March 8 Day 8 Blue Sheep Hotel to Thorung Phedi
Didn’t see any blue sheep at the Blue Sheep Hotel. I kept thinking of Peter Matthiesson’s Snow Leopard and their search for blue sheep in the Dolpo region. All I saw were a lot of yaks on the high pastures. Today was supposed to be a short, relatively high but level trek over to Yak Karka. Still hiking with Will and Kyle and regularly bumping into other trekkers I have met on the trail. As we hiked out of the Tilicho valley, even though we more or less kept the same altitude, the snow began to disappear and we slowly ended up in a birch forest. I think it has more to do with the amount of sunlight in this part than with altitude. All the way down the valley the eagles circled, riding the thermals. I watched a pair flying closely together in perfect coordination, one shadowing the other, feeling the movement of the air between them. It was a magical dance between bird, bird and air. One flew directly overhead and I could hear the sound of the air as it ran through its feathers, something I’ve never heard. On the way down to the river, the birch thickened though still not forest-like. They had a twisted, tortured look’ and are shedding bark –reminded me of home. Getting to Yak Karka at noon, we decided to press on after lunch to Thorung Phedi, another 5 km and a higher altitude. Tomorrow will then be just a short hike up to High Camp for final acclimatization and a rest day. The Base Camp Hotel in Phedi (not at the High Camp) is a great guest house. The proprietors, a Nepali musician with long dreadlocks and a generous personality and his partner, a woman from South Africa — Kumar and Kit– were a lot of fun, good conversation. By 5:00 they built a dung fire in the woodstove and we all gathered around. Some young Nepalis on the circuit whom we had met yesterday, a Dutchman from Zwolle just finishing a three month teaching gig, and the British and Dutch pair we had met at the lake. Kumar played the guitar to the music on the stereo, while we all kept warm within the circle of heat made by the stove and the snow swirled down outside. The younger Dutchman was also a musician, so they broke out several guitars and played around the stove for the rest of the evening.
T. Hugh Crawford