25.09.2012 - 25.09.2012
So we survived our first big trek! Not without hitches along the way, minor tantrums from me, loss of socks and shoes, a night separated, landslides, and a lot of rain at the beginning, but we survived!
After a few days chilling in beautiful Pokhara with our fantastic new little brother Russell we set off for Besi Sahar to start the Annapurna Circuit trek. The hitches started the minute we arrived at the bus stand where we found out there was a bus strike and nothing would be leaving for our destination for hours. Typical Nepal apparently! We managed to get a different bus half way then another bus to the start of the trek though so despite the set back we started on the day we wanted. I don't think I had any tantrums on the first day?
The trek itself was absolutely fantastic. Hard work, very VERY tough on rainy days, but so so worth it. I'm not going to go into detail about each day as there's simply too much to tell for 11 days. Some of the more memorable parts include getting leeched, sinking in a landslide to our thighs, climbing up a waterfall, crossing numerous precarious looking 'bridges', poor Russell falling THROUGH a bridge on the first day, Russell's shoes falling apart on the second day, losing Russell for a night on about the fourth day, Russell attempting to cross a landslide in broken shoes - I have to say, this trip would not have been so much fun without dear Russell. We couldn't have asked for a more brilliant travel companion. In fact I couldn't have asked for better travel companions in both Russell AND Lauren Mack! They both knew just when I needed a chocolate bar to keep me going
We became mountain legends due to the night me and Lauren spent apart from Russell, the story wasn't even that exciting but all along the trail everyone knew who we were - it was like being celebs in India again. Really we should have exaggerated the story, wrote a book, sold the movie rights and funded our travels for longer.
The beauty of Nepal is outstanding. I couldn't take enough photos to capture what we were seeing and how much the scenery was changing with every passing day. We went from hot humid rice paddies right through to arid mountain deserts and snow.
The first few days were definitely the hardest with rain coming in each afternoon, leeches getting in our boots (little bastards), humidity that didn't allow clothes to dry overnight and having to put cold wet shoes on each day. Unfortunately it was like this till about the fourth day which ended in a most depressing way of us trying to dry our socks near the stove and actually managing to melt them all apart from one pair for me, one pair for Russell, and two for Lauren that afternoon was also the afternoon we sunk in a landslide which is easily the most terrifying thing that has EVER happened to me. Needless to say we were desperate for some sun....
And so the sun came!! We woke up to blue skies, views of white mountain peaks we didn't even know were there, and with a new sense of get up and go. It was VERY exciting!!
Luckily this weather held for the rest of the trip with each day being more beautiful than the one before. We made it to Thorong La Pass on the 11th day, at a height of 5416 meters above sea level. It was pretty spectacular. We'd had a couple of bad nights sleep due to altitude - sleeping at 4800m is not all that comfortable - so were all a bit nervous about the big trek day, but it wasn't as bad as any of us thought it would be. It was hard, without a doubt it was hard, but not as long as we'd imagined or actually as steep. We left by 6am and reached the pass in brilliant sunshine by 8.30am, it was a beautiful day.
The pass is the highest you can go without crampons or any equipment and the views from the top are breathtaking. And seeing all the prayer flags and the big sign congratulating us reaching the top is something I'll remember forever. It was so cold up there we couldn't stay for long, but long enough to appreciate the views, appreciate the fact we'd done the trek off season so there weren't millions of people, and to appreciate the hot mug of tea we drank to thaw our hands and insides out!
Then it was quickly down down down almost 2000m which hurt more than going up, we were actually using muscles to descend - it was like our feet and bodies didn't understand what was going on! The feeling once we were down at the first town was a total mixture of pure sweet relief it was over, sadness it was over, pride of having actually done it, and HUNGER!! We're still catching up on food now and will be for the rest of the week I expect. I can deal with that.
The Annapurna, to summarise, is bloody amazing. The mountains really are something else. My legs ache, my whole body aches in fact, I stink, my clothes could probably be classed as hazardous to your health, I've got a cold, but I cannot WAIT to get back to them. So bring on Everest!!
And to everyone we met along the way, all you lovely Israelis, team Malaysia and Patrick, Naomi and John you crazy pair on BIKES, Steve and Bailey at the end, and everyone else, thank you for adding to the amazingness of the trip!