The Ultimate Trail – Road Book (Section 2)

Gamgadhi – Muktinath:

330 km, +18,900 m, 7-9 days.

Regions: Mugu and Dolpo.

Trail & Challenges:

This is one of the biggest challenges of the GHT for a number of reasons including the weight and contents of my pack, the unpredictable weather, the challenging terrain and that I’ll be completing this alone.

Firstly I will head through Mugu (Gamgadhi) which is the most remote and least visited region on the Great Himalayan Trail. Northern Mugu is behind the Dhaulagiri and Annapurna ranges. It is barren and less populated, with food usually unavailable regardless of the price so I will have to be self-sufficient; carrying everything I need for 7-9 days, including the food, medicine kit, clothes and electronics (satellite phone, GPS, camera, solar panel).

The second day I will enter in the Dolpo which is named as one of the “hidden valleys”, home to devout Buddhists and was only opened to foreigners in 1989. It is one of the highest inhabited places in the world, with villages and monasteries scattered between beautiful mountain ranges.

Dolpo is still culturally and economically tied to Tibet, as the area is cut off from the south by snow-covered passes for a majority of the year. This area is a dry, high altitude desert and has nine passes over 5,000 m so again self-reliance is crucial to trek in this harsh landscape.

To keep the pack under 10 kg (without water), I have to take the bare minimum and have to be careful as I am not taking any spare or backup items, including food. I will not be taking a tent or bivy neither will I have any stove so I will eat my meals cold and hope that the water won’t freeze.

The route is very challenging with multiple passes over 5000 m, strong river to cross (no bridge), with no real trail in some places. I will not meet any people for days and I will be far away from any road or city so hurting myself would be a major issue.

The weather might be a challenge too; I hope the monsoon will be over as I am not taking any waterproof kit and that there won’t be any snow on the high passes as I won’t be taking any crampons or ice axes. I must use the electronics carefully as I only have one set of batteries and the tiny solar panel is not powerful enough to load all the electronics every day.

Weather: The first day should be hot as the trail remains at a relatively low altitude (for Nepal) along a river and in the forest. The temperatures should be much cooler, and even below freezing level in the high pass and there are often cold winds coming from the North.

Pack: 4.7 kg of food, 3.5 kg of clothes/sleeping bag/kit, 0.5 kg of medical kit, 1.1 kg of electronics and 0.3 of other things.

Anna: During these 7-9 days, Anna will go to the next meeting point which is Muktinath (3730 m) in the Annapurna region. Getting there should take 3 days and won’t be easy. She will have to take 3 small planes, a four wheel drive and walk the last day. Then she will have a few days to acclimatize but also take some photos and videos.

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