Mountain Emergency Room
Left Pokhara for the Annapurna Conservation Area Friday morning headed towards Muktinath and it already feels like it’s been a week. My guide and owner of Wild Track Adventures Sherap Sherpa drove up a Honda XR400 from Kathmandu for me while he got the raw end of the deal riding the Royal Enfiled Bullet I had rented a few days prior. The road out of Pokhara quickly turned form pavement to dirt, rock, and more rock with various landslides. This is landslide season so I can’t really be surprised by it. The good thing about landslide/monsoon season is you don’t know what’s around every corner. The first encounter was whipping around a corner XGames style only to have the road washed out by heavy rains and what was left was a decent sized creek running across the road 2ft deep, and that was the end of me being dry for the day. Was actually lucky it wasn’t something else so I made a deal with myself to slow down. I broke the deal within 10min its just too fun.
As you climb up from 800m to the final goal of 3,600m the scenery constantly changes and the views get better and better. Along the way you are running into locals carrying massive baskets on their backs filled with rocks or other heavy stuff that has a strap that comes up and goes around their forehead. Going to try it and see if I’ve been missing out on a great way to carry stuff on the farm back home. Wonder what the Jorge will do when I put a strap around a hay bale and tell him to lift it with his forehead and this is way easier. Hopefully he doesn’t quit. As you continue to climb lush greenery starts to fade and you reach Marpha. Its almost like you turn a corner and suddenly you are so high that nothing is growing except for little bushes, tiny trees, and some weed. There is some land that is agricultural but just enough to feed the small villages. They are too high for rice but they grow barley, apples (of which I borrowed a few), and cauliflower. If you have seen pictures of Tibet you understand that, 1: holy shit this is high, 2: How simple life is, 3: do they ever get tired of cauliflower soup? Joking aside when you see the locals their faces match the ruggedness of the terrain but they almost always smile. It is a simple but tough life. When we reached Marpha I noticed that the houses all have firewood stacked on the roofs and came to find out that firewood is like gold here. It is hard to come by so they every house grabs what they can and puts it on the roof. There is no space between the houses so roof is the natural place it looks like.
So besides landslide/monsoon season it just so happens to be hide the Himalayas from Poul season as well. The clouds seem to only want surround them and clear just enough to give me a glimps, then I freak out and they are gone. It’s a fun game we play aaall day. Few times when the clouds thought I wasn’t looking the Himalayas shined though and you get that feeling you could stare at them all day like some do the ocean. Then you start to think people are twisted enough to hike them. Hats off you peeps because there are mountains, and then there are these fellas.
On our way to Muktinath we came across a one small creek that turned into several larger creeks and halted progress. The wind was howling and the sun shining but up in the mountains some heavy rain had fallen. There must have been a mud slide as well because the water was super silty and moving fast. A small SUV was stuck and within 20 min went from just being stuck to possibly being consumed. This whole area looks like you are on another planet. Just lots of river rocks and everything is loose and you can hear rocks moving under the pressure of the water. The road/path people had used for the season was washed away and they would have to band together and move the stones to build another path once the monsoon season has ended. Some local guys brought their tractors down to help move people and scooters across. Others tried to team up and push the scooters across the fast moving water. Of course I couldn’t stand it and decided to help. Figured I had experience from Myanmar so why not try. I pretty much just got really wet but the locals appreciated the attempt (I think). We couldn’t cross because it was too late so hit it today. We went with the tractor option, which was pretty fun. 4 guys lifting a bike into a trailer meant to carry grain…easy. Sheraps company is called “wild tracks” so he definitely lived up to his name today. The ride to Muktinath was brilliant. Will upload photos cause I cant explain it. On the way back we went with the tractor option again. Unfortunately one of the kids helping us lift the bike got his finger caught in the spoke and ripped off his nail and flesh up to the first knuckle on his index finger. This kid was 15yrs old and it looked nasty. His brown hand covered in silver mud and silt had bright red blood running down his hand. Most astonishing thing was that he never made a face like he was in pain, more of disappointment, or upset cause it would hinder his work. I would have lost my damn mind if that happened to me when I was 15, started jumping around like a rodeo bronco because that helps with pain right…kid was cool as a cucumber. Little dude even kept working with his free hand sticking it in the mud to clear rocks so we didn’t get stuck. The next town was 15k away so I told him to get on my bike and we were taking him to the hospital and we would pay for any bills so he didn’t try to fix it by drinking mountain tea and hoping for the best. Kidding about the tea but he needed serious attention. The Emergency room at the hospital was a bit better than what you would think a few days hard ride into the Himalayas. Shitty for the kid the doctor wants him to come back in a few days so he can cut of the nail and flesh that is hanging there. Not a doctor but assumed you would want that gone soonish, like today. I had a small cut on my hand that a lovely nurse I met in Vancouver gave me tips on how to keep it clean etc so I passed it on to him, then we bought him some meds a coke and wished him good luck. Will likely be the toughest little man I meet.
Headed Pokhara tomorrow and then going to get into some paragliding if the weather permits. Never tried it but assume it’s possibly going to make me soil my pants. Lets see.