|Well after 20 days of trekking we are back in Pokhara. We did the Annapurna Circut counterclockwise starting in Bessisahar and ending in Jomsom. Most days we would wake up early (around 5 or 6) and do about a 4 of 5 hour walk to the next town, stopping to eat Dall Bhatt (Rice, lentil soup, curry, and pickles) along the way. The beginning of the Trek was hot, humid, and covered with lush greenery. It seemed as though every 100ft there was an even more epic waterfall, most of them thin and falling hundreds of feet before seemingly disappearing into nothing but mist. These first days were pretty hard, just getting used to our heavy pack, the heat, and the rising prices of food. Our second day in we made a wrong turn and ended up wandering through endless rice paddy fields, and bush whacking up insanely steep hills. But we made it finally, exhausted to the next town. In the beginning we were able to take hot showers regularly which was awesome, most places have solar water heaters. As we made our way higher the terrain began to change to look more like Colorado. At one point we passed through a pine forest that felt exactly like climbing near Chautauqua. As we got even higher we started to see snow capped peaks, and by the time we arrived in Manang we were surrounded on all sides by gorgeous towering mountains and glaciers. After resting a few days in Manang, and indulging in a few movies at the local cinema (A small room with yak skin covered benches) we took a side trip up to Tilicho Lake, the highest lake in the world. It was by far the hardest climb I have ever done. It takes 2 days to reach the lake, the first day is about a 7 hour hike during which you gain almost 2,000 ft, and have to weave (and duck) your way across scree fields where golf ball sized rocks periodical rain down from above you. We stayed that night at base camp, and then ascended 3,450 feet to the 17,000ft lake the next morning. It was so hard to breath it took us about 4 hours to hike the 3 miles up there. But it was worth it, the lake it's self is huge and is the bluest water i have ever seen, it's so blue it makes the sky look dull. It is surrounded on all sides by huge snowy mountains, and while we sat drawing and enjoying the view we got to see a few small avalanches which was pretty cool. On our way out we met a fantastic Frenchman named Franck, who we guessed to be about 45. He speaks perfect English with a wonderful accent and we spent a few days hanging out with him, trekking to the next destination. He has many wonderful and interesting story's to tell. He was working in Johannesburg, South Africa for 10 years right in the middle of Apartheid, and told us some wild story's about that period of his life. He has 2 sons who are 18 and 20, and he came here to Nepal to "get a break from the trouble makers."
A few more hard days of trekking brought us to Thorung Phedi, the base camp for Thorung La, the 17,700 ft pass and climax of the Annapurna circuit. We woke up at 3am, and left camp at 4am, spending our first hour of steep climbing in the dark. The stars were incredible though, and we got to watch at the first rays of light hit the snowy peaks, causing them to glow bright orange for an hour of so. It took us 4 hours to reach the pass which is beautiful but crowded. We spent about 1/2 hour there enjoying the view and taking pictures in the mounding heaps of prayer flags. We then started the 4 hour decent down to Muktinath, which was very steep and caused both of us to have very sore knees.
After a grueling jeep ride where we were packed like sardines in with many other travelers and locals (including a very creepy old dude who continually elbowed Thomas in the chest) we arrived in Jomsom. We hadn't had a shower in about a week, so even the crappy luke warm showers feelt amazing! Oh to be clean is so wonderfully amazing!!!!! You should all go into your bathrooms right now and marvel at the glorious beauty of clean, dependable, steaming hot, pressurized, marvelous water. And soap, oh, soap, best invention ever, better then sliced bread.
Anyways, the other part of trekking that must be motioned is the animals. There are some goofy animals up here. We were fortunate enough to witness an absolutely hilarious little billy goat escape from it's home no less then 10 times by hoping over walls, butting the gate open with it's head, and sneaking out while people were coming through the gate in order to go munch on the neighbors garden. Each time some different person would scoldingly lead it, chase it, or push it pack into it's yard and close the gate, and each time the goat would sneak it's way out again. We have also seen thousands of donkeys carrying loads of who knows what along the path. They are kind and gentle, but don't seem to have any idea of how big they are, and will unconsciously push you off a cliff if your not careful. There are also Chickens being carried from town to town in large cages by Nepalese men who run a strap over their head and connect it to the cage, and sort of hunch over to carry them. That's how all the Nepalese people carry stuff here, even the porters, it looks so uncomfortable!
From Jomsom we ended up taking a plane back to Pokhara because the trail has been ruined by the fairly recent addition of a road. It's really sad that this has happened, it has not only ruined a very beautiful walk, but has also caused many locals business to suffer, as many trekkers now take buses or planes from Jomsom, skipping all the towns in between. The plane ride was fun though! It was a small little plane, holding only about 20 people and it wasn't pressurized so we had to fly right through the valleys and skim over plateaus. It was really beautiful. The rice fields look like crazy 3D puzzles from the air, and the mountains some how look even more spectacular when your right next to them. The plane ride was only 20 min, and before we knew it we were back in Pokhara gobbling down home made ice cream at our favorite restaurant Sun Welcome!
It's good to be back to hot showers and cheap food, but Thomas and I both miss the quiet of the mountains. We are planning to do another Trek soon!!! That's all for now! Thanks for reading!