Days fifteen to eighteen of the Luana Snowman Trek, where things started to get properly spectacular and the weather improved considerably.
After the previous long seven and a half hour day from Narethang to Tarina while feeling ill, it was only four and half hours from Tarina to Woche. Unfortunately the stomach issues of yesterday got worse, and after a reasonable start along the valley I went rapidly downhill on the final uphill section to the village of Woche. After making it to camp I crashed in my tent for the rest of the afternoon, feeling much worse afterwards. I headed to bed by half six after forcing down a bowl of soup. If I didn’t improve significantly overnight I would have probably have needed a medical evacuation the following day as I was in a particularly remote part of north-west Bhutan…
The day had started well though with our first clear view of a huge snow covered mountain at the head of the valley.
The morning light brought the valley to life, welcome sunshine bringing out the autumn colours.
The walk was one of the most pleasant of the Snowman so far, with the track following the Pho Chhu river.
There were a number of impressive waterfalls.
Thankfully I woke in Woche feeling much better than the previous two days, if not 100%. I was ok to walk slowly toward the back of the group though and could continue with the Snowman.
The views heading up from Woche became more impressive, helped by the sun making an appearance.
After the first section of climbing there was an attractively reflective pool.
In the distance were more of the huge mountains I’d expected to see along the Snowman, which due to low cloud had been hidden for much of the walk to date.
This lovely lake is imaginatively called Green Lake.
After a few hours we reached the 4,435m pass at Keshe La, marked with the usual prayer flags.
The views from here were some of the best of the trip to date.
We headed down an autumnal valley before stopping for lunch.
After which it was a steep and slippery descent to Tega village, though more dusty than muddy for a change. Tega was a pleasant place in a beautiful setting.
Following the East Pho Chhu river the valley views were impressive.
Our camp for the night was at Lhedi village, a windswept place. As with almost all the villages in the Luana region there was no shop, and everything needs to be carried in over high altitude passes by yaks.
The next day was also long, a tiring slog along a river bed and over sand, but the views were the most spectacular of the trip so far. Soon after leaving Lhedi the sun came out and unusually stayed out for the entire day, great for charging my near depleted devices with my solar charger.
We headed along the East Pho Chhu River, where there was a catastrophe flood in 1994 when a glacial lake burst and flooded the valley, causing deaths.
Ahdi was a very pleasant village, home to the school for the valley.
I loved this complex just past the village, with a quirky door and mountain views behind.
We walked alongside the raging river, spanned by typical Bhutanese bridges which look a little dodgy but are fine to cross.
The lunch spot before Chozo was quite spectacular, with stunning views of the 7,000m high Ghachen Singye / Table Mountain, which lies on the border between Bhutan and Tibet.
Chozo village is home to the only Dzong (Bhutanese fortress / administrative centre) in the Luana.
The afternoon was a little surreal, heading up a wide valley filled with yak, mostly alive but some dead.
Which became increasingly sandy, but with a river running through it.
The track them climbed through the small village of Dyotta, with panoramic views of the larger Tenchey village on the other side of the river.
Which we crossed to end the day at Tenchey, near Thanza, at another windy campsite, but the sun was shinning and the setting was beautiful.
The next day was a welcome rest day, allowing the body a respite before the final, and hardest, third of the Snowman, to do some washing, and to have the second shower of the trip, the first time I’ve had a shower using a soup bowl (rather than the bucket available for the previous trip shower). I took a short walk in the morning to explore Tenchey, home to an impressively large temple for the size of the community, and more beautiful houses and views.