Monday, 21 December 2009

To a camp beside a Temple

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India; September 29th; Day 8; Bhairan Gati; 2511m

Trek: 4hrs 54mins starting at 8.32
Low: 1257m at 8.32
High: 2811m at 13.26
Descent: 19m
Ascent: 1030m

I was up ay 6.30 and packed my stuff whilst leaving the tent to dry in the morning sun - when it eventually reached the valley floor. Keith was up already and washing some clothes out in the river.

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After breakfast we set off and after walking back through town we started the steep climb through a forest. Keith and James set a fierce pace so Jan and I dawdled behind. Jim and Adriana were having a late start anyway. After about an hour we reached a village and was astounded by the amount of litter around. We must have come into the village by the back door but it does seem that the litter problem is getting worse and worse.

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As we were unsure of which track to take out of the village we sat and had a cup of tea outside a char shop and watched the children go by on their way to school. They are wearing very smart uniforms - for several different schools in appears - and we cause lots of laughing and giggling when we say ‘Good Morning’ to them. We always get a reply though.

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When the porters arrived we determined the correct direction and set off again along a stretch of hot dusty tracks. The track took us through a series of small settlements. Eventually we left this track and took a smaller trail and were again walking in the forest. We caught up with the Academy students who we had met yesterday and they were making heavy weather of the climb with their full packs. They also had twice as far as us to go as they were going to Ghuttu tonight whereas we are aiming to reach there tomorrow night.

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At a broken bridge over a small stream we took a break and the whole group came together; porters, mules, students and us and we began the steep climb. The trail here had many short-cuts to circumvent the normal zigzagged trail up the hillside and it wasn’t long before we were all spread out along the trail again. James and Keith once again shot off as I took a 10 minute break to regain my breath. A man on a white mule rode by me and confirmed I was going the right way; all these tracks had made me lose faith!

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Eventually the trail broke out of the woods into a magically beautiful rolling grassy area in front of a temple and a small hamlet. In the corner is a muddy pond inhabited by four wallowing water-buffaloes.

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We lay on the turf in the sun finishing our lunch whilst we wait for the porters to arrive. The mules are already here. When they do arrive an hour or so later we set up camp and have tea,

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Before dinner Keith and I visit the temple - remembering to take our shoes off - and talk to the porters who are resting up there and chatting. Although their is not much wood around we do manage to collect enough for a small fire. We sit around the fire chatting in the evening.