Trekking in Langtang: the hailstorm

The thunder was rumbling and the clouds were closing in as we made our way up towards Gosaikunda Lake. We stopped for a much-needed lunch break at the one and only lodge in Laurebina and took shelter from the looming weather.

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The dining hall of the lodge offered little respite as the winds picked up rushing through the open doors and draughty windows. I took refuge in the kitchen using my rudimentary Nepali to secure a stool next to the fire and ate some hot, crispy Sherpa bread that was being kept warm on top of the stove.

The weather worsened and as more trekkers and locals arrived the kitchen became a hive of activity with the whole family, including the small children, being roped in to help with food preparation and serving. I re-joined my friends in the dining hall to find them wrapped up in every item of clothing they had with them. I was soon to follow regretting that my waterproof jacket was a little bit of a squeeze on top of the down jacket. An enormous plate of fried potatoes with cheese was unlikely to make the situation any better.

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Eventually we had to leave the lack of comfort in the lodge to an even greater lack of comfort outside, but at least we would be on our way to what we expected would be a cosy lodge with a stove in the dining hall pumping out heat to warm up our shivering bodies. This wasn’t to be the case, but the thought kept us going.

There were little views to speak of as the clouds had fully descended and we were immersed in it. To make matters worse the hail was hammering on our waterproofs. The temperature had plummeted and despite our uphill climb we were still struggling to keep warm. We trudged through the snow following the footprints of a previous porter as there was no sign of the path. We came to the crest of the climb only to find that we had another hour and half’s walking with no sign of the weather improving. Hugging the mountainside we were fortunately oblivious of the perilous drop to our other side. This was the day that we would arrive at the famously beautiful Gosaikunda Lake, but would we even be able to see it?

Soon, the hail stopped and the low cloud started to lift. We could spy the hazy shape of a building up ahead of us. Our assistant guide, Pemba, had gone on ahead to secure our rooms as there is limited accommodation at Gosaikunda where visitor numbers expand due a helipad allowing access to sightseers. As Pemba welcomed us with cups of hot lemon, ginger and honey tea there was a turn around in the weather. The clouds parted allowing the last vestiges of the sun to shine through and reflect on the lake surface giving us the spectacular views we had been seeking. Although as a testament to how cold it still was, even Sanga, our porter from Langtang village, had donned a coat for the first time.

 

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