Unexpected Luxury

Note: This post was written on March 7 but will be posted on a future day when I have a stable internet connection.

Today was a long day, so this will likely be a short post. We climbed over a high pass, Lamjura La, which is the highest we will be for several days. At 3500 m elevation (about 11,500 ft) the climate there is decidedly cooler. Small patches of what looked like relatively fresh snow flanked the trail. We arrived at a small tea house for lunch just below the pass at 11:00 am and with the sun, the temperature was quite comfortable. As we ate our lunch, clouds began building and the wind blowing. By the time we crossed the pass, the clouds had obscured the sun, and a stiff wind made it feel quite cold.

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11,500 feet high but in the foothills. Lamjura Pass is in the distance.
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Your hero at Lamjura La.

The descent down to the village of Junbesi was an endless slog down a deep valley. The start of our descent passed through a mossy, magical forest of pine and rhododendron. Farther down as we approached the Junbesi river, I was surprised to see road-building activity once again. This road came up the river from the south. Our trek is essentially a eastward march directly across the topographic grain defined by the southward flowing rivers draining the high Himalayas. Hence our route is 90 degrees to the topography and therefore intensely up and down. However, in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake, the road-building frenzy utilized the north-south valleys to access these rural areas hardest-hit by the earthquake.

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It was a long slog down from the pass, but through some nice forest. Gokul, my porter, is for scale.

As we approached Junbesi from above, we could see the new road, passable but still under construction. Junbesi also had power from a generator downstream. The town is much more prosperous than the small villages along the ridge lines. Our accommodation for the evening, the Ang Chokpa lodge, was a very pleasant surprise. I got a large room with an attached bath AND hot water in the shower. I was even able to access a reasonable town-wide WiFi for about $5, although it went down before I could post this. I’m writing this sitting around the wood burning stove in the toasty common room while digesting my spaghetti dinner (a nice change from dal bhat). Tomorrow looks like a relatively easy flat day on the map, but I have learned that Nepali flat means up down up down up down….

 

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