed. Skies that had
been hazy up until now turned clear blue, and the
white-capped peaks of the Himalayas began to
show themselves in a more splendid light.
Everywhere there were signs of roadbuilding: a
“train” of a dozen men pulled cables up a steep,
switchbacking dirt slope using head harnesses;
endless mule trains carried supplies up and down;
and artificial landslides occurred as precariously
dangling Nepali workers tossed boulders over the
sides of cliffs. Often in the distance we could hear
the sound of jackhammers or explosives. This is
what we imagine road construction might have
been like a hundred years ago in the Old West.
We felt like we had one of our most genuine
bonding moments with local Nepalis in the small
town of Danaqyu when, after dinner, we went for a
stroll and came upon a group of young girls playing
“volleyball” without a net. For some reason the ball
was wrapped in a black plastic bag. One girl invited
us to play with them and we joined in. We volleyed
the ball back and forth between us, and eventually
the girl's mother laughed and joined in too. Before
long we had ten people playing “volleyball” with us.