Friday, December 31, 2010

retrace: 12.05.2010 annapurna circuit trek-day 4

day four:  tal-dharapani-danakyu

awake.  sore.  bit of a cold.  this walk shall make me earn its completion-and the hot spring, massage and beer i shall treat myself to when i get to pokhara. and when you have room view sunrises like this, how can you really complain?

first half of the day was not so difficult-a good 3.5 hours of rolling ascents up the side of the valley.  some narrow bits, shared with donkeys.  and a bridge temporarily blocked by a donkey caravan...can you imagine getting caught in the middle of the bridge with them heading towards you?

when you get into the rhythm of the walk, you lose sense of yourself and your aches, and become a part of the life of the trail, just moving through its space.  not only a rhythm, but music making.  the constant sound of my cadence/pace of my feet (the bass drum) mixed with the snare drum of my walking sticks. 

once my legs warmed up, time seemed to go-and soon surprised by the quick arrival of lunch.  fried egg rice. simple, but tasty filing-quickly consumed.  i try to eat at a modest pace, but when you are surrounded by others wolfing down their meals, its hard to not join in.

three quarters eaten, not finished.  not as hungry as i thought, as my body seems to want to drop some weight to make the future steps easier.

afternoon was short, 1 hour and surprise, danakyu.  started sore, now stronger. 

in danakyu, mahendra found us some heirloom heritage smoke, which was difficult to say no too.  unadulterated by man-hybridization, just pure nature, with the back drop of amazing mountains.


retrace: 12.04.2010 annapurna circuit trek-day 3

day three:  syange-chyamche-tal

first half of the day was/felt easy.  the day before has some climbs, so the up-down of the rolling path was enjoyable.  a climb here, a descent there, nothing unmanageable.  over and under a bridge with views of the river, as well as an impressive waterfall.



but after the lunch, the difficult began, and i did tire.  the climbs became more of a degree, broken only by steep knee-jarring descents.  my body began to conceive and reject the notion of 18 or so more days of the same.  thoughts of climbing ebc became less of possibility, and as the elevation increased, i wondered how that would affect the output of my body, not to mention the cold. 

but a nice chat, a great meal of a very tasty dahl bhat and warm clothes chased away the negatives and has put me in better spirits.  ebc here i come?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

retrace: 12.03.2010 annapurna circuit trek-day 2


first real day of trekking-lovely walk.

we started in bholebhole.  we walked past several small villages, with various lodges, still seeing power lines and roads.  but after a short time, beautiful views of the valley that we were walking opened up to us.

the trail is a road for the necessities of life to travel on, to keep the villages along the way sustained.  i am not sure how the effects of having the circuit through this area has changed it, as there were always villages here, and so always a path.  but the infrastructure set up for trekkers is amazing, given the difficulties of distance and accessibility. 

we share the trail with donkeys empty or loaded, depending upon their direction, porters with seemingly unmanageable loads navigating the path with precision in flip flops and the rare other trekker.  it feels as though, seeing so few trekkers, that we have the curcuit to ourselves.  it is a great feeling, and i cant even imagine what it would be like during peak trekking season.  to share the beauty with so many, would surely detract from it a the silence might be rarer.

we came to our first suspension bridge valley crossing.  over the course of the trail, there were many.  but this was the first.

so as we got farther from bholebhole, the more the beauty became apparent.  as we walked, rice terraces like some human representation of a topographic map, each level of elevation represented by a tier of rice.

so we arrived in the small town of bahundanda, for some reason a town not linked to any area association (each village area is governed by a local committee that establishes fixed prices for trekking amenities such as restaurants and accomodation, to keep things fair and regulated).

lunch was a bit off (bahundanda), and turned out to be the worst taste of the whole trek (better sooner than later).  the infamously horrible dalh bad, which even others we met commented on.  wish i had pictures to capture the various grays that made up the dish.

we continued onto syange seeing the river again, as well as  a waterfall, some last views for the day.

retrace: 12.02.2010 annapurna circuit trek-day 1

first day:  kathmandu-bholebhole

woke up too early today (5am).  what am i, still in saudi?  but with my cloudy head,  (last night an introduction to nepali whiskey, which was only to be dinner) i met up with mahendra and headed to the bus. 

so we were hurried (for a change, not the fault of mine) and took a cab to the 'tourist bus'.  so yeah, tourist bus.  local without the chickens.  not that i mind in the slightest, but hate the the up-sale and the unnecessary costs with that. 

welcome again, my friend, to the ole bait-n-switch.  what happens when you rely on others to sort out your own arrangement. once realized, i knew that what was to be 6 hours, would probably be 10 and i waited for the produce and chickens.  been here, done this.

the drive revealed some amazing first glimpses of the mountains, a decent lunch stop and meeting up with a dutch guy by the name of florian, whom would join mahendra and i for three days shy of the whole trek.

it was a short walk to our first lodge, a taste of lux  and ease before the coming austerity package that trekking off season tends to be.  tomorrow is the first day and the river shall sing me to sleep.

my guide: mahendra

the most important person of the whole trip, my guide mahendra.  i met him two days ago when i went to the recommended trekking agency, looking for a guide.  he was present when i explained where i wanted to go and what i wanted from the agent.  i liked him immediately, as he rolled his eyes and and laughed with me as i caught the agent overcharging for various set-price licenses (you basically need to licenses trek in the annapurna region).  the agent aksed me to return to the agency later, as then i would meet with my guide.  when it turned out to be mahendra, i knew that i would be in good company.  mahendra the super-guide, helpful to others, even at the risk of his life (see the day 10).  eagle-eyed when it came to spotting attractive ladies and ganja, a 23 year old nepali guy that i am glad to have met, and in no way could have crossed the throung la pass without.