Print Edition - 2014-05-31  |  On Saturday

Between heaven and earth

- PRAGATI SHAHI
Between heaven and earth

May 30, 2014-

My friends and I love hitting the trekking trails around the country, and this season, we decided to get on one of the most starkly sere and beautiful ones: the Annapurna Region trail. We started off from Chame (2,670 m), the headquarters of Manang, and during the first leg, climbed the steep rocky road to Upper Pisang (3,310 m). Along the way, we passed the famous Swargadwari rock formation—a massive bare-rock cliff  facing the trail. The next day, we also came across lush meadows and fields dotted with barley and buckwheat stalks, and streams and jagged rock-formations until we got to Manang (3,450 m)—an exquisite valley whose bowl has clusters of houses made of slabs carved from the region’s rocks. We spent two days there, acclimatising to the thin air, and then struck southwards towards Lake Tilicho (.4,919 m), one of the world’s highest lakes. We passed through the ancient villages of Khangsar and Srikharka en route to the lake. We couldn’t make our way to the lake’s shores because its surroundings were blanketed in sheets of ice, so we climbed up to a hillock nearby to take in the view, a scene I’ll never forget: of the vast expanse of the frozen lake in the foreground framed by the Himalayas around its peripheries.

We stayed long enough to sear the image into our memories then made our way back to Shrikharka. After a night’s rest, we set upon the trail with both uphill and downhill tasks that led to the famed Thorong-La (5,416 m), a pivotal access point along the Nepal-Tibet salt route. After two nights of hiking through the rocky trail, whose topsoil is made up of fine sediments that descend from the adjacent rock faces, we finally reached Thorong-La. Here, we emptied our minds by taking in the panoramic expanse of the austere Lower Mustang Valley, to the north-west, and replenished our souls by inviting in the intense cobalt blue of the skies all around.

Photos: Ananta Bhandari/Pragati Shahi

Gallis in the Manang Valley.

Mountain views from Srikharka.

Manang Valley.

Swargadwari.

Visitors on the way to Upper Pisang from Chame.

En route to Tilicho Lake.

Thorong-La .

A stream on the way to Manang Valley.

Manang Valley.

The walking trail to Thorong-La.

Tilicho base camp.

Published: 31-05-2014 10:05

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