Nepal, Day 14: Kalopani - Dana
Side Trip: Titi Lake
Total distance: 317.32km
Total Ascent: 14483m
Total Descent: 13821m
I started early to complete a 3-4 hour circuit of nearby villages, with the aim of visiting Titi Lake. The first town I came across was Chayo, which took all of one minute to walk through. Within that one minute, four people asked me where I was going. I'm not sure if they were making sure I was heading the right way or just curious. There wasn't much else out this way, so it really should have been obvious.
I'm proud to say that for the entire loop I did not get lost or take the wrong path once, despite some questionable intersections. I used every resource I had to make sure I stayed on track, although the route ended up being fairly well defined.
Titi Lake is easily the best lake I have seen on this trip. It wasn't frozen, it wasn't the size of a swimming pool, it provided reflections of surrounding mountains, there were cows with bells around their necks eating grass at the edge, and colourful flowers dotted the banks - it was like a scene straight from the Swiss Alps. I skirted the perimeter, enjoying the fact that I was the only one there, before making my way back to Kalopani.
In Kalopani there was a sign pointing up to a viewpoint, Dhulu Danda. Lonely Planet said it was a 25 minute walk with 360 degree views. Clearly that meant it was going to be steep, but this was a special type of steep. The type where I needed to use my hands to help pull me up or grab on to branches and tufts of grass. I was conscious that whenever my hands touched the ground they were probably in contact with yak poo. I came to a point where a tree had fallen over, resulting in loose soil on either side. Even if I could make it past that, I wasn't sure I could get down again. Looking around I could see that the views weren't going to be great anyway. Today was particularly hazy, which was unusual so early in the day, and many of the towering mountains weren't visible. I gave up and bum-shuffled my way back down the hill.
I returned to my hotel, picked up my backpack (I hadn't missed it at all for the last day and a half) and set off. My initial plan was to stop in Ghasa for the night, but I realised I would arrive soon after lunchtime. Instead I decided to stop for lunch there before continuing on, but that didn't happen. I have no idea why, but everything was shut in Ghasa. It was a large town, spread out over a kilometre, but every guesthouse had their doors closed and fences locked. With not much choice I pushed on, hoping that something else was open down the trail.
The next village was 40 minutes away and was tiny, but their one guesthouse was open and willing to serve me lunch. It had been over eight hours since I'd eaten breakfast - I'm thankful I have my stash of energy bars to keep me going.
The remainder of the day consisted on going up a billion uneven, concrete steps, then going down a billion uneven, concrete steps. Repeat repeat repeat. The trail had been lovely all day, passing through forests of pines, ferns and bamboo, but it would have been nice to have a flat surface occasionally. Most of the time I was away from the road, where all I could hear was the river, the wind and the birds. The views were probably amazing, but the haze prevented me from seeing much.
Dana is located at 1400m above sea level - an elevation with acceptable temperatures. For the first time in many days I haven't been cold as soon as I stop trekking. I was even walking around in t-shirt and shorts, although not for long as it's a little offensive to the Nepalis to show that much skin. I could sit in the dining room without shivering under five layers of clothing, and I didn't need to jump in my sleeping bag as soon as I entered my room. I even had a shower, despite the cold water. Unfortunately I'm going back up again tomorrow. It was nice while it lasted.