If the weather would have cooperated with us we would have on the other side of the Throng La pass by now. But after the snow at Letdar we decided to walk back. I was looking forward to reach Chame because my cell phone would work there. I was looking forward to all the calls I could make.
For a change it was not raining hard when I started walking after breakfast. But raining it was. The mist looked beautiful but I knew what it was hiding.
The Mist on the Mountains, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
By now we were fairly sure that there were no jeeps at Chame and we would have to walk further. I was quite philosohpical about it, anyway I had no other options. If there were no jeeps or motorcycles then you walk, it was as simple as that. But while walking back I did view the road with slightly different feelings. After all, the people who live there, should walking be the only option for them? I was not so sure anymore that road was a bad option. After all I was forced to walk back in their shoes for three days and I quickly saw sense behind the road.
We had another minor adventure while getting out of Humde. Once again a stream was raging on what used to be the road. There was a narrow wooden plank across it. Hari asked if I would like to wade through but I told him I would cross by the plank. I gave my bag to a local gentleman on the other side who continuously cautioned me to go slowly. I inched across the plank, he gave me his hand for the last few steps. And suddenly I was on the other side. The local person remarked that he had not seen so much rains at Manang in last 40 years! He could not remember any other time when it rained for 4 days in a row.
I stopped for tea at Pissang around 9.00 am. I had only walked for two hours and I was already feeling tired. From here till Chame, which I reached at 2.00 pm I sustained myself by thinking of all the phone calls I would get to make! And even then it was a tough going.
A Child at a Lodge, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
At Chame we had lunch at the same spot where we stayed while going up. I asked for Daal Bhaat and promptly started calling home. It was then I got to know about the Uttarakhand tragedy. It was 19th June and I had no inkling as there was no TV nothing higher up. So back home everyone was worried about me and the weather conditions in Nepal too. They were quite relieved to hear that we were safe and just facing rains and nothing more.
After lunch we started walking once again. I met a local woman who was gathering data for her Ph.D. in Buddhism from Manang and nearby areas. We walked together for the rest of the journey. The rain had stopped by now and what a relief it was.
We met a small girl (in the picture above) at Dhanchok where we stopped for tea. I asked her if she went to school and she said yes and pointed in one direction. She looked too small so I asked her mother as well. She laughed and said no was not going to school yet! She also liked to use the stick as a sword and expected me to fight with my walking pole. I did not do much fighting but it was fun.
Mint Tea on the Way, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
Tea keeps me going throughout the day but it becomes absolutely essential for me on a trek. A cup of tea break gives my legs a much needed breather and revives me as well. I like chai actually but on these routes they use milk powder so I switch to mint and ginger tea. I put my feet up and enjoyed my tea. We were still some distance away from Timang and that is how far we were going to go, we could not reach Danaque.
Refreshed after tea we started again only to find a waterfall on the road a short distance ahead. This time there was no doubt, I was going to take off my shoes and wade through with Hari’s help. The water was not deep but it was so so cold. I crossed it giggling, laughing and cursing, all at the same time! Putting on my shoes again I told Hari and the lady walking with us that I would slowly move ahead. I think in less than half an hour I was at Timang.
The Lodge at Timang, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
The lodge at Timang was spotlessly clean. It was such a luxury to go and crash in such a room. All the lodges at the route were clean barring the ones in bigger cities like Beshishahar and Pokhara. When I came to the dining room for my tea Hari told me that there were jeeps from Chamche in all probability. That was good news. We decided to start at 6.00 am the next morning after a 5.40 breakfast. In city if someone tries to wake me up at 5.00 am they risk grievous bodily harm but on the treks I am a different person.
I met a young girl and her godmother from Canada in the dining hall. The godmother was 59 and still trekking. There is hope for me too then. They were also on the same plan the next day. They asked me, “is not a little unusual for an Indian women to trek?” I told them it was not unusual to trek maybe it was a little unusual to trek solo. But as my daughter is small my husband and I take turns to do bigger treks. And it is his turn to trek in August!
Dahlia Flowers at the Lodge, Timang, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
After dinner all I could think was of the possibility of finding a jeep at Chamche. Chamche was beyond Dharapani but before Jagat. It was a long way ahead but there was no other option but to try to reach the place. The reward would be reaching Beshishahar the same day and enjoying at Pokhara the next day.
I must have walked for 8-9 hours to reach Timang from Humde. On other days, I have reached London from Dehli in 9 hours or so!
