Annapurna Circuit - DAY 7
MANANG TO YAK KHARKA
For two days now i'd been telling myself to remember to get a picture of the Annapurna II and Annapurna III peaks while it’s dark, or at the golden hours of sunrise or sunset. Today i just barely managed to drag my camera to the balcony to do just that. On a crisp (optimistically speaking) November morning, before sunrise, after the most excruciating physical challenge you’ve ever faced in your whole life (yesterday’s acclimatisation hike), “drag” is the most eloquent word you’ll find to describe exactly how you’ve come to position yourself at the most ideal spot for this photo.
The tripod is set up, the camera fitted to its head, ISO, aperture and shutter speed are set, and then the timer runs. Four photos at a time. Eight different photos. The sun leaks out and the moment is gone. These eight photos will have to do.
Today we hike from Manang to Yak Kharka. The wide vehicle road stopped just beneath Manang, and from here onwards only humans and animals continue. There is a steep climb beyond Manang, but every now and then it’s alternated with a gentle downward slope or an even-ish trail. The landscape is starker than the forests we’d left behind a few days ago. Sand, rock, shrubs, water and ice is the sum total of the landscape elements. In the distance, higher up, the snowy peaks pledge that your effort is worthwhile.
After a week of sharing the road with vehicles that transport every kind of comfort to the villages on the route, the amount of donkeys packed with those same comforts increases drastically. Long trains of donkeys pass us every 30 minutes or so. They seem to walk more willingly than the donkeys i remember from my childhood in the Karoo. Maybe they also like the scenery in this extraordinary place. Or maybe they just want to finish their job for the day. Who knows? They sure aren’t saying a word on the matter.
After a few hours, we came to a cozy little teahouse called Hotel Sunsang. Here a French lady serves muffins and steaming thornberry juice and chats about the weather. If i'd known this was what thornberry juice tasted like, i'd have been gulping it down since Braga.
The last part of the road to Yak Kharka is not more challenging, but as our pace has slowed down (because of altitude and what i suspect might be the start of some health problems), so the day has become longer than anyone had initially expected. By the time we stumble into Yak Kharka, it’s 17:30 – just in time for dinner and some sorely needed sleep.
Because Yak Kharka is a smaller village with a limited amount of lodges, our porter walked ahead of us today in order to reserve rooms for us. Otherwise, we might have needed to sleep in another village.
DAY 7 PLANNED: Yak Kharka - Acclimatisation
DAY 7 IN REALITY: Manang to Yak Kharka
DAY 7 DISTANCE: 9km
DAY 7 WALKING TIME: 7 hours
DAY 7 ALTITUDE GAIN: 500m
DAYS BEHIND: 1
DAY 7 BUDGET PP: $25
DAY 7 COST PP:$21
ACCUMULATED SAVINGS PP: $29
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