Day 5: Nunthala to Paiya
Pikey Peak, Nepal
Ascent: 1578 m
descent: 1068 m
Distance: 20.2 km
Elevation at Destination: 2730 m
It was a pleasant surprise not to be freezing cold when we hopped out of bed. This was the lowest altitude we would be staying at, and we appreciated the brief respite from the sub-zero temps.
True to form we commenced on a sharp hill, this one heading down. The terrain was mostly loose, gravely rocks, but the rivulets of water running down the middle of the path created muddy patches that tested my balance repeatedly. At the bottom, we crossed an extra long suspension bridge over a milky blue river before beginning the ascent up the other side.
I would love to say we didn't go off course today, but I can't. One extra kilometre added.
While climbing the hill, a couple of dozen trail runners, wearing official race bibs, passed us going in the opposite direction. A Nepali man and woman were well ahead of the pack; every other runner behind them was a foreigner. I stopped to chat to a runner while he was taking a break at an aid station. He told me the event was a 300 km stage race over two weeks (Danny heard slightly different figures from another athlete), and they were on their second last leg. Clearly the scenery would be incredible for a trail race, but there is no way I could handle the unstable terrain or the sharp rocks that shredded my feet each day.
Clouds appeared by mid-morning, obstructing any views that hid behind them. Who knows what beautiful scenery we missed on the way. We saw monasteries, rice terraces, fruit and vegetable crops and sprawling villages, but none of them were noteworthy. The hills continued, and I just gazed at my feet most of the time.