Memoir of Langtang Trekking May 2014
By Lum YL
I am not sure if Nepal is one place where many people have on their bucket list. A year ago when I was between jobs, I signed up for a 10 days Langtang Trail trek which included the summit of Kyangjin Rii at 4,773 masl. The trek leader was a close lady friend and career partner of mine for many years. For years I observed that adventurous persons like her, typically have a great sense of persistence and determination. They are also inspirational and good team players. I am not exaggerating when i say that trekking at Nepal is a life-changing affair. Like how I would approach any new ventures in life, I tell myself – “what the heck right?” Just do it, for the sake of change.
Preparing for this trek was a big thing and even deciding what to pack was a challenge. I had to be prepared for all the walking and had to decide what was an essential piece of equipment for the trek- as opposed to carrying fashionable items. For this trek, I managed to fill a 75l bag and a 10l one with essential items. I felt for once packing several sets of undergarments were more important than bringing a credit card.
The Langtang Trail in the Spring season was a good choice. Day 1 the trekking started from Syaprubesi(1460masl). Hiking to Lama Hotel (2,340masl) was a mixture of undulating forest, and the terrain temperatures were hovering around the twenties ºC. The weather conditions were similar to Malaysian Highlands. We passed through roaring streams of river and thick tropical forests. I even had my many first encounters of wild marijuana. We crossed suspension bridges and saw lots of yaks and donkeys on the trail.
This was my longest ever walk in a single day; it stressed every inch of muscles on my body from top to toe. The next few days were physically demanding in a different way. During the ascent from Lama Hotel to Langtang Village (3,500 masl), the temperature fell to the low tenths, which required skillful layering of clothes. The nights were somewhat unbearable for a city boy acclimatized to living in the heat of Malaysia. I was thankful for the layers of clothing I brought along with me and had to get used to not having Wi-Fi.
However, the early morning views across the snow-capped mountains made up for any discomfort. Compared to other trails that I have experienced recently, such as the dry wilderness of Ladakh, this area of Nepal was filled with greenery and rivers.
Highlight – the Kyangjin Ri. Every trekker should set goals. Considering my physical capability at the time, I settled with one of the peaks at Kyangjin Gompa Village; Kyangjin Rii at 4,773 masl. On day 3&4, I trekked from Langtang Village to Kyangjin Gompa (3870masl). Although it was only thousand meter hike, as we cross 3,000 masl, we were vulnerable to acute mountain sickness (AMS) that can hit anyone anytime.
At high altitude, our physical bodies changes and most people experience something such as insomnia. The “summit day” to Kyangjin Ri only took us few hours, but it was not an easy task for a first timer like me. Breathing in cold air at four thousand metres is a whole new experience, and I reminded myself to keep my body warm and stay fit as much as possible. I paced myself by hiking slowly and taking care on the paths as many were treacherous.
The trek was steep, and my boots and walking poles played their valuable roles here. While famous mountaineers have summited the higher peaks, at that moment I was happy with Kyangjin Rii. I achieved my mini goal for the Langtang trail. It is higher than Mount Kinabalu, and I made it despite an injured knee and upset stomach. The feeling of standing on the peaks is mesmerising, looking back to the trail I walked over the past few days and trying to recall which little “dot” was which guest house I stayed in.
I looked around at the higher peaks. While I celebrated the modest success, we must remember there are greater heights out there. There is no ego in mountaineering, you only compete with yourself, just to do better than yesterday, at least that’s what brought me to Kyangjin Rii. Langtang is a good trail to trek; I would rate it as a moderate hike. If you are physically fit, and blessed with great teammates as well as good weather, Langtang journey could even be an easy-peasy one.
Ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. I wasn’t all out to “train” before this ten days adventure, I maintained my weekly 5km running and once a quarter hike routine. First I wouldn’t want to stress myself mentally, also, any injury before the trek is not just bad for me, but for the whole team. I had a cold and lost my voice just a few days before the trek and I was the first to get an injury amongst the team. I suffered inflammation on my knee joints at the last 15 minutes of the 10 hours trekking on the first day, while descending to the first guest house.
It was devastating; suddenly I became a burden to the rest. I guess it’s the same in any adventure – when you are out, you are out. We have to be mentally prepared as well as physically for these challenges. These are the moments where good team member support comes in handy. I was blessed to have a team of skilful and supportive trek mates; everyone helped each other in some way to get to the top.
Nepal Earthquake April 2015
The news shocked us, as it did to other trekkers around the world. Most of us start to establish contact with porters, guides or guest house owners whom we know, especially a year ago from the Langtang Trail, we are grateful to know all of them were safe. Most, however, suffered from loss of income due to the aftermath of the earthquake damaging the guesthouses, trek sites and cancellations of bookings. Besides the loss of great at historical sites such as those at Kathmandu, most of us felt that some of the great sites we’ve just visited a year ago could have been either destroyed or buried forever.
As the Psalmist says: “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained, what is man that you are mindful of him…” Being a small part in a community of global trekkers in Nepal, least we can do is to take care of every bit of nature we walked, make friends with everyone that crosses our paths, bring home the hardship and sweetness of mountaineering, leave behind no plastic bottles and plastic bags.
Langtang Rail Trek Profile
(by Yong YJ, 2014)
Day 1 – KL to Kathmandu
Day 2 – Kathmandu to Syaprubesi(1,460masl) by bus (8-9 hours)
Day 3 – Trek from Syaprubesi to Lama Hotel (2,340masl,6-8 hours)
Day 4 – Trek from Lama Hotel to Langtang Valley (3,500 masl, 6-8 hours)
Day 5 – Trek from Langtang Valley to Kyangjin Gompa (3,800 masl, 3-4 hours)
Day 6 – Summit Kyangjin Ri (4,773masl, 3 hours)
Day 7 – Trek to view Langtang Glacier, then Lama Hotel (2,340 masl, 6-8 hours)
Day 8 – Trek to Syaprubesi (6-8 hours)
Day 9 – Syaprubesi to Kathmandu by Bus (8-9 hours)
Day 10 – Kathmandu to KL
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