I wrote in my last post from Nepal that Tim was staying behind to continue to Annapurna base camp. We’re hoping that he’ll be homebound in three or four days. Nepal has been punished with bad government since the royal massacre of 2001. The country has been in disarray for a dozen years, with Maoists coming out of hiding in the mountains and into the government. In five days yet another government is to be seated and the country is on strike. The strike was kicking in as I was leaving, the streets empty and the shops closed. Tim is safe, but getting out of the country might prove a challenge.
Meanwhile, he’s still in adventure mode and I’m sharing a few paragraphs of his recent correspondence. I should mention that these missives are sent not to his long-suffering parents, but to a certain young lady awaiting his return in the mountains of Colorado. Thank you, Candace, for passing along.
Last night we made it to the Annapurna Base Camp, 4250 meters. Truly an amazing spot. 360 degree view of huge snow-covered peaks. Including Annapurna south, Annapurna 1 and 3, Macchuputre (Fish tail), Him Chuli and a few more I can’t pronounce. I woke myself up late night to check out the stars. [The night before] the sky was filled with more stars than I had ever seen in my life. So I figured since I was even higher and farther from light pollution it would be even better. Wow!!…the stars were clustered so close together and there were so many of them it was like rice in a bowl. The sky was clear and the stars reflected off the snow tops of these huge 6, 7 and 8,000 meter peaks.
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Ram tells me how excited he was to see my beard and blonde hair hanging over the patio in upper Chomrong, drinking a celebratory beer….he took the short cut, and I had pulled pretty far ahead of him. Apparently when he got to town and couldn’t find me he got worried thinking I had taken a wrong turn or wrong path. Then he said he saw my beard and “got very happy.” I told him not to worry about me, that I’d find my way where I need to go, that I ask villagers when I hike to make sure I’m going the right way. He says this is a classic method and that my dad would be proud. He said, “I not worried, you not a sheep, you like a fox.” He said, “The fox is very cunning, and curious, he figures everything out no problem.” I thought that was just amazing. It was like something I would read in my Indian Books. They always compare things to animals.* * *
Ram warned, “Tomorrow is about 8 or 9 hours Trek, all up hill, all up hill.” He said it twice. I asked him, “Even for you and me? No dad or Scott?” He said, “with dad and Scott, 11-12 hours.” I told him I would do it in 6 hours. He laughed, said maybe 7 but reminded me it was all up hill. I told him 6 hours.The next morning over breakfast I told Ram, 6 hours. He said, “for you maybe 6 hours, for me 5 hours” He said this with a grin….I took it as a challenge. The hike started off crossing a swinging bridge then an immediate up hill, pretty steep, up. I got to the top and there was a guide/porter and his client sweating and panting. They left an hour before me. The guide/porter said, “Wow, you’re fast. Where’s Ram?” I said I think he got lost ; ) and moved on.About an hour later I stopped in a small town to wait for Ram. He came panting and sweating up the hill, just shaking his head at me. When he got to me he said, ” You fast hiker. We are supposed to take our lunch break here.” It was only 9:30. We hiked on. He told me to meet at a town called Chitre for lunch. I arrived about 10:45 Ram got there at 11:15. During lunch break I spotted a sparrow and a black winged cuckooshire, pretty neat bird. However, the crimson sunbird reminded me of you the most so far. A brilliant red tiny bird. So pretty. After lunch, Ram said “For you 45 mins to Ghorepani, for me an hour and a half.” Ha, oh how the tables have turned. Then things got real hard. It was a steep uphill from here on out. Except for a 15 min break to watch a huge goat herd pass, I hiked a lot slower but non-stop. I thought this must be the equivalent to a traffic jam in these parts. I took pictures, There were three dogs running the perimeter and three people hollering to keep the goats moving. Fun to watch, but I was exhausted.