Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Day 7: Chamje to Timang

Setting off bright and early at 7:30AM, the guest house’s lack of toast forcing us to discover the greasy wonders of Tibetan bread. A pan-fried dough which is very satisfying if slathered with sufficient jam.
Michi tucks into a Tibetan bread for breakfast
Unrideable stairway climbs gave way to nuggety descents that proved beyond our ability. While I’m kicking myself for not riding some of these sections, my desire to ride was tempered by the lack of emergency medical treatment. Hospitals seemed as readily available as a spinner hub-cap kit for your donkey train (i.e. not very accessible.)

A donkey train without spinner hub-caps
Crossing a swing bridge we stopped for a curry lunch, using the sun’s glowing rays to dry our soggy clothes and fuel a post lunch nap.

Back on the bikes the trail took a turn for the better, the stretch to Timang being the most ridable since yesterday morning. For what seemed like hours we spun away up the climbs, which were a refreshingly consistent gradient and free from the bane of our forearms; steps.

Ollie rolls up a rideable section of the trail
The elevation robbing undulations of earlier had vanished and we clawed up almost 1000m of climbing by the day’s end.

When in a sweaty and oxygen indebted haze one particular charm of the small villages is beginning to grate. The constant donkey and buffalo traffic plasters the trail with dung. This attracts flies and a rancid stench that make some sections sickening. Fortunately it usually clears up outside the villages, and clear mountain air is usually only a few pedal strokes away.

Michi crosses a swingbridge, a river raging below

Midway through the afternoon at Danakyu we met an Austrian engineer tasked with advising a local team on a 150 Megawatt hydroelectricity project. While geographical and resource constraints were profound I couldn’t help picking up on some complaints which wouldn’t be out of place at the consultancy where I work. It seems the lack of a detailed scope especially is an issue the world over.

Michi endures a final carry section before Timang
We realised today that our 1000 Nepalese Rupees per day budget is at odds with our ambitious distance goals, so have made the call to err on the side of full stomachs lest we waste away. Part of maximising value has led to a new found passion for tea drinking, something the Nepalese take seriously. Lemon tea is a particular favourite and we can’t seem to order a meal without a steaming pot of the good stuff to wash it down.

We are still yet to make Chame which we had hoped to do on the first day, but all reports are that the sections to the pass are all rideable so we retired to bed in Timang with spirits as high as our elevation.

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