As we were leaving the Muktinath temple on our way back to the village of Kagbeni, my daughter reached the entrance gate and said, “We already are where we are.” Certainly, she meant that we had returned back to where we started but I was so charmed by this statement. It has become a mantra in a way. Each time we reached a place we had been before, I found myself saying it. We are where we are and we keep coming back. A metaphor of sorts.
As I mentioned in a previous post, my husband and I went on the Annapurna trek exactly 20 years ago. We did it in reverse this time, flying into Jomsom and walking back to Ghasa. It was my goal to make it up to Muktinath since we were unable to reach there the last time due to the all too common traveler’s sickness. It was wonderful to be back here with our children despite some of the challenges with the road. Development in the area has certainly had a negative impact for trekkers, but we were able to find alternative trails that avoided the dusty and often times dangerous road.
Rather than bore you dear readers, with a full trip report, I offer these visuals. I did spend some extra time to caption the images if you are so inclined.
S.T.A.L (short take off and landing) flight from Pokhara to Jomsom
Flying through the mountains you feel as if you could reach out and touch them.
Thumbs up from the pilot is what you want to see
Runway in sight
Starting out from Jomsom
Village of Thini
View from Thini
Shepherd on the Kaligundagi River Basin
On the road to Muktinath
Walking past abandoned barrels of tar used for paving the road.
Less than a week into our stay in Nepal, we are all working through jet lag and various bodily ailments. Evanan, who has always had a high histamine response, is swollen with infected mosquito bites. Our resident thumb sucker, Helena has mild travelers diarrhea and I still can’t kick my chest congestion that started before we got on the plane and seems to be exacerbated by the poor air quality in Kathmandu. All said, we are laying low at my father-in-law’s place for a few more days.
In our downtime, we are making plans to go on the Jomsom trek in the Annapurna’s next week with our family friends from Seattle. The last time Kishore and I went on this trek was exactly 20 years ago. Regrettably, I became ill during the last few days of the trek and had to take a night donkey (something that can be arranged) to the nearest exit point in Jomsom where we were able to take a flight out the next morning. This time around we’ll be doing the trek in reverse, flying into Jomsom from Pokhara and then trekking back down, at least that is the plan for now. It may be a bit ambitious for the kids but we will take it slow and with all the tea houses along the route we should have options if things go awry. I do hope that a few of us will be able to make it to Muktinath which we missed the last time around.
So much has changed over the last 20 years. There is now a road all the way from Pokhara to Muktinath where there was once only trails. You can book accommodations at various teahouses prior to going on your trek, which is also new to us. There is a mandate that went into effect several years ago that all foreign tourist must have a guide while trekking. I’m not entirely sure how that will all work out, I guess we shall see.
Below are just a few snapshots of our surroundings in Chhauni during this downtime.