Part 4: Helambu
The Helambu trek is a popular alternative to the Langtang trek, going through different types of terrain over 6 to 7 days. The highest point of the trek is 3,640m at Tharepati, but there are a lot of steep ups and downs on the trail so it can’t exactly be considered an ‘easy’ trek.
The trail is U-shaped, starting at Sundarijal (only a hour’s drive from Kathmandu) and officially ends at Melamchi Pul Bazaar (but you could stop before then).
Its totally possible to link the Langtang to the Helambu by walking the Gosainkund, only a few additional days. After crossing the Laurebina Pass (4,610m) from Gosainkund, the trail links up to the Helambu trail at Tharepati–meaning you could go down either leg from there.
Day 14: Tharepati to Thotung
6 hrs; approx. 18km/10mi; descended 1380m
Morning view of the ridge we traversed yesterday from Gosainkund
After much more deliberation, we set off at 8:45, towards Sundarijal. By 10:15 the fog was pea soup thick (though I’ve never had pea soup before) and we’d reached Magengoth, where Toby thought it’d be funny to try and scare a yak. I hurried the heck out of there, but no yaks came running after, fortunately.
On we went, down through a foggy and gloomy forest of mossy oaks and peeling rhododendrons. Walked without a shadow for most of the day, and the thick mist only served to envelope us in loneliness. We had no idea what lay beyond us, being unable to see more than 30 yards.
At lunch in Kutumsang, the mist peeled back to reveal a village draped along the ridge. It was the first real village we’d seen since Thulo Syabru and Sherpagaon (besides Langtang village itself– which mostly serves the tourist crowds nowadays).
On our way out of the village we were officially checked out of the Langtang National Park. By 3:45 we were checking in a nice hotel at the edge of Thotung, run by a Frenchman and his Nepalese wife. The weather improved for a bit and we were able to see a dim outline of the pretty farm valleys that were right in front of us. We’d seen almost nothing all day!
Took some time to stretch and try some yoga in the brief but warm afternoon sun.
Day 15: Thotung to Kathmandu
2 hours; 6.5 km/4mi
Woke up to a rainy morning, last night’s laundry was sopping wet. Decided to wait til 9 am before deciding what to do. Read through the huge stack of ECS Nepal Magazines as we waited. There were a lot of articles about journeys of riding royal enfield motorcycles to historical destinations via scenic highways and we discussed which ones we’d like to undertake.
By 9:30 we were finally on the way, having decided to stop in Thakani and hop onto a bus bound for Kathmandu.
At 11:30 we’d reached the bus and secured seats. The gloom still hadn’t lifted, and as we waited for our lunch, the wind blew hard and a few drops of rain fell.
Of course, however, as soon as the bus started rolling down the hill just after the clock struck one, the sun burst through the clouds and we spent the rest of the bus ride gazing upon lush hillsides that we could’ve been walking through had we stuck it out.
Still, that was that and Xiker and I agreed we were lucky enough to have such fine trekking weather for most of our trek through the Langtang area.