Koto (2600) to Meta (3560)
MI: nice walk to Chame yesterday. Passed one place that had a couple of groups of people playing cards for money, and a smaller group playing a board game. We also saw a group of langur monkeys sunning themselves on rocks on the road side.
The others started taking Diamox yesterday to assist with altitude, particularly sleeping, but the ironic thing is the side effect is needing to pee, so there were many visits to the toilet during the night. Zero degrees this morning.
We first had to check in to show our permits to trek this area. The Naar-Phu trek has only been open since 2002 and it sounds like the number of tea houses and infrastructure is very minimal. Will be a great contrast to what we have experienced so far on the Annapurna Circuit. We were told a few people entered the area a few days ago, and today it is us (and three French tourists).
Most of the walking today has been through pine forest, following the Naar River through steep gorges for the whole day. A young American guy, Tyler, joined our group to get through the permit area then he ran ahead. We thought he would get to the end hours before us but was only an hour ahead.
JB: started the day a bit slow with the usual early stop to drop off clothes that weren't needed once we'd warmed up. Not long after McVet stopped for a toilet (interminable) and about five minutes later reached for his sunglasses only to find they had inadvertently remained at his toilet spot. Gobinda ran back and collected.
We then caught the French group.
A lot of the track was along narrow paths cut into the cliffs above the river. Sheer drops and in many places big rock overhangs.
Stopped for lunch at a workers dal baht hut beside where they were building a new tea house. The lady running the place shooed the workers out and we think gave us their lunch. Sat inside the smokey hut on low plank eating, a great experience and good dal baht!
About fifteen minutes later came across the workers eating lunch at another dal baht tent.
A small hot pool was just across a bridge so we drop packed and went to have a look. It was a hot spring coming from a fissure in the cliff and flowing via a small pool into the river. The hot water was very hot about 60degC. We also took the opportunity to try the river temperature; it was COLD!
MI: There had been comments before the trip about us all coming back having lost weight, but one week into the trip it seems very unlikely. We certainly haven't had any issues in finding yummy food. Tonight's dinner Vege Curry (NZ$2) and vege fried rice ($5.50), it is all dirt cheap.
Sites on the track today included a little guinea pig/mousey thing, small rock flowers, quite a few horse trains, women carrying baskets with juniper branches (which they burn as incense in the mornings outside their houses).
The rivers filled with massive glacial looking boulders, and as we climb the river climbs with us via rapids and waterfalls.
Quote of the day: from John commenting on the shear drop below us to the river hundreds of meters below 'we'd die of old age before we hit the bottom'.
Just before we started our 300 vertical meter, 30 minute slog from the river up to Meta Village (around 20 houses) we came to the Dharmasala Waterfall, which is partially frozen and partially flowing. The track goes under the waterfall, a highlight for the day.
Tonight we played cards and ate in the kitchen. Again the food is cooked over a wood fire and we will ow stink of smoke, but a cool time watching everything happen.
Today we walked 17km, 7hrs, and gained an altitude of over 900m. Hopefully everyone will be okay tomorrow.