Thursday 4 December 2014

Day 172: Dolpo day 3 - Different shades of blue

The Donkeys arrive at Maduwa
For the last day and a half, our party of fourteen had walked up a river valley in an ever-narrowing gorge with steep pine forests above us.  Their scent, with the rush of water and the scale of the rocky walls above, invoked the Rocky Mountains to a surprising degree (or so I'm told - I've never been to the Rockies!).  The film 'Himalaya' conversely portrays Dolpo as a dry world threaded with green only where rivers flow.  We expected dust under our nails, not rain washing our faces.

But in the afternoon of the third day, the waters meshed together in a satisfying form.  A waterfall spilled down hundreds of feet from Phoksundo Lake and we began to get snap-happy on photos of Nepali prayer flags wafting in front of the torrent.  Alongside, the afternoon resembled an English autumn.  We walked down avenues of birches with golden leaves folding above our heads.  The day ended in the town of Ringmo, where Buddhist mani walls abound, wooden doors open on plaited and beribboned horses, and cream and brown chortens (Buddhist wayside monuments) of many sizes flank the roads.

We camped by Phoksundo Lake and wondered over its colour.  The word blue sounds soft and hazy, filled with the blur of distant horizons.  But this was the kind of blue that shouts as loud as the word crimson.  Teams of donkeys grazed beside the iridescent waters, the monastery's prayer flags wafted above and our cook gathered Phoksundo's outflow to cook another feast.   Our world hovered around the lake.  At last the word blue softened and greyed into dusk.

The caretaker of the museum at Maduwa
Porters on the ridge as we slog up to Phoksumdo
Phoksumdo lake was formed by a couple of ancient landslides.
This has caused a drop of about 300m into the Phoksumdo Khola. The outflow forms this dramatic falls.
Fabulous karst landscape as we scale the drop.  
Our first glimpse of the lake behind
Welcome to Phoksundo
Colourful Phoksundo
It's harvest time here 
The lakeside Gompa

Mani wall at the Gompa  
Lake outlet 

Getting the donkeys ready for the path ahead

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