Annapurna Base Camp trek part 2


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November 20th 2019
Published: November 20th 2019
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Day 4 of the trek, November 6 - from Nepal Hiking Team Itinerary - Chuile to Chhomrong (2020m/6625 ft) Duration 5 hours. We shall descend down the precipitous trail leaving Chuile; and continue through the riotous woodland and forest as we reach Gurung, the village of the Gurung people.

A clear morning meant chilly temperatures but it was worth if for our first really clear view of Machhapuchhre (or Fishtail). In the grand scheme of mountains in this part of the world (where to be considered a mountain, it has to be over 6000m), fishtail was relatively low at a mere 6993m. The day is memorable for a lot of down followed by a lot of up (but we were generally descending as part of the whole acclimatization plan). Long pants and warm layers were quickly exchanged for shorts and T shirt. Another beautiful scenic day with terraced rice fields and misty valleys along with a couple of suspension bridges.

There was no point in rushing to our home for the night because once we finished each days trek, there was never anything to do in the evening (or as became our common phrase “dick to do”). We were
usually snug in our sleeping bags by 8:00pm - especially as we had to vacate the common eating area by around 7:30pm in order for the guides and porters to eat. I was expecting to lose weight on this trek simply because of the physical exertion, but we were so well fed with huge portions, I don’t think that will happen. Over the course of the 10 days, we ate spring rolls and chips, momos(Nepalese dumplings), tomato cheese macaroni, pizza, veg/egg/mixed fried rice, pakwada (Nepalese pakoras) - the list goes on - all accompanied by green chilli sauce and fresh chillies if desired. Not being a fan of instant coffee, I stuck to masala tea which was made with milk powder (and if tap water was used, at least it was boiled) as well as hot lemon drink.

Actual walking statistics today - only 17000 steps and 12 km

Day 5 November 7 - from Nepal Hiking Team Itinerary - Chhomrong to Dovan (2600m/8528ft). Duration 5 hours. The trail will continue to lead us to Chhomrong Khola, alacritous in its everlasting pursuit of joining the wide ocean, effervescent with the gleam of the Sun. We shall then climb to Khuldighar elevated at 2380m. The Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) Check-post is situated here. The trail is a continuous descend to Dovan from there.

By now, our morning routine is firmly established - out of warm sleeping bags in time to pack our duffel bags before breakfast. Bim and Sheba each strap 2 bags together and then Bim does a sweep of each room to make sure nothing is left behind - we catch up with the porters at various stages of the day - morning break, lunch and afternoon break. Breakfast is always ordered the night before and we have about 30 minutes before hitting the trail.

Today we go a long way down a stone staircase and then an even longer up on the other side to Sinuwa. To take our minds off the up, we counted the stairs - all 2800 of them. We return the same way in a few days so will count the other side of the valley then. It is down again to our pretty lunch stop in Bamboo and then it is a gradual up to upper Dovan. By now we are in the Annapurna Conservation Area and the
big downside is that there is a limit to new construction along the route. We are trekking in the high season and this means a shortage of rooms so all four us are now in the same room - a tiny room with thin plywood walls, right next to the smelly squatters. Definitely not impressed with this place!!!! The food continues to be great, although I do not want to look into the kitchen! Solar power is used here and is an excuse for higher than normal prices. I am glad I do not feel the need for a shower (wet wipes work great, plus I had a hot shower the night before) and my camera batteries are still going strong. When getting water for my hiking water bladder I was given a choice of tap or filtered! Definitely filtered thanks!!!!! Definitely getting cold at night and I am finally wearing long johns at night.

Actual walking statistics today - 23,428 steps and 16.5 km

Day 6 of the Trek - from Nepal Hiking Team itinerary - Dovan to Deurali (3200m/10500 ft) Duration 4 hours. Our continuation of the trail is adjacent to emerald and jaded bamboo forests;
the sweet sound of bamboo leaves rustling in the wind provides aesthetics to the soul, and the zenith of blossoming Rhododendrons hail our journey to Deurali. We shall pass the Himalayan Hotel and trek on to Hinko (3020m), the trail lined with petrified trees and burnt sienna foliage. Deurali lies above the ridges of Hinko, and once we reach Deurali, we shall be accommodated into a guesthouse. The trail leading from Hinko to Deurali is the one which is most susceptible to avalanches, the terra firma a treacherous marshal of rickety soil and loam.

