- Started trekking in Besi Sahar on 28/09/2015
- Finished trekking in Birethanti on 12/10/2015
- Total distance trekked 250.6 km
- Altitude ranged between 850m – 5,450m
Written by both Soheil and Chelsea
Day 1// Besi Sahar (850m) to Bahundanda (1,331m)
Trekked 10.5 km
An early morning start took us to the local bus terminal which was heaving with hawkers selling hot apple pies and cups of milky marsala tea, chatty and excited Nepalese heading back to their families to celebrate the festival and trekkers from all over the world looking dazed and confused following meekly behind their guide. With our backpack safely stored on the roof of the bus we were ready to depart. The local bus, decorated to look more like a cheesy blue light school disco, took us on a bumpy four hour ride to Besi Sahar, the starting point of the trail. On the bus we met Daniel from Sussex, England who was coming back after getting sick on a previous attempt. He took a bus further up the trail to avoid the dusty road (the trail had been turned into dirt road couple years previously) and got a head start on us but we were excited and wanted to complete the entire circuit without taking any buses or jeeps. With Bhakta our guide and Monochar our porter we were off, grinning from ear to ear as we were beyond excited to finally be getting on the trail. After all this was the main purpose of our trip to Nepal.
It was bloody hot and humid and we were completely drenched in sweat before long. As Daniel had warned us the trail was quite dusty and hot with buses and jeeps bouncing by on the road coating us in layer of fine dust every time they drove by. We continued on passing beautiful tea houses set in tropical gardens which will probably not be around much longer as not many people walk this part anymore due to the road. It was sad to think the road which is loved and needed by the locals will also be the downfall for these tea houses.
The trek was worth it as we walked next to the raging river slowing making our way into the foothills finishing at Bahundanda, a village surrounded by rice paddies perched on rolling green hills. Our first guest house we stayed in reminded us of a cow shed. Mud floors, open wooden panels as walls and a bed so short Chelsea’s head and feet were touching the walls. The bathroom was beyond description. Needless to say no one slept well that night and both us were seriously concerned that we could survive the trek if this was the level of accommodation. Quaint it was not. Chelsea had a discussion with Bhakta and confirmed we would be choosing our own accommodation from here on in.
Day 2// Bahundada (1,331m) – Tal (1,707m)
Trekked 24 km
The morning routine was, wake up at 6:15am, pack and have breakfast at 7:00am. We started trekking at 7:30am sharp.
The trek continued on a combination of the dirt road and the original trail. The government years ago had made a commitment to connect all villages from Besi Sahar to Manang which is a disappointment for trekkers as it has ruined the early days of the circuit. We got glimpses of what it must have been like and it would have been specular, walking slowing into the mountain ranges following the glacial river.
We continued climbing higher and higher passing so many waterfalls that we lost count. Quite a few of them overflowed onto the road, we practised our stone hopping technique keeping our feet dry at first, then Chelsea got sick of wobbling about on rocks so just ploughed through the water, thankfully the boots were super waterproof and it cooled her feet.
We met our first fellow trekkers walking on the road before lunch. They were two kids from Colorado, one already going a beautiful puce colour in the sun. He was going to be crispy tomorrow. He seemed a moody fellow so we left them to it. A long and hot trek in the afternoon along the stunning original trail was worth it. There was wild marijuana plantations and sheep with their young herders squatting in the shade. We finished the day in Tal. Meaning lake in Nepali, this beautiful village sat cradled in a valley between a waterfall and the glacial river.
We were approached by a girl in her teens with the gentlest smile offering us lodging. We were content as it was very clean so happily accepted and took a room (for the bargain price of a dollar) with a view of the river and waterfall. We were both very relieved to know we could expect the accommodation to be much better than the first night.
