We knew we would be getting a late start today because our guide had to pick up our adjusted trekking permits from the administrative office. Nepal government offices are closed on Saturdays, and while we did find the official and got him to make the adjustments on the holiday, he couldn’t stamp them until 10am today. So we spent the morning walking around town, got our things together, had an early lunch, and then left.
Our team consists of Marcia and me, our guide Kinna Sherpa, our cook Sonam Sherpa, three kitchen men Mahendra, Deepak and Gopal, two mule boys Hari and Danjeet, and five mules. They use mules in this area because human porters are in short supply and unreliable, and yaks are too valuable. Kinna and Sonam are not related: all members of the Sherpa ethnic group use Sherpa as their last name. They are true Sherpa, coming from villages in the area around Mt. Everest. Built like fire plugs, the Sherpa are renowned for their strength and faithful service, so much so that mountain guides from other ethnic groups often call themselves sherpa (lowercase s) even though that is not technically correct.
Today was another short day of three hours of easy walking up a canyon that reminded me of the inner canyon of the Grand Canyon. But the Himalayan mountains are more rugged and the canyon deeper.
We stopped for the night at a small campsite that our guide had reserved at the park office. Unfortunately, another group of 13 arrived with no reservation just before dark, and we had to share the site. So we now have about 10 tents pitched wall-to-wall in this one small area. That’s not uncommon in these parts, since Dolpo is too backward and unpopulated to have lodges and flat camping places are in short supply. We may have similar problems for the next few nights, but the crowds should thin after that.
Dinner came just after dark, always too much food because the staff is happy to eat our leftovers. Tonight we had popcorn as an appetizer, chicken soup, very tough local chicken, french fries, two vegetable dumplings like samosas, and fruit. We don’t really need this five-star treatment, but it’s just the way it is done. At least our staff is supposed to be better trained than the locals on how to cook in a way that won’t make foreigners sick.
We were in our tent by 7:30 with nothing to do but write these notes and go to sleep. We’ll be up with the sun in the morning.