November 13, 2006 - Walking up and down the steps...

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In one evening the fellow travelers at our lodge in Tirkhedhunga have become friends. There were suggestions about what to order at dinner, shared food and drink, conversations about our families, treks, politics, etc. We brush our teeth together at an outside sink and most are up ready to have breakfast at 7AM. We take our time in the morning and are the last to leave for Ghorapani a little before 8. After descending to cross another suspension bridge, the trail leads up and up and up in a series of ongoing steps. We gain over 6500 feet/2000 meters by walking up steps. Walking up and down the steps with us were caravans of packhorses carrying large loads. Watching them scramble up and down the twisting steps was quite a sight. The small farms we passed were terraced plots into the hill. Restaurants with lodges attached were frequent. It was hard to choose which one to stop at for tea and biscuits or lunch, as they are each painted brightly and surrounded by flowers. At one garden restaurant, we see a very young water buffalo lying in the grass a few feet from our table. He is so young, that he is unsteady on his feet and only stands for a few minutes before sinking back down. I squat next to him and scratch behind his ears. His head sinks and his eyes close with pleasure, only opening when I stop scratching. Jack takes pictures.

While we are having a welcome break, we wave to a young couple whom we had alternated passing all day. The young mom is carrying a baby about a year old in a baby backpack/ carrier, the father is carrying a large backpack and a big bag in front of him. After our break, we soon pass them, as both the mother and father are now moving more slowly. In just a few minutes our porter rejoins us, having taken our bag to the lodge. He offers to take my backpack, but I suggest that I carry my pack and he take the father’s bag instead. Immediately, Kami starts trading his lighter pack for the father’s heavier pack and soon the young family is relieved of much of their load. We travel uphill together in a group for an hour till we reach Ghorapani. Pictures are taken at parting with the promise to mail photos to the family. Jack and I are tired after walking uphill for more than 6 hours, while this young family has two more hours to walk. Fortunately the rest of their walk was downhill, so hopefully they got there before dark.