Monday, 26 December 2011

Stairway to heaven

Day 17: Doban - Himalayan Hotel - Deorali - Machhapuchhre Base Camp
Today finally we were not going up and down the stairs but almost all the time up and there were not even to many stairs, but of course those could not have been avoided.
Most of the time we've been walking in the clouds. You could easily realise that as once in a while you had a feeling of stepping into the death cave. Cold and fog were coming in an instant and I was shivering. When we were leaving that cloud it was again getting warm and sunny.
Walk till Deorali was ok, but from there to MBC it was somehow tyring. i was not able to force myself to walk with any reasonable peace and that last part took me a little bit more than 2 hours whereas previous ones I was covering much faster than estimated.
To Machhapuchhre Base Camp (3700m) we got with Jacek and Stephen, but he went to ABC and we've stayed in MBC with the plan to get up about 4.30 a.m. and get there for the sun rise.

Blue Buddhas

Machhapuchhre with a moon. Machhapuchhre means fish tail. And indeed from Chomrong it looks like fish tail, but not from MBC. This picture was taken in Machhapuchhre Base Camp, but even though there is a base camp this peak was never climbed and now it is even forbidden to climb it, so it probably never will. 

View from Machhapuchhre Base Camp

View from Machhapuchhre. We were coming from that cloud. once we were in it and once over, but in the end it's overcame us and covered us completely.

Day 18: Machhapuchhre Base Camp - Annapurna Base Camp - Machhapuchhre Base Camp - Deorali - Himalayan Hotel - Doban - Bamboo - Sinuwa - Chomrong (21,5 km)
I still don't know how we've done it. It was not planned at all but very spontaneous. We got up at 4.30 in the morning, left after another 20 minutes to ABC (4130m) and got there at 6.10, just in time. We watched the sun rise, took many pictures, had breakfast and went back to MBC.
In MBC we packed our gear and left. We were planning to spend the night in Bamboo, but on the way we've decided that in fact it;s still early and we could go further to Sinuwa. There again we've changed plans, took a challenge and went to Chomrong. And the challenge was that although Sinuwa (2050m) and Chomrong (2210m) are almost at the same altitude they are at the slopes which are opposite each other. So we had to cross the river which was at the 1800m and we knew that it will be another 2 hours of walking. 1h will be going down and another hour will be going up the stairs.  It was thousands of the stairs. But we already knew them, from the way down couple of days ago.
Reward was there. Hot shower, laundry (since couple of days I was dreaming about washing my trousers), network reception, dal bhat.
In terms of weather we had interesting experience today. At the ABC I was wearing my gore-tex pants and jacket, warm hand gloves, heavy boots, long-johns. But on the way down from MBC I've started to undress and in the end I was wearing shorts, sunnies and I was ever rolling up sleeves of the T-shirt.
Annapurna. Sunrise view form Annapurna Base Camp (4130m)

View from ABC

Annapurna South. View from ABC.

Panorama from ABC. Lighted peak on the left it's Annapurna South and the one on the right it's Annapurna I

Jacek and myself in the sunrise at ABC. Behind us is Annapurna South.

Sunrise in ABC

Sunrise in ABC

Tibetan praying flags

Yeah, we've made it!

Last shots, taken after breakfast. As usually - apple porridge with honey and masala tea.

Frozen bamboo

On the way down from Sinuwa. Jacek is pointing Chomrong, where we need to get.

Chomrong, hotels are at the top of the village...

Annapurna South in the sun setting down

My hand is in the clouds

Day 15: Ghorepani - Deorali - Tadapani - Ghurjung
In Ghorepani (2750m) many people go in the morning to the Poon Hill to see the the sun rise and brilliant view from the viewing platform.
We did not go there as we read in the Lonely Planet that on the way we will have opportunity to enjoy almost the same view (at least from the same height) from the Ghurung Hill. Just without sun rise. Even though we were not going there in the end we woke up with those who did, as they were making too much noise.
When we were leaving Snow View Lodge the Israeli girl came to ask Jacek and myself (Doris decided to leave us and go to Pokhara via Ghandruk, whereas we went to do ABC - Annapurna Base Camp) if we want three of those coal hand warmers. You just take it out from the packing, shake and they become warm and keep the heat up to 20 hours. Of course I took it (thank you, even though I don't know your name, that was very kind) and I've found it very useful in the following days.
Most of the way today was through rhododendron forest, and the way was all the time down. But to get to Tadapani we had to get all the way down to the river, cross the suspension bridge and next go up (the usual stuff). Overall balance for today is minus 740m, which we have to climb tomorrow.
It was exactly in Tadapani where Doris has separated from us, she went with Jean-Pierre to Ghandruk and Jacek and I headed to ABC. Apparently Stephen makes this trek too, so we walked together.
View from Ghurung Hill. I'm pointing Annapurna South

