LANG TANG TREK 2018
Seven people joined me for the return trek to Lang Tang. Its wide open spaces, majestic mountains, and people drew me back to this trek. Since this I’d taken a group of 12 there in 2017, I decided to return to share the beauty with more people. My appreciation of the people, scenery, butterflies, bees, monkeys, birds, yaks, ponies, and the river deepened this trip. Like last year, we enjoyed clear blue skies and no rain, but it was noticeably colder.
We hiked along a trail beside the river most of the way to Lang Tang.
Lang Tang is the first National Park in Nepal and there are still no roads and very few mule trains breaking down the delicate trails. A mule train going back and forth from Kyanjin Gompa (3870m/12,696.feet). to higher altitudes for the climbing expeditions passed us a few time. This tiem, we had a mule train too. Bhudhi, the Sidhdar (lead guide) told me he had trouble finding places for the staff to sleep last year so he decided to use mules. Group members loved our 15 mules who carried our duffle bags, tents, and other equipment.
This is a Stupa on the way to KYANJIN GOMPA (3870m/12,696.feet)
Buddhi was our Sidar again, Ram (the best cook ever) was our cook, and Raz (a guide from last year) was the assistant guide. We had 7 more porters and assistants. All of them were attending Univeresities for business or learning to be a teacher. This team proved to be exceptional and attended to the special needs of this particular group. They went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure everyone had their needs met. group was 7 women and Cory Storch, a Free Walker had joined with TOYL in 2016 for the Indigenous People’s Trail trek. Pat, who I’d met on a Freewalker’s Bobbie Kennedy Memorial trek last Spring also joined. She said, “I want to talk to the mountains. I have things to resolve.” And she did! Pat Fisher, another (https://freewalkers.org Three Wanderbirds http://www.wanderbirds.org joined me, Yukiko, Debroah, and Linda.
En route to KYANJIN GOMPA (3870m/12,696.feet)
My roommate/tent mate was Pam from Indianapolis. We’d gone to school together from kindergarten thru high school and hadn’t seen each other until our 50th high school reunion in 2017 when I asked her if she’d like to join the trek. She did and prepared herself by reading everything I sent her, trained and read a book about trekking in Nepal.
The itinerary was the same as the one in 2017 with three additional days. A rest day was added at Kyanjin Gompa (3870m/12,696.feet). Then, five of us continued a gradual climb to Langshisha Khaki (4400m. 14,435ft,), where we spent two nights. The other three opted to stay in a hotel in Kyanjin Gompa. Three staff members stayed with them to make meals, take them on a trek and help them if they needed anything.
View from the Temple on the hill
Our walk along the river valley up towards Ganjala reminded me of the wide open space I enjoyed when I trekked in Mustang years ago, but without the strong wind and sand. Yukiko had trekked in Mustang in 2017 and asked fascinating questions about the mountains, terrain and seemed to revel in the beauty surrounding her. We slowly made our way along the trail and gradualy found a quiet meditative pace and comfort with each other as we passed the grazing local horses and yak pastures. We had mountain views of Langtang Lirung (7246m), Langshisha RI (6310m), and gang Chhenpo (6388m) Urkeinmang (6150m), Penthankarpo RI (6830m) and so on. It was one of the most beautiful campsites I’ve ever camped in. Thanks to one of Yukiko’s questions, Buddhi explained these mountains were named after the first Tibetans who crossed them. We were about 20 miles from Tibet; I could only imagine what it must have been like to cross these giant mountains hundreds of years ago.
Yukiko took this photo of Pam and me.
Each of us loved this part of the trek and agreed it was the highlight. When we reached our camp site, Buddhi realized our mules had gone to base camp! Raz stayed with us while Buddhi sprinted towards the mountains to bring them back to us. Cory and Deb stretched out in the sun on the ground, Yukkiko wandered around taking pictures and I reassured them that it wouldn’t be too long before camp was set up. I knew they’d be back and was relieved to see the mules winding their way down the valley towards us. Before we knew it, Ram’s assistant cook was handing us warm drinks and we were snuggled inside tents by the time the sun went down. Except for the grazing animals and herders, we had the valley to ourselves. By this time, we were used to being “unplugged” and soaked up the beauty, quiet, and mystery of this place. We were delighted that Raz didn’t have to walk back to the others that night. Pre dawn he next morning he went back to check on the three we’d left behind.
The second day was an optional rest day or a hike. Buddhi hiked with Yukkiko, Cory and me to a near-by pass. Deb and Pam were happy to stay in in camp to enjoy the area and to rest. The hike was slow going because of the altitude and steep terrain. Midway, I decided to go back to camp because I was holding up the other 3 hikers. X accompanied me and the others arrived back an hour or so later because clouds came in and they weren’t able to see the mountains from the pass. After our second night and breakfast, we reluctantly hiked back to Kyanjin Gompa. By talking to herders along the way, Buddhi found an easier way back across a rocky landslide we’d crossed on our way out.
After we arrived, Pam and I walked up the hill from camp to visit temple and Gompa. ‘(Gompa‘ is an imprecise term used by westerners traveling in Tibetan regions to refer to a variety of religious buildings, generally correlating to what might be described as a church but including small temple buildings and other places of worship or religious learning.)
Near the monastery and hotel a few minutes outside of KYANJIN GOMPA (3870m/12,696.feet)
Since the earthquake in 2015 the temple has been rebuilt with a lovely gursst house, Monastry Guest House with a lovely cafe for visitors. We met the owner, Pr0 Suppa Tamang and her daughter who invited us in and talked with us about the region. If I go back, I’d love to stay there next time. As we descended, we saw large groups of monkeys high in the trees and some near us in the bushes. It was a thrill.
The next morning we started our descent following the 2017 itinerary with improvements along the way, including a night in a hotel in Syabru Village. A big improvement over the potatoe field where we camped last year. Last year, I wondered what the villagers with their new coffee shops and hotels had thought of us campling. It was a relief to stay in one of the hotels this year. Each of us enjoyed showers, using wifi, and exploring the town. The trek to Barku was easier because the road was newly plowed in 2017 and had been used making the road easier to walk on. Like last year, we enjoyed panoramic views of the mountains in Tibet and in Nepal.
As always, our celebratory dinner the last night together with the team was poignant. Group members were appreciative of the team and sad to say good-bye. Budhi and I congratulated the team for their exceptional work with our words and tips from group members. This team exceled in how well they worked together as a team to meet our varying needs. Pam, who needed a gluten free, diary free diet and her food cooked in a separate frying pan with olive oil, gave a heart-felt thank you speech to Ram and his assistants. Most of us were in tears by the time she ended with, ” I couldn’t have done this trek without you. If you hadn’t done your job the way you did, I would have been sick for days.” I was relieved that everyone was back safely.
After the road trip to Kathmandu we enjoyed hot showers in Kathmandu Guest House and our celebratory dinner at the The Third Eye with Niru Rai, the founder of Adventure Geo Trek and Buddhi. Tom Gagliardo, a friend and an attorney from Silver Spring Maryland. joined us that evening. He was finishing his bucket list tour of China and Dubai with us in Nepal. He was a welcome addition to our group and continued with Pam, Linda and me for the volunteer extension. After he returned to the United States, he said, “People are interested in my trip and listen to my description of Dubai and China, but when I tell them about visiting Dadagaun Village, they really want to know more. There is such a difference to spend time in a village and with local people. I still feel connected to them and never felt so welcome.”