Wednesday 2 October 2013

My last hurrah in Nepal - for 2013

Subash and I made it back from Pokhara with no issue, other than a bit of road construction that narrowed the busy highway into a single lane, causing a four hour backup.  By this time, it was little more than "par for the course" and I was somehow able to nod off to sleep in the bus while baking in the sun.  It is a skill only learned through hundreds of hours of bus travel and it is one that I am very happy I have acquired. 

It was madness in Kathmandu as usual but Subash made it easy, haggling with taxis and getting us to the Holy Lodge for 20% of what the other foreigners were paying in taxi fees and in only a fraction of the time.  We had a mellow night in Thamel, the crazy tourist area of Kathmandu, eagerly anticipating the adventure to come, somewhere between five and six awesome days and few hundred kilometers on a few different rivers, ending up in eastern Nepal.  We awoke early and loaded boats on a taxi, saying goodbye again to the overly helpful and awesome Holy Lodge staff.  They said something about a strike but I wasn't sure what that meant and we were on our way.  Kind of.  We made it about a half of a mile when the cops confirmed that there was a strike today, which means that they close the roads leading into and out of the capital city.  It is some kind of punishment from the government, exercising their control over locals, their travel into and out of the city as well as goods.  I found out later that foreigners are free to travel at will, if you're willing to cough up the dinero to pay for a private car.  We headed back to our little sanctuary and kicked it for a few hours, allowing me time to write the post about the first leg of the adventures, read some of the book that was given to me as a birthday present from my prior traveling partners, Ty and Monica, called Shantaram.  It is a wonderful story about an escaped convicts life in Bombay in the 80s and a must read for anyone lucky enough to be able to do so.  Super fun!  We tried around noon to leave the city again and the buses were allowed to leave at this point so we left Kathmandu without looking back with a full bus.  The next day was a special holiday for the Nepalis and an interesting one at that.  It was a holiday that celebrates men, the good husbands, fathers, brothers, sons and boyfriends that they are.  The women dress up in amazing and colorful traditional outfits and where we were going they would spend the morning communally bathing in the river, then spend the rest of the day cooking food in preparation for the feast that evening where they would sing songs and celebrate how happy they are to have men in their lives.  The whole day the guys hang out with the other guys and drink beers and enjoy their day.  It is a great idea and I think we should definitely adopt it.  Because of the holiday and the strike coming together so close, we had a loaded bus leaving the bus terminal.  It took us between two and three hours to get outside of the Kathmandu city limits, something like 10 km, because we kept picking up more girls coming home to celebrate.  Every time we picked up more, I was sure we were at capacity but the crowd kept growing, I counted somewhere around 90-95 people on the bus at one point, as an estimate.  There were about 35 sitting, 30 standing, 15 in the doorway to the bus and on the stairs and another 10 or 15 on the roof.   It was an amazing sight and experience though I was happy to let off people at every stop and finally get off when we did, on the banks of the Bhote Kosi River at Sukute Beach - the camp where all of my adventures started.   The only casualty suffered on the short but exciting riade was that some kids got in my boat and stole my shoes, the only ones I brought with me.  It looks like Im going barefoot for this journey here, at least I have flip flops.

We had a mellow night at Sukute after arriving just before dark, with just enough time to set up my new shelter that I got from the Kali Gandaki river guide that makes all the tents, shelters, dish drainers, drybags and such.  We had dinner, passed out and slept in the next morning.

Sweet new for the Sun Kosi and our first camp at Sukute Beach

Our initial plan was to go upstream as far as we felt comfortable on the harder upstream stretch of the Bhote Kosi before continuing downstream on the Sun Kosi, leaving our gear at Sukute and possibly camping there again after doing the upper run.  Because we woke up late, got delayed a day on the journey out of Kathmandu and because we were so excited for the 290km self support downstream, we elected not to go upstream.  The "White Water Nepal" guidebook says this about the Sun Kosi - "This is one of the ten best white water rafting trips in the world.  Big rapids, warm water, beautiful scenery and great camping make this a classic multi-day river trip.  A great trip for intermediate and advanced kayakers.  Big bouncy grade 3-4 rapids with large surfing waves and lots of friendly holes makes it like paddling on the ocean with great waves crashing down on you."   Most trips take about 10 days and have are raft supported, we didn't have that much time and thought we could make it faster so we packed our kayaks with little clothes, two packages of ramen noodles, a small bag of oats, 6 snickers, some water, chlorine for purifying (yep that's it) and put in for the Sun Kosi around 10am after eating one last big breakfast at the riverside resort.

