Off to Nepal to trek the Manaslu Circuit and Nar Phu, with Val and team, Sonia and Sara.
Up early on Tuesday to catch the 06.43 to London. Parked the car at the pay & display for the day – Phil returned from his long weekend in London / Witham later in the day and drove it home. We rendezvoused for coffee and croissant at Paddington.
Overnight flight to Kathmandu via Doha on Qatar Airways QR 0004 (LHR-DOH) and QR 0648 (DOH-KTM).
At KTM airport, the efficiency of the new improved tourist visa process (provided you fill out the form before you go) was offset by there only being 2 security scanners, plus Tihar Holiday meant luggage was slow to materialise.
Mingmi met me outside the new “international” entrance and organised a taxi to the Marshyangdi Hotel, Thamel.
Met Sonia and Sara, did some errands with Val, falafel wrap, had a nap. Dinner at Thakali Bhanchha Ghar.
On Thursday, S, S and I got a taxi over to Boudhanath Stupa for the morning. Back in Thamel, our coffee and cake quest was only partially successful – Tihar holidays struck again. Dinner at the hotel (Tihar again).
We set off early on Friday to drive from Kathmandu to Machhakhola – you can stay in the same jeep (provided it’s local) all the way through to Machhakhola, which is where the new road (rocky, dusty jeep track from Arughat via Arkhet Bazar, Sotikhola and Lapubesi) now runs to. In Machhakhola, the village Tihar party procession keep us entertained (to a point) through to the early evening.
Saturday: trekked Machhakhola (930 m) to Salleri (1360 m). We were on the proto-road all the way to the new bridge over the Budi Gandaki to Dobhan / दोभान (1050 m) – ie not nice walking. Once over on the west side of the river we were on the Manaslu Circuit trail – but the road is being carved out of the hillsides on the eastern side.
Sunday: trekked from Salleri (1360 m) to Deng (1870 m). Lots of landslides, some nasty ones between Nyak Phedi and Deng mean that the trail gets very narrow and precarious, with long, sheer drops down to the raging torrent down in the gorge below. Lots of up and down to the river too, where landslides have destroyed the trail completely.
Monday: trekked from Deng (1870 m) to Prok (2397 m). LED solar light distribution in Deng, Rana and Bihi. The hydo-electric power station high up in the forest just before Prok is now in service. Sara and I got stung by hornets at the old gompa in Prok.
You’ll have to wait for my Photos & Notes post for more details!
It’s been a flurry of activity in the last few days.
I got the final money instructions from Val on Thursday, after a nudge. Handily I had accumulated sufficient cash on recent journeys into Hereford. It’s a far cry from a couple of weeks of stopping off at the cash machine on the way to work and changing GPB for USD at Thomas Foreign Exchange just across the road.
I’ve had my COVID booster the Friday before last and am banking on my existing vaccinations being effective… probably need to check that before I travel again. Printed off my updated NHS COVID Pass (International travel version).
There are no COVID or visa requirements for transiting through Doha, but Qatar Airways wants me to present a completed Customer Acknowledgement Form at check-in, so I’ve printed off and filled that out for both pairs of journeys.
I sped through online check-in for LHR-DOH-KTM yesterday, and selected (hopefully) good seats, so straight to the bag drop for me. Did I mention that Qatar Airways had been playing around with the Doha arrival/departure times on my return flight, and then emailed to let me know they’d cancelled the DOH-LGW flight I was booked on? Thankfully they’d booked me onto another flight which leaves only an hour or so later – not that the notification email said that! Hopefully no more changes between now and then.
Packed this evening. Thank heavens for lists!
Now I just need all the alarms to wake me up tomorrow morning so that I can catch the 06.43 HFD-PAD….. (Tickets purchased 23 Sept)
Oh, and I’m still not entirely sure of the itinerary. I think we’re doing most of the Manaslu Circuit then branching off into Naar Phu before returning to … Annapurna Circuit? take another route to Jomsom or Pokhara? Anyway, it means I’ve not been able to check the weather forecasts on YR.no. All will be revealed soon I’m sure!
MCR continued. Nepal firms up. Heatwave. Meadow cutting marathon and clearing the small pond.
As regular readers will know, I was in Manchester for work Monday-Wednesday this week and Tuesday and Wednesday continued to be(e) hotter and sunnier than ever before. A good trip.
Not such a good journey home – my 18:31 train was cancelled so it was a slow service to Wilmslow then a wait for the train to Cardiff.
I’ve no idea of the geography, and it turned out I was joining the 19.31 departure from Manchester. If I’d waited there I might have found a glass of wine for company! Oh well. Phil and I had a cheese and wine supper once I was home.
Not working a Thursday threw my week out completely.
Took the car for its MOT first thing, and heard back with the all clear a few hours later. A came over for tea and a hot cross bun and we chatted in the shady part of the garden until gone 1pm.
Caught up with Val early afternoon, and – Trek Siren – I am officially off on a 3 week trip to Naar Phu with Val in October / November. Naar (Nar) and Phu are small villages in Nepal, north and east of the Annapurnas, Manang side. Chulu East and Himlung Himal were also mentioned. I’ve booked flights with Qatar Airways.