A short day of only 3.5 hours but a 600 m elevation gain. The climb was fairly gradual but very rocky so coming down again will be interesting. Another teeny tiny room for the four of us, but overall a very pleasant place to stay. The afternoon was for relaxing (reading) and getting acclimatized. Clouds have been rolling in and out of the valley all day so we have our fingers crossed for decent weather tomorrow (summit day).

Actual walking statistics today - a mere 11,344 steps and 8.18km

Day 7 of the trek - November 9 - Deurali to Annapurna Base Camp (4130m/13810 ft) - duration 5hours. We shall climb past the Machhapuchhre Base Camp (3700m) (which really isn’t a Base Camp since climbing the mountain is not permitted) to the Annapurna Base Camp. The Mountain and its surrounding areas are under protection by the Government of Nepal, hence, the Annapurna ‘Sanctuary Trek’. From the Machhapuchhre Basecamp, we hike for two more hours to Annapurna Base Camp for an overnight halt. The imperial elegance of the snowy mountains, isolated and standing vigil for time eternal under the heavens shall greet us. The monumental mountains, towering above in astronomical proportions are a sight to behold.

We started early as typically the clouds roll in around late morning/early afternoon. A really cold start under clear sunny skies and it was not long before I was down to a t shirt - too chilly for shorts though. Today was an easy, gradual trek but with a 900m elevation gain, it was a slow plod (like all the other days). This was also the first day we were actually out of the bamboo jungle and on tussocky slopes. We were fortunate to have clear skies until early afternoon so really got to appreciate the plateau basin that is Annapurna Sanctuary with the Annapurna Massif and Machhapuchhre front and center. We have made it!!!!

Tonight we are in a room with 10 beds squished into it - fortunately there are only 8 of us (us 4, two Chinese girls and a Spanish couple, all of whom are with Nepal Hiking Team) so we have 2 beds free for the bags. Needless to say, we made new friends! Our eyes must have got big when we were shown our room, as we were then offered “the cottage” (a corrugated tin shack, an icy distance away from the toilets) or a tent! We stuck with the crowded room.

As soon as the clouds rolled in, the temperatures plummeted and by late afternoon I was wearing all my layers. The oversized down jackets provided for us were also finally put into use. The clouds cleared in time for sunset on Fishtail - the scenery certainly made up for the bleakness of the camp. As we were standing around waiting for the sunset (and freezing our butts off) we started to talk to an Indian fellow who was in a group that left Deurali the same time we did in the morning (7:30) but it took them 8 hours as “our group is all over 50” and they were flying out by helicopter the next morning. He was most impressed by our energetic 60ish group.

Actual walking statistics today - 17,448 steps and 12.26 km

Day 8, November 10 - from Nepal Hiking Team Itinerary - Annapurna Base Camp to Bamboo (2310m/7575 ft - duration 7hours. Descending the same trail which is like a boon companion to us by now at this point, we shall hike down to Modi Khola at Bamboo, the elevation dropping by 1700m. The area is flanked by some lodges and tea-houses, isolated among the vastness of the open mountain, greeted each morning by crisp cold air and the immensity of solitary desolation.

There was no mention in the itinerary about the dogs that slept outside the room and who barked all night!!!! Or the extremely squeaky door that was a distraction any time anyone had to do a late night toilet break! Needless to say, no one got a lot of sleep so we were all ready to get up at 6:15am to brave the freezing sunrise on the Annapurnas. Our oversized down jackets were no good for hiking in (too bulky for the pack to fit over) - so it was all layers on (and quickly shed as the sun got on the trail) for the long downward trek to Bamboo. It is great to be in shorts and t shirts hiking in the Himalaya. There were lots of back ward glances for our last look at the mountains before the afternoon clouds rolled in. Although today was easy on the lungs, we kept reminding ourselves to stop for water breaks - hydration was still important. Entertainment was provided by a troop of Langoor monkeys playing in the jungle.

Actual walking statistics today - 29,106 steps and 19.2km

Part 3 coming soon

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Tot: 3.132s; Tpl: 0.053s; cc: 7; qc: 51; dbt: 0.0407s; 3; m:saturn w:www (104.131.125.221); sld: 3; ; mem: 1.4mb