Usually raft trips put in about 10-15km downstream at the confluence with the Intrawadi but we elected to put in at our camp, thinking that if we were going to do the 280 km, whats 290 or 295.  We paddled quickly to the first major landmark, quickly getting into the groove and excited.  I guess I should say at this point that the Intrawadi was a major landmark for us because it was one of the few that we knew about in the next 295km of paddling.  I had tried to take a picture of the book description and map but it was too dark to read anything so we were pretty much just paddling downstream with the knowledge that the 10,000 cfs that we started on would likely be somewhere around 200,000 at the takeout and somewhere in the middle there was a class V rapid we should probably look at.  With that plethora of knowledge, we settled in to the paddling routine.  After a few hours we got to a short canyon with impressively high walls and some incredibly fun class III read and run that I deemed the biggest, funnest waves I had ever paddled.  We made our first stop after about three hours to pee.  It felt great to get out of the boat and stretch but it was hot so before we took time to think about it we got back in our boats and continued paddling downstream.

 The confluence of the Bhote Kosi and Intrawadi, I think this is where it becomes the Sun Kosi. 
Subash looking at one of the beautiful riverside villages along the upper section of the river.  

Some local kids playing by the river, the outfits reminscent of what my parents thought was acceptable swimwear for me to wear when I was little.  Parents or future parents, go ahead and buy your kid swim trunks and save them those experiences - unless you plan on living on the banks of a river in the middle of nowhere Nepal (where it is totally acceptable)

Typical upper section scenery, it is gorgeous but maybe better fit for sitting in a raft, drinking an ice cold beer and/or lounging under an umbrella

The first group of women we saw, preparing for the days festivities by bathing in the river.  Its not quite like what you'd think as a westerner, they do this task fully clothed...

After some great scenery and fun rapids in the first canyon, we saw the road reappear in what we realized was an amazing construction effort to build what I thought was the nicest and by far the most expensive road Id seen in Asia up to this point - which wasnt a very good gauge but nevertheless this was a first class highway.  I still dont know where the traffic was going but there was clearly some big money and my two thoughts were that a dam is in the works, or they may be trying to build a road closer to Mt Everest, which is downstream and somewhere around 50 miles up a prominent tributary coming in on river left not too far downstream, the Dudh Kosi. 

I'm guessing that these people don't live there anymore.  The houses are still standing but buried in fill from the new road construction

 One view of the new highway.  Big money.  

We paddled fairly close to the road for the rest of the day, stopping for a lunch of mashed dried rice, unidentifiable curry balls, and Coca Cola somewhere when we got hungry.  For me the road was kind of a bummer, taking away from the wilderness that I had imagined and could picture that the canyon once had.  I thought about it a lot, from my perspective, the road meant that this place was not as special as it was anymore, it had lost some of its appeal.  I asked Subash whatn he thought the locals perspective about the new highway would be.  He said that local people would be happy; before the road was built they would have walked for a week or more to get to Kathmandu or maybe a few days to get supplies from a closer town.  Now they could just hop on a bus.  We talked about where he grew up, on the Trisuli, which was a similar situation.  When his father grew up, there was no road.  They were less than 100km from Kathmandu but the walk would take them well over a week to get to town.  He worked for years building the highway through the valley and they were all happy for the convenience that it provided.  The road allowed them to have access to construction materials for their own houses, foods, propane, an easier way to get to the market to sell their goods and in their mind it was a good thing.  I was thinking that this would mean a more modernized society with less farming and more packaged foods.  Less rural, traditional living, more western influence but in Subash's case his family still lives in the same village on the hill and they sell vegetables at the market.  Maybe the road is a good thing for the people.  Maybe better infrastructure that would bring education, more access to health care and access to commodities like cell phones and clothes that are hard to come by out there  I also thought that they probably wouldn't need the clothes for most of the year - it was late September in the jungle, we paddled without tops on all day and were hot!  

