Days twenty five to twenty seven of the Luana Snowman Trek, the final three days hiking one of the longest and hardest tracks in the Himalayas.
Day twenty five was the longest of the whole trip, leaving Dur Tsachu at 8am and arriving into camp at Tso Chenchen just before 5pm, after crossing two passes involving over a 1,500m of ascent and nearly 1,000m of descent. I’ve had longer and harder days walking solo, but not after walking almost everyday for nearly a month.
From Dur Tsachu it was a steep ascent for nearly four hours, with a few stops, climbing through the forest, passing endless rhododendrons, as clouds rolled in.
Just after reaching the Gongto La pass at 4,327m the clouds thankfully parted for long enough to offer some views.
We descended down to a rather attractive lake which was a good spot for lunch.
It was rather cold and windy, but as we headed up to the next pass the sun briefly came out and the wind died, offering lovely reflections on the lake.
The wind came back with a vengeance at the 4,551m Djule La, the eleventh pass over 4,500m, and the last one crossed on the Snowman Trek. From here it was downhill for a couple of days to exit the track near Bumthang.
After the pass was another attractive lake and better views in the photos than they felt at the time given that it had started to snow slightly.
We headed down an impressive rhododendron lined valley before reaching Tso Chenchen camp close to a yak herders camp. As usual we were both lucky and unlucky with the weather, with a mostly cloudy day, but the rain didn’t arrive until literally ten minutes after we reached camp.
The rain continued on off all night and into the morning, making for a wet, muddy and rather miserable start to the penultimate day walking the Snowman.
Thankfully the rain stopped by mid morning and after lunch we walked through a quite beautiful stretch of forest.
The track really lived up to it’s reputation as the Mudman today though, with the thickest and most persistent mud of the entire walk. Unlike the rest of the track there weren’t sufficient rocks to avoid the worst of the mud, it was quite a slog!
It was a relief to make it to the camp at Gorsum, which came complete with a water powered prayer wheel.
The final day walking the Snowman Trek started misty and continued the Mudman theme of yesterday.
Thankfully as we descended the sun came out, and there were clearings offering views. It felt a completely different experience walking in warmth and dense forest after spending most of the Snowman at altitude.
We followed a pleasant river, passing another water powered prayer wheel.
We arrived at the small village of Minchugang by lunchtime, the first village we’d visited in a week, home to the first road, and overhead a plane, that we’d seen in a month. A chorten marked the end of the track, and we camped just across the river, crossed by a rather threadbare bridge.
The next day we headed to the Swiss Guesthouse in Bumthang, home to electricity, showers, beds, and Internet, a welcome return to civilisation after a month camping and being completely off the grid.
I couldn’t really mentally process finishing the Snowman at the time, it wasn’t until we reached Bumthang that it really started to sink in, and would take until my return home and sorting the trip photos and blogs to really get my head around how I’d spent the past month. All I knew was that life would get more complicated, the Snowman had been life at it’s most simple. All I had to do each day was walk, and set up and pack up the contents of my tent. There was no internet, no cooking, no driving, and no news…