Tuesday 16 December 2014

Days 185-186: Dolpo days 16-17 - Storms on the Road to Nowhere

No photos of the rain but here is the result!
At midnight it continued to rain.  The same at three am and again at six am.  There was no chance of drying our tents the next morning, we just squelched down the valley to the next camp where it continued to rain almost until nightfall.  A twenty-four hour downpour outside the monsoon season is a freak event in these parts.  We discovered, when we next had access to mobile reception, in Dunai, that the same storm had killed dozens of trekkers and porters in the Annapurna region and left many more missing.  This is the greatest loss of life in the mountains in Nepal in many years.

Not knowing about the disaster, we took the opportunity to play our three thousand five hundred and sixty-sixth game of cards (no, I didn't really count) and joke about the road we had walked down that day.  It began where we emerged from the gorge (a location lacking so much as a house) and proceeded towards our night's campsite, often hiding under falls of rock, or accepting an immovable boulder in its midst, even if this would prevent a four by four from ever passing that way.  In many places, the road went missing, its rocks presumably lost long before in the river.  Who would ever use this road, we wondered?  It surely could not pass the gorge we had spent two days descending, and reach Dho-Tarap?  Who had built it?  And for whom?  It looked like a road to nowhere.

Pamela wows the local kids with her
1974 Olympus OM-1
The next day the road continued for a while, then sputtered, fizzled, died, and held out for resurrection.  We followed until we reached Dunai, the capital of Dolpo.  A line of shops offered beer, pairs of shoes to replenish those discarded in the valley of lost shoes, biscuits.  The word chocolate no longer denoted Chinese chewing gum but Mars Bars and Dairy Milk.

We dried our gear and discarded our down jackets at last; from high camps at minus ten degrees, the night time temperature here would remain well above zero.  It was warm enough to sit out in the garden in the evening and laugh and joke.  The Nepali army thought so too.  Five of them came and sat in our camp site with their rifles on their laps.  I thought this rather aggressive (a Quaker upbringing has that affect).  "Don't worry," Tony said, "this is Nepal.  Their guns probably don't even work."  We laughed, but it wasn't our first joke about the disfunctionality of life in Nepal.  And when cynicism sets in, it's probably time for the trek to end.

Morning smoke and light at Tarakot

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