At some point I started to get grumpy and thirsty.  I needed some food.  I ate a snickers and we pulled over to get some water at what we thought was a nice tributary.  We had probably been paddling for 6 or seven hours and I saw a beautiful beach and wanted to camp.  We looked around, found that the tributary was kicking in a healthy 5 -7k cfs of muddy warm water and reconsidered.  I still thought it would be a nice place to camp on the beach, noticing what I thought were fire rings of river rock.  Subash told me that these weren't fire rings, they were burial sites, underneath the rocks were dead people.  Weird!  The Nepalis, like many cultures across the world consider confluences to be holy sites and they bury their dead at important confluences.  This was a holy site.  My thoughts shifted from it's a little creepy that there are all kinds of dead people laying here to "cool, I'd like to get buried at a confluence like this, its magical."  

We hopped back in our boats and kept paddling.  Soon we were surprised by some fun whitewater, a few km of huge class III/IV that ended all too soon but put big smiles on our faces and made us forget how tired we were for while.  I was paddling close to shore at one point and saw one of the brightest birds Ive ever seen, Subash told me it was a Kingfisher.  
not my picture...but these guys were all over the place.  Amazing.  

We paddled until dusk and pulled over where we saw a cluster of homes and a giant beach, hoping they could cook us some food. 

We set up the shelter quickly and changed into dry clothes.  My tired and grumpy attitude turned quickly around when I took a minute to realize where we were.  A massive beach, a steep, imposing jungle canyon and one of the most famous multi day rivers in the world.  Im a lucky guy.  We paddled a long way, something like eight hours with about a total of 30 minutes out of our boats and we had earned a gorgeous place to call home tonight.  

We wandered up the hill to find a little shop and what they called a hotel, where they happily took our order of whatever they were cooking for dinner, basically allowing us to join them for the evenint.  We sat with the family as they cooked, deranged chickens that were all too friendly tried to sit next to us and we happily drank warm beer.  They have beer here?  What?  We soon found out why the chickens were so friendly when a kid no more than eight swiftly grabbed one by the neck and broke his neck in one quick flick of the wrist.  My eyes were huge, he laughed at me.  He then cleaned the bird and chopped it into a million little pieces and threw them, bone and all, into the pot for dinner.  Thankfully it was Dal Baht, rice and lentil soup for dinner, with only a side of boney chicken.  It seemed to take forever to prepare, I think I fell asleep at the table.  We ate and went staight to bed, exhausted but happy to be where we were and have full bellies.  As I drifted off, I noticed constant lightning downstream, thinking that maybe the water would be higher the next day from the storm.  I woke up in the middle of the night to the storm that had made its way directly overhead, it was the most insane lightning I've ever witnessed.  It wasn't the impressive bolts that we see during our storms back home but the sky was constantly lit up by lightning, there was no respite, it was like the middle of the day.  The strangest part was that there wasn't any rain or wind, totally calm.  I fell back asleep.  

 My happy place, well one of them

In the morning we woke up early, wondering how far we could make it today.  We went back to the "hotel" where they brought us fresh milk, warmed up for our oats.  We ate the oats and were offered tea, which I happily agreed to.  The tea was a glass of warm milk.  Nothing like 16 ounces of warm milk to start the day.  Glad I don't have a lactose allergy.  We downed the milky breakfast, packed our boats and left our beach. 

The Sun Kosi hotel - my two favorite parts of the picture are the planter bed retainers - old beer bottles (used everwhere in Nepal) and the solar panel, also everywhere in rural Nepal. 

