March 2 Tal to Chame
I swore after yesterday that I wouldn’t do long days– I have plenty of time for this trek, but I found myself today pushing it to get to Chame, which is supposed to be one of the best towns on the circuit. A lot of road walking, though the roads are a lot like paths in many places. Coming out of Tal I passed a man and his children with a yoke of little oxen plowing a field. Small children walked behind with Pringles cans full of seeds sprinkling away. Later walking through a village, there were some men framing up a building. They had chisels and were cutting mortise and tenon joints while another man was truing up the beam with a small hand adze. Just down the way, I watched two women spinning yarn. They had a big bag of wool (I think goat wool) and they had a spindle that looked like an elongated children’s top which they spun with the point in a china bowl. Their fingers worked fast and the yarn was beautiful. Beside them in large flat drying baskets were chilies. The road I am following runs along the river all the way to Manang, which is the largest town in the area. The only vehicles besides tractors that run on it are Mahindra quad cab pickups– they are diesel four wheel drive trucks strong enough to make it over the rocks and through the streams. One was called the Manang Express, which made me laugh since I can walk almost a fast as they can drive on these roads. I did stop and watch a road crew work, laying out what we would probably call a Roman road, with cut or broken stone laid in a rough cobble pattern. The hike up and over the ridge to Timang was steep with lots of steps, which in a little altitude really winds me. Had to stop a bit just to breath. Stopped for lunch in Timang at a pleasant outside restaurant, had a Gorkha beer (which will surely slow me down) and watched the clouds come in over the ridge. Now to the south and west I can see parts of the Annapurna massif. Walking around the mountains is a way of paying them respect (rather than the Western climb and conquer mentality). What I have seen so far deserves something more than the word respect conveys. The rest of the afternoon was just a long dusty road walk, and found the Moonlight hotel for a well-deserved rest.