Meg Noble Peterson

Author of Madam, Have You Ever Really Been Happy? An Intimate Journey through Africa and Asia

THE MAJESTY OF THE SACRED MOUNTAIN

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.

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P1080863Melamchi plateau in the distance
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. P1080869What 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.

mom resting1_0599Post lunch I lay on a pad under the bright sun. What better reward for my efforts?

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.

P1080895Onto 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.

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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.

P1080907a fire photoA monk had dropped by and left some small carrots and cabbage as a thank you for tea that Buddhi had offered him. So there was fresh variety for dinner, along with the spinach/garlic soup.

What better way to end the day than sitting by the fire and watching the stars appear.

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In the morning there was frost on the tent and a clear blue sky.

We said goodbye to our campsite and headed toward the summit.IMG_0606

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.

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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.

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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.

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P1080938 P1080941  We fairly flew down the mountain in less than two hours. What a feeling of accomplishment!

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 yaks at Ama Yangri2was 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….

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6 Comments

  1. Barry

    Wonderful. I so want to visit all of these places. What great sights and people. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Jon Pollack

    What a great adventure!

  3. Sandie Miller

    Absolutely beautiful.

  4. Paul Sharar

    I can’t imagine what it must have been like to be on that mountain when the earthquake occurred and those huge boulders came crashing down. Amazing

  5. nina

    you REALLY ARE having a fine adventure, Meg,
    thanks for sending it around!
    love, nina

  6. Yana Viniko

    Thanks for your posts, Meg. Despite the terrible devastation by the earthquake, I was taken by the photo of the tattered prayer flags in the clouds which seemed to symbolize the resilience and tenacity of a place and its people.

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