Robert R. Fenichel

 

Nepal (not Kathmandu), 2007

I spent most of September 2007 on a trek through upper Mustang with my nephew Adam Marcus.  In September, most of Nepal was — as expected — still in the grip of the monsoon, but Mustang is high desert, in the rain shadow of the Annapurnas, so we were fine once we got out of Kathmandu.  With a sirdar, a cook, three kitchen boys, five mules and a wrangler, we walked from Jomosom through Kagbeni (see also RE_13 and RE_17) and Charang to Lo Manthang (see also ZCD_10 and ZCE_02).   After a side trip to the caves at Jhong, we walked back to Jomosom via Yara, Tangge, Paha, and Tangbe, with side trips to Luri Gompa and Lupra.

Even though we were never more than a few kilometers from the near-flat Kali Gandaki, the terrain was relatively rugged, with lots of up-and-down to get over or around spires and walls (see also ZCK_03 and ZCK_05) of steep conglomerate.  The land is almost treeless, and away from the few watercourses it is as arid as Nevada (see the Great Stone Nose, and 360 panoramas from near the Lo La (4080m) and above Tangge at about 4100m).  

Small natural caves were ubiquitous in the cliffs, and many of the caves had been enlarged and embellished for human use.  Often, visibly humanized caves were inaccessible, presumably because of subsidence of the slopes below the cliffs.  The caves at Jhong make up a 44-room complex that, we were told, has carbon-dated traces that demonstrate human use for over 2500 years.

In Lo Manthang, we met briefly with Jigme III (on the left in ZCG_04), last of the kings of Mustang.  His grandfather was the last of his line with any genuine authority.  Jigme III lives alone in a third-floor walkup room, the only furnished, lit, or heated room in his palace.  The visit was like a visit to a hospice.

Gyanendra, King of Nepal, seems to be on his way down into similar irrelevance.  Here is a prayer wheel, wrapped to indicate that it is not stuffed with scriptures, so it is inoperative and should not be relied on.  Here, in Jomosom, is a broken statue of Gyanendra, wrapped according to the same convention.  

GPS waypoints collected during this trek are posted on a separate page.

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ZCQ_02                ZCQ_03               ZCS_18

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Images on this page 2007 by Robert R. Fenichel

Page revised: 02/05/2017 14:33