Today was another gradual climb uphill toward Manang. Sonam had us start early because it was to be a longer day, but we made faster progress than he expected. Although we are still walking slowly compared with the twenty-something trekkers, we have clearly developed some strength and endurance in our previous trip.
The gorge became quickly narrow just above Chame. At first it was steep cliffs with a gorge cut by rivers into the looser soil below. But after our early lunch, the next bend revealed a huge, glacier-polished slope more than 1500 meters (5000 feet) high. Formed from a single piece of granite, this was a testament to the power of the glaciers that must have once flowed down this east-west valley.
The weather was still not cooperating. Although we got some sun and fleeting glimpses of Annapurna II in the morning, the clouds soon lowered and spit a few drops of rain. The Annapurna range tends to get more weather because it has no front range to protect it from the moist air rising from the Indian plains, but it is not normal to have 5 straight days of clouds in November. We can only hope that it’s not dropping more snow on the pass, which already has a 30 centimeters from the previous storm.
We spent the night in Lower Pisang. The books suggest going across the river to the better views of the upper town, but the lodges there are more primitive and we will only take the high trail if it is good weather in the morning.
At dinnertime, the locals were watching a violent gangster movie on the satellite television, so I escaped to my equally horrifying book about the twists and turns of Nepalese politics and revolutions. It is sad to think that the people living in this beautiful place are subject to such a failed political system that lurches from crisis to crisis under people more interested in winning personal power, money or ideology than in helping their suffering country.