Posts Tagged With: Annapurna Circuit

Day 139: Pokhara (Nepal) – November 3rd

Waking up to the sounds of neighbouring French expedition team’s commotion, we were all awake by 3am and the walls were SO thin this time, it felt like they were walking and talking directly behind my back. Trying to squeeze in a few more hours of rest by 5am, we were up and ready to hike up to Poon Hill.

Following the trail of headlamps, we headed up the steps and into the trail of uneven steps lit by the glistening white glow of the full moon. People were lined up one by one, step after step and the air was surprisingly warm. It felt like some sort of strange adventure we’re all embarking on, or to be honest, I kind of imagined this to be how things would go down during times of war. The hike up took 45mins, and along the way we heard some rustling in the bushes, and shortly after that we literally smelled what was going on….hehe, gross. Poop. Continue reading

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Day 138: Ghorepani (Annapurna Circuit) – November 2nd

Sleeping in for the first time so far on this trek, nobody woke up until 7:15am, our designated breakfast hour. The guest house we stayed at was ran by the eldest son of the family, a hardworking Nepali whose going to Nagoya in a few weeks to work in a restaurant there, and he was a good cook inded. Very hard working and nice kid with a charming smile, something you’d wish you had in your porter. Eating on the patio as the sun slowly drenched the surrounding villages, it was very cozy, sipping some tea and watching villagers come by. Playing with the neighbour’s baby daughter, we snapped a few pictures with her and an elderly lady, all of whom seem very shy at first but seem to love to take pictures (without being followed by “Picture XX rupees!”). What a lovely village!!

Today was going to be a long hike up, and we didn’t know how long until we finished it. We climbed about 1600m over the course of the day, but its amazing how the scenery, landscapes,fauna and even the people seem to be significantly different than before the pass, on the east side of the Annapurna massif. And because of the altitude, the produce is more abundant, but so were the insects! Think we were followed by a group of 3 mosquitoes for about 2hrs before they finally stopped tailgating our heads. The hike was long but it was much secluded and winds through the mountainside, giving a great sense of nature unlike before hiking in the 3000m+ area where you’d see specks of trekkers 5km ahead of you on the trail.

It’s also nice that whenever you reach a small ledge and take a peak, the towering Daulighiri mountain still stands tall above the gathering clouds.

We were making slow ground today, but finally reaching Ghorepani, the whole city seems to be sprout out of nowhere as you hike up. It was hidden from view below, and it was even harder to imagine that tomorrow we’ll take another hr trek up to the famous Poon Hill. The city of Ghorepani (which I’ve aptly named, At the Foot of the Poon) is at the foot of the Poon Hill lookout where you can, if you’re lucky enough, see a breathtaking panorama of the Himalayas. Even in the town itself, we manage to get a hotel room with a pretty awesome view already!

Tonight, we eat drink and be merry, as it’s our last day on the Annapurna Circuit. Tomorrow, we’ll be heading back into Pokhara, the second most popular city in Nepal!!

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Day 137: Ghara (Annapurna Circuit) – November 1st

Sleeping in a 4-person room last night was sort of like those camp days back in school. This time, fueled by some local Marpha apple brandy (Marpha is a big apple orchard) which didn’t taste very good, sleeping was easy at 830pm. Problem was, our sleeping bag was too a bit too hot and I woke up at 10 sweating buckets. What a massive difference already compared to a few days ago before the pass!

