Part 3: Gosainkund
The Gosainkund trail goes up to a cluster of sacred lakes up around 4,300m, and every August thousands of people on pilgrimage–Buddhists and Hindus alike–make the hike to bathe themselves in the holy water of Gosain Kund (lake). In Hindu mythology, the god Shiva drank some poison that was threatening the universe, so in his search of water to quench the thirst, he struck his mighty trident into the ground and unleashed the Trishuli Khola (river).
The trail can be a standalone hike from Dhunche and back, or can be added on to the Langtang trek, which is what we did. The climb to Gosainkund is steep and requires endurance, but the view is so very rewarding.
Day 9: Bamboo to Thulo Sybaru
3 hours; 280m down, 570m ascended; 5.5km/3mi
Slept in after yesterday’s long day. We set out at 9 am, intending to go all the way to Sing Gompa.
Hit rush hour on the way down to the fork, standing by for a lot of Nepalis carrying building materials and a handful of hikers on their way up.
Though the initial steep ascent through bamboo thickets wasn’t anything to write home about, the scenery at Kapal Danda was so nice we didn’t quite notice we were still climbing. The hills were alive with the sound of threshing, the terraces both green and yellow with fertility. The Langtang Himal stood high above us and the Ganesh Himal was clearly visible on the other side of the ridge.
At lunch in Thulo Sybaru, as we huddled in the shade away from the heat, Fabi and I took turns coming up with more reasons to stay and enjoy the afternoon than to continue. So we stayed.
Had electricity for the first time on the trip. Just in time to charge our plethora of batteries!
Day 10: Thulo Sybaru to Sing Gompa
3.5 hours; ascended 980m; 7.5 km/4.5 mi
On our way at 8:45. It only took us an hour to climb 580m through the forest to the clearing of Durgasang, and by 11:15 we’d climbed another 370m to Foprang Danda. At Sing Gompa we deliberated whether to go or stay, then decided thereafter we’d just take it easy and extend our trip rather than rush through it.
While we were climbing, clouds and dust drifted in, and by the time we’d checked in, the mountains were mostly hidden from view. Shared the dining room with a group of Kiwis, one of whom was here back in ’79.
Day 11: Sing Gompa to Laurebina Yak
2 hours; 620m ascended; 6.5 km/4mi
8:15 saw us leaving Sing Gompa and heading up a mild ascent through tall, moss-covered trees. The morning sun filtered through the high canopy and tinted the moss orange as we vainly tried to look for the rare Nepalese bear cat (more formally known as the red panda).
Near Chalangpati we left behind the giants and walked among rhododendrons and wildflowers. The rhododendron trees were shedding bark, preparing themselves for the monsoon season, so the ground was covered in crunchy pink bark pieces. Unfortunately, it was growing hazy and the incredible views everyone promised turned out to be obscured.
That evening we had to fight for a seat around the iron stove, because in addition to the usual trekkers, there was a large group of teenage Nepalis on a weekend trip. They each drank more raksi than any one body should rightly consume, and one proceeded to begin vomiting in the dining room before he’d even gotten his plate of dal bhaat.
Day 12: Laurebina Yak to Gosainkunda
2.5 hrs; 430m ascended; 4 km/3mi
We were at Tsandenlugo by 830, and Fabi took a moment to attach a string of prayer flags to the shrine of Buddha. Ominous threats in the form of clouds were looming over the mountains already, and we could barely see anything on the horizon save for faint lines.
It was an easy climb from there, through a rocky and barren landscape to the first of the Gosainkund lakes. Bhirav Kund (lake) is actually the biggest one but for some reason it’s the Gosainkunda that attracts the holy masses.
We checked into the Namaste Lodge at 10 am. Toby, from Germany, arrived a few minutes after, and joined us for a walk around Gosainkund.
Hundreds of rock cairns line the lakeshore, humble, earthly monuments.
Clouds hung around, so it turned very cold very early and we spent most of the evening huddled around the stove, grateful to whoever hauled up the firewood that kept us warm.
Day 13: Gosainkunda to Tharepati
8 hours; ascended/descended?; 17 km/10.5 mi
In the predawn hours of the mountains, Toby, Xiker and I bundled up and set out to tackle the ridge behind the lodges, in hopes of seeing the other side, where the Langtang range, the Annapurna Himal and Manaslu all lay. Indeed, though the dark contours of the valleys were just faint lines, the peaks were noticeably visible and shone pink in the rays of the rising sun.
After a heavy breakfast of fried potatoes and veggies, the four of us walked on up to Laurebina Pass.
We started at 8:30, taking quite a few photos on the way, and were already at the end of the pass before we knew it, by 9:45. It was 4,610m (15,125ft) but we barely felt the altitude. Only a bit of snow to contend with, and our innov8 sneaks kept our toasties dry (though the same can’t be said for Fabi and Toby and their sneakers).
The descent was long and the thick fog had quickly rolled in without us noticing until we found ourselves enveloped in it. At some places we couldn’t see further than 20 yards.
Confined to a snowglobe, and having to keep my head down as we painstakingly negotiated the rocky trail, my eyes crawled over everything that came within my sphere of sight (thankfully there were no piles of dung to avoid). Small spiders scuttled this way and that as they tried to get out of my way, and I had to resist the urge to purposely step on the vile creatures.
The landscape slowly grew taller from among the rocks, first brambles and small wildflowers then small shrubs that grew higher as we descended. Juniper bushes began to scent our way, then rhododendrons came along, pale and wan in the fog.
For most of the day we were traversing a scree slope, tracing high ridgelines as we climbed over rocks, and rarely did we walk upon a level surface. We finally reached Gopte, after 3 hours of abandoned lodges, and scarfed down fried macaroni.
Rained a bit as we ate, but we pressed on to Tharepati, a mere 320m climb. The sun came out for a bit and the mist cleared for a few minutes to grant us a brief respite from the murky gloom.
Tharepati was as chilly and windy as Gosainkund, so we didn’t bother emerging from the cozy dining room until bedtime. Discussed whether to go the Sundarijal route or the Melamchi Pul. Went to sleep still undecided.
********To find out which direction we headed , and how we ended our trek, click here: HELAMBU