Who is interested to join a recce fastpack starting when the (other) Manaslu trail participants drive out from Tilje to Besisahar? Yes you miss out on immediate post event urban creature comforts, award ceremony and the possibility of leisurely farewells, but if another, and even more challenging week in the mountains appeals to you, this is your chance. And the pampering is only delayed, not forsaken.
We are accompanied by fewer staff, carry all our own essential gear, sometimes make very long days, but for all of those, you’ll have the option to take an easier route, or not join the exploration of off-the-beaten track possibilities from a base (but replace by a rest day).
The idea is to recce the possibilities for a formalized Manaslu Trail Race extension, determine capacity of lodges this time of year, trail conditions and the level of technical skill required, and feasible lengths of sections between lodgings.
Obviously, we will all take care of each other, respect our own limitations and not get carried away by egocentric ambitions, but unless you feel comfortable making the awareness raising pledge some extreme US ultra running events have their participants shout out loud “If I get lost, hurt, or die, it’s my own damn fault.” You are probably not willing to take the required responsibility.
Enough intro, what is the intended, itinerary, including its alternatives, weather and other conditions permitting.
Nov 15: when our friends leave us by jeep for Besisahar from Tilje, we continue on foot to the village of Timang, 600 meters above the Marsyangdi river on the opposite bank. A long day but who wouldn’t prefer a couple of extra hours on their feet to many hours in a cramped jeep…let’s delay that for another week.
Nov 16: High above Timang, not that far in distance but a good 2000 steep meters up is the Namun Banjyang (4850m), the pass used by the inhabitants of the Manang and Naar Phu areas to trade with those living to the South of the main Annapurna and Lamjung ranges before a trail had been build through the lower reaches of the wild Marsyangdi gorge. Old growth forests, grasslands (kharkas – meadows – used in summer for semi nomadic herding, weather permitting stupendous views across to the Annapurna and Manaslu range. We’ll see if reaching the pass and returning is a feasible day. Who knows we might even descend it a bit on the south side toward the hanging valley that served as a trading ground for those from the North and the South, and is the access to Dudh Pokhari a seasonal pilgrimage destination comparable to Gosainkund, Dudh Kund and quite a few other glacial lakes elsewhere. Who knows we might not make the pass. Same lodge for the night so only a daypack to carry.
Nov 17: With just a bit more of jeep road we reach Koto, the access village to the gorge of the Naar-Phu river, and the Mustangi rainshadow landscapes beyond it. A reasonable day of fastpacking brings us to Meta or Naar phedi and its old gomba for the night. Those not satisfied with reasonables may add an exploration toward Kangaru himal BC to the East.
Nov 18: Another, even more reasonable day to the horseshoe shaped spectacularly located village of Phu, the Northernmost settlement of the region, with enough time left to explore the village a bit.
Nov 19 and 20: Exploration days with various options, to the North of Phu toward the border, into an increasingly Tibetan highlands like landscape, toward Pokarkang BC to the Northwest, to Himlung BC toward the East, or the more immediate surroundings of the village. Only the need to carry a daypack, and the freedom to make the days as leisurely or extreme as one wishes.
Nov 21: A long long high route from Phu to Naar, crossing a 5050 and a 5400 meter pass, if judged feasible and most likely guided by a local. We’ll find out….if not we’ll retrace our steps to Naar phedi (another possibility to explore toward Kangaru himal) and on toward Naar, with its long maniwall and many gombas.
Nov 22: a reasonable day across the 5100m Kang La into the Manang valley, with weather permitting, unrivalled views of the Annapurna range at your fingertip, and a descent which a long shale section that makes for childlike fun. We’ll decide where to overnight depending upon everyone’s wishes for how to return to Kathmandu. Probably cannot decide that last minute – because we need to secure seats in a jeep to Besisahar – but we have options to see a bit more of the Manang valley before driving out or opt for more time to enjoy the urban comforts down South.
Nov 23: More or less walking and then jeep to Besisahar
Nov 24: Bus to Kathmandu
Nov 25: Departure from Kathmandu to home
22 days with 17 mountain days