Being in the region of Mustang, this place is predominately Tibetan and as such, a Buddhist temple overlooks the whole town. Taking a short hike up to the temple, it was nice and cool while the streets were already awake with activity. Overlooking the town, a slight breeze blows over the rooftops with neatly stacked rows of firewood. Harvested corn lay under the sun to dry, while a middle-aged woman stands there combing her hair. There was something surreal and quaint about this town, a setting for fairy tales and perfect pictures. Continue reading

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Day 136: Marpha (Annapurna Circuit) – October 31st

Down in lower altitude, the nights are significantly warmer, especially when the walls aren’t seeping wind through. Staring out the window, the moon hangs brightly above the peaks of Nilgiri. It was barely 6am, but we were all getting ready to head up to the Muktinath Temple, the city’s namesake and a significant pilgrimage site for Hindus. The main temple was forbidden for non-Hindus, but it was rather small in stature and housed a deity that resembled that of Tibetan Buddhism. It is interesting how in Nepal, both Hinduism and Buddhism coexist harmoniously. Within the massive Muktinath complex, there was another temple with an ‘eternal flame’ which burns from the waters, making it a sacred site once again. That being said, when you kneel down to see the flickering flame housed behind a box a strong odour of natural gas comes up. Mystery solved!

Breakfast menu was the same so I ordered some muesli with milk. While we were chatting in the hotel dining hall, out of nowhere some cows started to mingle outside of our hotel and before we knew it, the hotel owner comes in hauling a small bucket of milk. WHOAH, fresh milk!! Awesome…. Continue reading

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Day 135: Muktinath (Annapurna Circuit) – October 30th

Staying at high camp was a good idea until the sun set behind the mountain ranges at about 4pm. That’s when the cold started to kick in, and because it was so far, firewood was not available to heat the damn place up. This is good for the environment, but bad for us. For the first time, even I couldn’t sleep in relative comfort in our -12C sleeping bags as the ‘comfort zone’ is probably closer to 0C. Checking the temps, it dropped past -1C at around 8pm. Don’t even know how the ‘luxury’ trekkers were camping outside….CAMPING IN TENTS!

At high camp, there’s a sense of excitement in the air, as everyone are getting themselves ready for the trek up to the pass the next day, sort of like preparing for the final battle with the mountains. Continue reading

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Day 134: Thorung-La High Camp (Annapurna Circuit) – October 29th

With the massive amounts of people, we were afraid that we’d get to high camp at 4900m and be left without a room to stay in. We’re not too fond of sleeping in the dining hall, so we set our sights early at a 630am departure. Problem was, by the time we were supposed to wake up, being frozen the whole night Jiajia looks so out of shape huddled in her sleeping bag she wasn’t even sure if she could get up. She toughed it out, grabbed breakfast and were on our way. What a trooper!

We were a bit late, and by the time we were on the road the Canadians were already out, and a group of retired Frenchman who carried their own 70L packs and looking like they summitted Everest back in their golden years. Crossing through another landslide area, although now looking like childs-play after the Tilicho Death Zone we traversed. After 1.5hrs, we reached Thorung Phedi, the teahouse at the bottom of the pass. It was barely 9am, and we even surprised ourselves with our speed! Stopping for tea, we saw the Canadians catch up and already looking for a room to stay. We beated on, and after another 45mins we were at high camp, wow. We were settled in before 10am and now have a whole day to rest up before the trek tomorrow. It’s only another 500m climb up to the pass, but it’s a 1600m descent…. better prepare ourselves for soreness.

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Day 133: Churi Letdar (Annapurna Circuit) – October 28th

Seems like after the past three days, we’ve regained our strength and our muscles are adapted to the up and down trekking now. The ascents are not as painful and the descents are easier on the knees. Only problem are the blisters that start to creep up.

To treat ourselves, we had a massive breakfast before heading out, and after taking an extremely quick lunch we were afraid that we’d have no place to stay, so we didn’t sit down to relax much longer. Not really wanting anymore Dal Bhaat or curry, I ventured to try some local Manang-style dishes. Ordering a Thugkpa, which is a local noodle dish, I was pretty surprised when it arrived. In front of me was a bowl of soup with spaghetti and carrot shavings. Okay? So spaghetti is a local cuisine of Manang….. We also had a cup of Seabuckthorn juice, served hot. A plant from local regions, it is made in house and tastes some what like a peach/pineapple juice, but served hot? By 1:30pm we were already at our destination of Churi Letdar, and without much pain despite having to ascend and descend and then ascend again…. Jiajia hasn’t been sleeping well so we didn’t push the day any longer and settled down into the sun room of the hotel.

