between the Nakvak and the Korok: an expedition to the Torngat mountains. Hiking through the Valley of the cirques, climbing Mont d'Iberville, fishing in the Nakvak Valley, Canada, Torngat Mountains, northern Québec, trek, Nakvak, Korok, icefield, caribou trail, summit, travelogue, trip, travel, hike


Everest Flight


Wednesday, November 12

The next morning, Andy and I met early to go on the Everest flight. Rob had told us it was worthwhile, but I suspected he just wanted to get rid of Andy for a while so he could get some sleep. So we left Rob in dreamland. We went downstairs and the hotel doorman (yes, there was one and he was a real character who saluted us every time we passed) said he would get us a cab, and led us out onto the narrow winding street. A couple of new looking taxis passed, beeping to see if we wanted to hire them. But he led us a little way down the street to an old, beat-up Toyota that had its left rear axel up on a jack. Two guys were just tightening on the wheel. Off the jack it came and we negotiated a price and got in the back. "You have your ticket, right?" I asked, offhandedly. Panic crossed Andy's face. "No!" he said, jumping out of the taxi and racing back to their room, which of course did wake Rob. And then we were off.

To say that the taxi had some things wrong with it was an understatement. It was kind of a shuddery, bumpy ride even on smooth pavement. But there wasn't so much traffic at that hour, about 6:30 in the morning. We got to the airport in plenty of time, and the driver refused to take our money, saying he would wait for us. Strange, we thought, but OK, maybe it is that difficult to get fares with all the competition.

The flight was delayed so we sat around the little domestic airport, watching it fill up with tourists wearing expensive and fashionable trekking gear going on flights like us, and a few Nepalis going on flights to other places in the country. There were big windows facing the runway outside, and above them was a square hole. There was a monkey that seemed to live outside and it would climb up and sit there, in the hole, where it could watch the people in the waiting room.

Cosmic flight attendant

Eventually we did get on our flight, which was a small twin prop plane holding maybe 20 passengers, with one row of seats on each side of the aisle. The stewardess came down the aisle with a tray with hard candies on one side and cotton balls on the other. Some people used the cotton in their ears. It was interesting to see Kathmandu from the air, with its morning haze of cooking fire smoke.

After the Everest flight, we returned to the city and met up with Rob. We negotiated a fare and took a long and harrowing taxi ride to Bhaktipur, a historic city just beyond the most far flung reaches of the Kathmandu sprawl. There was peacefulness to the city, and a timeless beauty, which were a welcome change from Kathmandu. Many old buildings of brick and carved wood lined the streets, and even the new ones were built in a harmonious style. We meandered, ending up at the Durbar Square with its impressive and well restored temples.

A surprising amount of daily life happens on the streets, in public, we found as we wandered. There are public water faucets periodically, and you would see women there washing their clothes or dishes. Women gathered on street corners, crouching or sitting together, talking and making handcrafts.

One man sat on a stool on the sidewalk, and his wife hovered over him, shaving him. There was a row of houses in the sun with some women in front winnowing grain, maybe rice or millet. Everywhere you could hear people inside, tapping on bracelets they were making or doing other work. And some of the women carried loads of rocks or gravel to a construction site in conical baskets on their backs held with a tump line around their foreheads. Industrious people, seemingly comfortable with their lives, but not wealthy by our standards. We had lunch by a school, and the sounds of the kids playing exuded irrepressible enthusiasm. And I was impressed there, as I had been in the Khathmandu Durbar Square, as how much the temples were visited by the local people. Not necessarily for worship, either. The school children climbed on the temples when they were released from the school yard, and people of all ages gathered there to talk and sit. The temples were part of their daily lives; they grew up on them.

The next day

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