Christ mass in Buddhidada

goinup

Pushing my bike in the Himalaya

 

My sense of time/chronology has never been particularly good or accurate.  Especially when traveling, l rarely have any idea what day of the week, month, or sometimes even year it is.  So while l was aware it was winter, it’s not very surprising l had no sense of when the big winter holydays were.  It happened that l was wandering the street (there is only one, but it is long) of Sallerie looking for denatured alcohol (also known as rubbing alcohol, methylated spirits, and in latin america simply as alchol (usually not denatured)) to fuel my (homemade) stove on december 25th, when l was alerted to that fact by a hindu shopkeeper’s daughter (complete with thilkia or bhindi on her forehead) who wished me a “happy christmas.”  I smiled and wished her a merry one, before doing a sort of mental double take, and wondering if it was indeed christmas day.

 

My pocket computer concurred, and l was disappointed to realize that being 12 hours off of california time, l had missed my opportunity to phone the family christmas gathering.  So l sent a round of emails and made my way back to my hotel (the town was dry of denatured alcohol) where l  was almost immediately befriended by a group of well-to-do Nepalis, who were three sheets to the wind, drinking gin and hot water.  It turned out that they were doctors at the mission hospital in nearby Okaldunga and were on some sort of christmas holiday vacation (due to the christian nature of their employer).  They were educated (which here also means english speaking) intelligent (drunk) and wanted to talk about religion.  So l spent my christmass drinking (terrible) gin in hot water (which didn’t improve the flavor) and talking about religion, and tolerance, and such until the wee hours of what turned out to christmas eve on the other side of the planet.

 

I knew that were about 12hrs apart, but my concern with/sense of time is such that l neglected to consider, how that affected the date. So when the internet started working around midday, l received a flurry of messages, informing me that ‘l was living in the future’ and today was christmass in california.  Naturally timing was such that l still missed the family gathering, but managed to call and talk to a large percentage of my family — two christmases are better than one anyway. I bought some diesel fuel (for my stove — and a sardine can to use if that worked better) and peanut butter — and rode out of town, pleasantly surprised to find that the first bit was a road (or at least the sort of jeep track that qualifies as a road around here) which turned into a trail when it reached a ridge, both of which were totally rideable.

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traveler of both time and space

snowrest

Exploring Pikey Peak

 

I love the mountains.  Perhaps because l was born in the Sierra Nevada of California, or because I’m an avatar of Shiva: as one Sadu type suggested recently — the high country calls to me.  Directs my travels.  So it was only natural that l would return to the solukhumbu after my sojourn in Kathmandu.  With my bike and full compliment of camping gear in search of dirt.  Rideable trails that is.  Ideally any way. Starting with a loop recommended to Matt and l by our friend Mads, Which we had skipped because Matts knees weren’t up to it in the aftermath of hiking to Gokyo.

 

There are no trails designed (or maintained) for biking anywhere in this incredibly steep country, so any ride is going to include some unrideable sections — some pushing or carrying.  This particular route is one Mads does professionally — with paying guests — so l knew there was some good riding to be had.  But those guided trips have a large support team — porters for both bikes and gear.  I’m no stranger to carrying my bike, but the approach to PIkey peak was to be my first experience doing it in the himalaya.  The trip began uneventfully enough — retracing our route to Ringmou.  All rideable (still super steep and muddy in spots) and getting better all the time — in the month or so (l really spent that long in KTM) since we had been on these roads, the road builders had made significant progress in landslide and mud abatement.  About 4 days in the clouds which had been following me all the way from the city reached critical mass — and l was treated to one of the heaviest hail-storms l have ever experienced.

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trekking towards mt. Everest

wrongway

many thanks to matt for all the lovely photos