After a good rest and 2 chapatis and an omelet for breakfast I was ready to start for Pisang. There was no rain when I started off, the route as usual was beautiful. As usual there were clouds.
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I was a bit optimistic as I had a relatively easy time walking from Dharapani to Chame. For the first 2 hours I could sustain that enthusiasm. Then by two and a half hours this bubble burst and I asked Hari to stop for Chai. In the mountains they make tea with milk powder so I always opt for mint or ginger tea. And as I was trekking in June, at the end of the season, sometimes the lodge owners would not have ginger. But mint was never a problem, they would go to their backyard, get some mint leaves and make mint tea!
Weights they Carry, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
People carrying heavy loads is a common sight in the mountains. And this is also a picture to keep in mind when talking about the road vs no road debate. When Hari asked him how much the weight was he replied it was 90 kg. I can’t even imagine what it must be like. When I start pitying myself on a trek I often remind myself of such people. Even this trick failed. I completely conked off after 2.5 hours, I was really tired and in middle of nowhere.
Walking to Pisang, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
The trouble with conking off in middle of nowhere is that you are in middle of nowhere, so you can’t stop there. The way went up hill after this bridge. I had some difficulty in negotiating it. However after trudging for two hours we reached our lunch point at Dhikur Pokhari.
Lunch Point, Dhikur Pokhari, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
Food always brings some perspective to pain, tiredness and distances to be covered on a trek. I was favoring Dhaal Bhaat for lunch due to some reason for the entire trek. After food, the terrain became relatively flat and I lost that feeling of being terribly tired. The path was incredibly beautiful as well.
View on the Trek, from Chame to Pisang, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
When I was looking back at the pictures, I see that I have clicked very few pictures when I was feeling washed out! However after lunch, I really must have been feeling better as the number of pictures increased.
Beautiful View, Walking from Chame to Pisang, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
I guess such scenery is so alien for my day to day existence that I am willing to put with every discomfort that a trek can through in my path. Walking by such scenes makes up for everything.
Upper Pisang, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
The hotel I stayed at Lower Pisang had 67 steps to it! I asked Hari if he gained any pleasure in choosing that one and both of us laughed. But the view of Upper Pisang that I got from there! Upper Pisang is a fabulous place and I think staying at lower Pissang was a good idea as I could always gaze at the beauty of Upper Pisang all the time.
However sleep came before it. I reached Pisang around 2.00 pm and I woke up after one and a half hour’s sleep. For some reason I was having nightmares about my long completed Ph.D. This is a recurring theme, in the best of the places I dream that I have still not submitted my Ph.D. And that is a nightmare for me even after 10 years of completion. When I came out of my room it was cold and windy. Hari asked me if I would like to walk up to the Monastery at Upper Pisang? I am usually so spent that I say no to side excursion but after a good sleep I agreed.
The Monastery at Upper Pisang, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
I was surprisingly good for the entire walk, my tiredness has vanished. On the way, a lot more people greeted me and one lady asked if I would like to have tea? Unfortunately I had left all the money at the lodge. What a pity, I would have loved to sit and have a cup of tea in one of the shops. I got partial views of Annapurna II but barely visible kind of views, that don’t even show properly in pictures. By now I was getting used to it. I was the only visitor at the monastery and they let me go in. The village dogs were keen on following not knowing that I am afraid of them.
After coming back it was time for a pot of ginger tea again. Only this time there was too much ginger in my tea. We diluted it twice with hot water giggling all the way. You can guess it was seriously off season when Justic, Erick and I were the only guests at the lodge.
This was the day when my down jacket came out for the first time. It is a gift from Brat 2 (my younger nephew) and it is one of the best gifts I ever got. It has kept me warm in seriously cold places. Dinner was early and by 8.00 pm I was back in my room ready for bed. There was an attached bathroom here as well so I was in luxury.
Chuli East as seen from Pisang, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
As I would hit the bed by 8.30 pm every day, it was easy for me to wake up at dawn. And this was the only morning when after taking a peak outside I ran for my camera. The clouds had parted for a while and I could see some peaks, Chuli East straight from the corridor in front of my room!
Pisang Peak and Upper Pisang, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
Also visible was Pisang Peak hovering over Upper Pisang. It was a promising start to the day. I was wondering if the weather would open up for a while after this?
After breakfast my task was to walk up to Manang. At Manang we had a rest day as well.
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This was one of the few walks when I didn’t die on the route. I came to Chame more or less in one piece. And this was one place where my Ncell phone connection worked. Ncell worked very well on the Everest Base Camp Trek but not so on Annapurna Circuit Trek. In fact, Chame was the only place (starting from Sangey, not counting bigger cities like Pokhara, Kathmandu, Beshishehar) where it worked. It was supposed to work at Mukteshwer too but I never reached there to test the theory.
