Today was a long day because we needed to catch up the half day we lost in Dunai. The morning ritual began with tea at 6:30 followed by hot water for washing and then breakfast at 7. We were on the trail at 7:30.
Today’s trail followed a river valley uphill. We gained about 800 meters of elevation but had to climb a lot more than that because the trail frequently climbed high above the river over a rock wall then dropped back down. After four hours of this in the morning and another four hours after lunch, we were ready to find our campsite.
If yesterday’s terrain looked like the bottom of the Grand Canyon, today’s reminded us of the Sierras. Very suddenly we passed from low desert shrubs into a stand of juniper and pine trees, and the forest kept up all day. The river raced down the canyon in a long series of cascades.
In Dolpo, it is hard to escape reminders of the Maoist revolt such as this symbol painted on the rocks. The revolt, modeled somewhat after Peru’s Shining Path, began just south of Dunai, and for years much of Dolpo was controlled by the rebels. Nepal’s corrupt government had ignored these remote regions for years and created a fertile ground for this People’s War, which ultimately impoverished the country and the people it was trying to liberate. The situation resolved itself into an uneasy truce in 2006 when the king was forced to step down and the Maoists engaged in a political solution. Attempts to form a new constitution are still ongoing, but for now at least the country is at peace. Among our party, the three kitchen men used to be gun runners for the Maoists, but they like their new job with us because it pays much better.
Near the end of the afternoon, I was just thinking that we would be very fortunate if 6 days delay in Nepalgunj was the worst thing that happened to us, when suddenly I tripped and found myself falling forward. It was a downward slope and with no chance to brace myself, I fell flat with a pretty heavy hit on my head. Fortunately, I fell right on the trail on a place with no rocks, so I was not badly injured. My eyeglasses took some scratches but might have protected me from much worse. This was a good reminder how careful we need to me in this rugged country many days from the nearest hospital.