Friday 7 February 2014

Yak Attack 2014 Stage 5

Chame to Manang
29.7km, 1,249m ascent

These are the views that I came for, and I think we just went about 9,500 ft to about 12,500 ft. But riding is about 10 percent of the experience. We're heading to Manang, which for context is not only high and beautiful, it's also two towns down the donkey train supply line for context. Since trucks can't make it, porters took our bags at 6am. That means we wake up, put on kit, make sure we have warm kit, then try to stay warm in a blanket as our sleeping bags are gone. Power was out in town so I got no charge and no pictures. We knew Manang would be cold, so had to carry more gear for post race. Porters were expected to take 12 hours with bags.  I wore shorts, Pearl Izumi winter tights, regular shoes, icebreaker t, Columbia omni heat layer, vest. Carried down pants and jacket, toque, fleece gloves and dirty but dry wool socks for apr├Ęs. All worth their weight in gold. 

I felt amazing riding and despite a bigger pack and Thomas who went impressively minimal, I caught and rode with him, although he cracked me on last climb. Best finish at 10th. So I've achieved now riding a day with another friend that was just a golden memory. Muddy and snowy. I was breathing hard at altitude but it felt like good breathing hard not like the I'm gonna regret this later kind. Beautiful town in the aura of Gangpurna. We're at the Yak Hotel, which has 3 stories and a rooftop patio, no railings though to outside or courtyard. Warm sun cooked us all. Great patio food and stories, incomparable views, and I was glad I brought down gear when the sun finally went down. 

Kate, Jeff and Gerry all smiles. Cory made it today slowly.  Really interesting group here. Adventurers. As Gerry put it, between the Nepalese, Euros, Brits, etc. here that he's just met, you can easily have more in common than your neighbour or coworkers. 

Bags did arrive 12h later after we were huddled and drinking tea in the restaurant. Long day for them. Bags are lighter as we really pared down to minimum. Dark room, baby wipe "shower" key is start at top and work down. We have charging but no cell service. I brought a 7 port USB charger which I anticipated being popular in these little places with no plugs and was right. Will be able to catch up with photos on tomorrow's rest day.  Everyone works and eats dinner in North Face jackets, knockoffs, or equivalents. Makes perfect sense here. 

I feel 100%. Riding and expending energy is a treat, not torture. Cory and I were chatting on the patio - this is the most diverse, adventurous, amazing journey we've been on. The scenery is worth every ounce of effort to see it, and we've both paid our dues. 

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