Ghangharia, Monday August 29

Another beautiful morning but Martyn wasn’t feeling great and we all decided we were too tired to face another climb up to the Valley of Flowers today – any group we bring here might well feel the same way.  Instead, we elected to potter around Ghangharia and see what we could find.  On the basis of what we saw yesterday, on the way up to the valley itself, there are plenty of plants around.

First, though, we went to take a look at the tented camp, just below Ghangharia, where we would have been staying if the weather had looked more promising.  This was rather heartbreaking – the tents were clean and dry and the morning sunshine was warm.  We were tempted to ask if we could move to the tents for our final night in Ghangharia and would certainly prefer to stay here in future.

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View down the Pushpawati river from the tented camp

Walking back up past the hotel, we could see the root of its problems with damp – the walls are just unrendered breezeblock, taking us right back to our conversation with Ramesh in Kaza about the problems of concrete as a building material.  We decided to ask if the hotel had anywhere we could dry clothes as the water dripping from the ceiling in our bathrooms indicated they were not going to dry indoors.  The manager led us up to the lovely warm roof and we were able to hang clothes there – we wished we’d found this earlier.

We then started off on the path which leads up to Hemkund Sahib, but soon abandoned this in favour of scrambling up the bank of the stream – there were plenty of plants to see here.

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The first waterfall en route to Hemkund Sahib

Cyananthus microphyllus ( top left), Halenia elliptica (top right), Mazus surculosus (bottom left) and Anagalis arvensis ssp foemina (bottom right)

Martyn still wasn’t feeling great so went back to the hotel to sit in our newly-discovered sun trap whilst John, Helen and I went a little way towards the Valley of Flowers to a meadow on the banks of the river we’d spotted yesterday.  This turned out to be even more diverse, with Inula grandiflora, Erigeron, Cyananthus, Morina, Anaphalis and geraniums along with banks of wild thyme, studded with Halenia elliptica and Parnassia nubicola.

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Morina longifolium (left), Parnassia nubicola (top right) and Erigeron multiradiatus (bottom right)

Interestingly, when we arrive at the meadow there are two horses grazing there.  Though this obviously isn’t a scientific study, their presence doesn’t seem to have harmed the meadow at all, reinforcing my thoughts about the value of limited grazing.

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We head back to the hotel for a late bread and soup lunch and are lucky enough to make it back just before it really starts to rain.  The chatty Nepali cook comes out to talk to us.  He’s very friendly but the grubby colour of the anorak he is wearing to cook in is less than reassuring when Martyn is suffering from a tummy bug!

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