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


Mountain Diesel


Monday, November 17
From Muktinath to Marpha

As we sat around the table soaking in the warmth from the charcoal, something happened that would be repeated almost every evening. I asked Krishna what tomorrow would be like. We go back the way we came, to Jomosom, and then past it, he said. That will be easy compared to today, I told him. Invariably I was wrong, for each day brought a new challenge and none of them were easy, even compared to that first day.

We left as the morning light just began creeping down the Annapurna peaks. It was downhill back to Kaghbeni, and we made good time.
Once across the bridge, we got back on the rocky riverbed and trekked toward Jomosom. But this time, the wind was in our faces, and the gusts were not only cold, but also powerful. The wind carried dust and sand, and the gusts would throw small pebbles in your face. I pulled my baseball cap down so the visor protected my eyes, and I wore a bandana across my nose and mouth. It was heads down all out trekking, poles and feet pushing us into the wind. We trekked in the form of a Tour de France pelaton, with Krishna first, me right behind, Rob behind me, and Andy behind him. The other two lagged behind with the heavy packs. I noticed that Krishna always found the best available place for his footfalls, and I started putting my feet exactly where his had been. This helped, because the footing he chose was more flat and stable. We trekked for miles, hour after hour, against the wind, up the riverbed. Jomosom was in sight when we stopped to rest by some boulders that protected us from the wind somewhat. The other two caught up and we let them rest for a while before pushing on.

Jomosom was a familiar place now, and we stopped for lunch. Andy bought a small writing pad and Rob some tissues. The shops had an amazing array of goods, especially considering the method of transport. We moved on, along a trail instead of the riverbed. There started to be a few trees in the landscape. Krishna was trying to get us to Marpha early so we would be able to enjoy a warm shower. The prospect was tantalizing.

- - - - -

The closer we got to Marpha, the more beautiful the scenery became. Not that it wasn't beautiful from the beginning, because it was. Stunning almost literally in fact. But beautiful in a different way, in a trees and fields kind of way. And Marpha turned out to be unique among the villages on the trek in that it is absolutely charming. It has interesting architecture, starting with a gate that you pass through as you enter the village.

It is quaint, lovely, with winding, narrow stone streets and well kept buildings. It occurred to me that it would be a nice place to spend a day or two or several, and you could fly in to Jomosom and then trek down in a few hours and when you were done there, fly out.

We found our guest house, which was in a confusing, rambling old building. My immediate goal was a shower. I had to wait for a long time for three other trekkers ahead of me in line, but I was patient. And not disappointed. Not in the way I expected, any way. It was in a tiled room with a sink. There were knobs on the wall below the shower head. And the water was fiercely hot. And no matter how I turned the knobs, I couldn't change the temperature at all. So I danced in and out of the steamy stream, staying in as long as I could stand it, then jumping out, lathering up, and dancing in and out until I was reasonably rinsed. Despite the scalding, it was great to feel somewhat clean again. And in another little room at the end of a row of sleeping rooms was a western toilet. Joy knew no bounds.

The room was a cut above the miserable frozen cell of the night before. It had a table between the two cot/beds. And a window with a lovely pastoral view. A balcony ran along outside the doors, and above the rail was a clothesline. I hung my towel in the last of the afternoon sun and prayed for it to dry.

That evening, we gathered in the eating room at a table with a charcoal brazier under it. Rob ordered some hot chocolate for us, and the younger brothers came in with mischief on their faces. They had a little bottle of apple brandy, and they asked for some glasses. They poured some for everyone and we sipped the brandy with our hot chocolate. After dinner and an evening of conversation and political debate among the trekkers of various nationalities who assembled at our warm table, I retired to my room and had no trouble sleeping.

The next day

this travelogue is part of the subside travelzine
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