A week long pilgrimage into the budding spring forest of rhododendrons and sacred caves. Yolmo is a magical place indeed especially when you get caught in a blizzard.
We started in melamchi gang where we spent three nights with a Tibetan family sitting in the caves and sacred Guru Rinpoche sites during the day. On day four we took the local bus down curvy switch backs of the mountain side to another dirt road up the opposite side of the valley where we were dropped off and started a couple hours hike up to Tarkeghyang. From there we started our “real” trek up to the cave at Yandakchok.
We climbed another steep trail for 3 hours through beautiful hobbit forests eventually arriving at an open meadow. There was a boarded up shack we decided could be a great place to squat for the night. It felt luxurious as we had a shack for shelter, a fire pit and cooking utensils. After setting up our things and making it homey we practiced while outside a herd of yaks came to graze on the flat meadow. We stoked the fire and watched the sunset making for a cozy night high in the quiet hills above Tarkeghyang.
I woke early to an amazing sunrise upon seeing I ran out to the top of the meadow to take some photos with my Olympus film camera which I will share in an additional post. After making some breakfast we packed up camp and continued on hiking up another steep section of never ending stairs to the base of a peak where we traversed the west side. The trail started to go down and snow and ice became more and more present till we were off trail trying to avoid sliding down the steep snowy patches. I took a couple falls and picked up some speed on one of them but was thankfully stopped by a tree 🙂
We kept up or pace and mind set…almost there ‘”we think” After hiking for 3-4 hours we came to a nice stopping point to camp. We were only 2 hours away from the cave by our estimate but we liked a relaxed pace and it was getting dark so we set up camp instead to make our final push in the am.
Come morning the weather became much cooler and looked like a storm was moving in . We packed up camp and started our walk to the cave at Yandakchowk, our final destination. About an hour or so up the trail we encountered a huge landslide that made it really dangerous to even attempt to crossing the steep off camber trail. If one of us were to fall or if the debris came loose there was nothing to stop us from free falling down the mountainside. I was all for trying but my more cautious and mindful partner talked me out of it. “It’s not worth it” he said, “next time”
Skunked we went back to our same camp spot and spent another two nights there enjoying the inclement weather, melting snow for water and eating our fare share of instant noodle soups.
On the last day we trekked back to Tarkeghyang in a blizzard in snow up past our ankles wearing keens. They did say waterproof on them…It took us 6-7 hours on the way back with plenty of spills and laughs in the snow.
All images taken with my iphone 6