Sunday, July 5, 2009

Annapurna Circuit: Part 3

Pisang to Manang

Today's hike was only around four hours, with a two-hour layover at lunch because of the long prep time for dhal bhat (the Nepalese national dish of rice and lentil soup, usually with a side of veg) in Braka Manju. Nothing to strenuous, though we did gain some elevation. Manang is at 3,519m (11,548 ft.). Since we got in early we took off again to see Gangapurna Lake, which lies on the outskirts of Manang and was formed by a glacier.

Manang is an attractive town of stone brick homes and tea houses and an older section that looks like a sprawling stone fortress. After hiking up to the ridge above the lake and sitting in the sun for awhile, with great views of Gangapurna Glacier above, we headed back down and then climbed up the hill behind the tea house to a stupa.

Manang to Ice Lake

The purpose of today's hike -- which actually took us backwards on the trail we came up yesterday, then cut up into mountains on a very steep grade -- was acclimatization, with Ice Lake located over 1,000 meters higher than Manang at 4,600m (15,091ft.). We started out at 8am after a breakfast of mueslix and hot milk. After walking back to Braka, which is where we had lunched yesterday, we joined the trail head and it was all pretty much up, up, up at more than a 45 degree grade for the next three and a half hours, with only the last 15 minutes or so providing some respite.

When we climbed over the final ridge, the punchline appeared -- an itty-bitty nondescript excuse for a lake, surrounded by no vegetation whatsoever. Next to it stood the remains of a temple, now only a square of stacked stone on a foundation. It was also quite cold and my fingers quickly went the way of numb. So after eating our packed lunch of chapatis and eggs, we sat for a bit, but the temps. cooled even further and we soon were making our way back down.

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