Our acclimatization day in Manang was to be devoted to one or two shorter hikes around the town. Being active helps acclimatization as long as one doesn’t push it to the point of exhaustion or illness.
We were also starting to get some better weather. At daybreak at least half of the sky was clear and we could get fleeting glimpses of the summits of Annapurna. On previous days it had clouded up by mid-morning, so we agreed to hike on the north side first to take advantage of the views while they were there.
First, however, I had to treat myself for diarrhea, which had been coming on for days and started in earnest in the night. I began taking Cipro immediately since more than 80% of such cases are e. coli infections, but even Cipro takes about half a day to really kill the cause. In the mean time, the only choice is to make multiple trips to the bathroom, which is not pleasant with Nepali toilets.
Despite all that, we got started uphill a little after 10:00. Our first destination was Praken Gompa, a small mountain monastery about 400 meters up the north side of the valley. It was a pretty steep climb and I was slowed by my illness, but we all finally made it up the hill. The monastery was inhabited only by Lama Tashi and his wife. Lama Tashi is 93 years old and he keeps himself busy giving blessings to travelers who came up the hill. We each went through the ceremony, which consisted of eating a few grains of blessed holy food and oil, and then having Lama Tashi touch our heads with an old book of sutras. Lama Tashi then dexterously tied a small ribbon around our necks, which we were to wear at least over the pass. In response to our questions, he explained that he was now the oldest person in the Manang Valley and he stopped going down the hill to town a few years ago when his legs got too weak. Marcia later spoke with a town health worker who had needed to climb up a few times to treat Lama Tashi – a long way for a house call.
We returned to the hotel for a late lunch, after which Marcia decided she had had enough walking for the day. My medicine was now working, so I went on a short walk across the valley to see the Ganggapurna glacier and the green lake at its toe. Most people go up to a viewpoint with a tea shop, but it was getting cold and I could get just as good a view by scrambling to the top of a moraine partway up. So I took some pictures and headed back to town, stopping at the small Manang Culture Museum to admire some festival masks on the way back to the hotel.