Nom, nom, nom, milk tea - actually just warm milk - but fresh

 The dish pit for the hotel restaurant - the chicken met its match somewhere within this frame as well.  A little different than our dishwashers back home. 

Thankful that the clouds are blocking the intense sun, making pretty streaks across the sky as we paddle downstream.  

We paddled for a few hours until we got to a relatively large settlement, what looked like a new bridge across the river that had been partially constructed, a car ferry and then - whoa! A big horizon line.  This one didn't look like the rest so we paddled to shore and got out to scout.  This was Harkapur and it was an amazing display of whitewater.  The river was pushed up against the right cliff wall by a landslide of massive proportions, forcing the 100,000 of so cfs through a 50 foot wide sloping ramp with a hole about 25 feet tall on the left at the top followed by an even bigger one on the right immediately downstream.  There was a line and it was definitely doable but an out of boat experience would result in one of the deepest swims one could imagine, an eddyline that looked would take you down to your death for sure.  Not my style, I quickly found the portage route and hoped Subash would do the same.  He was much more comfortable on the giant flows and was considering it.  I talked to him and found out that he had puked three times during our one hour paddle from camp - I think we found the lactose intolerant paddler in the group - and he said he felt weak.  We happily snuck the monster that has taken its fair share who have attempted it according to more than a few people I'd talked to, and continued on.  Harkapur 2 was huge as well.  Below Harkapur the river split around an island and we went left, where only 10,000 cfs or so made its way down a steep, boulder infested channel that was definitely challenging and big.  The right side looked mad. 

 The car ferry directly above the biggest rapid on the river, that would be a scary ride if you ask me.  


As we got in our boats I remembered that the town above Harkapur called Sun Kosi Bazaar is the last place to get food for the journey, the highway that paralleled the river finally disappeared and it was true wilderness from here to the takeout.  From here I remembering that we were a bit less than halfway through the trip and asked Subash if he thought we should get any food.  He smiled and shook his head, "we'll figure it out."  He said that a local that he thought that there would be villages in the canyon.  Downstream we quickly made it to another landmark that I remembered reading about, the Dudh Kosi, the river of Everest.  This was supposedly a great camp spot for boaters.  When we got there, the flows buried any beach in sight and we kept paddling.  Id guess the flow around 30-40,000 cfs.  I also remembered reading about the GLOFs that somewhat consistently raged the river and I was very glad that the flow wasnt more like 300,000 cfs or so, which is what was estimated during a recent GLOF.  Take a minute and read the crazy story below.  Sorry its a picture from the book. 

The Sun Kosi and Dudh Kosi, this is definitely a holy place

 Stoked but definitely not camping or even stopping, those beaches are buried! 

Crazy story!!

Further down, we saw a village up on the hill and decided to have an early lunch, the milk wasn't quite enough for me and Subash had lost it all a few hours before.  We wandered up through corn fields to find a nice family that agreed to cook our noodles.  We chatted with them, they asked me questions like how long it took to fly from the U.S. to Nepal, I responded about two days, a fraction of the time it would take them to make it back upstream to Sun Kosi Bazaar, the closest village probably 30km as the river goes but much further to walk since you'd have to go through the jungle and up tributaries like the Dudh Kosi until there is a bridge.  Despite the remoteness, they had a radio that we listened.  Our hot water was heated with a fire inside a mud oven and they were working on the recent corn harvest.  The kids thought I was a martian.  It was a great experience, so friendly and nice.  I loved it.  

pic of the family 

The view from up on the hill where our lunch break village lies.  All tributaries look like these with massive debris flows leading into the river, evidence of the massive erosive power of the water in the area.  No real riverbed, just a big floodplain of debris washed down from the mountains above.  

The village's dugout canoe, half sunk, only gets used in low water apparently.  At this point the river was probably 125,000 cfs and a few hundred yards wide.  They also don't use paddles, only a long stick of bamboo to push off from the bottom of the river.  That craft wouldn't stand a chance at this level.  

