Thursday, April 21, 2011

Return to Nagarjun

Last Sunday, we had planned to do a hike/walk to some monasteries in the hills surrounding the city, but we scrapped the plan when I woke up feeling less than 100%. Later in the day, though, after I was feeling better and a bit restless, we decided to tackle a hike up Nagarjun to Jamacho, its peak. Claudine was no stranger to this route, having already conquered this summit before I arrived to Kathmandu.

My GPS watch helped mark some of our stats for this hike. We began at an elevation of around 5,500 feet and gained a bit over 3,000 feet in elevation to reach the summit at 8,576 feet. A sign along the trail indicated that the uphill ascent is 5 kilometers, but my watch showed that it took about 4.4 kilometers (2.7 miles) to the top. I won't complain about the overestimation; it was a nice surprise to arrive earlier than expected. Certainly better than the opposing alternative.

Unlike our quiet summit at Phulchowki and our deserted Shivapuri lookout, the small Buddhist temple at the top of Nagarjun was abuzz with activity. Dozens of Tibetans were there, lunching,

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worshiping,

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enjoying the view from a lookout deck,

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and generally hanging about.

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There were of course the ubiquitous prayer flags at the top, some for purchase and others for snacking, evidently.

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A kettle warmed, preparing oil for the hundreds of butter lamps flickering in the cool breeze.

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Most of the Tibetans we saw seemed to have taken buses to the summit, but I wasn't jealous. As I get the hang of this hiking thing (wobbly quadriceps and all), I'm coming to appreciate that the best part of the outing often isn't the summit (although the views, sense of accomplishment, and -- let's be honest -- lunch break are nice). The more mountains I set out to climb, the more I learn that sometimes it's the journey, not the destination.

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