After two days of being hot and sweaty hiking we were in need of a shower and we were very excited the lodge had a hot gas shower. The bathroom is not as we know it in the western world. It generally has the hole in the floor squatting loo at one end with a bucket to flush and a hand held shower hose with a multiple number of taps taped to the wall with a gas heater attached on the wall. In the 15 days we were trekking could not work this once. Mirrors are a luxury we only encountered a few times (and probably a good thing). The whole place floods so it is always a challenge to find enough nails to put your clothes and towels on. Therefore, we decided it would be easier to shower together as it takes two people to navigate. Chelsea being super excited feeling the hot water put shampoo and soap in thick layer all over her body. However, the gas wasn’t working properly and the water became ice cold within seconds. It was being pumped directly from the glacial river outside. Having no choice, Chelsea took a deep breath and squatted under a cold water tap which for some reason they always have mounted on the wall at waist height. She looked just like a chicken flapping her wings in the water cleaning herself. I couldn’t stop laughing but feeling sorry at the same time. The water was so cold that my hands had turned blue. Once Chelsea was done, now pale as a ghost and looking like a plucked chicken with her goose bumps, I braved the elements and did the same.
We were both beyond happy to be clean and warmed up with a hot cup of mint tea and Dhal Bhat while watching some local Nepalese TV.
What is absolutely beautiful about the villages on the trek is that they all grow their own produce. Depending on what they grow that is what you eat. Once we knew that we were popping our heads over the fences to see what they were growing and getting excited when there were new vegetables to eat.
Day 3// Tal (1,707m) – Chame (2,653m)
It was a beautiful, long trek following the river and climbing higher and we had our first view of Manaslu (standing at 8,156m, the 8th highest mountain in the world). We were playing tag with a bunch of Canadian mountain bikers all morning. They would cycle ahead then we would plod along and see them stopped at a tea house snacking again. Their food bill must have been horrific. They were biking around the whole Annapurna circuit and we through they were nuts cycling at that altitude.
We had lunch in Timang, after a long hot hungry walk up stairs but it was well worth holding out the extra hour for lunch. We had a perfect view of Manaslu while we ate our fried vegetables and potatoes with a warm lemonade. We met a family of Germans who were very chatty and friendly and had started on the gaurana tablets to give them energy in the afternoon to take them onto Chame where we were all headed for the evening.
The forest and the snow peaked mountains had completely taken our breathe away. This is what we had come to Nepal to see. Energised by the surrounding beauty we pushed through to Chame, the district village which the Germans had said had a shopping centre. We found a nice Swiss Chalet lodge with individual cabins. We unpacked and went for a wonder and unsurprising met the Germans shopping. The village was beautiful, surrounded by snow peaked mountains, green forests and was peaceful.
The lodge we were staying in had a beautiful veggie garden and the food was fresh. We blew the budget and treated ourselves to a slice of apple pie drowned in bright yellow custard. It was a bit of a disappointment but we were both to hungry to care.
On the advice of Chelsea’s masseuse in Sydney we had started a routine of foot and back massages prior to sleeping to ensure we could make it around the circuit without chewing ibuprofen like lollies. It was the best thing we did each night and we would be in peels of laughter thinking about the groaning noise we made when the pain got too much. It sounded like we having a sexy party which was so far from the truth.
Day 4// Chame (2,653m) – Lower Pisang (3,254m)
Following a mixture of road and trail we continued to climb higher and higher and we noticed the effects of altitude for the first time on the climbs. The mountain peaks became closer and one by one they started peaking out of the clouds showing their grandeur to us mere mortals. We had our first viewing of Annapurna II (7,937m) which means ‘the giver of food and nourishment’, Lamjung Himal (6,983m) and Mansalu (8,156m). We hiked through marijuana fields, apple orchids and could not believe it when we saw a football field, by that time we were puffing like a steam train at a walk. At around noon we arrived at Upper Pisang which is a beautiful mud coloured village perfectly positioned to overlook Annapurna II and its glaciers. We ordered lunch and shortly after our porter arrived, furious and angry which cleared out the dinning room in an instant of all other guests. He complained bitterly about our pace, distance covered and the weight of the bag. To say we were unimpressed was an understatement as the bag weight was 5 kg lighter than the regulations and we were following the itinerary agreed with the company he worked for. We were wondering by this time who the client was meant to be. Princess Monochar was no porter. We had found out when he was still talking to us he was studying physics at university and he had never done this trip before or been at this altitude. It was obvious he was struggling and we discussed getting rid of him but speaking with Bhakta he gave him the benefit of the doubt so we kept him on as porter. We had noticed also Bhakta’s bag had become bigger and when questioned he confirmed he was carrying the Princess Monochar text books. After a few heated words between Soheil and Princess Monochar, Bhakta came in and calmed him down. While we wandered around village our wonderful porter walked down to Lower Pisang changing all our plans. Instead of continuing on to to Ghyaru where there is a spectacular panoramic view of Annapurna II, Annapurna III and Annapurna IV which would not be seen again until Poon Hill at the end of the trek, we had to walk down to find our guide and porter. It was not a good day all round for us, we picked the only lodge next to building construction so a quiet relaxing afternoon was married by the sound of electric timber saws and hammering until sundown. We found it too early to stop walking for the day and didn’t know what to do with ourselves.
