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ACT Day 02 - Srichaur to Tal

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Waterfalls


The day was overcast, and not only were the mountain views of Himlung (elevation : 7126m) and Manaslu (elevation : 8163m, the 8th highest mountain in the world), completely obscured, but so were the cliffs that lay just in front of Srichaur (elevation : 1100m). The intermittent drizzle also made everything grey and bleak, but the mist that came with it left everything quite enchanting and reminded me of the Western Arthurs in Australia.

We had made a deal with the lodge owner the day before, whereby we would be able to stay for free if we purchased both dinner that night and breakfast the next morning. So before leaving, we dug into breakfast, which was chapatti with cheese (NPR250), and then made our way back to the room to finalise our packing. The day's hike began with us stepping back onto the incredibly muddy road that ran through the village and navigating over and around the many mud pools that pockmarked the road. A waterfall lay right next to the road just after the village, and a bridge that spanned the raging Marsyangdi river came right after it.

Waterfalls on the way to Tal

The trail ran parallel to the river and continued north right after the river crossing. It felt good to be off the road and to be surrounded by boulders and moss once again. This only lasted for a kilometre though, as we soon reached a junction right after we passed a waterfall that gushed over the trail. The branch on the left that followed the red & white markers would take us back to the road once again, and then on to Jagat an hour later; whereas the one on the right that followed the blue & white markers would have avoided the road but would have taken three hours. As we were planning to spend the night at Tal that day and the weather still looked a little uncertain, we decided to take the left branch just to be safe.

We descended the stone stairwell and down to the next bridge before crossing over to the other side. As we crossed the bridge, we heard the hum of a hydroelectric station and, when we looked back, we saw another huge waterfall plummeting into the river below. Pipes could also be seen tracing their way up the mountain's face, and had been installed as a means to channel in the water and to increase the water pressure.

Waterfalls on the way to Tal

Looking back after the bridge crossing

The road that we were now on began to switchback up the side of the hill. There was a shortcut however, but it required a little bit of scrambling, as well as some traversing towards the top. Soon after, we reached Jagat (elevation : 1300m) but ended up stopping for almost an hour just outside the hamlet, simply because we were so in awe of the grandeur of the valley and the numerous waterfalls that plunged into the raging river down below.

Waterfalls on the way to Tal

The impressive views!

There was a point where we noticed red & white trail markers that led off to the left, and onto a trail that led up and into the hills. We did however, also recall how overgrown and scree-like the side trail had been the day before, and so decided to just stay on the road for the time being. In hindsight, the trail would have passed the villages of Ghattekholagaon and Purano Jagat, so would have been fairly well-trodden.

We passed another waterfall called 'Boong Chehra' soon after that had a viewpoint and a restaurant been constructed directly across the river from it. This waterfall was just as impressive as a lot of the others had been but was located a lot closer to the road, and so felt a lot more spectacular. The volume of water that dropped off the cliff was tremendous and the force so strong that puffs of water vapour were thrown into the air as the water hit the rocks on its way down. The water vapour can sometimes create rainbows (which is why the waterfall is sometimes referred to as 'rainbow waterfall'), but in order for us to have witnessed this phenomenon, the sun would have had to be directly behind us. The waterfall was so close that I could have sworn that I felt the moisture wafting in from it.

Waterfalls on the way to Tal

Boong Chehra waterfall

Next (Day 2) : Srichaur to Tal (Part 2)

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Larvae


We reached the hamlet of Chyamche (elevation : 1430m) at almost exactly noon. We were a little hungry by then, and so made our way straight through the hamlet, and descended down the stairs that lay after it to a bridge. We found a place to sit just before the bridge itself, and after removing a bunch of leeches (Order : Hirudinea) from our feet, began to cook a lovely lunch. We spent almost an hour there and not a single person passed us by. We were completely surrounded by insects whilst there, and could see various instar stages of the almost twenty larvae of the yellow coster butterfly (Acraea issoria) that we found. The larvae were very similar to those of the Indian tortoiseshell (Aglais caschmirensis), but despite both of them having almost identical spiny satae, the yellow markings that ran down their bodies were clearly quite different.

