The Annapurna Circuit has been known as one of the top 10 treks to do in the world! After a 6 hour bus ride to Besisahar, you start trekking beside the Marsyangdi Kola (river) through small villages and farms. New roads are being built now which has changed the nature of this trek but the views are still amazing! The elevation begins around 850 meters and continues to climb as the days go by to over 3000 and 4000 meters.
The crux of the trek is a crossing of Thorung La, a 5416 meter pass that takes you from the Manang valley over to the Kali Gandaki valley. We slept, or at least tried to sleep, at 4925 meters - High Camp - at the last lodge before the pass. It was cold and crowded. The morning temperature was minus 10C. We got up at 4am, ate our porridge and drank tea and coffee before heading out on the trail with our headlamps under the stars!
By 6:15am the sun began to touch the tops of the 6000 and 7000 meter peaks. By 8am we arrived at the top of the pass in brilliant sunshine.
The pass still held 2 meters of snow which almost covered the sign, which 9 years before was at my shoulders! We took our photos and began the 1700 meter descent to Muktinath where we celebrated the Nepali New Year 2069.
After a night in Muktinath we walked the 4 hours to Kagbeni and found green fields and warmth. Kagbeni is the entrance to the restricted areas of the Mustang but has a wonderful location on the bank of the Kali Gandaki river. From here it is only a day's walk to Jomsom and a flight out to Pokhara. Unfortunately the road now extends from Beni to Jomsom and on to Muktinath. This has forever changed the trek although there are some new trails being built on the opposite side of the river from the new roads. You cannot blame locals for wanting what any of us would want - easy access to health care and supplies. However, walking on dusty roads, breathing diesel fumes, avoiding jeep and motorbike traffic is not much fun.
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