5/22/2009 to 6/2/2009 | Nepal

Langtang, Nepal

Fifty hours on 4 different buses along the hot Bhramaputra Valley of Assam and the sweltering plains of Nepal’s Terai brought me at last to Kathmandu. I had trekked the Annapurna Region and the Everest Region on my previous visits to Nepal, this left Langtang as the last of the three major teahouse trekking regions in Nepal left for me to explore. Unfortunately I would not have as much time as I had for the other two regions since I needed to head back to India in order to reach Ladakh by mid-June where I was scheduled to meet my sister and brother-in-law. It would be a quick hike up to Kanjin Gompa with a few day hikes around the upper Langtang valley before returning back to Kathmandu.

The weather on the painfully slow bus ride to Syabru Besi was not good, clouds blanketed the mountains and rain wet the road. In one place there was a particularly muddy stretch where a landslide had obscured most of the road on a steep switch back. The bus in front of us made repeated attempts at the turn only to have its wheels spin idly in the loose mud before backing down in defeat. After a half hour our driver decided to give it a go, revving the engine he slipped the bus into gear and it lurched forward gaining speed as we approached the turn. He chose a path higher up on the landslide that had partially covered the road. The bus leaned abruptly to the left, but passed over the slide area to the cheers of the passengers. It’s a little over 100 km (~60 miles) from Kathmandu to Syabru Besi, the journey took nearly 10 hours, a painfully slow pace even by Nepali bus standards.

With particularly lousy weather I was in no mood to start walking, even after being stuck on a bus for 10 hours, so I spent the first night in Syabru Besi. The following morning the weather looked promising. I got an early start and decided to take the less traveled high trail via Sherpagaon for the views. Unfortunately the clouds rolled in by 9:00 am covering the high peaks for the remainder of the day, but fortunately I was spared the rain of the day before. I had hoped to make it to the village of Langtang but I was not used to the altitude yet and was fairly exhausted by 4:00 pm so I decided to stay in a friendly woman’s small lodge about a half hour from Langang.

The next day I reached Kanjin gompa by early afternoon at a bit over 4000 m (~13,200 ft) the highest place in the Langtang Valley with lodges. I intended to use it as a base to explore the valley via day hikes. I had wanted to go up to the Ganja La, a 5300 m pass and an alternate way out of the valley, however the recent spell of bad weather meant the pass was hopelessly snow bound, so I would have to content myself with lower altitude hikes topping out at about 5000 m (~16,500 ft) above which the snow got pretty deep pretty fast. There was no shortage of such hikes around Kanjin Gompa including a particularly pleasant walk which took me up the adjacent side of the valley though rhododendron forests and wildflower littered meadows with beautiful views across the valley at 7227 m Langtang Lirung. After exploring the valley for a few days I headed down. It turned out that a group of women and a few men from Langtang village were also headed down on the same day to pick up the religious statues and other affects that would grace a new monastery at Kanjin. They were in a very festive mood singing, dancing and joking has they walked down. I ended up walking most of the way from Langtang village down to Syabru Besi with them. It was a festive end to a pleasant trek, which I would rate as the best short trek (less than a week) in Nepal.

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