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


View near Ghorepani


Friday, November 21
Ghorepani to Pokhara

We rose about 5:00 a.m. The Israeli women, whose room was across the padded hallway from mine, seemed to have gone in the night. Krishna, Rob, Andy and I left about 5:30 to climb Poon Hill. I wore my headlight and carried my day pack but we left everything else at the guest house. The hike was steep, with big steps, and no way to find easier footing in the dark. And Krishna set a fast pace, as usual. As we climbed, we got above the clouds and could see the stars. At the top the wind was blowing and it was very cold. There was an observation tower already crowded with people and a lot of people on the ground. To one side was a little shed from which they were selling hot drinks. We got some hot chocolate and I opened the Hob Nobs, which were quite welcome. There were no Maoists checking receipts as I had expected.

It was a beautiful dawning with a spectacular view out above the clouds to the color show that preceded the sun, and the Annapurnas in their white coats waiting in shadows. To the west, the darkness receded in dim pastels. To the east, sky color graduations progressed until the sun shot its brilliance towards us over the clouds, and the rays kissed the white peaks. We lingered and took photos and watched the other people, especially a very enthusiastic and large group of Japanese.

We headed back down the steep steps and quickly reached the hotel, where I shared the Hob Nobs with the waiting brothers Bira and Lila. We had porridge with apple and Nepali spiced tea with milk and were off.

The Jomosom trek, when done one way, generally takes 9 days. We had planned 7, because we had flown in and were trekking out instead of the other way around, which is somewhat more uphill. But Krishna had shortened it to 6 days and I felt that we were rushing it a bit, whereas I would prefer taking my time. But here we were on the last day of the trek.

Upon leaving Ghorepani, the day was a descent. Andy and I had a brilliant fast hike down along a river gorge, ahead of the others. We stopped to rest on some rocks by the trail and the others caught up. After that, they were moving too fast for me. I was slipping on the stone steps and knew that sooner or later I would get hurt if I didn't slow down, so I let them go ahead. For the rest of the day, they would pull away but eventually stop for a drink. I asked Rob to order me a lemon Fanta at the first one, and it was waiting for me. I shared the last of the Hob Nobs instead of the packaged biscuits (cookies) that we usually bought, drank my cold Fanta, and headed out ahead of them. Later they passed me and when they stopped for a rest, I passed them and kept going at my own pace. By being slow but persistent, I was pretty much keeping up with them.

Walking alone was sweet actually. I would exchange a few words of Nepali with the children who would approach me and try to beg money or sweets. I soaked in the views along the river. The morning was a cool forest with mostly trees, some covered with ferns and lichens. Later there were terraced farms, and the trail was down to the elevation where even banana trees were growing. It was warm. There were farmers plowing with water buffalo and domed stacks of dried straw and fields of straw drying. On the farmhouse roofs were shallow baskets of grain or mushrooms or other foods drying. There were stacks of pine firewood. Once when I was walking with the others, we passed a beautiful waterfall that plunged into a deep pool, which looked so inviting. If we had not been hurrying, we could have stopped to swim.

All through the trek I had been careful with my feet, using band aids whenever I developed a hot spot. Up until that last day, I had no blisters at all. But the last day got me. The constant climbing down stone steps produced a very hot spot on the inner wide spot of each foot, and when I stopped to put band aids on, they had already become blood blisters half under the callous. But I later learned that even with these, I had the fewest blisters.

We followed the river, arriving at Birethani about 12:30, when Krishna made us stop for lunch. None of us wanted to stop because we were less than an hour from the end. We sat in a pavilion overlooking the river. I had cornbread and honey and a lemon Fanta.

After lunch it was anything but an easy hike to the highway. We crossed a non-scary bridge (rigid instead of swinging) and hiked along the other side of the river, along village streets, and then an exhausting steep climb to the road. I was fatigued, wasted. The taxi van that Krishna had arranged was late, and I sat there by the side of the road on a stone wall, in a daze. The trek was over. I don't think that I would have been physically capable of another day.

It was a long ride to town, but I started gathering energy again on the way. It was great to get back to the Hotel Nirvana. It really was nirvana. We each got our own room and there was plenty of hot water for showers. I suspected my jeans, which I had worn the entire trek, were toxic and it was great to be washed and get a clean change of clothes.

I had brought some Constant Comment tea and Rob and I sat out in the garden, ordering some hot water and biscuits. We had tea English style, with milk, and unwound. Later that evening the three of us went to a very good Indian restaurant for a feast that did not include dahl bat. Rob gave me a book to read, Into Thin Air, about the disastrous 1996 climbing season on Mt. Everest. I was struggling through Cold Mountain. I read awhile before going to sleep.

The next day

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