India Travel Diary 17 – From Dunche to Ama’s Evening Lodge
Tuesday, March 26th 1991
We left this morning reluctantly, sick, dragging our feet, as we wandered along the path with Dunche disappearing around the corner gone and now suddenly here we were on this well worn path in the Himalayas . Everyone ahead of us used this path, everyone we met was tied to this trail for survival in some way. There was tall rhododendron trees all around us and you could hear the monkeys howling and screeching or making other big noises in the forest that climbed up and away from the trail. After a half hour we stopped and had a dip in the Trisuli Khola, we collected a few small stones that had mica and silver inclusions and started our walk to Bharkhu at 1844 meters. We got there but only after a slow climb, at one point Sabu fainted so we rested at Buddhist graveyard site for an hour or so. We decided to continue late into the day and passed Bharkhu and decided to continue on to Syabru at 2230 meters which we reached by 6:30 PM just as it was getting dark.
We stayed at the silly smoke longhouse, with a fire pit in the middle of the room and everyone sleeping with their feet towards a main fire pit that ran the through the centre of the lodge to keep warm. It made me think of all the communal long house stories I had read, in different cultures around the world similar to the longhouses of the Haida on the BC coast. It sort of had this smoky Viking type of memory for me, but the double order of potato pancakes and potato soup made us sicker and so we ended up sleeping on the deck outdoors in the cold night air. Everyone was coughing and it became obvious everyone had some sort of cold which I caught and ended up with the most intense head cold I have ever experienced; I was unable to smell anything anymore and this hung onto me for the entire trek. I was having a visual and audio experience with no olfactory grounding information about the Himalayas and the trek, so no chance of being able to find associative scents later on that could immediately transport me to this incredible experience. We taught two sherpas, Dorje Serpa and Nino Tengsu some hand games, like thumb crusher, and paper rock scissors, and hand slapper.
Wednesday, March 27th, 1991
The next morning we continued and now determined to alter our style to camping in the open air, a favorite of mine I called renegade camping. We started up the Langtang Valley and once again swam but this time it was the Langtang Khola. Slowly our bodies were getting used to the idea of being cooler and there really is nothing more exhilarating than jumping into a mountain stream to wash and dunk. The Langtang Khola is glacier fed, so we certainly were getting used to these icy dips. We tried to reach Lama Hotel but now hemorrhoids had joined the head cold circus, and Sabu dysentery had us moving slowly.
We decided to camp outdoors under an outcrop of rock. We found a great spot and cleared it out and set up camp, I built a small fire in front of that he rock face which reflected heat onto the rock face and kept us warm. A survival trick I had learned in twenty below zero Georgian Bay snow squall it’s allot of work but it will keep you alive. By sunrise, if there is a visible sunrise you get a great sense of self empowerment. On the fire we cooked some fish and noodles and settled down to eat, on our impromptu bed of leaves and twigs, I took some time exposures of our camp, we were visited by young sherpa elves women who giggled and pointed at us. The sound of the nearby khola and the crackling fire refracting on the rock above us throwing shadows was hypnotic.
Thursday March 28th 1991
The next morning we had a small fire and made some tea and biscuits. We continued on our way to Lama Hotel but lost time at a massive rock slide. We came around a corner to see an incredible heep small car size boulders and bigger chunks it extended along the valley for a quarter mile. It took a long time to climb cross, crawl around and shimmy under all the boulders, and it was somewhat terrifying as we looked up the mountain side wondering if there was anything else scheduled to come down. As fast as we moved we still had to be cautious, the boulders were sharp and unforgiving and on the other side we found a sulphur spring but couldn’t reach it so we decided to press on but before we weren’t going to reach Lama Hotel that night but by good fortune we came found the Evening Lodge. It was perched a ridge and you could see the flickering lights of Syabru way down the valley. When we walked by Ama was feeding her baby, she took out her tit and of the young boys mouth and smiled and said “There”. We laughed but that tit looked like it could shelter and feed all the kiddies of the world and so we decided to stay.
Ama sang by the fire and baked a fabulous momo, later she let us eat in bed and as we listened to Kraftwerk on our primitive Walkman. We slept and dreamt with the sound of the crackling fire, in this cozy windowless house of stones and with it’s ancient timber roof.