Friday, December 24

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Part III

[Read the rest of the annapurna story here.]

Day 4. Baggarchap - Chame
Today we had the first glimpses of Annapurna II and Lamjung Himal in the morning.

Remember how good the Dal Bhat was the other day? Well, we were on our way from Baggarchap to Chame. Singing our merry way on the valley, and when I say singing I mean we would start a song and then improvise when we didn't know the lyrics. Suddenly, Claudia stops by the side of the road in this exact spot and starts to puke.

Soon after, Bogdan dashes into the bushes. A bit of Imodium helps Claudia but I give Bogdan his Imodium only when he dashes into the bushes for the third time.

And this is how we spent the day. Bogdan and Claudia could not enjoy the lovely views, sadly.

The highlight of the day was the first sighting of the Hymalayan Griffon (see below for another picture). He was circling us effortlessly while we were huffing and puffing up a slope.

The villages take a more tibetan feel, with kani and mani walls everywhere.

Yes, that guy is on a mountain bike. He has a porter to carry his stuff.

Today is the first time we see a chorten, at the exit from Baggarchap. A chorten is a receptacle for offerings. Each element has a symbolic meaning: the bottom square - earth; the dome: water; the rectangular tower on top of the dome have painted the all seeing eyes of buddha; the thing that looks like a nose is the number one - absoluteness of buddha; on top of the tower is a conical or pyramidal spire with 13 segments - the 13 steps leading to Buddhahood; the moon on top - air; vertical spike - the sacred light of Buddha.
We stayed at the New Tibetan Hotel, which gave us amazing views at sunrise the next day.

Day 5. Chame - Pisang 3200 m.
While our initial plan was to push on until Humde, we decided to stop here. And we did well, because there is another route to Manang (our acclimatisation stop), which takes us at 3700m and then again down at 3500m. This is an excellent exercise for acclimatization and also training, because we have our backpacks to carry as well.

Today was a flat day so nothing spectacular to say.

When we got to Pisang I was starting to feel a bit the altitude, so I was a bit grumpier than usual. We finished the day by going up to Pisang Gompa (tibetan monastery) (about 30 minutes SLOW walk). By the time we got there it was sunset, just i time to see the Budhist monks pray.

The view of the Pisang peak was amazing, it really dominates the valley. I will put only a few pictures because this was the time when Bobby decided to have a heart attack. Below is what I could recover.
This is Pisang viewed from the gompa.

Pisang peak:

And a chorten:

Day 6. Pisang (3200m) to Ghyaru (3700m) to Manang (3500m)
I felt much better today after a good night's sleep. Last night we spent the night in the hotel's restaurant (Hilltop hotel, amazing views and HOT showers!) in which they had a stove going so we could keep warm-ish. It's starting to get ccccold here and I am truly enjoying my down sleeping bag. Too bad marian is not so happy with his, so sometimes we just put his below us and mine on top.

The day started with a 400 m ascent to Ghyaru. It was steep, it was long, our backpacks were heavy, but we got up to the top of the world and we loved it. Bobby was still recovering from his heart attack, so not so many pictures.

We saw Annapurna II and Gangapurna. Notice my new Gore-tex jacket please.

We saw Himalyan Griffons. Up close and personal!

After being in the clouds for a while, at 3700m, we descended to the village of Mugje.

The descent was steep so by this time we were all very tired. And walking in silence.

Actually, as Bogdan put it, we first start with 2 hours of chattiness, followed by around 1-2 hours of brooding silence (probably wondering what the hell we are doing here). Conversation picks up during lunchtime, when the coffee we are having stirs us a bit. We start again happily chatting. If the day is long, another period of silence follows. Again. What the hell am i doing here? or I wonder how much more?

Once our destination is close, dinner looms in our conversation. Should we have pasta? Rice? Potatoes? Both? All three?

Where should we stay? To this question i can answer something if I had remembered something from the guidebook (we are not taking it out). What should we eat? (yes, it gets repeated).

The same happened today, and the boys could only answer this when we got to the hotel (yak questhouse). They had YAK STEAK!

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