Day 5 and 6// Lower Pisang (3,152m) – Manang (3,500m)
Trekked 21.2 km + 4 km on rest day
We discussed the route with Bhakta and advised we wanted to go to Ghyaru for the view as every trekker we spoke to had raved about it. He mentioned that there was a difficult climb from Upper Pisang but we were determined to take the upper route as this afforded the best views and got us off the dusty road back on a trail. Looking back on it now we still don’t know why Bhakta took us at a fast pace along the lower road. When questioned his English became bad and he didn’t give us a proper answer. Trusting him and him knowing we really want to take the upper trail we followed him believing he was skipping the horrible climb. Trust proved to be unfounded when we came into the next town and we checked the map. We were nearly at Manang and it was only 9:30 am. Neither of us could handle another day of sitting around after taking a short route. It was obvious Chelsea was furious with a thunderous face and about to explode. We stood our ground and said we wanted to turn back and start again on the Upper Pisang route, it was not what Bhakta wanted to hear. We c
omprised by finding a route trekking up a very steep mountain for about an hour until we reached Nawal. The anger Chelsea had was put to good use and it gave her the energy to power up the mountainside at speed. We had beautiful views of the Annapurna range but we were still two hours away from Ghyaru which was in the opposite direction. We went up past a monastery and admired the view but it was not the same. We were wondering by this time why we hired a guide and porter when they were causing more trouble than us going alone. We decided agaist going back and continued to our destination Manang. It was a very dusty trail with our boot at times 2cm deep in dust and Chelsea’s uncovered legs turning grey. However it was beautiful with Nepalese harvesting crops in the fields and walking through a deserted monastery past the massive stupa. It was sad to see the pine forests had been largely chopped down around here and the area was turning into a deserted dust bowl.
Stopping for lunch we were invited into a Nepalese home and sat around the table on their beds eating noodles with slithers of carrot and cabbage. It really made us grateful for our lives. We were extremely surprised to see One Direction posters on the wall next to what could (hopefully) only be their daughters bed. Each person had decorated their wall with posters of who they followed/ admired. It was pretty cool and funny at the same time.
Manang is where everyone has a rest day to acclimatise. It was a was a big trekking village and even had a movie theatre showing all the Everest and trekking movies. We picked the fanciest lodge we could find and took a stroll along the village’s single street. The lodge had a viewing platform and we ware rewarded with a crystal clear view of the milky way and a billion stars twinkling above. The Himalayas make you feel small but when you look up at the stars you feel even smaller.
On our rest day we climbed up to 3,900m to a monastery for acclimation purposes. We were disappointed Princess Monochar decided to join us for the trek but appreciated he was trying to make amends. He drove us bloody bananas however on the way up, pushing past as we took longer to walk. He also didn’t shut up the whole time speaking to Bhakta and driving him barmy. There was a lot of eye rolling behind his back, adults we were not. So much for a serene contemplative walk to a monastery.
Once we got there it was surprisingly quite beautiful. The Buddhist monk living there was an old lady who was making tea for people and giving out blessings. There was a small well maintained garden with an abundance of herbs, vegetables and flowers with butterflies fluttering completing the picture. We sat at the monastery listening to a natural spring gurgling taking in Manang, surrounded by Annapurna II and Annapurna III, Nilgiri (7,061m) and Ganggapurna (7,454m). While slowly making our way back to Manang we hummed marching music and swung out trekking poles around like batons. To say our energy levels were high after a short walking day was an understatement. We did our washing, treated ourselves to bakery goods and caught up on the gossip of the circuit.
