Wednesday, December 8, 2010

1/10/2010 Wednesday Day 12 Muktinath to Tatopani

Woke up to a beautiful morning that revealed stunning views of the valley below, the Himalayan peaks were mightily piercing the morning clouds.  Last night was perhaps the best sleep I’ve had on the entire journey to date, despite my ongoing cough. My stomach was also feeling much better, although the morning brew was still on the low viscosity side. 

Breakfast was good, we again settled for the awesome deal of a set breakfast with porridge, cooked potatoes, eggs, toast, with a glass of juice and a pot of lemon tea to share.  We shared our breakfast table with a young Israeli man, whom had also done the pass.  

We settled the bill and off we went on our 2570m downhill adventure to Tatopani. The first leg involved dropping 1km to the valley floor over a distance of 10km. This contained all the ingredients for a fast blast, which finally allowed me the opportunity to set my Rohloff to 11th gear for the day.  This meant I was pushing 72.5” for the whole day, great practice for the Single Speed worlds.  The ride down was nothing short of exhilarating, with the 29er wheels humming as they spun at speed over rugged rocky road.  The bike became a mere extension of my body as I rode through the mystical morning light that bathed me and the enchanting valley.  This seamless connection between my bike and I well reflected the spirituality of this amazing region.    

We passed a land slip on the way down that was being cleared by a front end loader, a bit further down we passed a fifty tonner clearing another slip that looked like it was being driven by 12 year old. We sneaked under it and were off again at pace descending the to the valley floor.

The environment was largely desert with small oases next to the villages.  After following the road for an hour we reached Jomson the largest town in the Mustang region.  This town boasted a fully sealed runway, from which the majority of tourist enter and exit the area, and ATM machines that didn’t read our cards.   At the check point Ollie got us signed out of the ACA, whilst I talked to a trekker from down under about our efforts.  He soon began to lecture me about AMS. 
We passed thousands of goats that were being herded for a sacrificial festival.
The trekker also mentioned that it was a 7 hour jeep ride to Tatopani, well we will see about that.
On the road down the valley, shortly after Jomson

With the aim of getting to the infamous hot pools at Tatopani we were off, with only a cloud of dust to show our presence. The 29er wheels once again proved themselves over the rough terrain.  The constant river crossings combined with the clouds of dust gave our chains the workout of their lives. The track down the valley was made all the more pleasant by the rapidly changing vegetation, from the sparseness of the alpine desert the pine trees slowly began to emerge until the rugged mountain sides were one extensive forest.
Giving the folks a call at lunch, typically got their answer machine.

We stopped for lunch at Kalopani and feasted on Nepal’s version of the cheese burger. This was followed by an apple pie and crumbly for desert. We than carried on the remaining 40% of the leg down Tatopani.  With still 1400m of elevation to lose, things were looking blurry in a good way. We passed plenty of tractors, trucks and buses on the bumpy road down proving that mountain bikes are definitely the vehicle of choice.
Ollie riding through the world's deepest gorge

The amazing views just keep coming, around every bend another vista would present itself. We passed waterfalls that seemed to pour from the clouds themselves.

 We arrived in Tatopani and found a place to stay for 100Ru a night.  We quickly unpacked and headed down to the long awaited hot pools. For another mere price of 50Ru we were setting in what we both agreed to be some of the best hot pools we have ever been in.  The sparsely crowded pools had a neat addition of a cold water hose that you could use to cool off under once overcome by heat of the steaming pools.  What a simple and refreshing idea. 

We cleaned our clothes in the hot pool runoff and headed back for our traditional afternoon nap.

Tonight we are both trying the dalhbut, a Nepalese dish that keeps on giving, quite literally as the dish is normally refilled once finished.  So as long as tomorrows diary entry doesn’t consist of sudden vomiting, diarrhoea and ‘oh the pain, can you pull the 1000 anger monkeys out of my stomach’ we will assume that the dalhbut was pretty good. 

1700m climb up to 2860m to Ghorepani tomorrow.  Apparently takes 7 hours so we will see how we get on.            

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