ACT Day 13 - Thorong La Pass


The notorious ridge that I had read about in other online accounts was reached at the 6.4 km mark. This section had thrown other hikers off before as the trail seemed to continue onto the ridge straight ahead, when it instead veered down the slopes to the left. Fortunately, there were now both indications that were painted onto the rocks just before the turnoff, as well as pole markers on the left that indicated the correct way. We decided to stop for our lunch soon after that point--where we prepared hot soup that was to be eaten with Tibetan bread--at a large boulder just above a grassy meadow with the ruins of a small structure. We had figured that this point was a good stop as it was approximately half way down elevation-wise from the high-altitude pass (which was 1700 metres higher than Ranipauwa).

Window into Mustang

Minutes after we stopped, the mist directly in-front of us cleared and left a window of sorts that looked straight down to the valley floor. The clouds above framed the arid landscape of Mustang like a picture, but the surreal beauty of it--the juxtaposition of the arid browns and the lush greens--made it seem more like a painting. The timing had been absolutely impeccable. Birds flitted around that at first I had thought were alpine choughs (Pyrrhocorax graculus), but their calls were 'caws' rather than puppy-like 'yelps', which told me that they were crows (Corvus sp.). There was a lot more grass from this point on, which livened up the landscape somewhat, but by the time we started walking, the mist had descended upon us once again. The barometer pressure on my Suunto Spartan Ultra had also dropped, which had in turn initiated the storm warning. This had also caused the estimated altitude to rise slightly, so I had to manually offset it for a while.

By the time we caught sight of the guesthouses of the hamlet (elevation : 4190 m) that did not seem to have a set name--some signs referred to the place as 'Changur' or 'Chongur', others as 'Thorong Tha', whilst others still as 'Chambharbhu'--the elevation had already corrected itself and gave a fairly precise elevation of 4200 m. The mist had also cleared a little by then, and we were able to see all the way through to the hamlet of Jhong that was nestled in a sea of green. As we approached the guesthouses, we saw that the trail passed straight through them, which was a little inconvenient considering that we would then have to tell each and every one of the owners, who all happened to gather outside whenever a trekker came along, that we were just passing through. The trail then wound down to the Jhong Khola approximately 9 km in, before passing the junction to Muktinath. By then, the rock-fringed trail had taken us into grassland that was interspersed with mounds of low bushes. Each time we ventured into terrain like that, we made sure to always keep our eyes peeled for signs of pikas (Ochotona roylei)!

After a few river crossings, the last one with a long suspension bridge, the trail swung left before sidling the temples of Muktinath (elevation : 3800 m) and then straight on to the hamlet of Ranipauwa (elevation : 3700 m) . We ended up staying at the 'Path of Dreams Hotel (Les Chemins du RĂªve)'; the room cost NPR200/2, and the meal of dhal bhat cost NPR490.

*We were not alone! A solo hiker came in very late whilst we were having dinner : 8/13

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Day 13 Expenditure

Next (Day 14) : Ranipauwa to Kagbeni

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