Annapurna Circuit - DAY 9
The long walk to freedom started sometime after nine o’clock. Freedom from a wheezy chest and shallow breaths and constant pain. But before that happened, we had to say goodbye to our Annapurna buddies. They were off to conquer Thorong La, and parting ways was more difficult than i could have prepared myself for. Two blue backpacks carried on upward, towards the pass, and another two turned around and walked back to Manang.
Going down was more challenging than i could ever describe. For almost a whole year i had been dreaming about this adventure. For months we had been exercising and preparing. Having your dreams turn into disappointments are never pleasant, but it would be even less pleasant to carry on in the state i was in, so resignation set in in an increasing measure as the day passed.
The thing that truly saddened me was that That-Man had to turn back with me. He had also looked forward to this adventure, had also prepared, and was in fact much more able than me to ever have finished this trek. Before the trek we’d all agreed on who would return with whom in case someone was injured or became ill, and of course we picked each other. To his credit, he never showed any sign of resentment or disappointment. His focus was on getting me off the mountain. Oh, how loved i felt!
We stopped at the same coffee house that we’d visited two days ago and had the last cup of hot Thornberry juice, to the dismay of the guests at the next table. The chocolate that Pabitra and Sitaram had given us a few weeks earlier were opened and savoured with the view of the Annapurna range. Then we wearily gathered our things and continued to Manang. Somewhere along the way That-Man offered to go ahead of me, find a place to stay, and then return to carry my backpack. (Gallantry is highly underrated in this day and age.) So he did exactly that. By the time i had reached the outskirts of Manang, he relieved me of my backpack and accompanied me to our room in the same hotel from which we’d departed with high hopes a few days before.
That night we indulged: That-Man had a yak steak and i ordered a hamburger smothered in cheese. Talk about emotional eating!
Meanwhile, our friends had continued to Thorung Pedi, from where the porter persuaded them to cross Thorung La the next morning. The original plan was that they would continue to High Camp the next day, and only cross the pass the day after. So while we were having a relaxing evening and sleeping soundly, they were anxiously preparing for the big day.
DAY 9 PLANNED: Thorung Pedi to High Camp
DAY 9 IN REALITY: Yak Kharka to Thorung Pedi (and Yak Kharka to Manang)
DAY 9 DISTANCE: 6km
DAY 9 WALKING TIME: 6 hours
DAY 9 ALTITUDE GAIN: 400m
DAYS BEHIND: 1
DAY 9 BUDGET PP: $25
DAY 9 COST PP:$31
ACCUMULATED SAVINGS PP: $25
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