Day 5: Manang to Yak Kharka

After acclimating in Manang, our plan was to prep for the push over the pass in two short days; today, just 11km and 500 meters of elevation gain. Most of that gain came in the first 5km; after that it was Nepali Flat.

Because of the short day we had a relaxing start, with unicycle lessons and hacky sack in the tea house courtyard. Jason, one of the trip leaders, got an unfortunate lesson: Vibram 5-Finger shoes, the bottom of someone else’s hiking boots, and hacky sack, don’t mix well together. He kicked Bruce’s foot and injured his big toe badly (probably turf toe). It was going to be a tough walk for him.

We had cloudy, still weather for the first time in the morning; the riding conditions were pretty good. We saw our first sign for the pass!

Dawa advised us not to push ourselves, and advised us again after seeing Tomas and Chris (ok, and me) cranking up one of the early climbs. Mostly walking the first 5km, we got to a tea house with beautiful views, and relaxed with a tea while we regrouped. I got to try out the wristband mirror that my friend Jim had sent along on the trip.

Several people were struggling with bodily issues. Ashley was doing her Bay Area best to ride up all the climbs, until one of the tour leaders took her unicycle away. Bruce wound up getting put on a mule to make the climb.

After the tea house, the trail was rideable for long sections, with the exception being some of the mud pits from snowmelt. We were beyond the end of the jeep road, onto the hiking trail, which made for nicer riding but also a lot more traffic than we’d been dealing with. Most of the hikers were suitably impressed, but a few were quite unpleasant. “You guys aren’t making any friends out here” was one comment we got, along with a sarcastic “I guess I’ll break my stride for you.” We tried to be respectful of space, but it’s hard to change people’s attitudes.

We got into Yak Kharka early, had lunch, and went for an up-and-down hike to improve our acclimatization. The trail was extremely steep, and we were now over 4000 meters, so it proved quite challenging. We also had a snowstorm blow in, whitening the bushes by the side of the trail, and the outsides of our packs.

Lighting the fire in the tea house brought everyone to the dining room, where we played cards until dinner (hearts, at my table). We got word that Bruce was doing quite poorly, and as everyone headed off to sleep, it was decided to immediately take him back down the trail to the medical center at Manang. Seven of the porters were assigned to do the walk in the dark, in the snow. Most of our group had already gone to bed when this occurred; it will surely cast a pall over the morning conversations.

No Strava today; I forgot to set it.

[flickr_tags tags=”unipal, day5″ tags_mode=”all”]

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