- I took the riverside trail, the one that sustained the most damage from the earthquake. Wasn't a whole lot of information about the state of it but was told it had re-opened.
- There is a high level trail that is a harder climb, but relatively unaffected by the quake, a nice clean route. That was what I had seen pictures and videos of prior. And assumed it would be similar to what I would experience when the riverside trail re-opened. Nope. Silly me thought someone would just came in and magically remove all the rock and boulders that have fallen... (facepalm...)
- I had the option of taking that high trail on the way down for a change. If the day hadn't been unusually warm, I would have but that route is completely exposed whereas the riverside one at least had trees so decided to opt for shade (and the tense moments of dodging numerous cows). Was already sunburned despite wearing 50 spf. Recommend reapplying often.
- On the topic of sun, I got a taste of what can lead to snow blindness. At one point, on day 3, my guide asked me to take off my sunglasses and try to look at the snowy peak in the distance. And I could barely. It was ridiculously bright, beyond the brightest fluorescent white I had ever seen. Brighter than the sun.
- So I can now understand why high altitude trekkers and mountaineers wear glacier style glasses that cover all sides including the top. When I got high enough, I was bothered by the light that would come in from the sides and the gap at the top. And I was wearing a running hat too. The light seemed to defy physics.
- Now that I've been once, have already taken steps towards improvement. Purchased an even warmer rated sleeping bag (-18 C) for starters. And a candle lantern, so I don't set myself up with potentially burning down a lodge again. The added ability of a candle to warm and dry up a room would be really welcomed.
- Need to build more cardio strength and spend way more time on my feet when training. I hadn't anticipated such long days nor the need to scramble. Saw some hikers with some pretty sore looking feet. Was fortunate that I did not end up with a blister at all. My legs felt like they were going to explode but no blisters on the feet!
- I didn't end up needing my Diamox. I had a variable pharmacy with me just in case. Don't depend on your guide to be able to administer first aid. Maybe if you travel with a western level company, they will provide a non local guide who is trained in survival and rescue. Would recommend you come prepared to take care of yourself. A wilderness survival first aid course would be great idea.
- I had read that Nepal is hard on gear and clothing. And I would agree. The ground is incredibly hard, even when you are on dark soil. I remember looking down at it in confusion because it felt like concrete underfoot.
- The rocks are sharp, with no give, even when you think you are stepping on gravel. It was rare for me to skid on it. But trip over it, yes. Very easy to cut clothing and puncture shoes. The jarring did affect my stomach. It made it feel uneasy. I wasn't sick but wasn't hungry much (possible sign of altitude sickness although I slept well, once I got warm enough). Existed on potatoes and salt, with a couple of eggs in the morning. And Coke, something I rarely drink when at home. Needed the caffeine and sugar boost at times. And pain meds.
- Incredible that I did not lose any weight considering how little I was eating. I expected to be ravenous and living off of dal bhat. No meat is available in Langtang due to lack of refrigeration. Didn't have any issues with filtering and treating my drinking water. An Australian girl got sick from the water on day 1 and thought maybe her water treatment tablets didn't work. Unfortunately she didn't get better until the end.
- Another fellow trekker told me that when I make it over to the Everest or Annapurna regions, it will seem like Disneyland compared to Langtang. And I will be able to order pizza, steak, pasta, desserts, along with wifi and electricity! It was nice to be able to commiserate with others. I met 5 other trekkers, mostly solo women, all first timers to the region too, some quite experienced with trekking. Was comforting to also hear that they had found it to be much tougher than anticipated the first couple of days.
- My hiking pole saved me big time. Had never used one before but found it to be intuitive. Used it with the carbide tip exposed. I normally like the downhills but it was so steep at parts, I needed the pole to stop me from tumbling head over heels down. And I had to descend sideways at some points as well as become tempted to slide down via my behind at others. I wondered often how the heck I managed to make it up.
- Due to a general strike (bandha), my trek had to be cut short by a day. So I lost the opportunity to try to make it up Tsergo Ri as you needed an extra day for acclimatization. Was quite disappointed when I found out upon arrival to Kathmandu. Buses were not running and no traffic was going to be allowed in or out of the city. However, 2 hours into it, I saw it as a great blessing in disguise! I don't believe I would have made it. Not strong enough.
- Because I had an extra night in Kathmandu, I got to meet D's volunteer team, made up of some real adventurers. One who was a professional high altitude guide for Everest expeditions! He was also a heli-ski guide, sailor, avalanche rescue instructor etc. etc. Couldn't help thinking that I wasn't doing enough with my time and life!
- I took this trip back in mid Nov '16. Originally I had a flight back to Nepal booked for Dec '17 but decided to cancel it as I needed this year for recovery. Even though I'm embarrassingly slow on the uphills and don't cope well with physical pain, there is a strange part of me that wants to find out if I can make it up those heights, to see if I would develop issues with altitude, to finish what I had started last year.
- Last but certainly not least, the people of Langtang need our support. Word is getting out that the area is safe to trek again. The locals don't want to pack up and move into the city for work. They want to live in the mountains and provide lodging and food to trekkers. They need trekkers to return.
- Unfortunately the area has attracted some independent trekkers who seem to be a little too overconfident in their abilities. As a result, a few were reported lost this spring. One who was last seen heading up Tsergo Ri and a couple (one died) who were found over a month later, having fallen over a cliff, starved, hypothermic and covered in maggots.
- I would never attempt this without a guide. And hired a separate porter (you can opt for a guide/porter combo if budget is an issue) not only to provide needed work, but also for extra safety. I learned so much from them over the 8 days. And also from one particular lodge owner (lost 6 family members in the landslide) who philosophized with me over the concept of freedom.
- Got to hear about their hardships and horror stories of having to leave home to worked in the UAE, India, Qatar. Having their passports confiscated by their employers, being given highly physical and difficult outdoor jobs that were not what they signed up for. And how they managed to get out of it. Neither of them would contemplate out of country work again.
- Both lost their homes in the earthquake and had to take time off work to rebuild it themselves. It's not like they have insurance over there. Saw numerous photos of their children and family. Received an invitation to stay at their village. They were very patient with me and my non abilities compared to them. Nepalis are super human. Saw smaller stature women porters carrying the same loads as the men. With no accessible health care, it is literally survival of the fittest.
Gorgeous Kyanjin Gompa (3900 m)
with Tsergo Ri (4985 m) in the background
Will be my home base when I get to return.