Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- Day 6 Manang to Letdar

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 Morotcycles

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.

Manang, Nepal

Manang, Nepal

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

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

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

Annapurna Circuit Trek- Reaching Sangey, Day 1- Sangey to Dharapani, Nepal

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Day 2- Dharapani to Chame

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- Day 3 Chame to Pisang

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- Day 4 Pisang to Manang

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- Day 5 Rest and Acclimatization Day at Manang

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- Day 7 The Snowfall at Letdar

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- The Retreat, Day 8 Letdar to Humde

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- The Retreat, Day 9 Humde to Timang

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- Day 10 The Retreat, Timang to Chamche

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Even though it was a rest day, I still woke up at 5.30 am and looked out of the window. And after just one look, I went to sleep again, it was completely overcast, not a patch of color that I usually associate with the sunrise or the morning sky! I eventually woke up at 8.00 am, by 8.30 I was in the dining hall for breakfast. We thought we would go for our acclimatization walk around 9.30 am. But the weather had other ideas. By the time I sat in the dining hall again in the evening, I wrote this one line, “it rained throughout the day, end of the story.”

Manang, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

Manang, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

Clouds or not, Manang is picture postcard beautiful but by now I was really desperate for a little sunshine and blue skies.  Outside it just rained. So I started reading travel magazines kept in the dining hall. Thus came the lunch time and it still rained. We kept postponing our walk thinking it might stop raining.

I started chatting with the lady who owned the lodge. She could speak Hindi and had been to Delhi, Mumbai, Kashmir and Bangalore. She liked the big cities! When I asked about the road she said, it brought the prices down otherwise Manang used to be a very expensive place.  But two hours after lunch, when it was still raining,  I told Hari, “Let us go and get done with the walk, rain or no rain.”

Gangpurna Lake, Manang, Nepal

Gangpurna Lake, Manang, Nepal

Our first stop was Gangpurna Lake which is right in Manang’s backyard. Walk down to the fields behind the village and a little to the right, there it is. Hari and I were the only people around. Heera Kazi who was with Justin and Erick told me the night before, “Go to Gangpurna Lake and then climb Annapurna III.” To which I told him, “I would sleep over it!” Annapurna III was that close and yet I never saw it, damn clouds they were not willing to yield an inch. And if you think I am cribbing too much this is how Manang looks without the clouds.

Prayer Flags above Manang, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

Prayer Flags above Manang, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

We eventually walked up to these prayer flags. Rain was falling intermittently, so sometimes I was Gandalf with a clock (without magic) and sometimes I could take the cloak (raincoat) off. This was a stiff climb uphill but at least I could see how far we had to go. It took me a little more than hour to get there at a leisurely pace.

Gangpurna Lake, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

Gangpurna Lake, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

On the way up I could see the Gangpurna Lake and what a beauty it is! Once we reached the prayer flags, Hari suggested to go a bit further till the kharka. Kharka means a meadow or a clearing and we walked up to it as well. Then came the time to walk down and it was steep down. I hate getting down a steep path, I am the slowest on such tracks.

Manang, Nepal

Manang, Nepal

I got a fabulous view of the village while climbing down but it was really slow going for me. And then at one point I fell. I have often taken a tumble on treks, particularly when I have slipped on loose stones, which is not much. But this was an uncoordinated fall, one that scared me. Thankfully there was no visible damage, so I picked myself up and walked again. I had told Hari to go ahead so thankfully there were no witness to my fall. After this I went down even more slowly. And it still hurts a bit just below my knee from this fall.

Kids at Manang, Nepal

Kids at Manang, Nepal

However, as this was just a short hike above the village I got down eventually. Instead of going to the lodge I decided to sit in the village square for a while. The women turning the prayer wheel asked me the favorite question, shaadi banaya (are you married)? When I said yes, the next predictable question was, “So where is the family?”. It was always asked in a good way at various places but by the end I was really tired explaining why I was trekking alone. It was quite refreshing though that to Erick and Justin I never had to explain why I was trekking alone in spite of having a husband and child.

Then came the kids and they were only interested in my gadgets. There first question was if I had games on my cell phone. They were quite disappointed to learn that I didn’t have a single game on my phone. Soon they were flipping through my photo gallery and watching my South Africa videos with rapt attention.

A Brat at Manang, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

A Brat at Manang, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

This young boy was the biggest brat of them all and he was interested in my precious, my camera. I gave it to him on the condition that he would put the strap around the neck, so even if he drops it accidentally it will not fall. He agreed and clicked my pictures! Only after being scolded by an elderly gentleman he returned me my precious.

Kids at Manang, Nepal

Kids at Manang, Nepal

At this point I realized that the card in the camera was full. I took out the spare card only to find that I kept a damaged one as spare. Now this was a minor crisis. For me taking pictures is essential and the future of the trek looked doubly bleak. But the local shop to my pleasant surprise was selling 4 GB memory cards that worked perfectly with my camera. Now that my precious had a new card we walked back to the lodge to a pot of ginger tea. Later they lit fire in the dining room and it immediately made the atmosphere cheerful. There were two other young boys from US at our lodge who were on a flexible itinerary, so they didn’t care about the rain. The sky was not in a cheerful mood at all, it was still raining after dinner. Walking for the entire day in rain to Ledar felt like a real possibility now.