We paddled for hours without any real idea of where we were.  Sometime in the afternoon we got to the biggest concentration of rapids, I remembered some names that were said before and in the story above, Jaws, Dead Man's Eddy, and the Jungle Corridor.  Jaws was the first of them and solid big class IV wavetrain style rapid that ended in big dogleg corner.  The corner created some crazy whirlpools with about a 4 foot tall eddyline that we closely avoided.  I remember at one point a bunch of huge whirlpools in front of me, I was paddling hard to make downstream progress and a rogue wavetrain formed, lifting a whirlpool to the top of a wave, it was one of the most confused features I've ever seen.  Dead Man's Eddy was somewhat terrifying, an eddy that most of the current went into divided by a 50 yard wide wavetrain with 25 foot tall waves.  The eddy looked like a giant whirlpool in the middle that disappeared down deep...

A little further downstream, I was wondering if some of the rapids were washed out because it seemed like we had been paddling for what seemed like forever when we rounded the corner to see another amazing feature in the middle of the river.  It was a rapid that I found out later was called Rhino Rock for the massive rock in the middle of the river.  At this flow it was the biggest wave hole I've ever seen, probably 250 feet wide and 30 feet tall that led into a half mile long wavetrain.  It was amazing.  The best part was that it was followed immediately afterward by the Jungle Corridor section, the highlight of the entire run.  It was a narrow jungle canyon with steep walls that had 10 or more big long rapids all back to back over the course of 5 or 6 miles.  It was huge and amazing and we were smiling huge afterward, hardly able to imagine what fun whitewater we had just paddled.  I guess these rapids don't wash out....

Jungle corridor canyon

This says it all

And this too

While we were in the narrow corridor, the sun disappeared and the rain came.  It unleashed into a fury that made the whitewater even more exciting and the narrow canyon even more foreboding.  Waterfalls that were crystal clear at the top looked like this by the time we made it to the bottom.  


We were elated and continued paddling.  We ate a few snickers and talked about whether we thought we would finish the run that day.  I knew the jungle corridor was the last big whitewater from the description but not really sure how long we still had.  Around one corner we saw this...
This is an old car ferry from about 75 km upstream at Harkapur that washed up on this giant boulder here.  Was anyone on the thing when it got washed downstream?  That must have been a terrifying flood!  

FOTM on the Sun Kosi

Shout out Boof Sessions

 The sun getting low in the sky, how far do we have?  I dont think I have any food left....

We decided we would keep paddling until it got to be dusk,  The canyon was opening up and we decided we could find a beach and at least spend the night and make it out the next day.  Soon after the conversation, we got to this.  The confluence with the mighty Arun River, which they say is actually the River of Everest and has some of the hardest whitewater ever boated.  Wanna see the Russian try it in the double doughnut? These dudes are nuts!  Cool to think that this is upstream.  Oh yeah, and the biggest mountain in the world.  That's cool too.  This confluence is special.  
Arun and Sun Kosi

Then this, only another few hundred yards downstream...the Tamur and Sun Kosi
At this point we were in familiar territory.  Subash had done the Tamur River the year before and said we were definitely gonna make it.  Only another 15 km to the takeout but at this point the river was full flow, in the range of 200,000 to 250,000 cfs.  We paddled down some of the biggest class II of my life and then the river got really wide.  I remembered one piece of advice, "stay left at the island or you'll end up in India."  There is a huge island near the takeout and if you follow the majority of the flow you'll miss the takeout entirely and end up on your way to the Indian Ocean first through Bangladesh.

I saw something strange in the distance,, it was a really big boat.  Well, a lot bigger than my kayak and realized we must be super close.  We pulled up to the beach about 15 minutes before dark, tired, hungry and elated.  We made it!  We paddled almost 300km in two very long days.  I had lots of blisters on my hands and paddling hurt, I could barely lift my kayak and I was hungry but we completed the mission that usually takes rafts 10 days in only two and paddled some of the funnest whitewater I've ever seen.  It was a blast and I made it the whole way without shoes.  If we weren't now 20 hours back to Kathmandu and another 3-4 from the putin, we could just do another lap! Actually, we had better plans.  We made it back to town late that night and promptly passed out after finding a much deserved Dal Baht and ice cold beer, excited for the last big adventure of the trip.  Tomorrow was the mighty Tamur.

