Thursday, December 11, 2014

Let's Go: Nepal and the Himalayas!

Hello, Readers of Chickadee Gardens!

This is Tamara's husband David. I spent November trekking the Himalayas in Nepal. I returned with a big red beard and infected lungs, but I returned never happier to be home safe and sound. I made sure not only to take pictures of the spectacular mountains, but also photos of the interesting plants and animals that grow and thrive in Sagarmatha National Park (Tamara here: aren't I lucky? A spouse who took plant photos for me). As we both contributed to this post you will read interchangeable comments throughout.



Sorry, this is not Mount Everest. This is Kusum Kanguru. It is only 20,900 feet high, as compared to Everest's 29,082 feet. I climbed nearby Kala Patthar at 18,200 feet (our own Mt Hood is 11,200 feet). I did so mostly to get a picture of Everest. That picture (from Kala Patthar) can be found at the end of this blog post.



Lots of pine trees in the lower elevations. This region is known for its rhododendron forest, which, unfortunately, was not blooming. They say it is very lovely in the spring.


These coniferous valleys could almost be parts of Oregon with some imagination and elevation.


These are prayer stones. Some as big as barns. I believe this conifer to be Pinus wallichiana or Himalayan pine.


A local garden in Monjo village. Marigolds are apparently very popular in Nepal as they are used to make garlands for religious and other purposes. I do not think they are native to the region…the gardeners grow these with enthusiasm. There also seem to be some kind of mums in there? Not sure, but a colorful scene all the same.


These cairns are used by guides when snow hits the trails.


Not sure but that could be Everest in the background. Looming. It looms.


These little waterfalls are a dime a dozen along the Dudh Koshi river valley.


While these porters seem to have some fairly light loads, we saw porters carrying plywood sheets, wooden beams, propane tanks, cases of beer. If the yaks weren't carrying it, the mighty porters muscled it up the trail. That looks like bamboo to me.


video
 Nepalese crow. They sound like ducks, really. Have a listen and see if you agree.


Nepalese corn. I bet it's not GMO. More coniferous forest in the background.


Some form of Berberis or barberry. David bought a walking stick made of its branches.


Berberis again, not sure the species, but a few are native to this region.


Super cool lichens. What colors.


I think this is pearly everlasting or Anaphalis nepalensis, maybe. It seems a lot of the blooming goes on around here in spring when it is supposed to be spectacular, so November was tough for photography of plants.


Berberis and coniferous hillside. It seems from David's pictures that this shrub is quite abundant.


Not sure of the mountains but I liked this pine tree. I actually saw a chickadee in this tree. I sent a message home via the chickadee network. Village of Phortse in the background right. (Tamara here: I think it's an Abies spectabilis or an east Himalayan fir.)


Gentiana ornata or Chinese gentian. Very beautiful.






This domestic animal is a cross between a yak and a regular cow. They are bigger than yaks, and so can carry more. But, up top, it is Yak Country. They have the thick hair to combat the cold, so cold air.


This is the top of Kala Patthar. Due to the extreme elevation and lack of oxygen, it took me two hours to walk the 1-mile long trail to the 18,200-foot top.



This little guy stood with me on Kala Patthar. I asked what he was doing up there; he chirped in response. I think this may also be a Himalayan finch.


This could be some form of Ephedra - apparently two new species of it have been discovered in this region, so this could be Ephedra kardangensis but perhaps not. Feel free to chime in if you have any information.



Pretty, though. And kind of tube-y.


Found these fellows in Gorak Shep. Tibetan snowcocks who walked in line.


We made it to Everest Base Camp. It is a glorious cathedral of mountains, glacier and granite rock. Oh, yes, a cat went along for the trek.


I turned around to the west end of the Khumbu glacier. We followed that brown ridge back to Gorak Shep. Not sure how Kitty got in there again.


And lo and behold there were pink birds at EBC. Huh? A rosefinch, perhaps?


I believe this little alpine plant is  Saxifraga andersonii.


Some kind of moss.


Saxifraga andersonii


Now that's an alpine garden!


A home garden in a valley somewhere in Nepal.


Here is the porter with the heavy wood beams. The Sherpa with the orange pack is our lead guide Shinga. My trekmate Joe, with the blue pack, still cannot believe the strength of this porter. Looks like more Berberis on the trail.


A Nepalese chicken.


A great deal of manual labor in Nepal. This man was turning his grass crop, which I think fed his cows/yaks during the coming winter months.


Typical vegetation along the river. I think this is another Pinus wallichiana or Himalayan pine in the center.


These large flowing plants bloom only in November. Not sure the species, feel free to chime in. Marigolds in the foreground.


A trail cat. Haha. Actually, he lived at a teahouse. A bit camera shy.


Break-time for the crew!


This is a tara, Nepal's version of a mountain goat. Pretty tame and very lovely.


Rhododendron arboretum, native to the Himalaya. When in full bloom they are supposed to be spectacular.


This is the village of Khumjung. There is a yeti scalp in a monastery here.


Yeti scalp. Oh yeah.


Did not expect to see ferns. I believe this is a Pteridium aquilinum or bracken fern which is common here.






I don't know my lichens very well, but this might be Thamnolia vermicularis or whiteworm lichen.



This I believe is Leontopodium himalayanum or Himalayan edelweiss and its spent blooms.


Headed back down. I turned and got a shot of Ama Dablam, the two-peak mountain on the right. Our trek pivoted around Ama Dablam. It is a favorite. And, again, Everest is looming behind the mountains to the left.


The moon one quiet morning. Not sure of the mountain, but crazy beautiful.


The Floor Warden hat came out one afternoon. I sent this to the fire marshal at work. He loved it.


