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unexpected annapurna (pt 1)

The past month has been a whirlwind of happiness!

I started my big Nepalese adventure in Kathmandu, as always. I landed at night, and after standing in line for AGES at the airport for my visa, took a taxi to my hostel. I returned to Hotel Silver Home (this time in a dorm), and Hari still remembered me! I immediately fell asleep. The next day was filled with shopping for trekking gear, and the day after that, I was on a local bus to Besi Sahar to start the Annapurna Circuit!

My route was Besi Sahar – Bhulbule – Chyamche/Chamje – Dharapani – Chame – Upper Pisang – Manang – Tilicho Lake Base Camp – Ledar – Thorung High Camp – Muktinath – Kagbeni – Jomson – Tatopani – Shika – Ghorepani – Tadapani.
I didn’t end my trekking in Tadapani, but from there, started the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, which I’ll write about separately.
I started my trek alone, but fortunately, joined up with Nathaniel (another gap year kid from England who had just spent the last 5 months teaching English in India) and Josef (a German man who was taking some time off of work to trek). I continued with Josef and Nathaniel until Manang, and I’m currently ( at the time of writing ) still with Nathaniel!
There are so so many memories to note, way too many to write down. I’ll write the big ones in chronological order.
When I was trekking alone, I was eating lunch in a little place called Tal, and because I messed my initial route up (I underestimated how much I could walk a day), I asked some guys where they were staying that night. One replied, “[whatever town], but it’s quite far, you won’t make it” in the most condescending tone before continuing on his way. Like hell I wouldn’t make it, so I quickly finished my lunch and paid, then walked as fast as my little legs would carry me until I not only caught up to them, but passed them. Turns out, none of us made it to the down they wanted to get to, as it rained super heavily and forced us to stop. That was the night I met Josef and Nathaniel, so all ended well!

sweet sweet nepali children
night 1 : bhulbule
the kindess shown to me whilst here is incredible. a girl gave me this bouquet of blooming rhodedendron flowers as i passed through her village.

Upper Pisang had the most incredible views. You could see the mountains from bottom to top. It’s a bit more of a hike to get to Upper Pisang (rather than lower), but in my opinion, it was 100000% worth it. It was in Upper Pisang that I remembered just how amazing and beautiful the mountains were. My favorite place of the circuit!
Random views on the way to Upper Pisang:        
Views from Upper Pisang:

We had to take a rest day in Manang (for acclimatization purposes), and decided to head up to Ice Lake, which is more than a kilometer straight up. This was probably the lowest day of my entire time in Nepal (or tied with when I fell ill, but more on that later). The walk up was AWFUL, just hairpin turn after hairpin turn of steep steep uphill, then it flattened out where there was tons of snow, and then continued uphill once again. The views walking up were incredible, but we (Anton, Nathaniel, Josef, and I) were just focused on getting to the lake. 5 hours of straight climbing later, we had made it to Ice Lake, which was the most disappointing puddle. In hindsight, it was pretty. It just didn’t live up to our expectations after the hell we endured climbing up to it. I must say, however, that I’m glad we did it, as it was a great hike for acclimating.

smiling through the pain!!!

Tilicho Lake was the most incredible side trip. It isn’t the highest lake in the world, as some people say, but it’s beautiful, and the trek up to it was absolutely nothing after Ice Lake.
N & I played card games at high camp. We were introduced to a card game called Set by a lovely German couple, and Nathaniel taught the couple, a Swiss guy named David, and I how to play a game called Chairman Mao. Only when we saw some graffiti that said “kill all Maoists” did we realize that game was probably inappropriate to play in Nepal…. Yikes. Fun card game though!!!!
…I nearly froze to death on the Thorung La pass, 5416 m.

Nathaniel and I decided to take a bus from Jomson to Tatopani, as the day before, walking to Kagbeni, was super windy and along the road, making for a cold day with dust flying from cars into our eyes. The views in the valley were amazing though!!!

The heat in Tatopani came as a shock to Nathaniel and me, and although we were walking at a low altitude, we found it tough…
…The tough walk was worth it, though, as our little sunrise walk up to Poon Hill from Ghorepani was STUNNING. 360 views of the Annapurnas and the mountains around them. I was so so happy, even though it was 5 am and cold, just because the view was amazing.
We thought that after 17 days of the circuit, the Annapurna Sanctuary trek would be easy. It was not, but due to illnesses (yay!). You’ll hear about that later!!
The circuit was amazing. I would do it again in a heartbeat. But maybe after a little break.
Read part 2 here!

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