In the morning, we slept in and got a casual start.  I thought I'd buy some shoes but I did a little assesment of my money and decided I probably couldn't afford any.  I'd elected to go light on this journey and not bring my ATM card and some crazy local floods required us to take private transport where busses would have been available and it was either shoes or a bus ticket back home.  After the Tamur of course....

Something about the Tamur made me a little more excited than every other trip we were doing.  I think it was a combination of factors, I couldn’t find good information about the section in the guidebook (or maybe I hadn't looked hard enough) but I knew it would be harder than the whitewater we’d been doing the past few days, we we’re staying in a town that was a pretty unique experience – I was definitely the only foreigner and everyone made me feel like it, I still didn’t have shoes, and when we tried to get on a local bus for a common journey, they told us that a big flood had ravaged the valley paralleling the road to the put in and asked us if we were sure we wanted to go there.  We hired a taxi since busses couldn't currently make the journey and from the locals found out that we would have to walk the last few km to the putin.  I was excited for the adventure of the unknown and it started quickly as we climbed through and then above the clouds en route to the pass to the Tamur Valley.  It was stunning scenery, within 15 minutes we were thousands of feet above town and could see forever.  

The view on the way up the pass, hard to capture as usual but amazing. 

We dropped back down into the other valley and quickly saw the destruction.   It was hard to say how far upstream the damage started but our road was in poor shape and the small river, flowing about 200 cfs on the day we were driving through, looked like it had recently been struck by a few hundred wide massive tidal wave that obliterated the riverbed and many side drainages.  The side drainages were all blown out, burying houses and the road.  It was a fairly major highway and most of the road that was still there had been uncovered and was driveable on a very narrow, muddy path.  

 The flood ravaged valley from high above

One side valley


People were digging out their houses, working together to try and rebuild.  I asked and apparently the flood happened only a few days prior.  We came around the last corner on the highway at a place where hundreds of porters surrounded the car, screaming and yelling excitedly – we had made it to the end of the road.  We said farewell to our driver and started carrying our boats along the road, looking at heavy equipment in the river wondering what they were doing. 
 The heavy equipment working in the river, moving the flow away from the missing section of highway

 No driving to this putin

 All local commerce was now in the hands of porters, working hard to get all of the local tomatoes and cabbage from the valleys beyond back to the market in the big city we had stayed in the night before. 

 Waiting our way traffic only on this path

 Thankfully one narrow path was saved after the flood

Subash getting some help on our way to the river

We ate a quick bite to eat and then set off, not quite sure what was downstream.  Subash had done this section the year before but it was part of an epic 10 day trip involving a four day hike to the putin and he couldn't remember too much about what lie downstream. We did know that it could be done in a day but not quite sure how long and we didn't any great idea about the number of rapids or character.  It started mellow enough, class III rapids at what felt like a manageable water level.  The rapids kept getting closer together, getting steeper and the boulders growing in size.  The water felt higher here as we continued downstream, despite the fact that there weren't any significant tributaries.  I think the biggest challenge was that the big boulders were all on the sides of the river, making the center generally a more manageable path.  This is a mentally difficult thing to understand because usually when you're running a river that's big and kinda scary, you can usually hang by the sides of the river, along shore with the option of taking chicken lines, catch eddies or scout.  We got into a rhythm, the river moving at a great pace, allowing us to avoid any enormous holes that we didn't want any part of while pushing us downstream on the brink of an uncomfortably fast pace.  It was a combination of incredibly fun and scary.  We did well, our skills honed from a few weeks of paddling big, pushy whitewater and it felt like just a bit of a step up from everything else.  At one point Subash said we should scout one of them, he remembered it being a bit harder than others on the section.  We tried but it was too long and we decided we could see a path.  It worked, but shortly after, downstream there was one with a big long turn, big boulders and a little steeper.  It looked massive and I instinctively stayed a little closer to shore on the outside of the turn to allow for escape if needed, Subash led the way through some massive holes down the middle.  About 1/3 of the way through the long wavetrain rapid, I realized I'd made a mistake and my route was going to lead me into a big, nearly riverwide ledgehole.  This thing was massive, probably a 200 foot wide, 15 foot tall ledge hole with 95% of the flow pushing into it, hard.  I had to make the hardest ferry of my life, yelling at myself to paddle hard through the massive waves, not sure if I'd make it but very sure I'd give it everything I got.  A few lucky lateral waves pushed me and I made it past the hole, elated, full of adrenaline and very happy to be past it, we both yelled at eachother - not saying it at the time but both admitting later that it was the hardest, scariest ferry of our lives.  My hands were covered by blisters from the Sun Kosi marathon but that day I didn't feel anything. A few more monster rapids downstream led to a narrow gorge.  My throat tightened up.  What is going on down there, the walls are getting vertical and the river much tighter.  I was prepared for something huge but as we floated through, it thankfully revealed flatwater, and the suspension footbridge near the confluence with the Sun Kosi.  We made it.  The Tamur at really high water was amazing.  Scary but very manageable and super super fun.  
 A quick shot of one of the mellower sections as we're headed in