Day 7// Manang (3,500m) – Tilicho Base Camp (4,080m)
After the rest day we were bouncing off the walls but knew we had a long day and ascend in front of us. We had heard that from this point on the trail would become much more remote and we were both super excited to be leaving the civilised world. No more road!!!
After two hours of easy trekking we reached Khangsar and were happy to see a sign to Tilicho Lake. Both of us with the porter following headed off for another long climb in the sun past sensible people sitting in the shade of the trees eating breakfast and taking a break from working in the fields. They were very friendly hailing out Namaste to us as we passed. We lost Bhakta at this point but wasn’t worried, there is a local saying you can never get lost in Nepal and we thought that the trail would meet as the map showed two routes available so we continued on. It was another extremely steep climb up the mountain but we enjoyed it as used it as training for the pass which we were both wanted to be fighting fit for it. We passed smelly cow sheds avoiding the fresh cow shit and made our way to a monastery and stupa. About an hour further up we reached a gate, thankfully there was a local on horseback who was able to point us on the right path as they all looked like goat tracks by this stage. Concern started to increase that we had not seen Bhakta but we had no doubts he would be safe, we had nicked named him the Mountain Goat by the time. The dude could walk anywhere. After a few minutes a solo Nepalese trekker by the name of Aashish caught up with us and confirmed he was also going to Tilicho Lake which was a good sign we were on the right track. We kept our eyes out for Bhakta and spotted him a long way down the hillside. The trail he had taken had been washed away by monsoon rains and he had to make a tough climb to reach us and he said there was at least another five people off the trail down there.
It was magic walking along a proper trail with no human intervention to be seen. The colour of the shrubbery changed to russet, reds and browns and it reminded us of Scotland. After another hour and a half we reached Kharka for lunch. By this time Chelsea would start looking at her watch from 10:30 am counting down the time till we could stop to eat. It is a very good sign to be so hungry at this altitude. We had Dhal Bhat to give us enough energy for the afternoon (jokingly known as Dhal Bhat power on the trail from the gas emissions). We noticed from lunch onwards the trail kept getting narrower and for the first time Chelsea paused for thought before heading across one of the narrow suspension bridges. In the distance we could see a very
narrow trail with horrendous sheer 1,000 meter drop. On top of that we knew the steep mountain was frequented by blue sheep which caused frequent landslides and rock falls. We were both very anxious but knew we had to continue and the only through keeping us going was people did this every day and we had not heard of any deaths reported. We both felt that this was the most dangerous trail we had come across. Just before we were about to start the worst of it we ran into the four Canadians mountain biking around the circuit. We were dumbfounded two of them took their bikes across and rode part of the track. It was one shoe wide most of the way. Chelsea took the lead for the crossing skidding down the slopes and tiptoeing across the scree.
Some locals were crossing at the same time dressed looking like they should be going out rather than on this path. They were taking selfies and seemed generally unconcerned. I think Nepalese people are genetically conditioned so they can now climb mountains in ballet flats. We finally saw the smoke of Tilicho Base Camp lodge in the distance and were happy to finish for the day. It had been enough excitement.
We showered and bundled up in the dining area as it was extremely cold once the sun dipped behind the mountains. It was the busiest we had seen a lodge since we started and it was fun to run into people we had seen earlier on and chat. The fire was put on the first time on our journey and the locals took up residence near by playing a card game called ‘Dalmara’ translating to “kill the ten”. This game was basically the same game I had grown up playing in Iran called Hokm with one difference in the rule. We watched as the locals taught the foreigners and played a few rounds. Life was good, we just had our best trekking day yet, the food was amazing at the lodge and there were interesting people to talk to.
Day 8// Tilicho Base Camp (4,080m) – Tilicho Lake (4,995m) – Tilicho Base Camp (4,080m)
Trekked 12 km
We had another tough day ahead of us, ascending 900 meters to 4,950 meters to view Tilicho Lake. The night before I had a migraine and couldn’t sleep worried I was coming down with altitude sickness. The restless sleep caused Chelsea to not sleep either. After contemplating whether we should climb or not we decided to go and if we felt bad we would turn back. This would be the highest we had been and altitude sickness in remote areas like this is no joke.
