Sunday, March 6, 2011

Langtang, Chitwan, and Throwing Up

Well the last two weeks were amazing.   Met and made many friends, saw some beautiful sites, and of course puked for only the second time in my life.  So we begin in Langtang.  The beginning of this journey was quite interesting.  Of course it began with a horrible bus ride for 9 hours...Bumpy, Dusty, and people throwing up (not me though, that will come later).  I spent last entry complaining about the bus ride, this time I will talk more about the trek.  So I met a couple fellow Americans and a French Guy on the bus, but it was the two Americans and I that started the trek together.  The first day was a great day of hiking up along the river through a glorious forested valley.   We saw heaps of birds and many monkeys along the way.  We stayed at Lama Hotel (village name) on the first night.  Stayed with a family that had just introduced a new member to the family (16 day old baby boy).  It was the cutest thing... After a decent nights sleep we headed up the valley the next morning.
The next village we hiked to was the actual village of Langtang.  Along the way it gradually got colder and there was snow beginning to show more and more.  Here at our guesthouse I met my "mini me" Nepali version of me.  The kid was a riot.  I might have actually been cleaner than him, but not by much. (check out the photos from the links below).
The next day was on to the last village of the valley.  We stayed at a great guest house run by a young couple with a 9 month old baby girl.  I was kind of made honorary "uncle" while I was there.  The other two Americans took off the following morning while I stuck around for another 2 nights.  There was heaps of snow on the way up and it only got deeper as we made are way there.  All the day hike trails from this area were impossible to locate so I pretty much had to make my own path.  After my new friends left I attempted to do the Mountain summit of Tserko Ri.  This was around 5000 meters and as I headed out to hike it, I could see the clouds coming in.  I tried anyways.  about halfway up she started to snow, and I made it about 4/5ths to the top when I decided to abort my ascent (first time ever).  Did not feel like being frozen to death on the side of a hill by myself.  Probably one of the best decisions I ever made (besides dropping out of college).  So I lived to see another day.  So what does one do to following day?  I decided to trek for 10 hours through 1-3ft of snow to the glacier of one of the side valleys.  Now this was hell.  I have trekked all over, and I have never been so exhausted.  Pretty much made a straight line to the glacier, which now when I look back at it, it probably would have been quicker to go up high on a ridge and come back down to it, but what the hell it was a learning experience.  Hanging out at the terminal face was a riot.  Watching ice fall in front of me and hearing the ice crumble and rumble in the higher valley parts was a blast.  After spending an hour on the glacier, I started to make my way back.  I got about halfway back when two climbers (I say climbers cause they were hauling all their gear to do a summit) yelled down to me. "are you all right?"  I said "yeah of course" and carried on, but then they shouted back "you are nowhere near the trail"  and I answered "yeah I know, but I am having fun".  They shouted back "you are crazy and good luck"  and I said "thanks"...  This whole conversation was taking place at nearly 1000 feet apart as they were up on the ridge looking down at this "kid" who is up to his waste in snow moving about 5 feet per minute...  oh well it is all about the adventure.
When I got back to the house I ate 2 meals and drank heaps of water and sat up and talked with the family about everything about life and how life in Langtang is different from life in America.  While we were talking, the parents would take turns holding the now naked baby close to the fire and rotate the girl as if she was a rotisserie chicken on a skewer.  It was kind of comical, but an everyday occurrence for this family.  After the fire burned out I headed to bed.  The next morning I said my goodbyes and made my way back down the valley.  Trekked about 7 hours and stayed at a nice little place with 3 beds and had an amazing sunset to fall asleep to.
The next morning I headed a new route back to the beginning of the trail head.  This required me to make a nice ascent and then hang out on a ridge on the opposite side of the Mountain range that I just walked up the middle of.  This detour was amazing.  Beautiful views, sweet smells (not me) and a great companion from Sweden I met along the trail.  One of the coolest experiences I have ever had visually was on this stretch (and I am not talking acid or mushrooms)  So me and this 60 year old Gardener from Sweden are chilling on the hillside when all of sudden we can see this "grainy" spotted black circle coming near us.  It took a minute before I realized it was a massive flock (500-1000) of very large black birds.  They were swaying this way and that, figure 8's and what not.  They would bear left and disappear and then all of a sudden reappear out of thin air.  They did this as they gained altitude and made their way further up the valley.  After about 15 minutes (and out of sight) of silence and watching the aviation spectacle all that the Swede and I could do is just look at each other and say "whoa" at the same time.  Simply remarkable.  Well we split paths as he was heading to another village, I embarked on the horrible 900 meters of straight downhill hell...  I have the blisters to prove it...  The next day was sure to be better after showering and going to bed early...
Woke up and I got on the first bus out of town, which is also the local alarm clock cause they toot this annoying horn at the wee hours of 6am loud and clear.  To make the ride better, I decided to ride on top with a couple of locals.  I tell you the 3 dollars I spent to ride this bus, is a hell of a lot cheaper than an amusement park ticket, and twice as fun...  Nine hours later, and heaps of peas eaten, and a few near "fall offs" I was back in Kathamandu.  But only for about 9 hours.
I met my friend Ryan that I met on the Annapurna Circuit for dinner and we booked our ticket to Chitwan National Park.  On the ride down I started getting sick (not motion sickness, just bad sick)  we got to the park chilled for a bit and as I sat up I was like "Ryan I think you might want to leave cause I am going to heave"  before he even shut the door behind him, it was coming up.  Horrible feeling.  But felt great afterwards.  I paid for all my meals in advance, and I only ate once during the 2-3 day ordeal.  Watched the sunset along the river (are hut was located on the river) and headed to bed.  The next morning got up early and did a canoe trip for an hour, saw some crocs, deer and heaps of birds.  Then we had to hike back to the hotel, which shit man, I am sick and I half to walk back..?  We were searching for some Rhino's which we saw (from 10-20feet up in a tree that we had to climb)  I am sure I would have enjoyed this more had I not felt like shit, but man, that 3 hour walk was the longest 3 hours of my life.  I was actually thinking I would rather be healthy and trekking in 3 feet of snow again...  Well when we made it back it was bath time.  That is with the elephants.  This was a blast  they would lay on their sides and you could scrub them down, then you could crawl on their back and they would fill their trunks up with water and spray you down.  Great fun.  After this we went through the Jungle on them and had a blast (I know people and their views on riding elephants in Thailand it was horrible, but these elephants are well taken care of and were never struck with those stupid metal hooks found in other countries)  I would have not rode one had I seen mistreatment of them.  That night we ended with a culture show which was a blast, that involved dancing, fire and a crazy peacock.  We met some great Germans after the show and we ended up meeting up back at Kathmandu.  We ended up going bowling and seeing the movie "The Fighter"  which is really good...  I highly recommend it...
Oh by the way I am feeling much better, today was my first day that I ate three meals.  I lost a bit of weight, but I am sure I will put it on soon enough...  Well it is getting late and I am off to bed, I have an early flight to Everest in the morning.
The links below are for your enjoyment....

and of Chitwan...

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