'Round the World darlin'!! (Part 3)

Stucer By Stucer, 8th May 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1tuwi23k/
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Asia>Nepal>Kathmandu & Around

'Round the World Part 3. The Himalayas get their own "Part". We did the Annapurna circuit and it was AMAZING. Wow. Can't wait to go back to Nepal!

Annapurna Circuit: Over 300 kms, climbing up to heights of 5400m, medium-hard, 21 days. WE DID IT IN 15 DAYS!....

We left for Besi Sahar on October 26th to embark on a 21 day trek through the Himalayas. Finally arrived after a 6 hour bus ride from Pohkara, jumped off the bus and just started walking! At this point we were quite low in terms of altitude so it was similar to Pohkara in this area: banana trees, cicadas, muddy trails and lots of beautiful waterfalls to cross. Our first night we stayed at a tea house right beside the river - up on an embankment. Before dinner we decided to climb down the the river and watch the sunset. The trail was quite mucky and hard to see. We found a rock to sit on and inspected our feet. Jerry and I both got LEECHES! They were tiny little guys so it didn't hurt to pull them off but it was kind of startling to see them stuck to your feet! After that we carefully climbed back up, careful not to step in the muddy parts of the trail. That first guesthouse turned out to be the COLDEST guesthouse ever. Because we were right by the river, the air was really humid and just penetrated through all the layers of clothing we were wearing. Jerry and I spent the night just CLINGING to each other and waking up every half hour or so when we moved around to get comfortable. Oh! And sometime in the middle of the night something HUGE fell from somewhere above our heads and squealed and ran off. Not sure what it could have been! I nearly peed the bed which probably would have been delightfully warm.
The next couple days the landscape stayed pretty much the same, although the nights got colder. I just put on and slept in more and more layers the higher we climbed. We saw lots of geckos on and off the trail (in our rooms mostly!). There were lots of beautiful flowers like plumeria trees and bougainvillea bushes and poinsettias. Kids from near by villages sold us oranges for snacks along the way so we never went hungry.
On about the third or fourth day we started to do some serious hiking. We stayed at Ngati (I think!) the night before and got up early to tackle the day. Our first little adventure - and this was first thing in the morning - was to cross the river. There was oddly no bridge. Usually there are fun suspension bridges to help you cross when it gets tricky but not here. Instead there were a bunch of rocks half submerged under water with muddy foot prints all over them. Jerry went first and I could see he was having trouble keeping his feet dry so I decided to take my shoes and socks off and wade through the icy river. I got about halfway and slipped a little and for some stupid reason I DUNKED the hand holding my shoes and socks into the river. I was SO MAD and felt pretty dumb. Anyway, we got to the other side. Jerry had one soaked foot and leg and I had two shoes full of water. Awesome. I found a plastic bag in my pack and wrapped my feet up in it and hiked the rest of the day in squishy, cold shoes.
The view made up for it!
By now we were ascending some serious mountains and we could see the snowy Himalayas so close it seemed like you could touch them. They are the most beautiful mountains I've ever seen! There is NOTHING like them...you soon feel very insignificant having lived in Canada because the Himalayas are SO MUCH BIGGER than the Rockies.
Ascending is fun and hard work and it makes you feel like you are really getting into shape. It seems like if you are ascending for hours you should be getting really far and doing really well but then you come around the corner and you see an almost equal DESCENT (completely zeroing out all of the work you just accomplished) and then a big old suspension bridge and then just to piss you off, in the distance you see almost an identical ASCENT across the ravine. It's just there waiting for you. So as you are slamming your legs against the hard rocky ground with every downward step you take, off in the distance you are reminded of what is next!
