Monday, July 6, 2009

Annapurna Circuit: Part 4

June 7: Manang to Yak Khakar

Today was a mostly easy three-and-a-half-hour hike from Manang, though there was some climbing at the beginning. We passed the Chilean (what me and my guide, Purna, had taken to calling another Circuit hiker that had started around the same time as us, whose actual name was Jean-Paul) for the second time that day; he looked rather winded though we had seen him only around 10 minutes ago having a tea break.

Yak Khakar is a strange little village with a lot of Nepali people just camping out here, hiking up the nearby mountain every day to collect semi-precious stones, and returning each evening to their camp. Once we got here, Purna and I walked down to the river and found comfortable boulders for lizard lounging in the sun; if it weren't so windy, I would've quickly fallen asleep, sombrero over face to prevent a bad burn.

No lights at the tea house here and water quite scarce. Toilets have been locked for the low season. Purna said this was to keep the Nepali campers from using them.

Yak Khakar to Thorong High Camp

I am writing this with gloves on, wearing a down jacket and sitting in my down sleeping bag, with a hat on. Outside there are snow showers falling on and off, though earlier it was clear and sunny but with a definite chill in the air. I hiked up here with just a Capilene zip-T -- and what a climb it was, a precursor to tomorrow I suppose. Just ahead of us was a mountain biker and his guide, who both had to lug their bikes up this section cause it was way too steep to ride.

The High Camp lodge is pretty basic, all of stone and mud and plaster, but the windows are pretty well sealed compared to yesterday's digs. The camp is a series of low-slung quarters that appear almost like army bunkers.

Tomorrow morning have to be ready by 5am so we can breakfast and hit the pass (Thorong-la Pass, the highest point on the Circuit) before it gets too windy. The elevation here at High Camp is 4,800m (15,748ft.). Feels kind of like a frontier ghost town as most people are holed up in their rooms resting up for tomorrow, and there are also those who made the attempt today but got altitude sickness and had to return.

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