This morning we woke to glorious blue skies and amazing views of Annapurna 2 and the Annapurna range. The original plan which was also on our itinerary had us taking the lower road to our next stop, Manang, but I had read that the upper road offers much nicer views of the mountains. As the weather last night was so bad we had agreed to take the easier low road, but with the weather so clear now we all agreed to take the longer, higher and more scenic route. We also decided that we would do that and not do the Ice Lake trek tomorrow which would be another long 8 hour return hike. This would increase our hiking time from 6 to 9 hours plus in meant ascending to 3,800m before descending to Manang at 3,300m. Sudarshan was happy to change the route for us and explained that the porters would take the easier route, which made sense.
We set off at 08:00 and it didn’t take long before we started a very steep climb. Thankfully however there were no steps, just a steep track and sometimes switchbacks. We hiked on a relatively level track for about 80 minutes
before crossing a bridge and starting the difficult part going up and up until we reached our morning tea stop in Ghyaru at 10:35 with stupendous views of the Annapurna range.
That however was not the end our climb upwards. We started again around 11:10 and didn’t reach the highest part of the trail until about 12:10 but thankfully the last part wasn’t as steep as the first section. All along the way we were all gobsmacked by the beauty of the scenery. This is what we had worked so hard to see and we were not disappointed.
The track then went downwards and we reached our lunch destination. Ngwal at 13:15 at the Annapurna Restaurant. We ordered egg, vege noodles and a pizza but none of us were that hungry so there was quite a bit left over. Sudarshan then asked us to tell him next time if we weren’t hungry and he would order smaller portions as he said that in the mountains they don’t really like it when food is left over.
We started off again at 14:10 and Sudarshan said we would need another 3-3.5 hours to reach Manang, our stop for two
nights. Along the way we passed a farm with a lot of animals and I came across a mini-avalanche on one of the switchback roads. We also walked through a beautiful forest area. Even though Sudarshan said the last part was mainly down, there were still some shorter hills to climb so we descended only about 100 metres from the lunch spot but there was a lot of up and down and by the time we reached our Manang teahouse on schedule at 17:30, Hotel Himalayan Singi, we were absolutely exhausted. I completely seemed to shut down when I got to our room and started shivering and had freezing hands, so immediately put warmer clothes on and got under the doona and sleeping bag and fell asleep almost immediately. I woke at 19:30 and Mitch was still in the room so we decided to go down for dinner. By now I had recovered quite well and was almost back to normal and we met up with the others who had only just ordered themselves.
After dinner we stayed and had a nice chat with Sudarshan about his life and his plans for the future and Mitch told him about
all his Nepalese friends who worked as kitchen hands in Australia and some of whom became chefs.
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