A gentle start leaving Marpha on another fine day. The route continues to follow the almost flat and broad river valley and above the high walls of the valley we could see something of the surrounding mountains before the clouds began to move in later in the morning. We were walking on the road and there is some traffic, but those who suggest that walkers on this stretch are constantly breathing traffic fumes are exaggerating the situation. A few jeeps, motorbikes, and the occasional small bus came past us.
The first village we came to was Tukuche, which had similar whitewashed houses to Marpha and a few with stylish wooden balconies. The villages in this area are peopled by the Thakalis, and the Tibetan influence is still strong.
Progressing down the valley, we came to the pretty riverside villages of Kobang and Larjung, which lie close to each other. The valley at this point is green and forested and ahead of us lay the Dhaulagiri range.
Then we hit an obstacle. A broad river comes down from Dhaulagiri to meet the valley, in truth the obstacle on the day we passed through was not too daunting but it did involve taking our boots off and wading across. The water was icy cold. In the rainy season it has to be more complicated. Even the buses have to cross this way too.
After this point the valley curves round and the trek starts to go closely beside the Annapurna range again. The wind picked up at this point, as we headed down to the village of Kalopani. This was supposed to be our final destination for the day but in the end we decided just to have lunch there and continue a bit further. As we arrived in Kalopani we managed to see the peak of Annapurna 1 rising above the valley. It reminded me of the glimpses we had of Annapurna 2 on the the first half of the trek, only for the clouds and bad weather to rob us of the opportunity to see more. We were hoping for better luck from now on and at least since we crossed Thorung La the weather had been very good.
From Kalopani the valley narrows and starts to descend more steeply. The river which consisted of multiple streams further back was now unified into a single, fiercer, flow. I felt a thousand times safer walking as we watched a bus negotiate the narrow, bumpy, road that at times was high above the river. Just one lurch to the wrong side and it could be over the edge.
Our destination now was the village of Ghasa, a narrow strip of a village surrounded by green hills and fields of crops and vegetables. A nicer place to stop than Kalopani.
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