– ODO- 13061 – 13159km
– Location- Putalibazar, Nepal
– Weather- 18-25 Showers in the afternoon
The Nepalese Himalayas are beautiful to ride. After a short stretch of dusty unpaved curves the road smoothed out and wound up slowly though ever steepening valleys. After a few hours the trucks died off, I assume they were mostly heading to some of the mines scarring the surrounding ridges, and I started considering where to camp.
The issue with camping in the mountains in Nepal is the sheer steepness of the stone valley walls. The road, in places, is blasted out of the valley side and every available flat piece of ground beside the road is taken up with a restaurant, house or stable.
The ideal spot would be down by the river deep in the valley floor. Either side of which there are curved stepped fields or lenticular bands of sand and shale. The issue is that, at any time, the river could be from 200 to 500 meters below the road which clings always to the valley side to maintain its gradient. There are ocasional dirt tracks that you would never climb down with a bike, you would even struggle with a pack.
As the sun began to set I tried, but failed, to get up to a field by hauling my bike up a dirt track. Continuing a little more I came across a steep concrete side road. I took it and make it most of the way to the bottom hoping it would open out into the river bed. Instead it ended in a farm with no bypass. Even in my lowest gear I strained to get back half way up the road. There I saw a small track cutting across the loose shale-like rock that made up this wall. I parked the bike on its kickstand and walked the track down towards the river. At points a landslide took the path away and all that remained was slanted damp gravel. But down the path 50m was a large flat clearing away from all roads and houses. Perfect.
Slowely I crept down the path. The 55kg of my bike and bags to my right so that if it began to slip I could let it fall without it taking me with it. I dug my cycling cleats into the gravel and stopped the bike from a skid that trickled stone over the edge into the trees below. At least the bike wouldn’t fall completely into the river if it slipped – I thought. Breathing deeply, balancing with all my attention I rolled into the clearing and sighed with relief. The perfect campsite was mine.
I climbed down to a rope bridge over the river and swung from the middle. Climbing down again to the river itself to wash out the dust which collected on my suncream over the course of the afternoon. As the sun set the trucks on the hairpins projected squares across the opposing wall of trees. Their air horns echoes me to sleep. Twice. Three times. Almost comforting at a distance.
Dangerous road to camp
Toughness finding flat ground