Quilts and Other Stuff from Frances

Trek Day 9–Visiting the Gurung people


Sunday, October 11th

Yesterday, Badri talked to us about the Earthquake and the fact that he was leading a group that was one camp down from Everest Base Camp when the quake and avalanche hit back in April.   He decided that the group would move down one camp and, once there, he found phone reception and called the REI representative in Kathmandu to tell them that everyone was ok.  Then they continued their trip over the next seven days, not going any higher, but continuing around the mountain.  He said that some of the people on the trek didn’t want to continue, but he felt that it was the safest way to get everyone out.

Also, Michael and I found a small shop yesterday and bought a few things including a small scythe that we have seen used around here.   It is very sharp, and this morning I spent some time trying to figure out how to pack it so that it wouldn’t destroy everything that it touched.  I ended up putting the pointy end into a Tennis Shoe!

We woke up this morning to mountains in the clouds, again reminding us how fortunate we had been with weather on this journey….. IMG_4216

At breakfast, Badri told us that there had been a large rockslide about 3 years ago that had taken out the normal path to Ghandruk so now we had to climb UP over it and then back down the other side….IMG_4226

It didn’t look all that big, but it added a lot of hard work to the day’s walk and there were many times during the morning that I was cussing it!!!

We continued passing terraced farms perched on the sides of the mountains….IMG_4222

Regardless of the distance we still had to walk, there was always time to stop and reflect on the beauty around us….DSC06507

We continued crisscrossing small streams and crossed tons of small stone bridges….. IMG_4229

The trail varied greatly as we walked.  Sometimes we were on nice stone steps, sometimes we were scrambling over rocks and sometime we were sliding down steep dirt trails.  It was NOT easy!!  This photo gives some perspective as to how steep the trail was at times…..IMG_4240

Notice that Badri is right in front of me on this part of the trail!!

Sharp-eyed Sabine once again came thru and pointed to this huge toad (or was it a frog?) on the trail….. IMG_4236

It was good to see this sign and know that we were back on the main trail again….IMG_4243

Sabine stopped to talk to one of the locals and ended up purchasing a HUGE cucumber…. IMG_4246

…although she wanted to sell him this  massive squash…. IMG_4247

Sabine showed his football handling skills as he toted it down the trail…..IMG_4251

By the way, the box below the cucumber is a solar charger that was used to power the light that hung in the dining tent.   

We crossed another long suspension bridge…..DSC06508

There was a  Horse and mule train behind us and we took a short rest stop to watch them cross the river.   They didn’t cross at the bridge but instead walked thru the shallow part of the water……IMG_4253

A little while later we stopped for a cucumber break…..

IMG_4257 Personally it didn’t sound all that great to me, but when Badri brought out a mixture of red pepper and salt to put on it, he won me over…..IMG_4261

We all enjoyed the freshness and moisture of the cucumber against the spiciness of the pepper…..IMG_4263

This was a pretty little village so we had to take a couple of photos…..


Michael ran ahead so that he could get a shot of us all on the trail.  Naturally, Sabine had to give us his “I’m too sexy” look… IMG_4268

We stopped for lunch at 11:55 after a hell-of-a climb!!  I was very happy for the rest!!!

These woman and girl were beating the hemp leaves so that they can be dried and were sweet to stop and pose for a photo…..DSC06519

This gorgeous woman let us take another, more portrait style, photo….

DSC06521….although she wanted to see it when we finished.

Michael spotted a deer in a far field.  Badri said that it would either be a Musk or Barking Deer. 

Lunch today was simple….soup first then Tuna, French Fries, Yak Cheese and a Cinnamon Bun….DSC06524

I was particularly drawn to crocheted banners that hung in each of the doors…..DSC06525

I feel sure that there was a reason for them (other than decoration) but have no idea if it was to keep bugs out or maybe for a religious purpose.

There was some yelling outside as a mule train came striding thru the town.   These were carrying large plates of heavy slate which were causing them to veer a bit from side to side.   There was a mad scramble to move everything out of their path….IMG_4278

As we headed out again it started to rain a bit but not enough to worry about and then, thankfully, it cleared again.

We named this the “Shop on the Edge”…..IMG_4281

You could tell that we were in farming country again as we shared the path with many different animals….IMG_4286At times we would hear the jangling of bells from the pack trains and would have to move off of the track quickly as they were heading down at a quick pace.  The guides were careful to put themselves between us and the animals


We saw a Medi-Evac helicopter coming over the area and Badri said that it was coming from ABC so someone had been hurt there.   We laughingly asked if we could get the copter  to pick us up too!!

The path curved past many interesting buildings…. IMG_4291

We stopped for a longer rest and heard the sound of bells coming from below us telling us that a horse/mule train was approaching.   Michael took this wonderful video that gives you some idea of the sight and sound…..


