Published: April 17th 2012April 17th 2012
Today we started our trek to the Annapurna sanctuary, which is a circuit of trails comprising hundreds of miles at the foothills of the Himalaya mountains. We were informed that we could not take a bus to the trailhead 2 hours away because there were large scale government protests, to include the bus drivers. There was a noticeable increased police and military presence in the streets, carrying riot gear. However this is par for course in this tumultuous country, so we were not overly concerned.
We got a ride from our Sherpa’s friend to the trailhead, and started our hike for the next three days. We started at the town of Nayapul through a beautiful valley full of farmlands and small villages. Our lunch consisted of Daal Bhat that did not agree with Dennis. I joked about him having “Daal Butt,” dooming myself for a fate far worse.
We stayed our first night at Hille, in a small rustic teahouse owned by our Sherpa’s family, and dined on some Mo Mo’s and Daal Bhat. The whole Annapurna circuit is linked by teahouses, so it is not necessary to bring any camping gear or food whatsoever. The villages are only accessible by
this trail, and the inhabitants are completely cut off from the rest of civilization. There are numerous caravans of horses and water buffalo shuttling supplies to and fro. Villagers carry large heavy woven baskets on their backs for miles in this steep terrain.
The next morning we set off after a large breakfast, and I immediately was feeling nauseous. After about 5 miles I was violently vomiting and had cold chills throughout my body. Our goal for that day was Ghorepani, so I pushed on weakly for another 10 miles, stopping every so often curling in the fetal position, wondering how I was ever going to make it back down. At one point I stopped at a squat toilet vomiting violently, and Dennis sweetly held back my hair.
The trail was mainly incredibly steep unevenly spaced stone steps that burn your thighs. The higher we climbed the trail it left the low farmlands into an amazing rainforests full of huge towering bamboo, and rhododendron trees. We followed a large stream, having to cross large suspension bridges every so often. There were numerous waterfalls and incredible swimming holes with monkeys on the shorelines.
We spent the night in Ghorepani, which is
a hilltop village overlooking the Himalayas. I took some Cipro to kill whatever parasites I had ingested and Dennis tucked me in under numerous blankets. I quickly passed out for the night hoping I would feel better for our 0430 hike to the top of Poon Hill, 2 miles straight up from town.
I woke feeling a bit better, and we hiked in the dark to Poon Hill to watch the sunrise over the Himalayas. The view was an incredible 360 degree panoramic of snow covered 24,000+ high peaks. Several of the top 12 highest mountains in the world were in close view. 200-500 tourists make this hike every morning because the views are so incredible.
We hiked the entire length back down to our start point in record time. Our poor Sherpa said he had never done it so quickly, however he likes to take tea breaks every hour, and 1 ½ long meal breaks.
We got back to town early enough to visit a Tibetan refugee camp on the outskirts of town, just in time for their afternoon prayers in the monestary. We were served sweet tea by a young monk, maybe 8 years old, while the
monks chanted prayers to the beating of drums and the blowing of horns. It was saddening to see the Tibetans as refugees, however here they were able to proudly display photos of the 14th Dalai Lama, and sing his praises. I spoke with a middle aged woman, who said that she was taken by her parents over 50 years ago to escape the Chinese. I told her we had just visited Tibet and tears welled in her eyes as she lamented she could not remember what her homeland looked like, and feared she would never see it before she died. I tried to lighten the conversation and remark that at least here she could freely practice her religion without persecution. She lowered her voice and said the Maoists here are cracking down, and that she was afraid of what their future would be here in Nepal.
There are more photos below