I am not a poet, so I do not have the words to describe the landscape we are walking through. And the best camera with the best lens would only flatten and dull it for prosperity.
I can tell you that at times it is difficult to breathe, an affliction unrelated to altitude or exercise. It is as if the mountains extract your breath from you. One cannot pass without paying with sweat and breath and awe.
Today was a proper day of hiking, one pocketed with a strong desire to stay put. Descending into the canyon only to cross the river to slowly regain all the elevation lost is bitter process I will undoubtedly repeat throughout this journey.
Today we spent a lot of the hike leap frogging long lines of mules hauling their goods up the mountains. Every time the mules passed we had to get to the side (preferably the side not near the drop so if a mule got frisky you wouldn’t get pushed off the ledge) and wait for the dozen or so to slowly move past, bells ringing and ribbons (often tattered prayer flags) swaying. Getting stuck behind a line of them is time wasting.
We came across a lame mule, abandoned with a broken, bloody and infected hind leg. It would have been a kindness to shoot it.
Our third person, Eva, was supposed to meet us last night at Syange but her bus broke down so she ended up being only an hour behind us on the trail… at least before the Nepalese military shut off the trail. We were the last group of mules/hikers they let pass before they shut it down to allow them to blast the mountain on the other side of the river “safely.” Eva and her porter were on the other side of this cut off, putting them even further behind us.
We inadvertently watched the blast from further down the trail. We were resting when the sound of a gunshot amplified snapped through the air and a smallish puff of dust and stone flew out of the mountainside. (Michelle: “Do you think we’re safe here?” Me: “I don’t know, how good is your karma?”)
One of the porters told a story of how earlier this month, she was not far from another blast where the chord to ignite it was too short and the man who lit it couldn’t run fast enough. Apparently, the ground was littered with small chunks of human.
I’m glad they cleared the path.