Green Park Lodge at Dharapani, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
After a good rest at the Green Park Lodge at Dharapani I emerged refreshed. The lodges have a communal dining area. My room was on the first floor in the left upper corner of the picture. Two young men from US, Eric and Justin were also trekking on the same dates and as our guides always stayed at the same lodge, by the end of the trek we added each-other on Facebook. Both guys were super fit and would almost run on the trek! I would meet them a few hours later at the next lodge!
Crossing the Road, Dharapani to Chame, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
While walking there are always a few stretches where a fountain or a stream decides to flow on the road. Dharapani to Chame also had one such stretch. I saw this horseman to cross it at ease. Usually instead of hopping from stone to stone I take off my shoes and wade through. However, here I thought the water was less than ankle deep and I decided to just walk through it in my new waterproof shoes. My shoes have good waterproofing but the water was more than ankle deep! So I ended up with very wet shoes but luckily I had my sneakers as well. Now that was the only luxury I allowed myself as I had a guide cum porter.
Flowers and Mountains, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
Soon the wet shoes were forgotten, they now were tied to my small backpack and would dangle around my elbows. After two hours of beautiful but cloud filled scenary, we stopped for tea. Eric and Justin were also there so it was a merry bunch. Rain gods were kind on this day, there were only clouds, no actual rain and it remained that way till I reached Chame.
Giant Himalayan Lily, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
A little after the tea was over I spotted these Giant Himalayan Lilies (and that is the actual name too). I had to stop and click a picture. I remember I sat down to click this one, so on day 2 as well I was capable of bending. By now, I told Hari, my guide, to go ahead and come what may, I walk at one pace- slow. That is all I am capable of. So he was walking a little ahead of me and both of us were happy.
A Local Woman Walking from Dharapani, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
I was a little behind this woman who was on her way to someplace. Even she paused from time to time while climbing uphill. As for the views my guide told me we could see Manaslu, the eighth highest mountain in the world. I did see it for a while but the picture is blank as the sun was right above it. If I had known that was the only view I would get of Manaslu, I would have tried harder to capture it.
Walking from Dharapani to Chame, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
I was having a good time walking at my own pace. This was one rare day when I was not too tired. I was still looking forward to lunch. The apple pancake that I had for breakfast had long back faded into nothing.
Beautiful Trail, Dharapani to Chame, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
Lunch was not far away from this spot. We stopped at Thanchuk to have lunch. As this was the lean season the lodge owners were away and our guides cooked for us! I had Daal-Bhaat again but Justin and Erick were eating more exotic things. After food I was willing to walk again for a while. By now I would my thoughts wandered for the 100th about this trek being a very tiring and expensive lesson about trekking in monsoon. I hoped it might change the next day!
After lunch, looking for scenic spots, flowers, butterflies and birds I was making some progress. At one point, I put down my small backpack to take out the water bottle. There was an elderly gentleman about 15 steps ahead of me. Out of nowhere came a man without any shirt and startled me a little. He however, only asked for water. In his mouth were green leaves half chewed, I wonder what they were. After drinking water he walked ahead of me and I was sure he was drunk. Then he went behind me and after a few minutes he disappeared altogether from my view. Later when I told this incident to Hari, we decided that he will not let me go out of his vision and this is what he did till he left me safely at Pokhara. I was sharply reminded of the fate of Debbie Maveau who was trekking in the Langtang region in 2011.
I reached Chame without any other significant incident. Only my rucksack came apart and we went to the market to buy a new one. All my stuff was now to be transferred to another rucksack which was smaller than my original. Thankfully everything went in except my sleeping bag. That could be tucked on the outside and we were happy.
Noodles for Dinner, Shangri-La Guest Hourse, Chame, Nepal
I sat for an early dinner of noodles after consuming a pot of ginger tea. Even though it is more expensive, I find it easier to drink tea rather than water to maintain the water balance. The noodles went in a flash, they were so good and I was so hungry. While I tried to get up after dinner, I made an ugly face and the person sitting opposite remarked, “Pain?” I laughed and said yes. He replied, “I know the feeling, I have been walking since from morning from Jagat.” My jaws dropped, Jagat was closer to Sangey, for me it was a two day walk which he did in one day!
Hotel Shangri-La at Chame has attached bathroom and those who trek know what a luxury it is! After calling a lot of people (remember this was the only place where my cell phone worked) and telling them I was still alive (no such flippant updates to my father though) I thought I would be able to walk for one more day. The next day I was walking from Chame to Pissang.
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I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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