yellow coster butterfly

The larva and pupae of the yellow coster butterfly (Acraea issoria)

Other larvae that we encountered quite frequently were that of the common tiger moth (Campylotes histrionicus). These moths belong to the family Zygaenidae; and like most other Zygaenid moths, fly during the day. They also contain hydrogen cyanide, and so have aposematic colouration to warn predators of their toxicity. Like the two other larvae mentioned above, the larvae of the common tiger moth also has remarkably pronounced satae. The satae in this case however, is not spiny, but appears rather fluffy!

female common tiger moth

Common tiger moth larvae; a female common tiger moth (Campylotes histrionicus)

The path continued up slippery rocks on the other side of the river, and we were flanked by long waif-like grass that clung precariously to the sheer cliff face next to us. This section of the trail was completely surrounded by moss. Ferns lined with their spherical sporangia also decorated the sides of the path, and the occasional overhanging slabs of rock created a tunnel-like feel. We passed a very impressive waterfall across the river, but by then, I had completely lost count of the number of waterfalls that had left me spellbound. There were just too many. The trail passed through fields of cannabis (Cannabis sativa), before beginning an ascent up a hill, past the occasional skink (Family: Scincidae) as it scampered away on a boulder, and up to a grassy rise. It was here where we bumped into Raleigh, the only other hiker that we had seen in the past two days.

There were also plenty of leeches around, as well as groups of tree yellow butterflies (Gandaca harina) and pupae of yellow coster butterflies (Acraea issoria) hanging from bushes. The frilly white 'tails' of planthopper nymphs (Superfamily: Fulgoroidea) could also be spotted on leaves every now and then. These very unusual 'tails' are actually wax secretions from glands on their abdomen that is thought to be used as a form of concealment. The lantern bug (Pyrops sp.) was another unusual planthopper that we encountered. These bugs tend to have unbelievably long protrusions, or snouts, that emerge from their heads. Unlike their name though, these 'snouts' do not glow like lanterns, but are hollow and are used to help them reach into tree bark to feed on sap.

Lantern bugs

Lantern bugs (Pyrops sp.)

Next (Day 2) : Srichaur to Tal (Part 3)

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Whiteout


The clouds eventually rolled in, and were so low that they left everything obscured in a white-out. The trail was wide, so we were still able to follow it around the contours and next to the sheer drops that could occasionally be glimpsed off to the side. Hewn stone steps ascended the hill, and the whiteout made it feel as if we were climbing into the clouds. Bamboo shoots (Tribe: Bambuseae) were ubiquitous here, and the droopy ones that hung over the trail created a sheltered tunnel overhead. The misty silhouettes of the shoots in the far distance however gave everything an eerie feel, at least when glimpsed. At one point the mist parted enough for us to see what looked like two waterfalls; but one turned out to be the Marsyangdi river, that was falling so steeply in that section that it looked like a waterfall.

tunnel-like rocky outcrops

Tunnel-like rocky outcrops

Each and every time we stopped, we found ourselves pulling leeches off our ankles (I cleared 15 just in one stop!), so were quite relieved when the trail ascended to a rise before it descended down the other side to an arch and a few buildings that were labelled 'Tal'. The 'lake' lay infront of us and the bridge that led to the road was on the left, but the main settlement of Tal (elevation : 1700m) lay much further on to the right, way past the 'graffitied' cliff face.

We settled on a guesthouse called 'Riverview', that had rooms that cost NPR100 per night, that had attached bathrooms with hot water showers (this was the first and only time I had ever encountered such a luxury on a hike in Nepal!). After charging all our devices in the multiple outlets in the room, and cleaning up the bloody mess that the leeches had left, we made our way down to the common room for a delicious meal of dhal bhat (NPR450).

misty cliffs

Suunto Movescount Stats

04a

04b

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 2 Expenditure (NPR)*

Accommodation: 50

Medication: 0

Permits: 0

Food: 700

Transport: 0

TOTAL (NPR)


* Excluding the cost of the flights to and from Nepal

Total

: 785

: 35

: 8700

: 2310

: 460

: 12290 

Next (Day 3) : Tal to Danakyu

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