ACT Day 02 - Srichaur to Tal

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The day was overcast, and not only were the mountain views of Himlung (elevation : 7126 m) and Manaslu (elevation : 8163 m, the 8th highest mountain in the world), completely obscured, but so were the cliffs that lay just in front of Srichaur (elevation : 1100 m). 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.

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.

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 : 1300 m) 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. Jagat means 'toll station', and used to be the point where tolls were collected from Tibetan salt traders.

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 which had a viewpoint and a restaurant that had 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.

Boong Chehra waterfall

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

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