Pretty much what the trail looks like at 14,000 feet! Very dry and dusty. Humidity was less than 10 per cent. Thus, the lung infection.


Finally, that prize photo of Everest. Is this why I went? Why I trained for several months? Why my wife sacrificed for November, taking care of our home? Yes, that's part of it. I went simply to see it, and I received so much more than just a great view of a mountain. Life is a journey, and this is part of my journey, and part of our lives together. Thanks, Tamara, and Namaste! to all you readers.

Tamara's note:
While it was a long month without my partner, I am thrilled David had the opportunity to go. The only reason he was allowed to leave was because of the promise to take plant pictures for his plant-addicted wife. While his photos are probably much different than ones I would take, they do capture a sense of what it was like to be there. I am grateful for the plant photos he took especially as it was such an arduous journey for all involved - that he even remembered up at 18.000 feet has love written all over it. I am more grateful he made it home in fairly good shape. Thank you, Sherpas of Nepal for taking such great care of David.

Thank you for reading and until next week, happy (trekking) gardening!










30 comments :

  1. Excellent! 'nuff said.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a fascinating trek for David! I really enjoyed seeing his pictures from a part of the world I doubt I'll ever see. My husband (also a David), well, he'd be all over this trip, including the training. He loves to climb!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Pam. This is David here. Well, you know, it was VERY HARD. You can ping me with questions, but I cannot recommend it to everyone. I have a 2-minute video of me just walking along at 14,000 feet and it is just a lot of breathing. Crazy!

      Delete
    2. Your saying it's hard would be catnip for him, David. He loves to test himself physically. I, however...well, let's just say opposite attract. ;-)

      Delete
  3. Ohhh! this is so interesting!! The high mountains remind me a bit of the ones I´ve seen in Peru...not as high but pretty high, hehehe.
    Thanks for sharing your experience!! and I find it fascinating to see plants in their real habitat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You bet. You know, my Sherpa guides were very doubtful about all those pictures of plants. I think they learned a little bit about slowing down and looking at the small things. The mountains dominate the scenery, sure, but Shinga and Surya were pointing out flowers and such by the end of the trip.

      Delete
  4. What an exciting trip this must have been. Such a good husband to take so many plant and wildlife photos. I chuckled at the "kitty" photobombs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many of my fellow trekkers and the Sherpa guides loved the kitty. Who knew there is a huge felt market in Nepal? Kitty now is riding a spot on the Xmas tree in the living room! Thanks, Alison.

      Delete
  5. Wonderful, thank you David for taking us all along and I'm so glad you got to take off on such an adventure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Danger. I am paying the price of being gone from work for four weeks. I am taking some aspirin and going to bed. Thanks.

      Delete
  6. David, thank you for sharing your journey with us and taking plant pictures along the way!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, Gravy! You are most welcomed. I took about 400 pix, but my trekmate added up 700! Way too many! Thanks.

      Delete
  7. Fabulous David! Thoroughly enjoyed your post and thanks for taking us along :)) did you have to pay some money to view the yeti scalp?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good one! Actually, I had to give the caretaker 100 Nepalese rupees (about $1 US) to see whatever that thing is. The caretaker was very proud of the scalp. It is held in a locked green cabinet in the main room of the monastery. About the same color of my big red beard!

      Delete
  8. Wow David! What an amazing adventure! Thank you both for sharing it with us! The second mystery plant with the mauve flowers looks like a tree dahlia to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A tree dahlia, huh? Will have to look that up. I am not a plant expert, but it was a beautiful light purple. Thanks. David

      Delete
  9. What a fascinating post and very sweet ending :) congratulations to David for making it to the top of the mountain he climbed. So many great photos of plants and animals. The crow did sound like a duck, but also a bit like a frog I thought.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Amy. I still have not concluded my lessons from the trek, but I am working on it. As to the crow, duck or frog noises, I managed to send messages home through the Crow Collective. Caw. Caw.

      Delete
  10. Simply wow. The Everest is nice, but oh! The plants!

    ReplyDelete
  11. The pink flowers resemble Tree Dahlia, Dahlia imperialis, (tropical Central America) which it couldn't possibly be, could it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That was the tallest version of that plant I saw. I was told it is called "marcella" or something like that. It only blooms in November and only in the river valley. Well, below treeline, anyway. I wish I would have written down the word, but I was suffering from High Altitude Silliness!

      Delete
  12. What an adventure - thank you so much for sharing! I really enjoyed this post - animals, plants and mountains - all of it! Experiencing that part of the planet is a solid item on my bucket list, so it was nice to get a virtual tour through you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. David here. Thanks. It is difficult now to believe I was just there two weeks ago. It is a fantastic place. There are dozens of trek videos on YouTube. Some good, some bad. Cheers.

      Delete
  13. What a fabulous post! Thanks for taking us along in spirit. I hope David's lung infection clears up quickly and that you enjoy the holidays.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi, Kris. David here. Thanks for your comment. My lungs are much improved. Still dreaming of days on the trail. My journey continues. Cheers.

    ReplyDelete
  15. What an awesome post. And an awesome experience. Love the kitty photo bombs. And the yeti scalp!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mindy. David here. Thanks for the comment. The kitty is a felt kitty finger puppet I bought in Kathmandu and inspiration struck one day. My Sherpas thought I was nutso! But they loved it, too.

      Delete
  16. Thanks to both of you for sacrificing together time to bring us this experience through pictures.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Rickii. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, and it is true for us. And we are most blessed to share with friends. Cheers.

      Delete

Thank you for your comments! I love hearing them, I will approve comments as soon as I can. Yay!