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reveries of an amateur long-distance hiker

March 12

March 14th, 2016

March 12 Day 12 Kagbeni to Jomson

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Breakfast at YacDonalds included good coffee and some horses just strolling down the street outside my window. A short walk today to Jomson, so lingered a bit, then went to the Kag Chode Thupten Samphel Ling monastery. On the way I passed a pile of wooden beams. Not sure what they are for (there is a large concrete building being constructed nearby), but they are hand-hewn and some were at least 10×10. Very likely they are bridge timbers. The monastery is also a school, so the compound is a group of dormitories with lots of kids running around. It is a free school for those who get in, taught in a traditional Buddhist way. The gompa itself is 585 years old with an uneven brick or stone exterior–can’t distinguish the material because of layers of red paint. The interior walls were frescos of various Buddhas, including one with many arms which I believe is the Buddha of compassion. At one end were large golden and silver statues of seated Buddhas and more of the cloth wrapped manuscripts. While I walked about, above somewhere in the gallery sthe monks were praying and making music– a strange and wild sound. The day’s walk was uneventful, following the Kali Gandaki Nadi River downstream. It has a wide gravel bed resembling the braided rivers of New Zealand’s South Island. This area is famous for its strong winds, and rightly so. Toward the end of the walk, it was howling directly in my face, bringing a veritable dust storm with it. As part of erosion control, there are a number of newly planted willow trees along the banks. Where they are older and more established, they have also been pollarded. I imagine willow baskets are useful. On the outskirts of old Jomson, there were three women at the foot of a large rockslide. Each was seated on a pile of rocks–at least 5 tons–making gravel. They sit cross legged, pile large rocks into short cylinders about 1 foot across, and pound away with rock hammers until they get the required size. A brutal way to make a living. Jomson itself is an airport town with many hotels lining the area by the landing strip, though horses wander about the streets along with the people. It does have a military base and many soldiers were training. Not sure if these are the famous Gurkha troops whose fitness levels are legendary since many grew up at altitudes higher than 4000 m. I bumped into Marty, the Los Angeles native who crossed the pass the same day I did. He has an infected toe and is calling off his trek, but is happy he made it over Thorung La. This is the Marpha region so there are a lot of apple products–dried, bottled juice, brandy. I had a two dollar flask of apple brandy with my yak steak dinner, tasty and slept very well a included good coffee and some horses just strolling down the street outside my window. A short walk today to Jomson, so lingered a bit, then went to the Kag Chode Thupten Samphel Ling monastery. On the way I passed a pile of wooden beams. Not sure what they are for (there is a large concrete building being constructed nearby), but they are hand-hewn and some were at least 10×10. Very likely they are bridge timbers. The monastery is also a school, so the compound is a group of dormitories with lots of kids running around. It is a free school for those who get in, taught in a traditional Buddhist way. The gompa itself is 585 years old with an uneven brick or stone exterior–can’t distinguish the material because of layers of red paint. The interior walls were frescos of various Buddhas, including one with many arms which I believe is the Buddha of compassion. At one end were large golden and silver statues of seated Buddhas and more of the cloth wrapped manuscripts. While I walked about, above somewhere in the gallery sthe monks were praying and making music– a strange and wild sound. The day’s walk was uneventful, following the Kali Gandaki Nadi River downstream. It has a wide gravel bed resembling the braided rivers of New Zealand’s South Island. This area is famous for its strong winds, and rightly so. Toward the end of the walk, it was howling directly in my face, bringing a veritable dust storm with it. As part of erosion control, there are a number of newly planted willow trees along the banks. Where they are older and more established, they have also been pollarded. I imagine willow baskets are useful. On the outskirts of old Jomson, there were three women at the foot of a large rockslide. Each was seated on a pile of rocks–at least 5 tons–making gravel. They sit cross legged, pile large rocks into short cylinders about 1 foot across, and pound away with rock hammers until they get the required size. A brutal way to make a living. Jomson itself is an airport town with many hotels lining the area by the landing strip, though horses wander about the streets along with the people. It does have a military base and many soldiers were training. Not sure if these are the famous Gurkha troops whose fitness levels are legendary since many grew up at altitudes higher than 4000 m. I bumped into Marty, the Los Angeles native who crossed the pass the same day I did. He has an infected toe and is calling off his trek, but is happy he made it over Thorung La. This is the Marpha region so there are a lot of apple products–dried, bottled juice, brandy. I had a two dollar flask of apple brandy with my yak steak dinner, tasty and slept very well at the Xanadu Hotel.

 

T. Hugh Crawford

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