Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Day 8: Timang to Manang

The day kicked off in spectacular fashion, with a rideable descent followed by a ridable climb, a combination of length and ridability we’d not yet experienced on the trail so far.

Super Sherpa and friends
On crossing a swing bridge between descent and climb we came across a porter that set the ‘hard core’ bar at a new level. His load was no less than four single mattresses and at least 40 cans, all perched precariously on his back. The complaints we had made about the weight and awkwardness of our loaded bikes seemed trivial in the company of this super Sherpa.

Michi gawks at mountains
As far as riding went, the trail just kept getting better. Always climbing towards the ever present peaks, lush rain forest gave way to conifer forest and then onto barren plains and eroded cliffs reminiscent of the South Island’s Molesworth station.

Ollie on a rocky section of trail
Finally arriving at Chame (only two days behind schedule) we came across a game of volleyball that had captured the attention of the entire town, allowing us to sneak through in relative obscurity.

Ollie crossing a bridge before Pisang
At Pisang, a beautiful hamlet perched beside a mountain river, we spied locals using mountain bikes for the first time. Clearly the changing trail made bicycles the preferred mode of transport, trumping even the mighty donkey.

Lunch in the sun allowed me to discover yet another gustatory delight in the form of the Tibetan Momo. These miniature crescent shaped pastries were filled with vegetables, eggs and delicious sauce. Steamed or fried they were sure to become the preferred source of calories.

The high altitude architecture of Pisang
As our elevation crept higher, the architecture also changed. Makeshift corrugated iron cladding gave way to hand hewn stone and planed timber milled using jigs not seen in New Zealand for almost half a century.

Finishing the day in Manang at 3450m so far the altitude has treated us kindly. The only ill effect to report so far is a severe shortness of breath when I attempt something silly like mashing up a particularly steep section.

Ollie cresting a climb close to Manang
The mountains surrounding us now and visible right outside our window are all consuming, with 8000m + peaks seemingly within a stone’s throw.

Manang sports its own quaint cinema complete with squashed yak rug. We watched the movie adaptation of J Krakauer’s ‘Into Thin Air’, and this served as a grim and chilling tale of the folly of mountain climbing. Our plan is to spend a day in Manang acclimatising before pushing for the highpoint of Thorong La the following day.

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