Read another day’s account from my Annapurna Circuit Trek in Nepal
If you do the regular Annnapurna Circuit Trek you will not be doing this. You would be walking to high camp at 4800 meters after Letdar. However weather had other ideas for us. When I got up I could hear the rain, once again, before I saw it. Even though it was not snowing anymore it was raining hard. We decided to turn back, so did a lot of other people staying at the lodge. For me the trek was over now, all I wanted was to get out and go to Pokhara. However for that we needed to walk back. Remember there were jeeps at Chame? They suddenly became very attractive to me. So after breakfast we started walking back. The plan was to have lunch at Manang and stay at Humde which is between Manang and Pissang. Humde has an airport at 11500 meters but it is used only by charter flights.
A Bridge near Letdar, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
So after breakfast we walked through snow but as there was only a little on the path, it did not pose much of a problem. Also going downhill is faster even for me if the way is not steep downhill. And this route was not. However, as we wanted to get out quickly now we were walking longer!
Marshyangdi River near Letdar, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
These are the only two pictures I clicked on the route. It was raining so much that my precious (my camera) stayed inside my bag after this point. And even while going down, walking in the rain is a miserable experience. To top it up I wore socks which were below ankle length thinking that would prevent water seeping through the socks. But my new ankle high shoe left two deep gashes above my ankles even before I reached Manang. Injury wise it was not much but it was painful. However, limping and all I reached Manang in 20 minutes or so after getting the gashes. When Justin saw my injury he took out adhesive for me even without my asking. And Erick gave me his long socks. These small gestures at a time like this mean so much. We bought some adhesive as well. Once I applied it and had some food I was willing to walk again. And don’t even try to suggest that I did not break my new shoes. I did but on the city roads which had no rolling stones. It was useless when I walked down in rain to Manang as almost every other stone moved and made my ankles twist and turn in all crazy ways. That is how I got the cuts and not because I forgot to break in my new shoes.
We had an adventure just outside Manang. Motorcycle tracks were long gone by now. At one point there was a swift stream flowing through the road. It was quite fast and Heera jumped across it somehow, leaping from stone to stone. There was no way I was even going to try that! So I took off my shoes and socks and waded through it with Hari and Heera’s help. They put big stones in it so that we could step on them and somehow get out. We got out, don’t ask me how, in the end. The rain was pouring all the while.
I was going well for quite sometime after this. At one point we even talked about walking till Pissang. But just as we approached Humde I got cramps in my right leg, my first and only experience of cramps on trekking so far. I hobbled painfully as Hari went asking for place to stay at the lodges.
Village Humde, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
He told me that most of the lodges were not ready (I don’t know why) to give a room. So I told him that we should go together and ask. There were three women at the next lodge and they welcomed me. I was so happy to find a roof over my head. I was not too tired, but the cramp made me really uneasy. It did ease out after a rest of 20 minutes. The bigger challenge now to was to dry the wet clothes as I had no more clean clothes to use for the next day. If I used the dry pair that I was wearing for trekking then I would have no dry clothes to change into, which is worse. So I told myself that I would walk in the semi-dried clothes and keep one pair completely dry rather than get everything wet.
When I went down to the dining hall, the lady of the house invited me to their kitchen as there was a fire going on. It was a complete privilege. It had been raining for the last 4 days and the kitchen had buckets placed in strategic corners to collect the rainwater from the leaking roof. There were repairs done with polythene patches but it was also such a warm place and not just because of the fire. The owner of the house was saying his evening prayers (Buddhist) in the kitchen and would chat with me in English in between as well. They offered me tea. Later they said I could take my meal in the kitchen itself. By now I stopped writing my diary. I actually stopped at the day it snowed at Letdar itself. There were neighbors who kept coming and going inside the kitchen. I could not understand much of the conversation but it had a lot to do with the weather and the rains.
Prayer Flags at Humde, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
I asked Hari what did they say about jeeps at Chame. He said the roads were no longer functional at Chame and there were no jeeps. If I had to walk up to Beshishahar I might even miss my flight to India, it was so far away! But no one knew for sure, we had to walk and see. When we asked about the motorcycle tracks they said just outside Humde the roads were cut and water was flowing on the road! So no motorcycles either.
After dinner I had to go to sleep as there was no power supply at Humde due to the rains. Sleep anyway came quickly as I was tired. The question was would I get the jeeps at Chame or would it turn out to be a long walk to Beshishahar? At least at Chame I would get to call home. I was already late by a day and I knew folks back home would have been worried.
The next day we were surely walking to Chame and if there were no jeeps, then up to Timang or Danaque.
Oh! and did I say it took me 11 rain soaked hours (breaks for lunch and tea included) to walk from Letdar to Humde?
Read another day’s account from my Annapurna Circuit Trek in Nepal
I am Mridula Dwivedi, I love to travel! I started my travel blog in 2005. I have been going places since! For more details do check out my media kit! In another life I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur. I was a professor when I quit my job in 2015.
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