November 29th, 2009 – by: andycox_is_now_in
Woke up with the early morning rooster with a really sore throat, bunged up and a hangover. Not an ideal start to a 10 day high Himalayan trek !! Had a last minute panic swapping bags over when failing to fit everything needed for trek in to day bag and resorted to having to take full backpack fror trip. Harka picked me up on time and were were off to Nayapul.
Disappointing to have very cloudy day so unable to see any of mountains as we drove for 90 minutes towards Annapurna range along part tarmacced/part boulder strewn roads with taxi driver spending whole time on mobile phone and slaloming 1 handed up hairpin bends. Hartka and I dropped off at Nayapul where Harka started buying supplies for the trek. Well I guess we are as organised as each other !! Harka got me some free bamboo poles for trek.
Shopping done, got a great suprise to see a clear view of Machhupuchre down valley. We set off towards the great mountain in high spirits.
1st day always planned to be pretty easy going walk up valley for 3 hours following path of pretty river framed by steep padi fields and small villages situated on impossibly steep slopes. Chatted to a few other trekkers starting out but everyone largely going at own pace. Most of the other trekkers only got day bags with their guides clearly picking up the excess baggage. Cheats !!! Harka had offered, but I wanted to complete the trek carrying all my own equipment. 1st night to be at Tikhedunga at altitude of 1520m (already higher than Ben Nevis).
Passed pretty waterfall before arriving in advance of rest of trekkers. Unwittingly used all the hot water from the shower that works on solar power leaving most other trekkers complaining about temperature of water. Well serves them right for being slow !! Hotel mainly taken up by a group of Germans on their last night of the Annapurna Ciurcuit (17 days). Respect. Party in store and had my evening meal watching them being dragged unenthusiastically on to the dance floor. Entertaining trying to decide whether Germans or Nepalese porters had worse rhythym. I didn't get involved clearly not ready for my Ibiza moves :-). Harka introduced me to Nepalese wine. Distilled from millet, was more like tequila than wine and served warm in mugs.
Struggled to stomach it and politely refused a 2nd glass. The Napalese appear obsessed by cards and took on Harka at rummy. Cards thrown down in a Caribbean domino fashion. I lost badly !! Bed at 8 and back to the trekking traditions on squat toilets and plywood walls that don't meet ceiling or both walls.
Had shocking nights sleep but feeling great for start of trek in earnest with sore throat and hangover gone. Helped by fantastic weather with sun hitting the top of the adjacent hill. Today is the biggest ascent of the trek starting at 1520m and finishing at 2800m. Day started with a 3200 step, 400m climb up the opposite ridge. Really tough going, but pain quickly helped by emergence of Annapurna South and 1st real view of Nepal's holy and unconquered Machhupuchre (Fishtail) summit.
Even though stopped for several breaks, Harka and I managed to get past the masses (mainly a group of 30 Koreans with double porters and 14, 14-17 year old Ozzies from World Challenge). After getting to top of hill, rest of 900m climb comparatively gentle over next 5 hours and walked through lovely forrested paths with hills towering above at all angles. In the afternoon the clouds started to roll in (as becoming consistent in Nepal). Temperature noticeably plummeting needing a 3rd layer when stopping for a break. 1st in to hostal, Harka managed to get me the en suite room. Joined Harka for a ginger and lemon tea which I'm getting a taste for and watched a Nepal DVD about a bloke who had 4 daughters but really wanted a son. The film still managed to get random fight scenes and badly choreographed dances that had a completely different cast and no bearing on film slotted in at random intervals. After 45 minutes, the porters from the other groups had filled the room so left them to it to join the other trekkers. However Harka soon called me back to the kitchen as he had met up with 4 others guides/porters from his village. Due to the rarity of them being on the same point of a trek at the same time, a celebration was called for and I was invited to join the Chaliss possee with some snacks and raksi (the Nepalese wine). 90% of the conversation in Nepalese with a few random interpretations in English for my benefit, but I was quite happy taking in the atmosphere of a guides life. Managed to get through 3 litres of raksi before I left them partying. Bed time is early in these parts with most people to bed by 8pm. Especially the case today as got a 5am start for Poon Hill tomorrow. However just leaving as one of the world challenge lads brought over next to the wood burner to warm up. He looked to me like he was suffering the early stages of hypothermia to me. Found out the World Challenge crowd are camping their way around the Sanctuary trek. Absolutely nuts if you ask me. I left them to it.