We started the climb zig zagging 900 meters in a short distance starting out in our tshirts with the sun beating down on us. As soon as we came to the top the temperature dropped significantly as the wind picked up. Tilicho Lake was 35 minutes further in and we were both pleased we could walk at speed on the flat. The altitude preparation had worked and we didn’t notice the increase in height.
We reached the beautiful lake with glacier walls and there was a small stone tea house with pray flags whipping madly which we dove into to protect us from the freezing wind. It was impossible to warm up but we tried but taking tea and putting on every article of clothing we brought. We took in the views and started the trek back. Thankfully it was downhill but still hard on the knees.
We had originally planned to push through to Khangsar that afternoon but since we both had not slept the night before we decided to stay at base camp. It was another social night meeting new people and we were pleased we hadn’t pushed on.
Day 9// Tilicho Base Camp (4,080m) – Ledar (4,200m)
Trekked 21 km
In the back of our minds the whole time was the thought we had to walk the dodgy trail back. To our surprise and happiness going back was nowhere as sketchy as we were going uphill. In no time we had pushed through and reached Upper Khangsar and had a steep climb over the mountain dropping down on the other side where the landscape completely changed again. Fall colours came to life as there were finally trees to be seen!! Blue sheep were lazing in the sun, apparently it is rutting season now but we didn’t see any action. Throng La Peak was in the distance and it looked high.
As we continued on towards Ledar, the villages were getting more and more remote and basic and the only forms of transport were small hardy mountain horses or on foot. Power lines, WiFi or ‘fancy’ food options were finished. Ledar was a beautiful little village in the shade of the peaks. The bells on the ponies rang as they cropped the grass and relaxed for the evening.
The lodge had a beautiful sun room that everyone huddled into for warmth. While Chelsea read, I played Dalmara with Bhakta as his partner and slowly schooled Princess Monochar and partner, winning most rounds. The porter didn’t take this well as he was very competitive.
We were blessed by another star filled night and put on Alan Watts listening to his wisdom while looking outside.
Day 10// Ledar (4,200m) – Throng La High Camp (4,925m)
A relatively short hiking day as we ascended 700 meters as it isn’t safe to go any higher in a day for risk of altitude sickness. In the morning we made our way through to Throng Phedi were most trekkers stay before making the pass crossing due to its lower altitude. However, since we had acclimatised quite well with our trip to Tilicho Lake we pushed through the high camp. This would make our crossing day of the Throng La Pass easier.
Another strenuous ascent and were at the top at high camp for lunch. The dinning hall was pretty interesting hanging over the edge of a cliff with a big slope on the floor. It was rather concerning, highlighting the dodgy construction and general unsafeness of most lodges. Once we started chatting we soon forgot about it sharing stories with fellow trekkers from Nepal, Austria, Slovenia, Australia, Canada and Germany.
We did a short acclimatisation walk to about 5,100 meters and enjoyed a breathtaking view of the valley and surrounding mountains. It is a special feeling when you look down at a valley and can see where you were days ago. It amazes you far you have come. The feeling of standing on top of a mountain at this altitude is hard to explain. The view at the top was amazing so Soheil and a few other trekkers decided to come back at sunset. It was a beautiful clear night and quite special. While the sun set at around 6 pm we had to be up at around 4:30 pm cause the mountains around were so high that the sun dipped below then.
Another night of playing card and sharing stories went by with everyone having one thing on their mind, successfully crossing the pass at 5,416 meters. We were feeling quite strong and confident with the altitude but had an early night as we were to start at 5:30 am the next morning to avoid the winds which pick up after 10 am.
Day 11// Throng La High Camp (4,925m) – Throng Pass (5,416m) – Mukhtinath (3,800m)
Trekked 14 km
Being at high altitude comes with freezing nights and it was so cold that all the water barrels froze overnight. Not many people slept as they were all thinking about the difficult day ahead. We were up at 4:30 am and impatient to go by 5:30 am. It was still dark out and you could see the trail of headlights going up the mountain.