I’ve christened this trip Val Pitkethly’s Naar Phu Explorer.
Spent the rest of the afternoon doing admin on the computer, including trying to sort out our LPG supply for the next 2 years. It’s just Too Hot outside.
Friday was hotter.
We were both awake around 5.30am so made an early start to the day. Handy, as we needed to walk back to Ewyas to pick up the Panda post MOT. We took the Dicks Pitch route – shady and speedy – and got to the garage in less than an hour.
Just don’t ask about locking the conservatory keys in the conservatory before we set out … Thank heavens (Thank dad) for the tub of spare keys.
Raked up the strimmer grass and relocated it to the dip by the hedge (freshly cut by Richard while I was in MN). Hot and sweaty work. Dug up a few weeds – easy to spot as they’re still green against the parched yellow grass.
In the afternoon, more admin – inside, but not cool. Did online check in for our flights to Bilbao for September’s Picos trip. That’s coming up fast!
In the evening (still hot, but not quite so sweltering), our first visit to Winchester as “guests” since dad and Jean moved. A lovely BBQ.
The extreme heatwave continued on Saturday (mid-30s), so another early start.
Ray called round a bit after 7.30am and said he could clear our cut grass later in the day, so I got to work with the strimmer mower, hacking down the tougher grass and tall flowers that have grown on the slope down to the pond. Hot hard work. My blisters have blisters. Well, not quite but not far off.
Three quarters of the way through the strimmer stopped working and neither of us could work out why. So we decided that was a good reason to have our first independent outing with the Stihl strimmer. Phil did the honours while I moved the pond weed piles and weeded the drive.
We had a bit of a hiatus when he reached the end of the cable and we had to work out how to load it up with another 8 metres…. The instruction booklet, a YouTube video and a call to dad later and Phil was back in action.
We are so not having a meadow next year!
I revere Monty Don as much as the next person but he must have “help” when it comes cutting the meadow – which we don’t – and better options for making use of the cut grass.
Thank heavens for Ray who turned up a bit after midday and lifted piles of the scythed grass onto a rake/frame attachment on the back of his tractor and drove the grass up to his field.
A break for lunch – we’re eating / relaxing in the shade down by the log shed / willow tree stump – after which I decided to have a go at clearing the small pond. It’s bone dry and we figured this gives us the chance to find and fix the leak….. Even unsaturated the iris bed was too heavy, do I made do with cutting back the leaves, pulling off chunks of dried out pond bottom and clearing the weeds and ivy from the rim.
Sweated so much that when salty sweat dripped into my eyes it really stung!
In an unusual turn of events, I made dinner, and tried out the Damson Gin. Tasty!
Sunday – still hot.
Phil and I finished clearing the iris bed out of the small pond, and swept out the remaining debris. There’s a crack running from near the centre towards the railway power point, so we’re looking up ways to fix that. Liner or cement/putty?
Raked the strimmed grass into piles, then lunch. A few jobs / tidying up by the compost heap, a breather to allow the shade to reach the piles and then it was time to start wheelbarrowing the grass piles to the compost slope above the BBQ and the bigger one at the far end of the path.
Before dinner we sat outside the kitchen and watched the birds on the feeders and in the font for a while, once they’d decided we weren’t a threat.
At dusk, a bat got into the conservatory, but it managed to make its own escape through the doors.
A cooler start to Monday and – AT LAST – some rain.
A day for “indoors jobs”.
Put surplus picture frames into the roof, then did some computer admin. Tidied up recent Flickr titles, tags and descriptions, prepped tax return, caught up with Val, did some Picos prep (looked at my kitlist and tried working out how much money to take).
7pm, thunder and heavier rain arrived.
In “heatwave and extreme weather warning” news, – it’s been > 30C most of the week, with – thankfully – rain / thunder arriving on Monday.
The trees are shedding leaves by the sack load.
Apples doing OK.
My office is still hot and the patio and the walls that side of the house are still radiating heat, but the rain is cooling things down.
It’s also been a week of massive moons and a mewing buzzard.
Caught up with Val early this afternoon, and an hour later I’d booked my flights to Kathmandu with Qatar Airways.
I’d been hoping that 2022 would be the year I finally got to trek to Kanchenjunga Base Camp(s) but Kanch is postponed, hopefully only to 2023, due to the low vaccination rates there.
Destination: Manaslu and Naar Phu, Nepal.
When: October / November 2022.
What: I am officially off on a 3 week trek to Naar Phu with Val in October / November. No idea of the itinerary, but I’ve 24 days KTM to KTM and Val tells me two other ladies will be coming.
Where: Naar (Nar) and Phu are small villages in Nepal, north and east of the Annapurnas, Manang side, between the Manaslu Circuit’s Larke La and the Annapurna Circuit’s Thorong La. Chulu East and Himlung Himal were also mentioned. The two ladies want to trek the Manaslu Circuit, so we’ll be doing that first – should help with the acclimatisation.
How: With Val, of course.
Why: Hiking high in the big mountains, with old friends.
I’ve christened this trip Val Pitkethly’s Naar Phu Explorer. (Rechristened Manaslu & Nar Phu on my return.)