Wednesday, March 11, 2020

A Nerd in Nepal - In Case Everest is Closed

“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time; for that’s the stuff life is made of.”
- Benjamin Franklin (Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1746)

IF my Everest route gets squashed and I get redirected, it could happen after I depart Texas for Kathmandu, after which and without sufficient forethought and planning, I could arrive in country facing a real crisis.  Unless there are dramatic changes with the Wuhan flu pandemic, I think I'll likely make the final decision after I arrive.  After all, access to the latest and most accurate news from the region will probably come from within Nepal itself.  With that in mind, I'll need to be prepared to change to plan B on the fly.  Rest assured I will be.  I'll admit the thought of having to figure things out on the fly adds a degree of adventure to it if this trip wasn't adventurous enough already.  I enjoy the added sense of excitement, but I dislike the uneasiness I feel knowing that actually getting to experience this adventure is essentially out of my control.

Some good news:  I've determined that I can still secure the same bike for whichever route I take.  The challenge I'll face if I'm forced into the Mustang option is getting up there and back within the confines of my current flight itineraries.  I'm hesitant to make any flight changes because I have such prime seats.  My travel insurance will allow for changes, but the availability of business class seats could force me into flying coach for twenty hours and I would lose access to the posh business class lounges during my layovers.  I'm delicate and I need my posh.

The Mustang Alternative
I've sketched out a potential route from Kathmandu to the Mustang region (and back) from online maps.  I also found some old-school paper maps on Amazon commonly used by trekkers that I will bring along in case of GPS failure.

Route for Riding Days 1 through 4

Riding Day 1 -   Kathmandu to Bandipur
Riding Day 2 -   Bandipur to Pokhara
Riding Day 3 -   Pokhara to Tatopani
Riding Day 4 -   Tatopani to Muktinath
(This is where identified "roads" appear to end.)

Possible Route for Riding Days 5 through 9

Riding Day 5 -   Muktinath to Geling
Riding Day 6 -   Geling to Lo-Manthang
           Day 7 -   Respite from Riding
                         Explore Lo-Manthang
Riding Day 8 -   Lo-Manthang to Kagbeni
Riding Day 9 -   Kagbeni to Kalapani via Marpha
No fancy Google Earth blue route line here.  The mighty Google says it can't locate a route for this portion of the trip.  Honestly, this portion of the trip will likely be a seat-of-the-pants navigation experience based on weather, road conditions, delays, and my condition.  If trekkers can do it. So can I.

Route for Riding Days 10 through 13

Riding Day 10 - Kalapani to Pokhara
(This is where identified "roads" begin again.)
           Day 11 - Respite from Riding
                             Explore Pokhara

Riding Day 12 - Pokhara to Nuwakot
Riding Day 13 - Nuwakot to Kathmandu

Should global events beyond my control dictate that I take this route instead of Everest, I will likely make it back into Kathmandu with only enough time to return the motorcycle, repack my gear for my flights home, and then head to the airport.  That's a small price to pay when I consider that the alternative is canceling the trip altogether.