Monday, July 6, 2009

Annpurna Circuit: Part 6

June 12: Marpha to Ghasa

Today's hike was close to six hours, with a break for lunch in Kalopani. The terrain was far different from yesterday's dry brownness. We entered a region of fir forest, swiftly moving fog and crashing rivers fed by clear streams.

Locals told us it had been raining every day for the past week, but today was precipitation-free. Kalopani was one of the most attractive villages I've seen, with well-designed stone brick lodges, a school that looked like a mountain retreat and lovely gardens. Purna said not many trekkers stay there anymore. Seemed like it would make a great place to live/run a lodge/trekking business.

Ghasa to Tatopani: Today was a descent into what looks and feels most like a tropical rain forest, with banana trees, towering canopies, ferns, waterfalls, and, of course, steamy rain.

June 14: Tatopani to Ghorepani

This was the final all-uphill struggle of the trek, close to six full hours, most of which was on stone steps in steamy jungle heat. The water buffalo looked much more content with themselves, wallowing in their muddy holes and thus keeping cool as sweat poured down my face and sun blisters appeared on my forearms (as I am allergic to sunscreen).

We broke for lunch and were soon joined by an Aussie and a girl from Denmark, along with their guides/porters. Apparently the Dane and another guy who had been traveling with them originally were hit by altitude sickness on their attempt at Thorong-la and had to descend to High Camp. The guy decided to turn back, while the two women made a successful attempt the next day. The Aussie said she is heading to Turkey (yaaaaaaay) and the Middles East on a six-month trip after this.

Even Purna, who seems to have boundless energy, was waning as we neared the top. The noodle soup he'd had for lunch just wasn't enough to power him through. Should've stuck with dhal bhat.

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