Wednesday 9 April 2015
Woken up to banging on our door, 5.45am. Time for sunrise.
Surprisingly I wasn’t aching at all and actually felt quite wide awake.
Given our room was on the roof, it wasn’t much effort to step outside and be greeted with so many white mountains! Wow!
Totally devastated to find a bathroom outside next to our room. What a joke. I had spent the whole night going downstairs.
The mountains of Annapurna 1, Annapurna South and fishtail just straight infront. It was so cool. They were so close. Wow.
Annapurna 1, at 8,091m high is one of the tallest mountains in the world. Fishtail at 6,977m was also pretty high!!
The small temple in the village began playing the standard ‘om mani padme hum’ (hail to the jewel in the lotus) that seems to play at every temple, creating some atmospheric music!
It look 45 minutes for the sun to rise, the white mountains slowly glowing pink and lighting up. Some of the top-most snow was melting and creating small wisps of smoke.
We headed to breakfast at 7am, and already clouds were forming around the peaks, beginning to obstruct them from view. Breakfast was late, despite ordering last night, nothing really arrived. And my banana pancake was the very last, at 7.45am. We were meant to be leaving at 8am. So we were a bit late.
I’m nervous about today, 8 hours of hiking.
That seems like such a long time. We finally set off through the village, still with some amazing mountain views. There was some small ups and downs, past local houses and then to some small prayer wheels. I heard shouting behind me ‘wrong way, wrong way’ – the guide from the back of the group. How was I going the wrong way, I was just following the others.
After he had rounded us all up, turns out the front guide had turned off the path assuming people had seen him. Obviously they didn’t and we all just follow the person in front. We had gone a good 10 minutes in the wrong direction. What a waste of energy.
From now, it was just down, down, down. Going down is hard too!! It doesn’t sound like it should be, but the steps are so steep and large, it’s almost a jump each time. The snowy mountains slowly disappearing behind the nearer green mountains, as we descended lower and lower.
It took about 3 hours before we made it around the valley and down to the river at the bottom. We stopped only once, at the corner of the hill – you could see all down the valley between the hills – such a great view. And loads of marujana plants growing everywhere.
It’s still illegal here though and carries a 15 year prison sentence (doesn’t seem to stop most people). Apparently the cattle like to eat it.
Once we made it to the bottom of the valley, we had to cross the river along a bridge made from a couple of trees and were then faced with an endless number of steps upwards.
I had walked with the rest of the group up until now. But as they powered up the steps, I just took my time, trailing at the back. It was exhausting. You can never see to the top, always just 30-40 steps up infront of you. It’s so annoying to turn another corner and just see more steps.
I eventually made it up to the small, colourful village of Jhinu Danda. So many flowers and prayer flags draped across all the buildings. We arrived at just after 12pm.
That walk took 4 hours, burning 2,100 calories. (Yes…wearing a heart rate monitor!)
This small village has hot springs. I was told they were a 45 minute walk down and a 1 hour walk back up. I did not have the energy for that.
So I sat with a few other girls outside of a cafe and ordered some lunch. I had a vegetable curry. Everyone else came back shortly later, apparently just a 15 minute walk!! I would have gone if I had known that! Oh well. I’ve been to hot springs before.
And now for the next section. We headed off at 2.30pm and I was devastated when we headed out of the village back the way we had come, down all the stairs which had just taken an hour to ascend. We crossed the river and headed up the way we had come. What a waste of time and effort!!!
The three of us slow people stuck to the back and let the rest of the group race ahead. After over an hour of backtracking, we turned off onto a different path and began to descend back towards the river. This time the bridge to cross the river was a long and wobbly, wire suspension bridge. It was scary!! The walk from here was so pretty.
Through small farm lands, small rice terraces, a small forest, past cows and horses, goats and a water mill. Random houses dotted around and local people wandering about. It was so pretty and green.
And it was a relatively flat walk along this section, but we still took it slowly taking so many photos and stopping to speak with a really old (82 year old!) goat man. He even let me hold one of his baby goats! One last uphill section and we finally rolled into Landrung, at 6.30pm, our village for the evening.
We barely had 10 minutes of sunlight left. That took 3 hours 15 minutes and another 1,600 calories burned!
A total of 7 hours 15 minutes of walking today – so much. But I didn’t feel as ill or exhausted as yesterday.
The tea house here is really small, just 9 rooms and one bathroom. So we fill the entire place. I quickly placed a dinner order – dal bhat – and went to find my room. Nice small room, bed not as comfy as the previous day, but nowhere near as bad as they could be!!
It was 7pm before the queue for the single bathroom had gone. The shower was amazing. It was so hot it was almost burning. (Or maybe that was just the slight sunburn on my shoulders). I was a tad late for dinner, but enjoyed my masssssive tray of rice. The portion sizes tend to be a bit ridiculous here, but I don’t seem to have much trouble in eating it all….whoops. A popular dessert around here is a chocolate roll. A Mars or snickers bar cooked in a batter. I’ve been told it’s the best thing ever, gooey chocolate oozing out. I tried a bit of one, really didn’t live up to expectations!!
After dinner, the porters turned on some music and tried to initiate a dance session. Wasn’t really feeling like that, sooooo bed time!!