We bumped into a group of 3 Canadians (Ryan, Sarah and Sandy) and reconnected with the Chinese girl we met before, this time with a new solo trekker. The day was early, but we sat underneath the warm glow of the sun and had two beers! The rest of the afternoon was spent chatting with the Canadians and the Chinese people. The Canadians, looking like the athletic outdoor-sy type, were really nice people. Two were from BC, one working as a hydrologist, and one as an environmental consultant. The third guy was in marketing and like us, quit his job to travel. And it was also Ryan’s 30th birthday on the 30th after crossing the pass, and he invited us to ‘pound some beers’ (sic) with him down past Muktinath. Haha, fun.

After dinner at 7pm, and brushing/washing our faces in the kitchen (all of the water pipes have frozen by now), we huddled up to our rooms to sleep, but it was sooooo cold! With our awesome FF bags mated together, and a blanket over it was enough for me and I was sound asleep quickly, but Jiajia being the restless+cold sleeper had trouble the whole night. In the end pretty much we were both sleeping in a single bag to stay warm…

One more night in high-altitude before heading over the Thorung-La Pass and back into warmer places!

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Day 132: Shree Kharka (Annapurna Circuit) – October 27th

Having a long day ahead of us, we woke up at 5am and was on the trail by 6ish. Hitting our first snag, we had to cross a small river but since it was so cold, the rocks used as steps now had a sheen of ice over it, causing a bit of annoyance as we wandered around trying to find another way across.

The trek up was tough, but wasn’t as bad as the pleasure of hiking up to the Ice Lake a couple days ago which we had to ascended 1200m. This trek was only a 700m ascent and the road was rather long, so it wasn’t as steep as before. The walk up was half the fun, as the views of the surrounding mountains continue to change with the sunlight and your point of perspective. After 2.5hrs, we managed to get up to the lake, with which we were greeted with a tea house with the view of the whole lake!! Sipping hot tea and snacking on cookies we bought a few days ago (Random note: We bought 4 packs of cookies, but at our hotel was a mouse who picked up the delicious scent and managed to chew through two layers of plastic and nibbled on quarter of a cookie. We promptly changed rooms and threw that bag away, leaving us with 25% less cookies!). The lake was amazing, as we’ve seen our fair share of high-altitude lakes in Tibet, but none seem to have this kind of closeness to the glossy white mountains as Tilicho has. Well worth the walk!

After lunch back at Base Camp, we had to head back out of the area and be back on the trail, as Tilicho Lake was more of a side-trail. One slight problem, we had to make it past through the Death Zone once again!!!! This time, for some strange reason, fear kicked in and some baaad thoughts strated circling through my head. Being tired from the morning’s tough trek, every step required extra effort and concentration. It didn’t help that the winds have picked up, but fortunately it was blowing towards the mountain and not away from it. A few times, the gusts were so strong it wobbled my footing and gave a massive scare! As I concentrated on walking past the Death Zone, in my mind I was observing myself from above, with the narrator to those “You Shouldn’t Be Alive” shows walking through step by step of the disaster about the happen, saying how the weather was windy and because of the snow from last night causing disruptions in the rock formations, and before you know it BOOM! Landslide/Lost footing and down into the abyss below.

I still shudder at the thought of that stupid thing. And on the trail, we met some Chinese people who rode their bike from Tibet into Nepal, and was going into Tilicho Base Camp. We told them about how dangerous this part of the trail was, and they calmly mention “Yeah, this is the most dangerous part of the whole Annapurna Circuit, a lot of people die here.” I’m soooo glad we heard that AFTER we got past the Death Zone…..

Glad we’re still here able to write about this shit. Never doing that again….

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