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
On day seven my trek started deviating from the proposed itinerary. I was supposed to walk to the high camp (4800 meters) on day 7 and on day 8 we would have crossed the Thorang-La pass if things went according to plan. But they didn’t. I got up early in the morning and went to have a breakfast at 6.30 am as usual.
Mist at Letdar, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
The weather was unsettled. Through the mist, I could see snow on the nearby peaks at Letdar. I went to the dining hall and had an apple pancake with honey. Honey was important because even at 4200 meter food started sticking to my palate. With honey I could still gulp it down. While I was still having my breakfast it started raining and after a while it started pouring. Hari and I decided to delay our departure. I went back to my room after breakfast as it was cold in the dining hall.
View from my Lodge Room, Letdar, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
While I waited for the rain to subside, it turned into snowing. It was soft initially and but after a while the snow started falling with a purpose! For the first two hours it was fun. The green meadow behind my room gradually turned white. I was in no mood to get out and walk to the high camp in this weather. So I stayed inside. While I was musing there was a knock on the door, Hari was there. He said, “if the weather continued like this, others are thinking of giving up the trek. It has already been snowing higher up for the past 3 days and it is becoming unsafe.” I told him, “I would gladly turn back if he thought it was unsafe, after all he knew the conditions better than me. And I have a small daughter to go back to!” So we waited and it became lunch time. By now it was cold and I was using the sleeping bag and the blanket both in my room. I had only one book to read and I had to ration it or else it would be over soon.
The Winter Wonderland in June, Letdar, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
This was the other lodge which I could see from our dining room. By now there was snow everywhere and it was still falling with purpose. I had daal bhaat for lunch once again. There was no proper fire in the dining hall and it was just too cold. We debated about breaking a chair and putting it in the apology of the fire that was burning in one corner. One of the guides went into a small room and brought out more yak dung but it made no difference to the quality of the fire. There was not enough wood at the lodge.
One person with his guide came walking in snow during the afternoon. We asked him how his experience was and he said as he was from Cape Town in South Africa he had never seen snow before. He was thrilled to bits about walking in snow. His name was Ashraf. Soon there was a merry crowd in the dining hall. Justin and Erick, a couple from Australia and Yaap from Holland. We all would look at the falling snow and giggle. Future plans were being discussed. Some of us had more time and they said if the weather did not improve they may get down and try to cross the pass later. I had no such luxury. If the weather didn’t improve I would have to walk back because of my limited leaves. After lunch we went back to rest and keep warm in our rooms.
Snow by Evening, Letdar, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
We gathered again in the dining hall for the evening tea and I borrowed a book from the Australian girl (she had a beautiful name but I just can’t remember it). Others decided to play cards. They had brought the blankets down from their rooms and I also got tucked inside one. That was the only way to keep the cold out.
As I was sitting on the same table they dealt me the cards too. And we had hours of fun chatting and playing cards. Of all the games I played, I remember the name of only one which was called ‘bullshit’. See it is easy to remember. I won it once too! It was great fun, chatting and playing.
We got to know that the Australian couple lost their SLR at the beginning of the trip. We talked about calming insurance and the kind of photographs the card had for a while. A joint was rolled and a lot of people from our group went out for a smoke. I was asked if I would but then I have never been tempted to smoke a regular cigarette, what about a joint! We played some more card games and it became dinner time. We had food and went to our rooms. All I could do was to wait and see how the weather would turn out the next day. It still snowed outside with he same forceful purpose.
Read another day’s account from my Annapurna Circuit Trek in Nepal
As it was raining when I went to sleep, I wondered if walking from Manang to Letdar would be in pouring rain. When I got up I could hear the rain before I could see it. But when you have to go you have to go! So I got out and went about having an early breakfast and started out in rain.
No Motorcycles Beyond Manang!
As we started walking out of Manang I came across this no motorcycle notice. As of now it was raining mildly so I still kept my camera out. My rucksack was not waterproof so everything was packed inside polythene (I brought back everything and they will be reused). It worked as I would have one dry change of dress when I would reach the next stop.
For a while it rained mildly and I clicked a few pictures. I got to see the Gangpurna Lake in the distance once again as we climbed up to Upper Manang. However I was already inside my Gandlaf without magic cloak (raincoat actually, have to post a icture) and handling the camera was not easy. Still what is a trek without clicking pictures, so I went on.
Upper Manang, Nepal
However by the time I reached this stupa it was raining so much that I had to put my camera in my backpack! I have already given a watery grave to my previous SLR at Havelock, I do not wish to repeat that performance ever!
If you have ever trekked in the rain for the whole day you know how miserable it feels. If you have not trekked in the rain for the whole day you are lucky, I hope you never get to experience it. One hour, two hour of rain is a different matter but whole day in rain, I can do without it. But not so on this trek.
No Name, Same Place Tea Shop, Ghunsang, Nepal
Thus walking in rain we reached to the ‘No Name, Same Place Tea Shop’ where we stopped for tea. It was a welcome break and an opportunity to get out of the rain and the cloak. I also took out my camera and took a picture of the shop with the unique name. This was the last picture I took on this particular walk. It rained so much that my camera never came out after this. Oh! and there is no Harry Potter anywhere, they mean to say horse and porter service available.
After tea we reluctantly got out of the shop as it was still raining. After a while my water proof shoes were soaking wet because rain would trickle from the socks above my ankle. After an hour and half we stopped for lunch. By now rain had found a way to get into my clothes too. Luckily the lodge owners had put an an angithi below the dining table and it drew everyone around like a magnet. We tried unsuccessfully to dry our socks. Outside it rained unabated.
Soon lunch was over as well but the rain continued and so did we. At one point it was raining so hard that we stood beneath a yellow barsati (plastic hanging out to form a shelter). After another hour or so I reached Letdar and managed to get out of my wet clothes. I was now at an altitude of 4200 meters as well and it was cold now. There was mist all around. And due to some reason the lodge at Letdar didn’t had a proper fire. It rained when I had tea and it still rained when I came down for dinner. I sincerely hoped that it would stop the next day. I did not wish to walk in rain for the whole day again. Little did I know what was in store for me actually! I fell asleep to the sound of rain as well!
And if you are tired of reading about nothing but rain imagine how I tired I must have been after walking in it.
Read another day’s account from my Annapurna Circuit Trek in Nepal