Day 1 - Syange (1,130m) - Tal (1,700m) (Annapurna Circuit trek)


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April 16th 2012
Published: May 14th 2012
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What a difference a sleep makes. Yesterday I was a tired anxious mess but today I wake up feeling great and very excited about the journey ahead. I decide on oat porridge for breakfast, figuring it’s good energy food. As struggle through the sloppy dribble I wonder how many days I will be able to stomach porridge before I break down and resort to eating something far less sensible. Maybe a day if the porridge is always this bad? From the moment I take my first step on the trail I love it, KC and me seem to be communicating much better and I’m pleased to see that he walks at a medium to slow speed after initially being worried that he would be very fast. KC walks especially slowly up hills which forces me to walk slowly and thus use less energy, something which will prove very important on this marathon of a trek. I get the feeling today that KC knows what he’s doing which makes me feel safe and relaxed, oh what a difference a day makes.

The views from the outset are incredible, I have wanted to visit the Himalayas for a long time and being here finally feels very, very special. I have been criticised/mocked in the past for the way I describe things, indeed one of my college lectures once told me that I ‘am prone to hyperbole’. However, the Himalayas are simply so beautiful and spectacular that while the below may sound like hyperbole I assure it is 150% true.

It is hard to describe the majesty of the mountains and the sense of awe you feel walking amongst these giants, here is an aesthetic Shangri-la which cannot justly be described by words or captured by picture. The sensation of being amongst such splendour is a four sense thing which can only truly be experienced firsthand. It is often the case that there are gross differences between how you dream and imagine a place to be and the reality of what it is actually like, it is often hard for the hype to match the reality. Not so here. My expectations had here on day one already been completely blown out of the water, I expected beauty but had not banked on being so emotionally moved by the landscape that at times I felt like I might shed a little tear. Of course being British I would never allow myself such a public out pouring of emotion, good god no! Control yourself Mark! Repress those emotions! Yes, being in Himalayas, clichéd as it sounds, really was for me a dream come true, I was living the dream!

The walk had 4 main sections for me.

1. The section of awestruck adrenalin

In the morning I was so pumped to be on the trail that I was running on pure adrenalin (and porridge), it was an incredible feeling. We reached our first port of call (Chamje) early as we were walking at a good pace, we were due to have lunch here but as it was only 10.30 and I was on a high I decided to continue to Tal (our final destination) for lunch.

2. The section of enjoyment and first niggles of tiredness.

I started to get a little hungry and low on energy on the steep walk from Chamje to Tal. However I was still finding the walk relatively easy, we were doing a very sensible pace and the scenery was still fantastic. Of particular note was a divide in the valley where the Masryangdi River split into two. Dividing the rivers was a spectacular, sheer rock face which must have been several hundred metres in length, it’s gargantuan imposing nature making it look like a relic of a forgotten Tolkienesque fantasy world, appearing to be so Hollywood in proportion that it almost didn’t look real. Unfortunately my camera lense was not wide enough to capture it so I have no photos, I’m afraid you will just have to use your imagination!

3. The section of tiredness

By this point I am badly in need of food, energy levels are low and lethargy is making carrying my light day sack feel like a strong man challenge. However while tiredness was certainly taking its toll I wasn’t yet finding the walk unbearable, I felt like I could carry on for a considerable distance once I had refuelled my body. Fortunately this challenging section only lasted 30 mins as we climbed a steep rocky path, upon reaching the summit of the path we immediately hit section four.

4. The section of elation and adrenalin filled pride

In front of me was a stone arch gateway which proclaimed ‘Welcome to the Manang district’, I looked through the arch and onto the sweeping valley below, perched by the side of the meandering river below was our final destination, Tal. We had done it! 1 out of 20 days done, 19 to go! The endorphin buzz I got from completing the walk was enough by itself to make the walk worthwhile!

The sight of the town through the gates was almost unreal, I had seen Michael Palin looking at things like this on TV but now here I was seeing it myself in person. The sight of the sweeping, sparse, sandy valley floor was completely different to anything I had seen throughout the day, once again I felt like I had discovered a forgotten magical land. Once again I felt like I was walking through the pages of a Tolkien book.

Upon arrival at our rustic by pleasant accommodation I ordered Dhal Bat (Nepali staple of rice, dhal soup, veg/meat curry, pickle and poppadom) for lunch, it was very tasty and also very much appreciated after the hard days trek. Dhal Bat is the perfect trekkers meal, firstly it contains a well balanced mixture of carbs, protein and veg, secondly it is pretty much always tasty, thirdly and most importantly because you can have as many refills as you like! Indeed I ate the equivalent of two meals that day for lunch but didn’t feel too bad considering I had burnt around 1,000 calories just getting to Tal.

After lunch I slept for 3 hours, woke up, bought some toilet roll, had dinner and then headed back to bed, hitting the hay at a very late 20.15! I went to bed that night feeling great, it had been a fantastic day, KC had been great, all my prior concerns had proven to be unfounded and I was now very much looking to the rest of my trek. Oh and I wasn’t feeling achy at all, bonus!


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