10 Days On The Annapurna Circuit
The highest mountain range in the world offers hiking opportunities galore. Our first adventure into the shadows of these giants was so much more than merely a getaway from everyday life in the city. It was humbling to encounter it from such a small distance, as opposed to seeing it as a white line on the from one of many viewpoints in Nepal. So we thought we'd amalgamate our Annapurna Circuit stories into one post and share it all with you.
On day 1, we found getting to the start of your Annapurna Circuit trek is an expedition in itself. There are many winding roads, severe traffic congestion and some spectacular scenery along the way before we reached the place where we were forced to use transport from a local operator due to shady business practices of "the syndicate." Then we faced some interesting roads for too many hours before reaching the village from where we'd start our attempt to cross Thorung La, the biggest pass in the world.
Day 2 saw me being forced to face some challenges in the bathroom (no, it's not what you're thinking, as the facilities are much better than having to squat somewhere behind a bush), even before we'd set out on your first hike. Then we were enveloped by some spectacular scenery and i conquered my aversion to suspension bridges.
On day 3 i was amazed to find that i could still walk after the way i'd felt the previous evening. Some more picturesque scenery along the way brought us to an extremely photogenic waterfall, where our porter waited patiently as mobile phones and cameras clicked away. That night all of us had dessert (mainly deep-fried chocolates) instead of dinner!
Losing one of the most essential features on my backpack before we set out on day 4 was not fun, but a quick-thinking friend fixed it before you could say apple-orchard-in-the-shadows-of-the-Himalayas. Today i was introduced to my favourite rock formation in this part of the world, and then i was dwarfed by close encounters with peaks four to five kilometres higher than where we were hiking. It's a day i've put away safely in a special corner of my memory trove.
By day 5 we've accepted the fact that it's going to be cold until we've descended on the other side of the pass. We are easily distracted from our journey by freshly baked goodies in Humde and hear about thorn juice for the first time. By the time we reach Manang, i am worn out and ready to sleep. If That-Man hadn't forced me, i wouldn't even have showed up for dinner tonight.
Rest days in the Himalayas are not for resting, as we found out on day 6. It's for acclimatising, which means you still have to hike to higher ground and return to your hotel before you can rest again. Due to a bout of bronchitis creeping up on me, this was the most excrutiating day of the trek for me.
Hiking beyond Manang towards Yak Kharka on day 7 became so much more peaceful, as no motorised vehicles are allowed beyond Manang. By now i had a sneaking suspicion about my odds for finishing this trip, but still hoped my health would take a turn for the better.
Day 8 started way too early; around 01:45 in the morning to be more exact. By now i was convinced that i had to leave the mountain, and soon. However, That-Man obtained advice from the hotel owner and our trusted porter, so i stayed in bed today while the rest of the group did another acclimatising hike today.
My heart broke on day 9 as our group separated into those who were continuing and those who were turning back, but we did what needed to be done and returned to Manang while our friends continued to Thorung Pedi.
Day 10 saw the two of us taking the perilous drive from Manang back to Besisahar, and our friends victoriously crossing Thorung La, at 5,416 metres altitude not the highest pass in the world, but the largest.
Despite the disappointment of not being able to reach Thorung La, this adventure left a deep impression in my soul, and i can't wait to visit the Himalayas again.
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