Munsiyari, India

Today we were treated to hours of amazing close up views of the Greater Himalayas—most notably the Panchuli group, set against the backdrop of a nearly flawless blue sky. After so much tearing around and multiple modes of transportation, it feels nice to sleep in the same bed for a few nights, and travel only as fast as our feet can carry us, which is not very fast since the village of Munisyari is set on a steep hillside at roughly 8,000 ft. above sea level.  Tomorrow we will embark on an overnight trek, with the hope of reaching the summit of nearby Kalia on Saturday morning, but for the last two days, we’ve been lucky to soak in the sights, sounds and warm hospitality of our home-stays here in the village.

We left Kathgodam early  Monday morning and made surprisingly quick work of the trip to Chaukori, arriving at Himalaya Public School around 1:30 PM to a warm welcome. Fortunately, the ride failed to claim any victims in terms of serious motion sickness. We were lucky enough to catch a special ceremony on Tuesday morning to honor the 12th grade students at the school, as they will be leaving as soon as they finish their exams later this month. Shortly after the ceremony, we packed up to head further into the mountains and leave the students at the school to prepare for the state exams they will be taking this week.

The ride into Munsiyari on Tuesday afternoon was perhaps the biggest thus far. From one switchback, I was able to look down into an extensive valley and count over a dozen different places where I could see the very road we had just traveled on cutting through the hill-and-cliffsides. The amount of snow at the high pass we traveled over was rather ominous, given our impending trekking adventure, but the group seems up to giving it our best. Wednesday was spent settling in at our home-stays and meeting Malika and Theo, a wonderful couple who are extremely active in the local community, involved in a number of projects and non-profits. They are helping to arrange our trek, but have been great resources for stories and insight into the local culture and natural history. Malika mentioned that we will have opportunities after our trek to work with local farmers to plant their potato crop, play with school children on the Holi festival, and learn to weave with some women from the local cooperative. All in all, it promises to be a great time here. Fingers crossed for the good weather to continue