Langtang Trek

April 22-29, 2009

After the noise, dirt, and crime in Kathmandu, we were definitely ready to spend time in nature again.

There are a bunch of hiking options around Kathmandu, including the famous Everest Base Camp (EBC) trek.  While trying to figure out where to go, we met a bunch of Israeli tourists who kept raving about a trek they called HaAgamim HaKfuim (which is Hebrew for “The Frozen Lakes”).  We stopped in a few tour offices to ask where is this frozen lakes place, and nobody knew.  Then we stopped in a travel agency called Swissa, the one used by all the Israelis, and they revealed the secret.  The trek is in a park north of Kathmandu called Langtang.  Most people who go to Langtang do the main trail up to the Base Camp for Mount Langtang Lirung (7.2 km), but the Israelis opt for a different route towards a pass called Gosain Kund.  There are a few lakes close to this pass, and in the wintertime they freeze over – these are the frozen lakes.

The route we followed:

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Overall, the trip took 7 days.  We spent the first day in a bus going over a very twisty road from Kathmandu to a village called Dhunche.  From there we had two days of steep climbing to reach Gosain Kund, the last camp before the pass.  Along the way we had some awesome views of Mt Langtang nearby and even of some white peaks way off in Tibet.  When we reached the camp we saw the famous lakes (which, incidentally, weren’t frozen at all).  On the third day we had another short climb to reach the pass (Laurebina), and then a never-ending descent down to the 2-guesthouse stop at Ghopte.  On the fourth day the trail split and there were three options: west, center, or east.  We chose East (towards Melamchigaan and Sermatang) because we heard it’s less-traveled and has some pretty villages.  The trouble with this choice is that it’s pretty difficult to follow the trail: each time you reach some village you have a dozen trails leading to different homes or farmsteads.  To avoid getting lost we followed a group of 4 French people who hired a local guide.  For the last couple of days the French group decided to split up – the ladies stayed behind to summit a nearby hill while the men decided to move on.  We joined the men, and since the ladies kept the guide, we had to hire another local guide to show us the rest of the way.  This turned out to  be unnecessary: the last part of the trail follows an obvious dirt road.

Anyhow, on with the photos…

Pnina at the “trailhead” in Dhunche.  Just like in Annapurna the guesthouses were comfortable and cheap enough but the food did us no good – Pnina’s stomach was upset after the first meal of the trek!

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Shahaf playing a “finger-billiard” game with the guys at the guesthouse in Shin Gumba:

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Mountain views on the way to the small village of Laurebina (not to be confused with the Laurebina pass, which is much further).  This was the prettiest part of the trek and luckily we had the best weather on this day:

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A dead tree.  It’s amazing it’s still upright:

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Pnina with Dafna at Laurebina village.  We met Dafna, an Israeli girl, on the bus ride to Langtang.  We hiked together, on and off, up to Gosain Kund.  She stayed behind to try to summit Surya Peak while we moved on.

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Heading up from Laurebina towards Gosain Kund:

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The first of the “frozen lakes” near Gosain Kund:

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Third day of the hike – heading up from the lakes to the pass:

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Shahaf and Pnina at the pass!

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This is Surya Peak – the mountain that Dafna tried to summit while we moved on.  We ran into Dafna in Kathmandu after the hike and she said she didn’t quite reach the top.  There was no obvious route.  To climb you just have to scramble your way up the rocks and it gets increasingly sketchy as you near the top.

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Shahaf and Hue, a Korean guy we met on the hike:

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Goats fighting for control of this tree:

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Wheat growing in the village of Melamchigaan:

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Heading through terraced villages:

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Pnina hanging out with the French group:

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Tall flags near a temple in one of the villages:

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Candles and pottery in the temple:

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Pnina posing with our French hiking buddies Christophe and Albert, plus our guide:

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Bonus Pictures

Some of the Snickers bars we bought along the trail had Hebrew writing on them!  We can only imagine that they were imported from there, but we can’t imagine why.

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An insect that was hanging around our water bottle as we had dinner on the last night of the trek:

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In the News

The trouble just won’t end with those pirates in Somalia.  While we were hiking the pirates attacked an Italian cruise ship.  This ship happened to have some Israeli security forces who managed to thwart the attack by firing back with guns and water hoses.  In a separate incident, Somali pirates captured an American boat captain who was later heroically rescued by a Navy operation.

Obama reached his 100th day in office and a lot of pundits gave him an informal report card for his achievements so far. His big efforts included: attempting to close Gitmo, rescuing the auto industry, rescuing the economy as a whole,  pulling troups from Iraq and Afghanistan, and revising policy on stem-cell research.

Arlen Spector, a Pennsylvania senator, switched from the Republican party to the Democratic party.  This now gives the democrats at 50-49 lead in the senate.  The last seat is still being debated: comedian Al Franken and Norm Coleman both claim to have won the election in Minnesota.

Thousands of people in New York City called 911 to report a huge airplane flying a little too low for comfort.  This turned out to be Air Force One flying for some photos requested by the White House.  Apparently the White House did notify officials in NYC, but word somehow didn’t reach mayor Bloomberg.  Obama admitted that it was a stupid mistake.

Everyone is talking about a new epidemic, the AH1N1 virus, also called “the swine flu”.  It appears the epidemic started in Mexico but now there are cases in the US and Germany, among other countries.

Iowa is the latest state to support same-sex marriage.

Iran’s president Ahmedinejad said that Iran could support a 2-state solution for Israel/Palestine.  This could be just talk, but it could also be a very big deal.  We wonder what kind of back-room negotiation is happening between Obama’s administration and Iran.


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