Annapurna Circuit Days 7-9

Day 7 – Acclimatisation day in Manang

I would love to use the internet access here but the manager left to run an errand so I’ll have to wait till later to pay the exorbitant 20 rupees per minute rate (in Kathmandu it’s 15 rupees per hour). I woke up on my own this morning at around 05:30 to a magnificent view of Annapurna II and saw Tilicho peak during breakfast. Finally some clear skies!! 7 days in the making!! I’m really happy to finally see some peaks although I’m still waiting for Gangapurna to reveal itself, there’s a cloud hanging over the top the mountain.

Today we’re going to spend the day in Manang Village adjusting to the altitude (3500m). It’s highly recommended in all the guide books to do a day trek to a higher altitude to help with the acclimatization. Bart and I went up to Praken Gompa (3900m) after breakfast to get a blessing from the resident 94yr old monk who’s been living there for the last 41yrs. It was a really cool experience to receive the blessing for safe passage over Thorung La and really good for acclimatization as well. It turns out that there’s going to be a festival here at 16:00 which I think revolves around eating, drinking, and a horse race.

Much to my pleasure the rednecks got up to leave when I came into the kitchen to get some boiled water. The friggin ACAP water station is closed; that’s 3 out of 5 so far that have been closed due to it being low season! I have two 1 liter water bottles so I always have at least one filled with room temperature water and the other with boiled water which I let cool over the course of the day or overnight. It’s far cheaper than buying bottles of mineral water and it’s also more environmentally friendly since I’m not creating waste thru the purchase of disposable plastic water bottles which don’t decompose at high altitude.

After lunch (where I had a delicious vegetable mushroom enchilada) we went to go check out the festival. When we got there, there was just a bunch of guys drinking and playing cards. There were also a pair of tents set up where people were eating in addition to drinking and playing cards. We sat around for a while thinking to ourselves what a crappy festival this was and when the horse races would start. It took a while but finally the races started. It turned out to not be a race but just a bunch of guys (some of them presumably drunk) riding the horses down the road as fast as possible and repeating till the horses were exhausted. It was cool to watch at first but the novelty quickly wore off. A local shopkeeper later told us that there’s usually singing and dancing as well but for some reason this year there wasn’t so in his opinion (and our’s) this year’s festival was crappy.

We met some Nepalis who made the trek from Kathmandu and incredibly it only took them 3 days to walk from the Besisahar (the starting point of the trek) to Manang. It took us 6 days!

Day 8 – Manang to Yak Kharka

Manang Village is the last place before Jomsom to have any proper phone service and as it turns out the only place where it should be have been working is at our hotel. It’s a common theme in the mountains of Nepal for things to not work. I’ve gotten pretty used to it by now so I was neither surprised nor upset that the phone wasn’t working.

It was an easy walk from Manang Village to Yak Kharka, mostly flat and barren high altitude landscape. We’re above the tree line now so all you see are shrubs and other small plants. Along the way we ran into the Singaporean couple are now on the same schedule as us to go over the pass. They’re also staying at the same hotel (a hotel in Nepal is not the same as a hotel in the West) as us in town.

I had wanted to walk up to Letdar and then come back down but it started to rain so that’s out. Bart and I are well adapted to the altitude so far and I’m pretty sure we’ll be okay for the pass in 2 days. Tomorrow is another short day as we go up to Thorung Phedi (4400m) but the day we go over the pass is going to be very long. I’m glad the 3 American hicks aren’t staying here, they are really annoying when they’re talking to each other. After lunch I started reading but I was really tired and fell asleep for a couple of hours. The rest of the day, I read, chatted with Bart, slept, or ate.

Day 9 – Yak Kharka to Thorung Phedi

It was a pretty easy walk from Yak Kharka to Thorung Phedi; it only took about 3 hours. There was a steep descent down to a dodgy looking wooden bridge but it was surprisingly very sturdy. That was following by a very steep ascent to get back onto the ridge.

There was also a very dangerous looking landslide area along the track just before town but thankfully the ground wasn’t moving. Spent pretty much all day reading in the restaurant at base camp after lunch. To my surprise they actually have canned tuna here so I was able to have some in my food; it provided some much needed protein. I wanted to trek up to high camp (4900m) but Bart didn’t want to and then it rained for a few hours so I scrapped that idea. A Spanish couple this morning had to turn back after only 30 minutes and going up because of altitude sickness.

I’m pretty excited to be finally going over the pass tomorrow. Another independent trekker joined us (Dan from the UK) for the attempt tomorrow. Hopefully we’ll all be successful and then enjoy a much deserved beer in Muktinath.

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