As soon as we were trekking around 3000m we noticed the landscape changing. There were forests of pine and birch and deciduous trees with red and golden leaves. Pine needles and pine cones scattered the trails. Instead of seeing water buffalo and monkeys, we started seeing hairy yaks and griffins. Instead of geckos we saw squirrels and chipmunks and huge mice...maybe not mice...more like rodent-squirrel-groundhog mutants. I'll have to look them up and find out exactly what they were. Most likely the things keeping me awake and wide eyed in my bed at night scurrying around the guest house floor or ceiling while Jerry sleeps soundly - snoring away (yet keeping me warm)!
Because we planned on ascending up to 5400m we had to acclimatize close to 4000m for a couple of days. Most people stay in Menang but we chose a higher, less touristy place such as Ngawal and then Braga .
The landscape changed even more dramatically. Less trees and more juniper bushes and not much else. A lot of scattered rock making it look similar to Ireland but not green at all. The people in these areas were more Buddhist and the houses were built in a more traditional Tibetan style - mostly out of stone and everyone's roof became the next house's front yard.
In Braga we decided to climb up past 4000m to an ice lake or so it was called. It was a pretty tough day but it gave us a sense of what it would be like to climb the Thorong La pass which was around 5400m. We finally reached the Ice lake after about 3hours of straight UP and switchbacks only to find a little lake not frozen at all but the views of the Annapurna's were incredible!
We eventually made our way to the base of the Thorong La to cross over to the other side of the Annapurna range on November 5th. To walk just a few kilometers it took us about 3 hours to cross the pass. We were moving slower than slugs and I felt like an astronaut on the moon! Each step was a challenge and my heart was beating so fast I thought it was going to beat right out of my chest. We made it to the top and the wind was howling and I was freezing despite wearing everything I owned. I counted that day 3 layers on the bottom and 7 layers on top plus two pairs of socks, wool gloves, a toque and a scarf! We quickly took a picture at the top of the pass and then bolted for the other side and started our descent of 1600m to Muktinath.
The other side of the pass was called the Mustang district. It was very deserty there and the people looked a lot more Tibetan. There were Tibetan refugee camps in various villages along the circuit in this area as well. The next few days we put on a lot of kilometers. Eventually me made it to Tatopani and relaxed in some hotsprings. I think that was the first time I felt warm for almost two weeks! Pretty much the rest of the trek was descending back into the warmer climates (we called it the banana tree zones!) but just before the end of the trek the trail makes you ascend (AGAIN!) for nearly 1700m to Gorepani all in ONE DAY!
It was retarded!
I was dying and when we got the the top it was around 4pm and Jerry and I had an early dinner and went to bed! I think I was fast asleep by 7pm. We got up before sunrise the next day and climbed Punhil to see the peachy Annapurnas from a different angle. It was absolutely gorgeous and totally worth the early rise. They even sold hot tea for an incredibly inflated price at the top but it was nice to hold a hot cup of something and watch the beautiful sunrise. We made it back to Pohkara the very next day after a long day of descending and then a bumpy bus ride. That night we gorged on steak (it wasn't as good as anticipated but still STEAK in Nepal!) and beer! I think we may have been in bed by 7pm again that night.
Spent a few days in Pohkara cleaning up, laundry, stocking up on more books to read on long train trips and a few days later we ended in Kathmandu. Stayed a couple of days and loved it! It was another crazy, busy polluted city but lots of interesting nooks and crannies and little oasis-like cafes and restaurants to escape in. We both ordered some new eye glasses because they are incredibly cheap and the frames are all knockoffs. I got RayBan's!
Next we are going to check out an area of India called Orissa and a beach town called Puri. It will be sad to leave Nepal but I already miss India despite it's craziness and I'm excited for the adventure that awaits.

Tags

Altitude, Annapurna, Beautiful, Buddha, Buddhism, Buddhist, Donkeys, Himalayas, India, Kathmandu, Mount Everest, Mountains, Nepal, Nepalese, Travel, Treking, Views

Meet the author

author avatar Stucer
Avid world traveller. I love writing about my adventures, fine arts, sports, everything really. Currently living in New Zealand!

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author avatar vpaulose
10th Jul 2014 (#)

A good post on traveling. Thank you dear Stucer.

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