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ABC Day 04 - Poon Hill

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The Gorge


We left Deurali shortly after 13:00. The trail reentered the forest once again and dropped back down the hill on bamboo-lined stone steps. We crossed several bridges and waterfalls, before making a sharp descent straight down into the gorge. The descent was so steep here that the trail had to constantly switch-back down. Before we knew it, we were surrounded by high, black-streaked cliffs on both sides of us. Potential climbing lines could be seen all over the place, at least on the bare parts of the rocks that were not completely covered in long tufts of waify blades of grass. The vibrant rhododendron trees had also melted away and had been replaced by moss-covered pines (Pinus sp.).

the gorge after poon hill

After 4.5 kilometres of walking, the valley decent slowly leveled off as we arrived at a widened area of the riverbed. This section was horrendously pock-marked with cairns, or what I would call 'rock graffiti', another one of those senseless things that completely detracts from the natural landscape; and are, as one ecologist put it, “pointless reminders of human ego”. I noticed then that there was fascination amongst some of those in the group, and realised that there seemed to be a positive correlation between one's outdoor experience and one's level of distaste when seeing cairns scattered around like this.

For those who have itchy fingers and feel as if they need to add something to an existing pile of cairns, at least go through the following points first. They come directly from the 'Leave No Trace' (LNT) website:

Cairn Guidelines

1 - Do not build unauthorized cairns. When visitors create unauthorized routes or cairns they often greatly expand trampling impacts and misdirect visitors from established routes to more fragile or dangerous areas. This is especially important in the winter when trails are hidden by snow. Thus, visitor-created or “bootleg” cairns can be very misleading to hikers and should not be built.

2 - Do not tamper with cairns. Authorized cairns are designed and built for specific purposes. Tampering with or altering cairns minimizes their route marking effectiveness. Leave all cairns as they are found.

3 - Do not add stones to existing cairns. Cairns are designed to be free draining. Adding stones to cairns chinks the crevices, allowing snow to accumulate. Snow turns to ice, and the subsequent freeze-thaw cycle can reduce the cairn to a rock pile.

4 - Do not move rocks. Extracting and moving rocks make mountain soils more prone to erosion in an environment where new soil creation requires thousands of years. It also disturbs adjacent fragile alpine vegetation.

5 - Stay on trails. Protect fragile mountain vegetation by following cairns or paint blazes in order to stay on designated trails.

gorge waterfalls

A bridge crossed the river 5km in, and from there on we followed the left bank of the river instead. The water from the river was diverted into pipes, and was a good indication that villages were nearby. The rhododendron trees slowly returned once again, but they were the magenta variants this time around. Pairs of white-capped redstarts (Phoenicurus leucocephalus) flitted across boulders on the riverbed, and bobbed up and down and fanned their tails each time they stopped, a display that could possibly have been part of a mating ritual. The birds were predominantly black, but the large white patch atop their head, and their fiery-red tails made them quite striking.

Dol, the guide of the group, had been told that the lodges at Tadapani (elevation : 2630m) did not have sufficient rooms to accommodate the group, so they had instead decided to stop at Banthanti, a village that lay two hours before Tadapani. We all ended up at 'Ban Thanti Trekkers Lodge', which lay right at the end of the village on the top of the hill. It was still quite early in the day, so we amused ourselves by practicing our fire making skills whilst waiting for dinner (dhal bhat chicken curry NPR500+600/2; accommodation NPR200).

morakniv firemaking

Fiona striking a ferrocerium rod with the spine of the Morakniv Garberg

Route Playback

Suunto Movescount Stats

mc04c

mc04d

The full page of the recorded trek can be found on my Movescount Page.

For those who also have a Suunto GPS device and would like to use the move
as a route, please click on the following link for the route:

Check the route in

Expenditure

End of Day 4 Expenditure (NPR)*

Permits: 50

Transport: 0

Medical: 0

Supplies: 0

Food: 800

Accommodation: 200

TOTAL (NPR)


* Excluding the cost of the flights to and from Nepal

Total

: 8310

: 1179

: 895

: 1800

: 2810

: 1877

: 16871 

Next (Day 5) : Banthanti to Chomrong

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