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Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
August Walking Advice on 06/05/2007 08:05:08 MDT Print View

In August I will have one month off to go walking. I was originally going to go to Nepal and try one of the longer walks there, but a lot of information says that the August rainy season is not the best time to go. I've still not given up on Nepal, but am now considering either going for a long walk in the Alps of Europe (Switzerland, Austria, or Italy) perhaps along the Via Alpina or the Haut Route, or just staying low and doing the northern Spain portion of Camino del Santiago. I'm not in the best of shape at the moment and hope to spend the next two months getting into the best shape I can considering the relatively little time I have right now, but even that is not going to be enough to walk anything too hard. I'm thinking a 3-week route or so. Anyone have any suggestions? I'm not very familiar with the Alps in Europe (though my experience walking in the Alps here in Japan gives me a pretty good idea of what to expect). I'm doing a lot of my own research, but would appreciate advice from those who know some good routes. Thanks! (^J^)/"

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
August in N. America? Himalayan alternative on 06/05/2007 08:29:52 MDT Print View

if you are considering Europe, why not N.America? You would get something hard to find in Europe (or Japan)----a wilderness experience. As much as I have loved hiking and climbing in the Alps and the Pyrenees and the Picos de Europa, I personally can't get enough of the still relatively untrammeled and, by Euro and Japanese standards, underpopulated routes of the Western States or Canadien Provinces.


Yes, the Himalaya in Nepal in Aug. is not so good-----however, further West in Ladakh and Zanskar (India--state of Jammu & Kashmir) it's much drier at this time and is a pretty good month, all in all for trekking. There are numerous routes that could be taken. A good 3 weeker would be from Manali to Lamayuru---a world classic.

Edited by kdesign on 06/05/2007 10:31:40 MDT.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: August in N. America? Himalayan alternative on 06/05/2007 20:08:06 MDT Print View

Hi Kevin,

N. America is great and I've done a lot of hiking there. Back when I graduated from university in Oregon I promised myself that I would try to visit a new country every year. I did it for a while but work considerations have kept me from traveling for a while. I'd like to try a country I've never been to. Also, as a non-American, the incredible hassles of dealing with American visas and the immigration and such have really turned me off to America right now. So, that might mean I should look at Canada... but then, that's a country I've been to numerous times.

Besides I've always wanted to visit the Alps and the Himalaya.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
Ladakh, then? on 06/05/2007 21:07:17 MDT Print View

U.S. visas and the like----son injustos, estúpidos y una molestia verdadera. School in Oregon? Eugene (my alma mater)?

One word-----Ladakh!
You get your epic scenery. You get your wilderness experience. You get to CROSS the Himalayas! Meet the most incredible mountain peoples. Remote Buddhist gompas. Incredible hospitality.
A genuine adventure.

P.S. I like trekking here better than in Nepal.

If Europe, then, besides the usual suspects, I would recommend the Maritime Alps of France (Mercantour Nat'l Park)--a departure from the usual Alpine experience in SE France bordering Italy. Croatia and Slovenia have gorgeous mountain country---I've only done short trips there---but I believe that Slovenia has an extensive hut system. The pilgrim route to Santiago goes through some nice country as well as a lot of along the road slogging. Looks like quite the cultural experience ( from my outsider's perspective). Big plus to trekking in Europe---far fewer bedbugs! Better post trip eating and far better medical care if things go south.

Go for Ladakh.
cheers,
KD

Edited by kdesign on 06/05/2007 21:34:31 MDT.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Ladakh, then? on 06/06/2007 02:28:18 MDT Print View

Thanks for the rercommendations Kevin! Good to get advice from someone who's done that kind of walking, especially from someone from the same school! UofO, yeah! Go, Ducks, Go! (never could quite get overly excited about the mascot...) I graduated from the UofO for my undergrad degree in '82, and my masters in '86. What about you?

I have to take a look at Ladakh. Don't really know much about it. I take it it's in the Himalayan rain shadow, and that's why the rainy season doesn't affect it? What's the best way to get there?

If not Asia then I will give Mercantour in France and more of Slovenia a look. I nearly went to Slovakia last year, where the walking is supposed to be wonderful in the Transylvannian mountains.

My one big worry right now is that I have diabetes and I'm still not confident yet of how I will fare in places with less able medical care. It's part of what I'm trying to make big changes for for myself this year, to take a few tentative steps out of the safety zone and a little more into what I used to do so much more easily. I don't want diabetes to stop me from doing what I love doing and experiencing those places which are more difficult to get to.

Anyway, when you go to Ladakh do you bring a tarp, or a tent? What's the climate like? What did you use for your stove, seeing as alchohol might be difficult to obtain (do you think a woodgas stove like the BushBuddy might be a good idea?) ?

There's only a little time to prepare for all this, so I've got to get moving!

Thanks again, Kevin!

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Ladakh, then? on 06/06/2007 03:02:16 MDT Print View

Another question: would you travel to Ladakh on your own or go with a guide? I prefer traveling on my own, but am unsure about what to expect in the Himalaya.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
Ladakh tidbits on 06/06/2007 08:46:47 MDT Print View

Where to begin...
Climate is semi-arid---it gets far less of the Monsoon influence. Summer temps. vary from low single digits (c) to about the 20's C---the valley floors start at 3000 meters or so. Passes can be up to about 6000 meters!

You can fly in to the largest town and regional capital (Leh) from Delhi or Chandigarh but be warned, many flights get cancelled due to conditions assoc. w/ high altitude landings and take-offs and mtn. weather. You can take a bus from Srinigar on an epic road over the Himalaya (a rival to Bolivia's "Road of Death"--hee,hee. Or the slightly less epic Manali to Leh road. Some people rent jeeps (and a driver)--best shared.
Or---walk in from Manali. Manali is one of the old hill towns of the Raj and is easy to reach via road.

I think that the major towns will be able to service most needs associated with Diabetes but that requires research. I saw some well staffed clinics in Ladakh. Villages en route on the treks will have little or nothing---sometimes not even radio communications.

Most of the major trekking routes don't require a guide but they can be an asset on some of the more obscure routes and a fountain of local lore and mores. The first time I went, in the 80's (when things had recently opened up for westerners), we shared a giude with friends of Heinrich Harrer (7 yrs in Tibet fame), but we peeled off eventually to explore on our own.

A tent would probably be best---winds can be very strong and sites exposed and you might want a tent for privacy as well---property is respected but kids will poke through something that is open and a tarp or tarptent reveals too much of it's contents.
I usually have brought a multi fuel stove to burn Kerosene or Petrol because my trips often had a mtneering focus and a need to melt snow. Alcohol is available. Wood is scarce but possible. You'll see villagers scrounging for wood over large areas. So, in a sense, you would be competing with the locals.

The Ladahkis and the people of the neighboring valley, Zanskar, are generous to a fault with food, assistance, even shelter. I met both the personal physician to the Dalai Lama and perhaps the foremost practitioner of Tibetan thanka painting through these interactions.

Get what I believe is still the only real guidebooks to the area in English---the Lonely Planet "Trekking in the Indian Himalaya" and (I almost forgot) the more focussed "Trekking in Ladakh". Perhaps there is a book published in Japanese I haven't seen.

Any other questions, feel free to PM me.
Cheers (and Go Ducks-quack)
KD

Edited by kdesign on 06/06/2007 11:31:43 MDT.