1st October update
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I’ve just walked from Lho down to Soti khola on the original riverside route. Until now, only 26 people have passed through Jagat since April 25th. Daily small numbers are passing now. I will post a few photos soon when on a better connection.
The route is far from perfect as landslides have taken many trails and re-routing and rebuilding work is underway. Now the monsoon has stopped, the locals are out in force (groups of up to 70) rebuilding trails. There is clear confidence that the land is more stable now that it is drying up.
The main issues as of October 1st are as follows (and here are some accompanying photos with short descriptions):
- Approaching Lapu Besi, some high, narrow trails with long, unprotected drops to the river. Some places were always like this, but now a few more have been added, including a section of 3 logs forming a bridge which needs care to cross. If you have vertigo or bad balance you will not like this. Do not stop to take photos in these places. If mules come, absolutely stick to the cliff side of the trail. Do not stand on the edge as they can push you off.
- Before Macchakhola, the high suspension bridge is out of use, and a trail goes riverside, with a steep (hands needed in a few places) climb from the beach back up to the old trail.
- In several places you have to cross landslides. These vary from sand / mud / rocks to boulders. After Dovan there is an enormous landslide with big boulders to cross. In all cases, take care what you stand on as rocks can roll. Don’t put your feet in gaps between boulders.
- At Yaru Phedi locals are building a new trail to Jagat. (Zipped Google Earth track here new_route_yaru_phedi_manaslu.kml.) There is a wooden bridge now across the thundering river. Then a scramble up into bushes which drops down to riverside on west bank. Then there is a steep, slippery climb up to Lakpal village with great views. Then it is easy down to Jagat on a good trail. No hike from Uiya to Jagat needed now – that route is apparently very scary and not recommended, but the alternative means crossing a large landslide at Dobhan.
- Beyond Jagat, there are few problems and locals are working hard on the trails right now.
- 1 hour after Philim there is a steep section down to the bridge. Not dangerous but take care. This may be rebuilt very soon.
- There is a rough but easy to follow jungle hike over two landslides before Namrung on the trail up from Ghap. Do not try to cross the landslide. (NB, this mistakenly said Machhakhola earlier.)
- After Lho there is a short section of landslide. Ask for local advice. There is also an alternative but the trail should be ok now the monsoon has stopped.
- Do not travel if it rains heavily. Rain moves the sand and mud in landslides making the rocks unstable enough to fall. Stay still and enjoy passing time. You can catch it up later.
- On narrow, steep, temporary trails carry a short single trekking pole and keep a hand free, is my preferred option. Keep it short like a walking stick. Two poles can sometimes be worse than one or none on difficult trails.
- Pack light. You don’t need a huge amount of stuff. 10 to 12kg should be possible. Better for everyone not to be carrying huge amounts of stuff.
- Take a local porter from any village along the way for any distance. People need work right now to gather money to build their houses again.
- In general, it is now a more adventurous hike than before and still possible for fit, adventurous people. Take great care. Take a guide. Take it seriously. Apart from small sections of trail difficulty, it remains as it was, a fantastic, beautiful trek.
- Climb up to Keraunja from Arkhet / Soti and take the trail over to Machhakhola to avoid Lapu Besi trail section. It is longer and there is reportedly enough simple, local accommodation for small groups.
- You can climb the 2 to 3 hours to Uiya (trail just after Tatopani) and stay in a homestay there – i.e. someones house. The village was damaged in the earthquake, and is rebuilding. Great views and hospitality here reportedly.