Doug Bruns

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Photos from Nepal

In Adventure, Photography, Travel on May 23, 2012 at 6:00 am

Many readers of “the house” come here from Facebook. If that’s you, you might have already seen some of the photos I put up there. But for many more readers, Facebook is not the gateway. So I thought I post a handful of photos from the trip.

Tea house at a mountain pass.

I mention in the post, From Manang, that we took a day hike to visit a mountain mystic, a Lama. Here are three images from that visit.

Outside the lama’s mountain gumpa.

The Lama.

View across the valley.

In Note from Pisang, Tim and I climb to a mountain monastery.

Tim inside.

I write about the snow, the high camp and the Lorong La, in the last two posts, Thorong High Camp, and Thorong La.

Ponies in the snow at high camp.

Ram, our guide, and the morning approach to Lorong La.

Uphill slog.

Water break, Scott and Tim.

The team on the world’s highest mountain pass, 17, 700 feet. Tim, our porters LaLi and Santos, our guide Ram, me, Scott.

As always, thanks for stopping and reading–or in this case, looking.

It’s nice to be home and back at my desk.

Best regards.

Nepal, end notes.

In Adventure, Travel, Writing on May 20, 2012 at 6:10 am

Two days after Thorong Pass we hike into Jomsom. Scott and I will leave from here, flying out to Pokhara, then Kathmandu. As we enter the village I see, not a hundred meters above us, pressed into the mountain side, the crumpled remains of an airplane. Four days previously a plane landing in Jomsom aborted on approach and attempted to return to the single airstrip. There was not enough space in this narrow wedge of a canyon and the plane crashed where I now observe it. It was the morning flight to Pokhara, the same flight Scott and I will be taking in twenty-four hours. Fifteen died. Five survived. I try to put it out of my mind. Unsuccessfully.

Tim is staying to press on to Annapurna Base Camp. He will return home in ten days. Seven years ago, my daughter and I traveled to Tibet where she was to work and live in an orphanage. I got her settled, showed her Lhasa, as best I could having been there a year before. Ultimately she had to leave, realizing after the fact that an American living in a school-orphanage in Chinese-occupied Tibet was asking for trouble. This was understood with immediate clarity when the school director shunted her into a closet after a surprise visit by the local Chinese authority.

I think of this as I prepare to leave now Tim behind, far from home. The weight of being a parent has never been heavier, except for maybe leaving Allie.

As Scott and I walk to our plane I hear a whoop. I turn and see, in town, on the tallest rooftop, Tim. He is waving. I raise my arms, whoop, and wave back. Scott and I board and begin the first leg of our return home.

Letdar, Nepal

In Adventure, Travel, Writing on May 16, 2012 at 8:15 pm

May 13, 2012
Letdar, Nepal (el. 13,943)
2:00 pm

I dreamt of a fresh orange last night. It’s been two weeks since I’ve had a piece of fruit.

Today was an easy hike of four hours. We are conserving energy. We are two days from Thorang La, the highest point of the trek. Tim is tired. He has been pushing himself hard, hiking extra miles, carrying extra weight, hanging with the locals at night over glasses of roxie, the local wine made from wheat and millet. He is paying for it today. He is strong as an ox and will no doubt be fine in the morning. Now he naps, manufacturing yet more red blood cells.

We all slip into our bags this afternoon. The wind is howling and the temperature is only fourty degrees. The scenery is breathtaking. We are well above tree-line and surrounded by massive peaks in every direction. Scenery is best when you have to work hard to get to it.

We saw our first yak today.

After an hour I go for a walk. The temperature has dropped. I have my field glasses and add a snow pigeon to my Nepal bird list. A white horse tethered to a stake watches me. I hear a tapping sound on my parka and look behind me. Snow. The mountains have disappeared, enveloped by a cloud. It begins to snow heavily and through the cloud, coming down the path is Tim. We stand in the snow storm. “I love this,” he says. Indeed.

From Manang, Nepal

In Adventure, Travel on May 16, 2012 at 6:05 am

We take a day hike with our guide, a steep incline, gaining an estimated three thousand feet. Here resides a ninety-six year old Lama, attended to by his sixty-six year old daughter. We take turns receiving his blessings. He chants over us. His skin is the color of leather. His room is carved out of a cave and hardly contains the four of us. For a moment I think of all the jokes surrounding the mountain mystic and the meaning of life. His daughter offers us tea from the entryway. After a brief visit, Scott and I leave but Tim wishes to stay behind. He joins us later in the village.

Note from Pisang, Nepal

In Adventure, Travel on May 15, 2012 at 3:50 am

We travel to lower Pisang from Chame, from 7119 to 10,465. It is not a hard day, though the air is getting obviously thinner. We catch our first glimpse of the Annapurnas, number three of the range of four. This is why we came and we ponder the black rock draped in snow looming overhead.

At Pisang, Tim and I stow our gear and cross the river to climb another thousand feet to a remote4 monastery on the side of the mountain. Scott has been having difficulty and stays behind to rest.

Despite a full day we are energized by the climb. In front of the monastery we turn and take in the view from eleven thousand feet. We are looking into and up at the Annapurnas. We stand in silence. Prayer flags flap in every direction. A monk invites us in and offers us tea.

The monastery is splendid. The iconography is fresh and brilliant. Buddha is gold–and smiling, of course. We sit against the wall quietly and sip our tea. I am reminded of the monasteries I visited in Tibet, where the statues have been removed and melted down by the occupying Chinese. The ancient iconography destroyed and the frescos scrapped off. One doesn’t appreciate the level of destruction that has occurred in Tibet until a visit is paid to a working monastery elsewhere.

From Danaque, Nepal

In Adventure, Travel, Writing on May 10, 2012 at 6:00 am

The weather has been hot. Yesterday, breaking for lunch in the village of Jaget, the thermometer on my pack read 100 degrees. In the shade it dropped to ninety. The sun is relentless and we struggle against it more than we struggle against the terrian.

Today is better. We climbed from 4625 feet to 7217, where coolness resides. It was a good day and this evening the temp has dropped to sixty-five and will likely drop another twenty degrees after sunset. We will use our bags tonight. We are happy.

In five days we reach the highest point of the adventure, the Thorang Phedi pass. Everyone asks if we’re ready for the Thorang Phedi pass. The elevation is 17,700. No doubt memories of heat will have long left us. I suspect we will be thinking about other things, like oxygen. We will be ready.

We are all moving well, even this old man. Tim picked up something and has had the shits, a miserable thing on the trail. We are careful about food andwater, but sometimes things happen. Scott’s challenges are less immediate and more fundamental to first-time travel: the food, the new smells, the people and their customs. Four night ago at the house of our hosts in Kathmandu, he excused himself from the table in a rush and got sick. Last night as we bunked down in Chamje, he said: “Uncle Doug, what do you do about homesickness?” But today on the trail he moved with spirit and declared, “I am loving this.”

We are out of whisky and will restock in two days in the town of Chame. Beyond that we have no concerns.


Posted May 9, 2012, from Chame.