Today the traveler to Mustang can fly to Jomsom and trek from there. Supposedly the road starts from Birethant. In fact, 80% of this road is impassable to vehicles. Between Ghorepani and Tikhedhunga the track consists of a three or four kilometer long staircases, each stair being made of rough-hewn stones. Ascending it is a lung-straining, heart-popping ordeal, trekking down it is murder on the knees. Along the way the track passes through neat villages, paddy fields, orchards and surprisingly good tourist lodges. Climbing higher the track enters dark, damp forests of giant rhododendron, holly and deodars, each bedecked with moss and orchards. They would have done well to film parts of The Lord of the Rings here. Beautiful butterflies flit before the eyes, unfamiliar bird songs charm the ears and, if you are not watchful, veracious leeches attack the limbs. At times the forest is so utterly still and silent I had to restrain myself from shouting, so as to fill it with at least some sound. The track crosses numerous small streams and eventually runs besides a substantial river.
By the time one gets to Taodapani, so-named for the hot spring on the edge of the village, the landscape has become more alpine, with open grassy meadows and pine forests and the mountains become steeper. Eventually one gets to Jomsom. Here we met up with the three young men who were to be out porters. Most of the buildings in Jomson are in the flat-roofed Tibetan style, the locals speak a dialect of Tibetan, and there are several Tibetan monasteries in the town. After a few preparations and delays we crossed the quaint canter leaver bridge at the end of town and began our trek along the pebbly bed of the Kali Gandaki River towards Mustang.