Manaslu, eighth-highest mountain in the world, came into view in all its glory today, and we see it from our tea house in Lho, our home for tonight. Manaslu's all-white mass also towers over the Nyingma-sect monastery that sits on a hill above town. The main building contains a larger-than-life gold Buddha, flanked by two other gold figures. Every available wall space inside is painted with colourful iconography, and the ceiling entirely covered with mandalas, including one with swastikas of the Bön religion of Tibet. Two hundred monks live there and friendly and curious schoolchildren got out for recess while we were there. They spoke English well enough to converse a bit, before being summoned back to class by some rhythmic gong strikes.
Not only did we have superb mountain scenery today, there was clear blue sky until the late afternoon. We observed many men and women harvesting barley by sickle. Potatoes are grown and harvested in the same fields. A woman sold her apples along the trail. Terraced golden barley fields hemmed by stone fences and brown pastures for cows formed a lovely pastoral mosaic along the Buri Gandaki valley. The river has much reduced from the torrent of only yesterday, and we no longer hear its roar all night.
Today's hiking was quite easy, with an elevation gain of 550 m. We passed a few mani walls, shrines with prayer wheels, and there was the usual traffic of locals, trekkers, and mule trains on the trail. We had decided to go without a morning break so as to get to Lho for lunch and not have to go further after that.
It is a lot cooler here – we are all wearing fleeces or down jackets and hats, even gloves. Everyone is well and cheerful.