View from Ghurung Hill

Happy Trio. View from Ghurung Hill

Panorama from Ghurung Hill

View from Ghurung Hill

Jean-Pierre and Laxman

Informaiton board in Tadapani

Rhododendron forest

It seemed like nice guest house, especially with this huge field in front. That would be great spot to lay down and rest only if it was more sunny.

One of hundreds suspension bridges that we had to cross

Volleyball is popular even high in Himalaya

Day 16: Ghurjung - Chomrong - Sinuwa - Bamboo - Doban
Night in Ghurjung (2010m)  we've spent in family guest house. The place and people were so sweet. We were sitting with them in their dining room, watching TV. In the morning the owner offered us one more pot of tea for free. Great hospitality.
On the way to Chomrong we were following school kids. That's amazing how every day they walk 2 hours up the hill to go to school. And next back home from school. Now I really appreciate the fact that my school was 5 minutes away and that access to education is so easy in my world.
Chomrong (2210m) is the last real village on the ABC trek. All the other places are just lodges build for trekkers. It was also the last place with the network coverage. I've received text message there form my manager with question if I'm approachable for a Skype chat or phone call. Forget it, I could barely receive and send texts. All other activities were just impossible.
Surprisingly form Chomrong we again had to go all the way down to the river (this town is placed on the slope of a hill and most of the way leads by steps, thousands of steps), cross it and go all the way up to Sinuwa (2050m).
In Chomrong we've spent a lot of time so since then we were walking rather fast and that gave us idea that maybe instead of spending the night in Bamboo (I've seen such a nice lodge there...) as we planned before we might be able to reach Doban. We did that. We were very lucky too, as on the way form Bamboo little shower has started and by the time we've reached Doban it was already raining, but luckily we did not get very wet.
This unpleasant weather has started on the day when we were going to Ghorepani. Mornings are usually ok, but in the afternoon it gets cloudy, foggy and rainy.
I just wish that tomorrow we get over the clouds and we will have good views again.
Enjoy the steps



Another plant shooting mode

Don't you know we're all wizards, welcome to Oz

Day 13: Marpha - Gasha - Tatopani (by bus)
We had to separate from our lovely crew. We had to get up quite early to manage to catch 7.30 bus to Tatopani but unfortunately we did not catch it. We've made mistake not buying tickets the day before.When we've reached the ticket counter we were informed that the direct bus is full and the only option left for us is to take bus to Gasha and change there.
Our bus was to arrive to Marpha before the direct bus, but arrived later, actually both of them were late. Nevertheless somewhere in the middle of the way every vehicle on the road was stopped by the big truck that got broken down and blocked both directions. Everyone had to wait until they repair it.
Finally we were driving again and after changing in Ghasa (which was rather quick and efficient) we got to Tatopani (1190m), where we went to Daulagiri Lodge which again was recommended to us by the guide in Kagbeni and it's also recommended by Lonely Planet.
It was cool to meet there Jean-Pierre (the French guy, who we met for the first time in Chame and who had a guide with him with whom he for so friendly that the guide was calling hum daddy. In terms of age he probably could be his son) and Stephen (the German guy with whom we've been staying in the dorm one day and also hiking couple of times) and Israeli couple. No wonder everyone was there. Place is gorgeous, there is huge harden - peaceful oasis after shaky journey on the bus (even through the river as the driver was trying to take over other buses and trucks and catch up lost time) with supposedly good food as at the time of writing we were still waiting for our lasagnas.
Waiting for the truck to get repaired

Sun set in Tatopani

Cat in Tatopani - Daulagiri Lodge

Day 14: Tatopani - Ghora - Shikha - Chitre - Ghorepani (15 km/1750up/140down)
Weather and altitude in Tatopani got boring ;-) It was too hot down there, so we've decided to go up again. This time we had to cover 1700m up in one day to reach Ghorepani. Ascent was not steep (only the first part), but constantly up. Basically this day was dedicated to going up. Up and up, all day long.
First village on the way was Ghora which I had the feeling was the longest village ever. I think that walk from beginning to the end of it took me one hour.
In Shikha we had lunch with Stephen and Jean-Pierre and headed via Chitre (where we had out ACAP checked) to Ghorepani. This last piece from Chitre was the worst. Even Jacek lost his motivation and although I was slow I've caught up with him and we've reached Snow View Hotel together. It's a nice place with hot shower, heated dining room and all the friends.
Somewhere between Tatopani and Ghorepani

