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Tatopani to Kalopani – Day 5

Trekking, Day 5, Tatopani to Kalopani – We got up and I bid Som and Maurita farewell as they were headed down the mountain while we were headed up. We walked all day and Ram kept saying that Kalopani was too far to go in one day, but I really wanted to get higher up so we would see more mountains all around us. We walked 5 hours through the village of Dana at 1400 meters until we reached Ghasa at 2000 meters at 3 p.m.

Stopped for lunch of a dal bhat, the Nepalese equivalent of an Indian thali before moving on. We were tired when we stopped for lunch and Ram kept saying it was a hard climb to Kalopani meaning black water, but I decided to move on. We began the arduous task of climbing up this mountain to 2470 meters and it was absolutely exhausting. A hard climb through the forest and every time we had conquered one hill, there was always one more higher just behind it.

We passed many an Indian sadhus walking barefooted up to Muktinath at 12,400 feet to pray at the temple there, but the sadhus did not look that happy about doing the climb either. We passed this one sadhu, who was busy boring a hole in the bottom of a live bamboo stock. Ram asked him what he was doing and the sadhu replied he was going to chop down the bamboo to make a chillum, so he could have a smoke. We hit the crest of the umpteenth hill and could see the suspension bridge going over the river to the village of Lete at 2470 meters. We were only about 40 minutes from Kalopani now, so we got our second wind, over the bridge and one more 100-meter climb before we were on the plateau that Kalopani sat on. We came out of the forest and there were mountains all around us. Just below us were the green terraced wheat fields of Kalopani at 2560 meters so picturesque, so we took quite a few pictures with Annapurna 2 in the background. We made our way through the village to See You Lodge where we got a room.

When we entered, I noticed that everyone in the lounge was squashed around this large table with a floor-length tablecloth around it. I did not think much of it and just sat near the table and started talking to this Dutch girl. She asked if I wanted to sit at the big table and moved over to make room for me. Not arguing with her, I moved over and swung my legs under the table. Then I figured out why this table was so popular. Under the table was a large metal container full of red, hot coals thereby heating everyone’s legs, so that was the attraction.

I did not realize it, but we had crossed out of Nepal’s Kagbeni district and entered Mustang. These coals under the table are only found in Mustang and judging by the outside temperature, no wonder they are found in all the lodges in Mustang. Our entire table was packed with trekkers and after talking to everyone for a while, I learned there were two Canadians, one Dutch girl, and something like twelve Israelis. The Canadians and Dutch were so stoked they had found another person, me, who did not speak Israeli as my first language. The deal with the Israelis traveling is that they never travel in groups of 2 or 3, it is always like 10 or 20 of them together. They are also just as gregarious, loud, and boisterous as Americans, a trait I did not know they had.

We sat around to this warm table all night playing cards and mind games and no one got up from the table unless they were going to bed, it was just a bit nippy. Ram and I retired to bed and he told me he did not like Israelis because he had been knifed in the arm by one when he was a porter a few years back.

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