It is probably one of the iconic sounds that I will remember from this phenomenal journey!!

Michael found these interesting little bugs on a rock…..


Badri called them “Sheep bugs”, so named because they “flock”.

As we have walked these last 8 days, Badri has often burst into song or whistled a tune or even picked up a leaf and turned it into a Kazoo.  It was always the same song and often the other guides would join him as he sang.  So today we asked him about the song and he told us that it was an old Nepali Folk song that goes like this…..


After that concert we were off again, but before we knew it, we were walking down a nice, wide path leading into the town of Ghandruk.   Badri had told us that we could spend a bit of time looking around the village and seeing how the Gurung people live.   

As Michael stopped to take a photo of this simple flower, a little girl passed and said “that’s a flower”!!!……IMG_4304

She must have thought that all American’s were dunces!!!

At our first stop we found out that they were in the process of shooting a movie
(called “White Sun”) in the town so we were seeing a mixture of residents, actors and crew.

We stopped and watched this woman cleaning wool…..DSC06541

….and getting it ready to be spun…..DSC06542

….and then woven on a backstrap loom…..IMG_4310

The windows and doors in this village were intricately carved…..


…providing some exciting new quilt pattern ideas for me…..DSC06552

Most of the buildings were made of rock and were fun to look at…..IMG_4317

This was a typical gate at the front of the house courtyards…..IMG_4322

This beautiful young woman smiled shyly for a photo….


In one of the courtyards we could hear snorting  in a small barn behind us and found this cute little guy…..IMG_4321

As if on cue, another mule train moved thru the village….IMG_4323

However, these had already been relieved of their burdens and were headed to the barn.

We passed this group enjoying some tea in the afternoon…..DSC06566

We enjoyed watching the woman on the right play with a baby goat!!

The view over the top of the village was amazing, especially with all of the slate roofs!!IMG_4333

Many of the houses had deep blue accents in the architecture and most had corn drying on the eaves…..IMG_4332

If you blow this photo up you can also see a big dog resting happily on the table on the porch.

We passed this interesting gate…IMG_4336

…and Badri talked a bit about the symbol on the top right.   He told us that the various political parties have symbols such as this and that if people cant write, they just draw the sign when they vote.

This shrine was striking…..IMG_4337

We left the village, heading toward our home for the evening.   Along the way we passed two gentlemen plowing the terraces using Bovine power…..IMG_4343

As we watched, one of them walked up the slope with his plow on his shoulder…..IMG_4346

The dirt looked rich and ready to grow any plant!!!

We passed this very short entrance into one yard….IMG_4351

Badri said that there were two reasons why doors were short.  The first, obviously, was because people there are short.  But, many also believe that if you go away you might pick up bad things which fall off when you bend over to enter your home!!

Signs of the agriculture basis of this village were everywhere, from these forage beans growing WAY up in the air……IMG_4355

….to this corn crib built on stilts to keep the crop safe from rats…. IMG_4356

…to this chicken family sunning themselves on the front porch…..IMG_4358

I heard a sound that I know well…. the whirring of a sewing machine, and followed it to find this young lady hard at work in her shop…..DSC06578

This wood pile was incredible….DSC06580

We stopped in one courtyard where Badri had friends and watched this woman using mud (probably mixed with cow dung) to re-seal the spaces between the courtyard stones…..


This very happy woman was one of Badri’s friends…..DSC06589

….and we enjoyed listening to her laugh and enjoy her life!!!

And, as you can imagine, I was very excited by this “patchwork” house…..IMG_4369

Michael was especially happy with this photo as he caught the rooster in mid-crow…..IMG_4372

We passed this little boy who wanted to wave and say hello…IMG_4373

…although he scared us to death as he came closer and closer to the edge of the roof that he was standing on.   Michael said that he had already figured out how he would get to him if he came off of the roof!!!

At last we arrived at Hotel Sherpa where we were told that we would, once again, be sleeping in a room rather than a tent…..DSC06592

It is nice to be indoors again, but it is sad that we didn’t get to say a proper goodbye to good ole Tent #32!!!

Sera pulled out all the stops on dinner and we dined happily on vegetable pasta, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans and carrots and coleslaw…..


And then the pièce de résistance…..DSC06597

After dinner, Badri stood up and said that he had a few things that he wanted to say since this was our last night together.   He said that he has two feelings….happy that the trek is almost finished but sad to see our group break up (he used the word divorce).  He thanked us for turning it into a family atmosphere and said that the porters and everyone else felt the same way.    He specifically thanked me for spending time in the kitchen the night before.  It was a sweet speech and a great way to end our night.DSC06599

One more day!!!

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