Read another day’s account from Annapurna Circuit Trek in Nepal

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- Reaching Sangey, Sangey to Dharapani

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Day 2- Dharapani to Chame

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- Day 3 Chame to Pisang

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- Day 4 Pisang to Manang

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- Day 5 Rest and Acclimatization Day at Manang

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- Day 6 Manang to Letdar

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- Day 7 The Snowfall at Letdar

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- The Retreat, Day 8 Letdar to Humde

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- The Retreat, Day 9 Humde to Timang

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- The Retreat, Day 10 Timang to Chamche

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In May 2012 when I was flying out of Lukla after the Everest Base Camp Trek there were posters all over the place saying, “See you in Manang.” Well, there I was, at Manang. When I woke up at 5.45 in the evening it was completely overcast and the wind was howling all around. When I looked out, I could see it had rained while I slept after the lunch. When I started from Pisang I was hopeful that weather might change but it did not, in the end the clouds ruled once again. However, there was no rain while I walked from Pisang to Manang.

A Village Perched High Up, Pisang to Manang, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

A Village Perched High Up, Pisang to Manang, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

If you peer hard in the middle of the picture you can see a village. I was wondering what it would be like to live in such a place? I was told that a lot of people go down from these hightes in the winter. Kids of the local families also study in Kathmandu as there are better schools in Kathmandu. But most of these places have electricity and cable TV as well. And Indian TV channels are very popular.

A Village Perched High Up, Pisang to Manang, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

A Village Perched High Up, Pisang to Manang, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

Just after I came back from the trek (when toe nails were trying to com out and legs were still angry) I cried out loud, “Why do we trek?” I think the answer lies in the picture above, I primarily trek for the views and I am willing to put up with discomfort for it. However, the tea house treks in Nepal are not really that uncomfortable. After all, once you reach, you walk into a lodge where the food is ordered out of a menu. You (or someone else) do not go to river to collect water so that cooking for the day could start.

The Road to Manang, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

The Road to Manang, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

From Chame to Manang the road supports only motorcycles. Jeeps can ply on this road only when connecting bridges are ready. Work was already in progress. A lot has been written about this road and its effect on the villages. I am sure there are villages where people don’t stop now because of the road which means loss in tourism income. But then there is a motorcycle or a jeep available if you want to reach somewhere in a hurry. I mean should walking be the only option for people who live here?

Also the guides I met on the trek would always point out that helicopter rescue was available only for trekkers and not if something happened to a local. I would think that it was available to me because I paid for the insurance and not because of any other reason. I wonder how no company has thought of offering an evacuation plan to the locals in medical and other emergencies? That brings me back to trekking in India. We have no helicopter evacuation culture even when tiny Nepal manages it. I think Nepal has it as it is the epicenter of climbing so the evacuation culture  developed and gradually expanded to cover trekkers as well.

Marshyangdi River and the Road, Manang, Annnapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

Marshyangdi River and the Road, Manang, Annnapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

As we approached closer to Manang the path because incredibly beautifully. I took a few pictures thinking that I would walk back to this place later to click more. Alas when I walked ahead I realized this was not within the walking distance of our Lodge which was named Marshyangdi as well. So, the lesson learned is that not to assume anything about distances in the mountains but to click all the pictures of any given spot when the opportunity is right there.

Having Fun in the Stream, Manang, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

Having Fun in the Stream, Manang, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

I did click these kids though who were having fun in the stream without a cloth or care in the world! Manang was not very far away from this place. I stumbled to my lunch at the lodge a little while later.

Daal Bhaat, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

Daal Bhaat, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

I love the community dining rooms as you get to meet others and also because usually there is a fire going. I think I preferred Daal Bhaat because Daal goes in easily. They liberally serve you second and third helpings of daal, bhaat and sabzi (curry, rice and vegetables). I would usually take a second helping of daal and nothing else. For me the first serving was always big enough. In fact that empty plate is for taking out some rice so that I would not waste food.

Wild Roses, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

Wild Roses, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

After lunch I went to sleep and woke up to rain, howling wind and clouds. I was not too worried as we had a rest/acclimatization day at Manang and I was not going anywhere at least for a day. After the customary a pot of ginger tea, I had garlic soup with Tibetan Bread for dinner. It was an excellent choice. On this trek I was reading the First Rumpole Omnibus which was another excellent choice. Sleeping at night was no trouble at all. The next day I was not even getting up early as it was my rest (OK acclimatization) day.

Read another day’s account from Annapurna Circuit Trek in Nepal

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- Reaching Sangey, Sangey to Dharapani

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Day 2- Dharapani to Chame

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- Day 3 Chame to Pisang

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- Day 5 Rest and Acclimatization Day at Manang

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- Day 6 Manang to Letdar

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- Day 7 The Snowfall at Letdar

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- The Retreat, Day 8 Letdar to Humde

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- The Retreat, Day 9 Humde to Timang

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- The Retreat, Day 10 Timang to Chamche

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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.

Starting from Chame, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

Starting from Chame, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 Monastrey at Upper Pisang, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

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

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 andUpper Pisang, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

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.

Read another day’s account from Annapurna Circuit Trek in Nepal

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- Reaching Sangey, Sangey to Dharapani

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Day 2- Dharapani to Chame

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- Day 4 Pisang to Manang

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- Day 5 Rest and Acclimatization Day at Manang

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- Day 6 Manang to Letdar

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- Day 7 The Snowfall at Letdar

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- The Retreat, Day 8 Letdar to Humde

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- The Retreat, Day 9 Humde to Timang

Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal- The Retreat, Day 10 Timang to Chamche

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