One for the dog lovers- Story By Cathy Reavy on her expedition to Mera peak In Nepal
Since our trip to the summit of Meara Peak last year, I have been meaning to do this wee video and write this story about a special wee dog we met called Stumpy. Now it is a little long, so grab a cuppa . I’m not the best storyteller in the world.. should have got you to write this Malachy Doyle..and I’m sure there are plenty of spelling mistakes and grammar errors in there lol … but I hope you enjoy it ..
STUMPY – THE HIMALAYAN HOBO
Day 4 and After a long trek up through the forest in monsoon rain, we arrived in Cholem KharOne for the dog loverska. When we arrived there was the cutest little dog running about. I assumed this dog was from the village, as he looked very at home. I named him Stumpy because he had stumpy little legs … only later where we realised how apt this name was. So Stumpy followed me about, but you could tell by the way he stood at the door to our room that he knew he wasn’t allowed in. So I was under the impression that Stumpy was from Cholem Karma but Dawa our Sherpa was chatting to the locals and apparently he was from a town called Tangkak, which we would be in in 3 days time.
Day 5: The next morning Malachy got up and saw Stumpy lying at our bedroom door at 5:30. That morning I gave him the leftover chapatis and taught him some English .. like ‘come’ and ‘sit’. So when it was time to leave, Dawa our Sherpa said we would bring him with us back to his home village. I was so excited about this. getting to hike for 3 days with Stumpy. By this stage I definitely had a soft spot for this week mountain dog … dont tell Murf and Riley. I suppose he was like my surrogate dog in the Himalayas. So Stumpy started walking and stuck with us for about 1/2 a mile. I think he got fed up with how slow we were going and headed off on his own. As we hiked, I could see signs of Stumpy .. paw prints ..but then they disappeared. That day we trekked up out of the tree line into the open mountain and the weather changed drastically … constant monsoon rain and very cold temperatures. I didn’t know where Stumpy had gone. Had he turned back? Had he continued on on his own? But the thought of him out on the mountain in that weather was breaking my heart. But I would say the same dog would be well able for it. So we arrived at our accommodation in Khola Kharka.. the weather was still horrendous and no sign of Stumpy.
Day 6: The next day we hiked over the open mountain then down into Kothe. Part of me was hoping Stumpy would be there when we arrived .. but he was nowhere to be seen. later that evening I was sitting inside and I heard Anne outside calling Stumpy .. I thought there was no way it was him! But then I could get out and there he was. . That night I saved him some rice from leftovers at dinner but when I came out he was nowhere to be seen again. I searched the village and couldn’t find him. I didn’t know where he would stay because this wasn’t his village. His was the one we were going to the next day. So I went to bed upset and worried about him.
Day 7: Got up early to go and look for Stumpy before we left, but no sign. But then, as we were about to leave he came happily trotting down to me with other hikers. I gave him the rice and chips I had kept for him and he wolfed it down.
When we got talking to the owner of the guest house he told us that Stumpy was actually very famous. He is recognisable by the fact one of his front legs is shorter than the other.. so his name was very apt. So the owner told us that he did not have a home. He was a bit of a hobo and walked up and down with hikers and has summited Mera Peak 6461m 2 times Baruntse 7129m .. which is totally amazing. So it turned out Stumpy just wanders the mountains like a little Hobo.
So when we were leaving Kothe we took him with us. He walked with us for quite a bit then a Napalease girl went past and he went with her. We then found him passed out on the rock at Saure where we stopped for tea. Think the heat of the sun was too much for him. We tried to get him to continue on with us but to no avail. He wanted to sleep. Lol
So we arrived in Tangkak and there was no sign of Stumpy that night.
Day 8: We went for a small hike in the morning then came back for lunch. I went outside to check on our solar charger and there was Stumpy laying up in the sun at the door of our guest house. Out of all the places in the village .. how did he know we were there?? He had made it to 4300m. I offered him some left over fried potatoes but he turned his nose up. Lol. Couldn’t have been that hungry. At this point I’m thinking …maybe there is a chance he will make it to the summit of Mera Peak with us.
Day 9. Stumpy slept outside but I soon came to realise this was how he liked it. I thought he would find a sheltered spot but he slept outside the door guarding us.. think this was his purpose or maybe it was the chapattis lol. I looked and he seemed to have hair like a husky and slept with his tail over his nose like a husky, to keep it warm.
We got up to glorious sunshine and clear views. Stumpy was in great form. Bouncing about and happy to see everyone. He was starting to trust us. He was also starting to respond to my whistle and his name and would come running every time I called. As we were heading higher and it would be getting colder, I was leaving it up to him if he wanted to come with us. Today he was definitely coming!!! He bounced up to the front leading the way and for the first time stuck with us the whole way. Running on ahead as we were probably too slow but always coming back to check we were still there. Then he was laying waiting for us at the tea house. On the way up to the tea house we passed a river that had dried up. It had a bit of a sandy beach where Stumpy was running about playing like a pup…. zoomie time. We arrived in Khare and there were quite a few quest houses. I hadn’t seen stumpy for a while .. he has a tendency to dander off and do his own thing.. so I whistled and a few seconds later he came running from round the corner. First thing I thought was … where will Stumpy sleep. The Nepalese do not bring dogs inside .. Luckily there was a little porch outside our rooms where he could sleep so that made me happy.
Day 10: this was our acclimatisation and rest day in Khare. We also practised our rope work and got harnesses and crampons sorted for our summit day. Stumpy was not there when I got up which I was kinda glad as I didn’t want him coming too reliant. Plus I was worried about him following us to high camp the following day as it was really cold up there . Then he appeared as he usually does and got his early morning breakfast chapati. He came and went most of the day .. coming back to get our leftovers as usual.
Day 11: This was the day we were leaving for high camp and the one morning I hoped Stumpy wasn’t about to follow us. But there he was.. laying outside our rooms in a big pile of shavings from the wood cuttings to keep warm. He was about all morning as we got sorted to leave … I soon realised we were not getting away without him. so off we set, heading for high camp with Stumpy in tow.
Then he disappeared as we passed base camp and hit the snow line at crampon point. I thought he had headed back down to Khare. So we got on our crampons and harnesses and headed up into the snow towards high camp. About 1.5hrs later when we were well up the mountain .. I looked ahead and couldn’t believe my eyes. There was Stumpy running down the mountain towards us. He stopped at Sherpa Nurbu first and was jumping up happy to see him. Then he came down to me very excited. Then one of the Sherpas that was heading down called him to go with him .. which I was glad. I didn’t want to have to worry about him too up there.
Day 12: Summit day .. When we came back to high camp after summiting, I was in my tent packing up and I saw a black dog go past .. I thought it was stumpy. But it wasn’t. This dog must have been his brother because he was very like him, only a bit bigger with a longer face. If I’m honest I was a little disappointed.
We then left high camp back to Khare and I couldn’t wAit to get back to see Stumpy. As we were coming down into the village I could see a black dog laying outside our rooms . I thought it was Stumpy, but when I whistled he didn’t come. When I got back down I realised it was the other dog. All day I was calling him but he didn’t turn up.
Day 13: we were leaving Khare to hike to Kothe. Stumpy still hadn’t turned up. I presumed he had headed back down and we would see him on the way. When we got to Tangkak I was really upset that he wasn’t there. We had stayed there on the way up and the owners had been very kind to him and fed him, so I had hoped he would have been there. Unfortunately we didn’t see Stumpy again… but I have no doubt he was off having fun and getting left over chapatis from other hikers.
Special times you never forget.