 woo hoo!

The narrow gorge at the end

 taking a break at the confluence

We paddled down the same section of the Sun Kosi we had the day before, only stopping shortly where the big boats were to hang out with some local fishermen.  The high water took us down a about 25 miles of whitewater in about 2 hours, including a few break and we weren't ready to get off the river so we watched as they tried to catch fish in the giant muddy river with bamboo poles, string, washers and bolts for weight and homemade bent metal hooks.  

 You can see in the left the island that splits the Sun Kosi... don't go right

Much deserved beers and our favorite snack at the takeout.  The snack is ramen noodles (uncooked but crushed up), tomatoes, peppers, onions and peanuts all mixed together with some juice from the vegetables.  Add popcorn for extra effect. 

We thought we could get a cheaper bus, instead of hiring a private jeep from the takeout as we had done the day before so we walked about a mile from the river into town.  The walk was for nothing, no buses, but we did find the cheapest and maybe the coldest beers in Nepal. At her house we excitedly talked around her table in the bedroom about the river, how much fun it was and Subash even told me some local knowledge, that he didn't think anyone had potentially ever run the Tamur in September, usually it is saved for the 10 day trip when the flows are a meager 25-30% of the water we had.  He said that the locals wondered what we were doing paddling the river at this flow, they all thought it was way too early as they usually don't see other paddlers for a few more months.  Little bits of knowledge, combined with the description that I read earlier, "40-50 rapids within 35km mostly class IV/IV+ at late season flows make this section an amazing few days of whitewater," made for a good adventure and I was happy I found out all the info later on.

 After making it back to town, we explored a bit, made some local friends at similar establishments and went to bed early, our bus left for Kathmandu at 330am.  The next day was a bit of a journey, a 16 hour ride back across the flat hot plains of southern India in a cheap local bus to Kathmandu.  We were over it and decided en route to stop at the Trisuli for one last night at the Royal Beach Camp and wind down paddle.  It worked perfectly since I didn't want to spend the rest of my Nepal trip in the polluted, overcrowded and annoying capital city.  We had a mellow time on the Trisuli that day and the next and slowly made our way back to Kathmandu where we had one big night with some of Subash's friends and some western foreigners, drinking way too many beers.  I knew one last big night would be great before heading to 6 weeks of yoga, where I am currently residing, in Rishikesh India as I write this post, where the closest beers are found well over an hour away.  The party was great and the next day I got on the plane, telling my buddy that I'd surely be back to paddle more of the classics next year, or maybe the next.  Oh, and I told him to take good care of my boat, paddle and skirt which I gifted to him on the last day.  The best paddler in Nepal had never owned his own boat so I decided he should take over on the Karnali.  He said it was the best gift he'd ever received.

I know what you're thinking.  The scarf was a gift. 

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