Early in the morning we repacked for a two-night stay on the plateau below the summit of Ama Yangri, and headed up several banks of stairs leading to the trail.
We continued up the steep trail, through rhododendron forests and out onto rocky cliffs, for about three hours. Views of Upper Melamchi above the valley gave us an idea of what was ahead. One peak, Dorje Lakpa, reminded me of Ama Dablam, my favorite peak on my first trip to Everest Base Camp so long ago. What a wonderful sight to greet us as we arrived in camp!
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By the time we arrived, our porters had already fashioned a stone fireplace for cooking, and within an hour served us a huge lunch…dal bhat and rice, of course, after the altitude-soothing garlic noodle/mustard green soup. Buddhi fashioned a wooden stirrer for the lentils and gathered wood from a large open area. After all the guests were fed, the porters finally ate. This is a tradition in climbing circles, but not one we wanted to follow.
Entering camp after a late afternoon wander, we heard chopping in the direction of Buddhi’s tent. The men were making themselves mattresses of dried stalks of weeds. Hey, almost like the good ole’ days! This is what our counselors did with pine boughs in the White Mountains when I camped as a child…in the days before therma-rest mattresses and fancy sleeping bags.
Onto the boughs they placed a thin foam pad and their blankets. Regardless of the disparity in age, they had a camaraderie with one another that is a pleasure to watch. And they dance and sing, especially Buddhi, who is a natural clown! At night we can hear them talking a blue streak, animatedly, laughing and, occasionally, breaking into song. I asked Buddhi why all the hilarity. He said it is to keep us safe. If they make a lot of noise, nobody will bother us. I had to laugh. In this wilderness? It’s not as if we’ll have a yak attack as we did in the Kangchenjunga, or have to ward off marauding treasure hunters. But they must have known something that we didn’t.
While Cary and I had been exploring, our tent and toilet had been set up. And get a load of the special trash can, the first I’d ever seen in the mountains of Nepal.
What better way to end the day than sitting by the fire and watching the stars appear.
In the morning there was frost on the tent and a clear blue sky.
As we climbed, we came upon whole sections of the trail that had been washed out by the earthquake, making it slow going. A huge white boulder had been displaced and crashed down the hillside causing devastation in its wake. And there were many wide “stairs” of wooden or stone interspersed with sections of boulder and rock, with more exposure than I like! The forest was beautiful and deep, moving from gnarled, moss-enveloped trees to dense rhododendron woods with their pink roots. And all along the trail tiny daisies and delicate wildflowers greeted us.
Geronimo! We made it. Sadly, directly in front of us was a huge destroyed stupa. Buddhi (Bon), Brabin (Buddhist), and Cary immediately walked around it through the rubble. Together they lit juniper as an offering. What a glorious smell.
Large slanting rocks were on the ample summit and I lay down, immediately, vowing that this was my fitting swan song. I would walk around the stupa later. Right now I just wanted to lie on a smooth rock and search the sky. Fog came and went, allowing spectacular glimpses of the mountains that surrounded Ama Yangri. Tiny patches of snow were visible, but when the sun came out we felt warm and very content.
After an hour it was time to leave.
As dusk settled upon us, three men came through our campsite with thirteen yaks. After the obligatory tea, they headed into the dark with no flashlights. Good grief! It was all I could do stay upright on the rocky trail in broad daylight, and for them, even in the pitch black, it seemed like a walk in the park. The next day we sighted the animals grazing on a high pasture above Tarkyegang.
More fire-watching brought the day to a close. I doubt that I will ever experience a more peaceful, totally quiet place in my lifetime….