Running Mustang- The last forbidden kingdom

Mustang Mountain Trail Race 2016- Stage 0

Mustang is a district in Nepal which lies on the foothills of Annapurna mountains, in the region of Dhaulagiri. The villages of Mustang runs along Kali Gandaki River , the capital is Jomsom and blah blah

Wait for the interesting story —Mustang was opened to tourists only in 1991, and till then was The restricted kingdom no one much knew about! The ‘Land of Lo’ ( I figured out Lo- means ‘Noble’ or ‘New’ in Tibetan language) I like the idea of ‘Land of Nobles’ because of the story which speaks about the affluence of Mustangi people due to the important trade route that passed through the region.

Now, something about the Mustang Mountain trail race-

“The Mustang Trail race is a multistage trail running challenge through the wild, spiritually rich landscapes of Upper Mustang in Nepal. It is race of eight stages of around 15 to 30km totaling just under 200 km at altitudes between 2,900–4,300m (9,500–14,100ft) with 8200m (27,000ft) of elevation change. These distances are harder than they seem at these altitudes.”-

I had not given the above mentioned technical jargon about altitude and distance too much thought until I felt it myself just on day/stage zero. I was more than happy to be able to make it to the restricted area, let alone getting an opportunity to run there.

View from Jomsom airport with the cute scary airplane.

Starting at the elevation of about 2736 km from the famous Jomsom Bazaar, we had to march 11.5k ish way to one of the many fairytale villages- Kagbeni at the altitude of 3854m ( Mt Everest is 8848m- making it almost 44% elevation of highest peak in the world… ( these figures make me exaggerated proud) )

The windy Jomsom Bazaar- there’s a song in nepali which describes quite well the wind intensity in the area.
Starting the long/short hike from Jomsom
The team tasting the elevation with all discipline
The stone circle view from a little bit top of hill — the key to the outer world. ( It was made for some movie 10 years back and not disturbed yet)
Making it to the the top elevation of stage 0 at 3465m
On our way to Pakling village
Reaching the first village of all the stages
The villagers having their annual Archery competition — FASCINATING
Cheerleaders with the archery and traditional yak skin drum. Strange, drum was supposed to be beaten only at one side with drumming stick whatever it is called ( please let me know).
Female community time on nice pleasant sunny day :)
Marching our windy way to Kagbeni — yes, we haven’t yet arrived. Have patience!
Crossing the windy bridge- The first taste of how unforgiving winds are going to be in the land of LO!
Almost there!
And we reach Kagbeni! View from the Annapurna Lodge! Too much Breathtaking for an unacclimatized spirit!

I had read about people of Mustang being more Tibetan than Tibetans themselves. I don’t know how much of it is true, until I visit Tibet. However, considering that this region was hidden for so long, and Chinese had annexed Tibet for so long, logically it must be true. And the culture, dress, food of the local Mustang people was stranger than the normal Nepali people. More strange stuff, not many Nepali still know that Mustang is a part of Nepal.

Well, I don’t think I was much thinking that day being too excited about the whole prospect of being/hiking/running/photographing/going mad in a strange almost isolated land compared to the place I was coming from. Surviving first day was fascinating. We had no idea what was coming in days ahead :)

I have put a treasure in room number 110 for next time.