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Archive for June 6th, 2010

Trekking in the Annapurna region isn’t exactly roughing it.  You start your day around 6:30 a.m. and have breakfast before hitting the trail around 7 or 8.  Most days you hike 5 or 6 hours, stopping for lunch along the way, although we did have a couple of 7-8 hour days.  Kelly and I chose a ‘teahouse trek’ meaning that you stay in guest lodges located in small mountain villages along the trail.  All of the lodges have restaurants and sell snacks, sodas, water, and beer.  Upon arrival at the chosen lodge, usually around 3 p.m., you have the rest of the afternoon to relax, nap, read, and enjoy the mountain views.  Let me stress that the photos we took in no way do justice to the beauty of this region. 

Day One – Pokhara to Ulheri

Our first day of the hike was supposed to be an easy four hour walk up and down a few hills.  However, Kelly and I had been lying on beaches in Thailand and Laos for the past month and a half, eating greasy pad thai and pounding beers and cocktails.  Not exactly the greatest exercise regime to prepare for hiking twelve days in the Himalayas.  I love trekking (even the difficult parts) and have slightly more experience than Kelly, so although it wasn’t easy, I definitely enjoyed the first day more than she did.  On top of the sudden burst of physical exertion, Kelly’s shoes started pinching her toes on the downhill sections and were causing her some pain.  Powan reassured her that the first day is always tough and day two would be much better.

One thing we noticed while trekking is all of the weed that grows along the trail.  Isn’t it a lovely plant?

We celebrated the end of our first day with a room-temp Everest beer and a dinner of the local dish, dahl-baht.  Powan taught us a Nepalese card game, Dumbal, that we would end up playing pretty much every night of the trek.

Day Two – Ulheri to Ghorepani

Kelly started out the morning in good spirits, but by the end of the five-hour day, her feet were killing her.  Upon the arrival at our lodge, she confessed to me that she wasn’t really cut out for twelve days of trekking and was considering quitting.  At the same time, Kelly was frustrated with herself because she is definitely not a quitter…after a couple of pep-talks from Powan and me, we convinced her to hike the next couple of days until we made it to Chhomrong.  From there she could decide to continue to the base camp with us or chill out for a couple of days until we returned to begin our decent back down to Pokhara.

Day Three – Poon Hill and Ghorepani to Tadapani

We woke up at the ungodly hour of 4 a.m., strapped on our head lamps, and made the steep one-hour climb up to Poon Hill to watch the sunrise (along with 200 other people).  It was cold and it sucked.  Once we arrived at the top though, the view was stunning.  Watching the sun peak out over Annapurna South and Machapuchare was incredible and one of the highlights of the trek, in my opinion.

Machapuchare (Fishtail) Mountain on the left

Sunrise over Annapurna South

 

We walked back down to our lodge, had breakfast, and hit the trail.  The hike was gorgeous…we had clear skies and this time of year, the rhododendrons trees are in full bloom.  We climbed through forests of them before arriving at our lodge in Tadapani.  It was a long day (about 8 hours hiking) and Kelly and I were exhausted. 

Rhododendrons

By this time, we had learned that Powan was not nearly as reserved as we had thought. He turned out to be a pretty hilarious guy and he provided much comic relief along the way.

 Day 4 – Tadapani to Chhomrong

This day was easier than the previous one, but still no walk in the park.  We crossed a river and made our way through a couple of mountain villages before making the steep ascent to Chhomrong.  Kelly’s shoes were hurting her feet so bad, she hiked the majority of the trail in her flip flops.

Cute Nepali kids we met on the way

The view from our lodge in Chhomrong was stunning.  We relaxed, had dinner, some beers, and played a few rounds of Dumbal.  Kelly was still debating on whether she wanted to hang there for a few days or hike to base camp.  Powan gave her a pep talk and told her he would take her by a local store the next morning where she could buy a new pair of shoes…nothing fancy, but hopefully they would fit better and make for a more pleasant hike. Kelly agreed to continue, as long as she could find a decent- fitting pair of shoes.

Chhomrong

Day 5 – Chhomrong to Deurali

We started our day by hitting up the local market to find Kelly some new shoes.  There wasn’t much of a selection, but she managed to find a pair of sneakers for about $7.  They weren’t top of the line hiking boots, but they weren’t flip flops either. 

It was another tough day of climbing with a lot of ups and downs, but Kelly’s Nepali shoes did the trick…no more pain!

 Day 6 – Deurali to Annapurna Base Camp

This was one of our longest days, but my absolute favorite of the entire trek. Finally we were entering the Sanctuary (which has a danger of avalanches during the wet season).  We hiked for five hours though a valley with breathtaking views surrounded by waterfalls, crossed streams, tramped over snow covered ground and made the ascent to Machapuchare Base Camp…we had snow covered mountains all around us.

We had a leisurely lunch and decided to suck it up and hike for two more hours to make our final ascent to the Annapurna Base Camp…I really wanted to be there in the morning for sunrise.  By this time, the air was getting pretty thin, and we could definitely feel the altitude.  We had to stop every 15 minutes are so to rest and catch our breath.

Annapurna Base Camp – 4,130 meters.  We made it!!  Of course, the views of Annapurna South and Machapuchare were beyond words.  We watched the sunset and were in awe to be standing so close to these majestic mountains.

Sunset over Fishtail Mountain

 

The camp was FREEZING.  Kelly and I didn’t bother taking showers, it was way too cold.  We were so tired, we didn’t even have a beer or play Dumbal, but went to bed as soon as it got dark. 

Day 7 – ABC to Bamboo

We awoke the next morning around 5 a.m…a layer of snow and ice covered everything.  Kelly and I climbed up on a ridge to take some photos before the sun appeared over the mountains.  When it finally did peak over, Powan let us know by shouting ‘THE SUN IS COMING!!’.  Pretty funny…one of those ‘had to be there moments’.   Some of our photos from that morning:

Annapurna Base Camp

Us at the top

More ABC views

We made it

After breakfast, we hung out at the camp for an hour or so, watching all the rich people get helicoptered in to the camp.  Lazy asses!  We did get to see one group get helicoptered to the top of one of the mountains and ski down it…pretty fricken cool and VERY expensive. 

It was another long day to Bamboo, but the views were great and we were proud of ourselves for making it in one piece to our destination.

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