Somewhere between Tatopani and Ghorepani

Jacek and Stephen in ACAP check point

Somewhere between Tatopani and Ghorepani

Somewhere between Tatopani and Ghorepani

Sunday, 25 December 2011

There ain't no force, no master plan

Day 11: Muktinath - Chonguri - Jhong - Putak - Kagbeni (about 12 km)
Many people finish their trek in Muktinath. They take jeep or bus to Jomsom and fly out from there. We were planning to reach Jomson by foot and take bus to Tatopani. Yes, Tatopani. Cause although we were planning to do Annapurna Circuit during this trip to Nepal we’ve revised plans and decided that we have enough time to do Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) too.
But as usually we did not follow even the revised plan. Our friends from North America convinced us that it’s worth seeing Kagbeni (2840m) and Marpha (2680m), so we followed them. We were not sure if we’ll reach Jomsom or Kagbeni as after yesterday’s early start we took too much time today’s morning and were able to set off only at 9.30.
The day was fun, we took alternate path via Tibetan villages of Chonguri, Jhong and Putak and we could see Thorung La. It seemed so small, and low, and completely disrespectful between those two huge mountains. Not that impressive as it felt yesterday when we were there.
After Putak we were walking along dusty road in the moonlike scenery. Finally after 1,5h we got to Kagbeni, but first we had to pass very steep, narrow and rocky path between two huge rocks. It was definitely not something that you want to do with big back pushing you down.
Of course we made it and stopped in Shangrila Hotel for lat lunch and in the end we’ve stayed there for the night. As I’ve said we were very flexible and our plans were changing rather rapidly.
Initially with Doris and Jacek we’ve planned to get tomorrow to Jomsom or even Tatopani if possible but as mentioned earlier we’ve landed in Marpha as in the lodge we’ve met British woman with kids and Nepali partner. They are running NGO project (FirstStepsHimalaya) to support preschool education. He is a guide and was telling a lot about Marpha and that it’s a must see when you do this side of the Circuit.
Bob Marley Hotel

Chonguri. I liked the colors of houses

View over Muktinath

View over the pass. It looks so unimpressive

Village of Putak


Chocolate bar and cookies break

Next day we were walking along this river and sometimes even in the river

This is the place where we had this steep and narrow descent

This is what we saw when we entered Kagbeni. In fact there was no unambiguous information if we are allowed to take alternate route without special permission or not. In some sources it was stated that it's already in the Mustang part and as Mustang requires permission we should have one, but in the others we read that as long as we don't cross the river we don't need it. We did not have anything and we saw this notice board. But noone was asking anything.

Erection man in Kagbeni


Sadistic kids are everywhere

Day 12: Kagbeni - Jomsom - Marpha
If it’s a must than go! We went to Marpha – Nepali Apple Capital.
We were walking along the river (sometimes in the river itself and next we had to climb up the steep and loose bank of the river), got lunch in Jomsom (Dal Bhat) and got to Marpha which does not look like Nepal at all. It’s clean, it’s got traditional narrow paved alleyways and passages and an extensive drainage system that flows under flagstone-paved streets. It was more like some tiny Greek or Spanish town than Nepali village which are quite often covered with rubbish as people don’t care at all. They throw rubbish at the path or at the floor and don’t bother.
Road from Jomsom was ugly. It was soooo windy and what’s more it was blowing exactly into our faces. Additionally each car passing us was raising huge cloud of dust so now i’m completely dusty and wish to have hot shower in Marpha, where we were staying in Neeru GH, as the guide from yesterday was so nice to book rooms for us there.
When we were leaving Shangri La Hotel she put those scarfs around our necks. It's supposed to bring us luck.

What about a swim?

In the river, on the way to Jomsom

This horse was in the mud up to its knees

Way between Jomsom and Marpha

Marpha - Apple Capital of Nepal

Do you want a sip?

Panorama from the temple in  Marpha


Najlepszy lokal w miescie? Maybe. Cider was delicious, but chocolate cake that was recommended us here could not be compared to the one in Yak Kharka

Dinned in Neeru GH

Chicken sizzler