it is January the 21st 2017 and I am just finally posting this blog post (part 2) about our Himalayan trek from November 2016. And yes, there will be a part 3 sometime, I promise. Just give me some more months please 😉
Day 5: Chame – Lower Pisang + a mini hike to Upper Pisang
Yet another lazy hiking day. We passed several villages, saw the landscape changing a lot. This is something that I really did like about the Annapurna Circuit. While you start in a bit subtropical / forest landscape, it keeps on changing every day. Another change is the dominating religion. While the first days are mostly Hindu villages, starting from say – Chame the main religion is Buddhist already.
Lower Pisang is nothing special. We checked in to a nice lodge. The aprox. altitude was already some 3300m.
Isi, in her efforts to communicate with the locals and learn some Nepali phrases, tried to talk with some sweet little girl.
After a short lunch and a mini-nap, we hiked to Upper Pisang.
We wanted to do some altitude gain still (walk high, sleep low) and see the beautiful village with the Buddhist monastery. Isi almost got attacked by a mother cow after staring at a small baby cow for too long.
It was really nice. You can see the Annapurna 2 from Upper Pisang very nicely. On the way down to Lower Pisang I managed to capture several sunset shots over Annapurna.
Day 6: Lower Pisang to Manang – goodbye to the Germans
First of all, there are two routes to go from Pisang to Manang – the lower route via Humde (where there is actually an airport – which looked very funny and unused from the upper trail), which goes along the street, shared with cars and buses and is supposed to be easy but dusty – and the upper route via Gyaru and Ngawal, which is longer, steeper and more scenic. So of course we took that one. The hike started very nicely, we passed a beautiful small lake. The worse part was the hike up to Gyaru. That is a steep hike with an altitude gain of some 300+ meters. That is the price you pay if you choose the longer, more difficult option (compared to the lazy, dusty road). On the other hand the views of Annapurna 2, Annapurna 3 and Gangapurna were certainly worth it. In my typical fashion, I turned myself into a crab (sunburn). At lunch we parted with the German couple who wanted to break the hike into 2 before reaching Manang and stayed the night in Ngawal. We arrived at Manang around 4pm. The last hour was suuuuper sloooow. We checked in at Yeti Hotel at the altitude of some 3550m, met Keith and Steph at the dinner as well as the Canadians (all staying in the fanciest hotel in town for 2 nights!)
Day 7: Manang (‘rest’ day)
One needs to gain altitude slowly. Therefore many people make an extra day stop at Manang to get used to the altitude. Many people who rush the hike get AMS (acute mountain sickness). The first symptoms are headaches. Hmm, cool. How do you know if you have AMS or just a minor sunburn combined with dehydration which I had… Anyway, I took a pain killer on day 6 in the evening – also because I got some suncream into my eye which hurt like crazy. Luckily in the morning all was great again… No AMS. People who ignore AMS and continue the hike will likely start vomiting blood, get really bad and if they do not get down to lower altitude quickly – may die. Not uncommon on the Annapurna circuit. We saw quite many helicopters in the early days for some rescue missions.
We wanted to do a small 15 min hike to Gangapurna Lake from Manang. We did, but somehow we did not stop and made it to a nice view point at 3880m and back to Manang. That was tiring as I was mentally not planning anything active that day, and 15 minutes turned into something like 2 hours.
1st highlight was a cappuccino! Of course with Yak milk. What else? And with that – a warm apple pie. The Annapurna region is big on apple production.
Another highlight was the cinema. Manang has 3 cinemas. Well, I should say some dark rooms, with a few benches, a beamer and a big selection of DVDs and bluerays. The room hosts approximately 15 people. For 250 NPR (about 2.5 USD) you get the movie, black tea and tasteless popcorn.
We (together with the Canadians) arrived early so we could choose the movie (7 years in Tibet). The ‘cinema’ got full. Pretty nice business.
Another great dinner at our luxurious Yeti hotel and then a deep sleep before the next hiking day again.
Day 8: Manang to Ledar – goodbye to Canadians
After the breakfast we parted with Patricia and Frederick who decided to do the side trek to Tilicho Lake. We bought extra supplies (new napkins, playing cards with Annapurna circuit pictures, hiking baseball cap for myself to avoid further head sunburns and extra gloves for Isi). The morning became very slow. We waited for Ganesh for a while, so we decided to go to the tourist checkpoint (there are many mandatory checkpoints to show your permits on the trail) and that took some 20 minutes there.
Even if the hike to Ledar got us to 4200m (about 700m altitude gain), it was very easy and comfortable. We checked in to a hotel called Churi (another sign said Chuli). The attached bathroom was a disaster! We had to somehow seal the door. Bed was extra hard but the sleep was warm.
Day 9: Ledar to High Camp
Breakfast arranged for 7:00. 7:12 – no food, no Ganesh. Usually the porters help at the hotels and lodges with food orders, delivery etc… We believe that this (combined with bringing in customers) gives them a simple bed and food for free.
Ganesh spotted in the dining hall at 7:18am. 7:19am – Ganesh asks if anyone already brought the food. (of course not). 7:23am – lemon tea arrives. 7:24am – vegetable omelets come too. Hike can start after the food.
The hike was fine as such. A bit more tiring as the day before. We got still comfortably to Thorung Phedi (some 4500m). Wow – it was new and nice. I found a guitar in the dining place and I could not resist. So I played for 10 minutes. So far my highest altitude playing a guitar… We bought some extra sweets (mars, snickers etc…) and started the super steep hike to High Camp. This steep 400m climb combined will low oxygen levels already proved to be pretty difficult. We got the 2nd last room (ugly and cold and a bit below the main restaurant – so we always had to walk down and up). If we did not have the morning breakfast delay, we would get a cool nice room next to the restaurant. C’est la vie. We met many people whom we met many times on the trail (a funny New Zealander who taught us several card games and always won, a funny German guy – who that night shared the room with him, some Czech – Macedonian couple, a UK – Swede couple etc…). The NZ guy invited us to visit him in New Zealand in February. We went to bed at 7pm or so for the short sleep. Next day is the day ‘D’.