This was a tough section. We followed Doc McKerr’s tracks and did not enter upper Dolpo. We also made a mistake and near Sanduwa we headed west up the river instead of north (Doc’d ‘Lhasa Campsite’) It ended up being a shortcut to Kagmara La but it was a very, long, dangerous day and we had an unnamed pass to cross before reaching Kagmara. The GPS track is available in the repository for this, however we do not recommend it. We’ve also posted the High Route from Phoksundo Lake in the repository, this was made by interconnecting Robin Boustead’s waypoints – so it is a little rough.
Day 68: 6/15/2014, Santa. Fantastic place. Do not follow our tracks along the river valleys from here – the trail is very dangerous. Follow trail description up over pass as found in Robin’s book.
Day 69: 6/16/2014, Nulungsumda Kharka. Horse Camp.
Day 70: 6/17/2014, Chharka Bhot. Junction where we avoid the big loop up into northern dolpo. 3 options through this area. Nice village on river.
Day 71: 6/18/2014, Dho tarap. Village very empty, lodge near end of (next?) village on left side.
Day 72: 6/19/2014, Danigar. Camped with Yarsa Gumba gatherers – robbery
Day 73: 6/20/2014, Phoksundo Lake
Day 74: 6/21/2014, Kunusa Raman. Took wrong turn on way to Lhasa – very basic community
Day 75: 6/22/2014, Toijum
Day 76: 6/23/2014, Maure Lagna
Day 77: 6/24/2014, Jumla
Day 78: 6/25/2014, Chauta/Gamgadhi
Some trail description from Seth: “What I remember being tricky leaving Kagbeni was first that we did not go up from Phalyak (I’m pretty sure that is the village leading up to the radio tower pass which we didn’t visit…but I can see how you could do it..I think it is faster out of Kagbeni). We crossed the bridge in Kagbeni – went upriver a bit and walked through a village I think before heading uphill – eventually up a a gully with a little scramble in it. I think this roughly followed RB’s book. We hit jeep track and trail and followed that up for a long time – finally cresting a small pass and working our way down to santa. There is no official place to stay there but a nice old couple seem to take in hikers and made us some nice food. Our mistake from here was following the old route along the river (I think you are supposed to follow it, cross the river and then climb) but we kept following it for another time and and then up another river. The intention was to skip the first pass. I think Robin’s book talks about that river trail not being used anymore but we were with a local kid who had done it a few years earlier. It ended up being 3-4hrs I think of real sketchy shit and the kid kept apologizing because it had gotten so much worse. Would not want to repeat it – thin trails above white water. We gained the second pass finally – but not from the most common direction – from below instead of descending (then ascending) as you would from the first pass. We camped at a large horse camp and I think the next day made it to Charkobot. I don’t remember any real rough navigation, just peril following that old trail all to save a climb. Would happily climb that any day.”
Some trail Description from John: “From Kagbeni we crossed the river and then went up the river on the west side to just before the next village (Tirigaon). We had trouble finding the initial route up to Bhima Lojun La. It was nice having Pisang (our Nepali friend) with us to ask the locals for info. We ended up scrambling up a gully before we got on the right path. There were a couple of paths/roads in the area and the trick was going up the right one. We passed a nice pond with some trees (the only shade around) and from here the trail became more straight forward. A series of 3 saddles crossing ridgelines with the third crossing being Bhima Lojun La. The trail was pretty obvious to follow to Santa. We met a kid named Pema who introduced us to the people we stayed with. If you figure out where the entire village of Santa poops let us know. It was one of the big mysteries of our trip.
From there as Seth described we followed the south fork of the river which we would not recommend but that was the way Pema took us. He regretted it afterwards and apologized. Next to the time we were off route on Tashi Labsta in the rockfall zone this was one of the sketchier sections of trail. Lots of rockfall potential and landslide trail that would drop you straight into the river if you slipped. You can see the trail over the Jungben La that follows more along the north fork of the river. You will have to find the bridge over the river to follow this route. I think it is straight forward but we didn’t go that way so don’t know for sure. That trail looked more straight forward but involved a big up and then down which we weren’t keen on doing. We rejoined the regular trail at Niwas La and camped at a big cowboy camp full of mules running all over the place and tripping over our tent. We kept waiting for one to fall on us. From there we pretty much followed the Thasan Khola all the way to Charkabot where we spent the night. “