The Pass was much more gentle than previous climbs we had made and we trundled across quite easily. There was not a lot of talk as people were lost in their own thoughts. The rocks were gold and silver sparkling in the sun and the mountain peaks were so close you felt you could reach the top easily. Pray flags were spotted earlier than expected and we were extremely excited to think we gone across the pass so smoothly. As everyone patiently waited for their turn to take photos we high five’d the trekkers we had come to know in the previous days and feelings of accomplishment overtook everyone.
Soheil took a side trip up a small hill to take a loo break (not obvious at all) and take in the view. There were three small lakes and a view of the valley below where we were to make a long steep descend.
We did not stay for long as it was quite cold and windy and your muscles start to stiffen pretty quickly when stopped. The 1,600 meter descend was hell on the knees but we were determined to get to the bottom as quickly and safely as possible. We pushed through about 3-4 hours to the village of Mukhtinath, a pilgrimage town for Hindus and Buddhist. There is a Buddhist sacred temple that has natural fire, water, earth and wind and with the chanting of the monks felt surreal. We said a prayer and gave our thanks for a safe passage as in October last year, a freak storm had hit Throng Pass and many trekkers died.
Mukhtinath has a lot of history and was different to other trekking towns. Bhakta suggested we stay at Bob Marley lodge and we were very excited to see the cook had learnt his trade in Sydney. By this stage we were getting sick of the four meal options. We were not disappointed. Pizza and pasta with fresh herbs. What a delightful change. There was a beautiful sun drenched deck with flowers and umbrellas we made our home for the afternoon and celebrated the pass sharing a beer (our first on the trail!) and talking over the railing to the other trekkers who had made it across the pass that day. It was a day of celebration for a lot of people as they were finishing the trek here catching a bus to Jomsom then a flight out to Pokhara.
From our vantage point we could see Dhaulagiri (8,172m) the worlds 7th highest mountain and the landscape had changed significantly as we were now in the Mustang region which is similar to Tibet with many people from Tibet coming to this region to escape when China invaded.
Day 12: Mukhtinath (3,800m) – Jhong (3,800m) – Kagbeni (2,800m) – Jomsom (2,720m) – Tatapani (1,190m)
We made our way through the tiny villages until we reached Jhong, a beautiful little Tibetan style village. The monastery was extremely interesting as it showed the architecture of three different periods. The first monastery was from a few centuries ago, the second monastery from a few decades and the new one that was still being built.
We continued on to Kagbeni another pilgrimage town trekking through dry arid landscape surrounded by the Dhaulagiri range. Coming through a narrow cave we were presented with beautiful farm lands and a village of mud houses protected by an ancient wall.
We wandered through the warren of streets and admired a working monastery. The little boys in there looked like they were up to mischief.
We cracked on to Jomsom after lunch so we could try and bus it to Tatapani that evening. We had been speaking to many people on the trek and they all confirmed the trek in this part was extremely dusty and windy. By this time we had had enough of the dust so decided not to walk the few days. The wind was blowing hard already with dust everywhere. We put our buffs over our head and mouth and continued to push through. At this point Chelsea went in overdrive to make the walk as quick as possible as the wind was becoming stronger, now picking up small stones. It was like nothing we had seen before but it was a fun challenge. At one point we got stuck behind a massive goat herd and we found out people were taking the goats to the main markets to sell for sacrifices during the festival season. With the pace Chelsea set we reached Jomsom in half the time it usually takes. Luck continued to be on our side and we were able to jump on a local bus almost immediately to Ghasa, a village midway to Tatapani.
The bus to Ghasa had pretty interesting people watching but we were happy Mr Obey was an excellent bus driver and was able to get across the horrific road pretty impressively. There is a law everyone must be sitting down for the bus to be able to go however that doesn’t mean it has to be on a seat. Chelsea came into contact with more bottoms than she would care to as they perched on the arm rest of her seat. We arrived at our destination and jumped out to nab a jeep or a seat on the next bus as you have to be fast and pushy at festival time or you get left behind. Waiting for our bag we were shocked to see a goat pushed out the luggage compartment of the bus. We could not believe they had put it in there. We were one of the last ones on for the second bus and paid the price by having to sit on the back seat. Before we could do that first we had to put the seats back into place. It was a horrible ride, the bus driver was nowhere near as good as Mr Obey and everyone was bouncing up and down on their seats holding on with white knuckle grip to stay in place. I got the worst seat in the house, middle back row and had to fight to dear life not to go flying down the aisle. There was a Nepalese kid sitting next to Chelsea trying in vain to get comfortable putting padding between his knees and the seat in front. If we had to go much longer both of us would be throwing up with motion sickness. It was a ride from hell.
