First Eight Days: Tumlingtar to the Barun Valley

Since I couldn’t blog during the trek, I’ll put up a trip description is several blog postings. Our trek was a 28-day trek—two days for getting in and out, and 26 straight days of hiking (chance to take it easy one day, but I did the hike described below). I enjoyed the trek immensely. Fantastic scenery, a good group of fellow trekkers and support crew. The trek was hard, but not always fun. More challenging than any of us expected—long steep ascents and descents and some unpleasant weather.

We started out by flying to Bratnigar, then taking a long SUV trip, followed by a night river crossing, and short ride to Tumlingtar ending up there at maybe 8 pm. We were supposed to fly directly to Tumlingtar, but the airport is closed for reasons that were never quite clear—maintenance or a rain saturated runway. The first few days were along a new dirt road with some sections along the old road and sections of trail. Farming and towns and villages the whole time. And even a couple larger towns with all kinds of stores and markets. The main challenge was the heat and humidity—maybe 85 for both. Farming is rice, millet, beans (lentils and soy) mainly. And some animals—pigs, goats, and cows. Friendly people, mostly from the Rai group—Hindus. Almost everyone enjoyed having their pictures taken and would smile for the picture—quite a change from Africa. For three days we were hiking along a ridge until the village of Num.

From Num we dropped steeply down to the Arun River and climbed as steeply up the other side to Sedua About 2500 ft. up and down and we only went 4 miles (6 km). But by then we had gotten over jet lag, our legs were getting used to walking, a little cooler because of the elevation. More climbing to come and then the rains came. Not heavy rains or accompanied by wind, but as we got higher accompanied by cold. Made for slippery going on rocky trails. We got occasional peak sitings, but hiking in the clouds for some of the time. After the down and up day, we climbed 2200 ft., then 4700 ft. to almost 12,000 ft. (3600m) at Kauma. That was followed by one of the tougher days of climbing over three passes in the rain, and the crew couldn’t find a good place for lunch so we did without more or less. After 2700 ft. of climbing and 1100 ft. of descending we arrived in camp. But the scenery was incredible—lakes, lichen, moss, and small plant.

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