We finally reached the turnoff to Tatapani at around 8 pm and with our headlamps lighting the way we made our way into the village. Our journey was not over yet as the lodge gate was locked and after shouting trying to get their attention Chelsea encouraged Bhakta to jump over and get the owners. We had had enough by that time but were rewarded by a hot shower and ensuite bathroom. Luxury! The gardens were a tropical paradise and it was a relief to be out of the dust and the wind. It was worth the epic journey and we were happy we pushed through.
Day 13// Tatopani (1,190m) – Ghorepani (2,976m)
Trekked 16.4 km
Experiencing one of the longest days we had on the trail we were happy to get on our way before the sweltering heat we knew would set in. Having pretty much jogged from Kagbeni to Jomsom to keep up with Chelsea, I took two ibuprofens to be able to walk. We started the trek up to Ghorepani in really good spirits. We knew we had a long ascend that people usually split into two days but nothing prepared us for the pain of walking up 1.8 km of uneven stairs to ascend. We dreaded every downhill knowing what went down must go up. The scenery was stunningly beautiful and worked to distract us from the pain in our legs, rolling hills, rice fields, tropical forests and of course white capped mountain peaks.
We climbed all day and after hours and hours of trekking we reached a big gate with a welcome sign saying Ghorepani. We were beyond happy to be finished. The welcome sign was premature thought and there was a notice the town was another 500 steps of pure hell to climb, very hard to take after you have climbed over 2,000 steps and don’t want to see another step ever. We finally made it into town a little worse for wear and found a nice lodge that had beautiful views to the Annapurna range. The dining area was up several flights of stairs from our cabin so once we were up there we didn’t leave until it was sleep time.
Day 14: Ghorepani (2,976m) – Poon Hill (3,193m) – Ghandruk (1,940m)
Trekked 19 km
Chelsea opted to sleep in and not climb Poon Hill as there was no visibility, the clouds had finally come over, thankfully only at the end of our trek. I left at 5:00 am making it to the top in 30 minutes. It was cloudy but some parts of the sky were opening and the sun started to rise over the Himalayas, with glimpses of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri. Watching the sunrise over the Himalayas was an unforgettable experience.
Going over undulating hills we ascended 900 meters and descended 1,735 meters. Another tough day on the knees but absolutely beautiful scenery and it reminded both of us of the treks we had done in New Zealand. The trail turned quite slippery towards the end of the day and Chelsea had two stacks resulting in massive bruises on her backside.
After another long day we reached Ghandruk, another beautiful village perched on the side of hill overlooking the mountain ranges. We ordered a second Dhal Bhat for the day which was a huge mistake, as it consists primarily of rice, lentils, potatoes, cabbage and cauliflower all very gassy food. The result was horrendous, we could not stop farting and it stank. We could had taken a hot air balloon up into the sky. We called this “the double dhal bhat effect” and agreed we would never do this again.
Day 15// Ghandruk (1,940m) – Pokhara (800m)
We woke up to heavy rain drumming on the roof. Being our last day on the trek we felt blessed that we only got one day of rain. Being prepared we donned our rain gear and off we went.
The steps were incredibly slippery and Chelsea slipped twice more and falling on her backside again. Taking the longer but safer route we jumped onto the road and was able to pick up speed to get to the next town where we had booked a mini van to take us back to Pokhara. We were happy not to be taking a local bus after the previous experience, especially as we were extremely wet by this time and the buses took a lot longer. We had finished the trek considerably lighter in weight and much fitter…. We were ready for the three peaks of Everest!!!!! We celebrated with a fancy hotel, hot shower and clean clothes.