Annapurna Himalaya – Visual Summary Pt4

Our last entry ended with the crossing of Thorung La Pass at 5450m altitude. The view was quite magnificent and a just reward for the walking, ascending and rising early of the days preceding.

ThorungPeak2-colA last look across the prayer flag covered pass towards Thorung peak and we started our 1600m (one vertical mile) descent. Our knees and legs were screaming in agony just thinking about it. I think, packing a paraglider is the healthier option. Yes is it bulky, but ascending is so much easier and more comfortable than descending on foot. Thus, on top, you’d unpack the paraglider, lay it out, strap in, raise it and then it’s “Sayonara dudes, see you at the bottom.” You’d enjoy the flight, the views, catch a few thermals in between  – badda-bing-badda-boom. But that was just me mental gazing, so down we walked to Muktinath. Muktinath is a quaint little mountain village without any surfaced roads. We stayed there for an extra day, before we moved on to Jomsom.

MuktinathReflectionsWe really only recognized Muktinath’s beauty when we left it and we looked back up to the village. There are many terraces fields used for small agriculture. Life in this region is hard and agriculture in particular is a fight. Each crop and harvest must be fought for without industrial help. It’s muscles, a strong back and elbow grease that provide food from the fields. However, on this nice Fall morning, thoughts of toil did not come to mind.

Muktinath-TerracesInstead, thoughts of peacefulness and serenity came to mind – well, my mind at least.Muktinath-LookbackAs we moved farther away from Muktinath, we approached the main valley, which extends from Beni some 80 kilometers away in the foothills to Jomson and then further into the restricted region of Mustang. And man, what a treat that valley was. We came in high above the valley floor and the entire valley stretched out before us in all its beauty.

JomsomValleyNELooking north towards Kagbeni and into Mustang.

JomsomValleySWLooking south towards Jomsom – although all you can see is the team house on the bottom of the valley, where we’d have lunch. As the others descended, I stayed a little bit longer to look for more opportunities to soak up this view and to capture it with my camera.

TreeInBreeze

If you have followed this blog for a while, you know that I have a soft spot for trees. They are usually older than I am and they have seen a lot more that I have. Although, I have not met a talking tree, their appearance tells the great story of their life – the great silent story tellers.

I think this tree, can also act as an exclamation mark to this entry and close it. (not my smoothest transition, to close an entry)

Alright, stay sharp, and seize opportunities to stay back and enjoy your surroundings all by yourself.

Cheers Markus \m/

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Annapurna Himalaya – Visual Summary Pt3

After the semi-destroyed outhouse it is a few more minutes to Ledar. Ledar is a great base for an acclimatization day, for ascents towards teh Chulus and to continue on towards Thorung La pass and Thorung Peak.

CWBc-ApIII-Ggp-colView from near Chulu West Base Camp towards Annapurna III (left) and Gangapurna (right). Behind the ridge in the middle extends the glacier tongue from Chulu West.

From Ledar we marched on past small tea houses with juniper fires via Thorung La Base Camp to Thorung La High Camp – where the weather turned bad.

Ledar-ThLBC-JuniperfireThorungHCStormAbout one hour after we had arrived at Thorung La High Camp, clouds moved in quickly and it started to snow. A beautiful and adventurous sight, when you sit in the teahouse dining hall cozied up to you neighbor under a blanket, sipping on a hot milk-tea. The next day, we ascended early in the morning under the light of our headlamps to Thorung La Pass. The reward for rising at some god-forsaken hour was well worth it.

Sunrise-SouthEastThe view to the South-East shows to the left is Chulu West, in the distance is Annapurna II and IV. Turning around and looking straight West, we saw parts of the Dhaulagiri range, another range that exceeds the 8000 meter threshold and is home to the 7th highest mountain in earth: Dhaulagiri at 8167m.

ThLP-WestwardAnd although these were great moments with phenomenal landscape – man is insatiable, so I had to look up, too, in the hopes of seeing even bigger and better sights.

ThorungLaNow this testament of visual greed ends our third installment of the Annapurna Himalaya trip.

Ashamed, I humbly request for you to stay sharp and exercise humility and restraint when it comes to look at the world’s wonders, don’t be a glutton, enjoy them !-)

Cheers Markus \m/

Annapurna Himalaya – Visual Summary Pt2

We left Upper Pisang a little in a hurry. That’s why we have to go back, so I can show you this picture.

UpperPisangOldWomanI know it has a little creepy, peeping Tom quality to it. But it is such an intimate picture of the matriarch of the tea-house as she is sitting on her rug performing chores.UpperPisangSunrise-ColNo, we can leave Upper Pisang. A final look back and Upper Pisang bids us farewell with all its hoisted prayer flags waving in the morning breeze.

AP3GGP-colThe view from the rock dwelling where the Aani lives towards Gangapurna and its glacier lake. Yes, I immersed myself in that glacier lake, in an effort to teach. To teach the meaning of conceiving your own “He-Man” event, trial and tribulation. And yes, it was freaking cold. Th worst part was about 5 seconds after I had come out of the water. It feels like my bones are fracturing from the thermal expansion. Anyway, you never see the tear of a true “He-Man”…because true “He-Man” know when to look away or blink or cause a diversion.

LoneUrinator

After two days in Manang, we ventured on towards Ledar. On the way to Ledar is a tiny tea-house with an abandoned outhouse. I love this picture. I call it “The Lone Urinator”. My runner-up name for the image was. “The silhouette Of Heavenly Relief In The Wild”

Alright, this ends our part two of the visual summary.

Stay Sharp.

Cheers Markus \m/

Annapurna Himalaya – Visual Summary Pt1

Alright Y’all, it is time for a summary or at least to start a summary. I am trying to follow chronology, meaning we start with the first day of proper trekking, the one where we walk and then move on day by day.

ChamePrayerwheelsLeaving Chame shortly after sunrise, the trek now really starts. Trekkers leave Chame, by passing by and along the long Mani (wall of prayer wheels).

Annapurna-II-IVOn the way to Upper Pisang towards Annapurna II. On the bottom, you guessed it, Lower Pisang.

Annapurna2-4Sunset-ColSunset over Annapurna II and Annapurna IV seen from Upper Pisang.

OldLadyNBasketOld lady carrying loads the traditional way – Upper Pisang, around sunset.

Manang-Aani

In Manang, the next stage village after Upper Pisang, the trekker has two choices to acclimatize. Either one can ascent 1100m to the glacier lake or ascent up to the hermite temple, hewn in the rocks above Manang. The place is inhabited by an Aani (female buddhist monk). She lives a very spartan life up there, but she is very war and welcoming to visitors. She spoke very softly and we hared a cup of team. With the compassionate eyes, I will leave you for today.

Stay sharp

Cheers Markus \m/

 

Day 16 – Pokhara To Kathmandu

We walked around Pokhara today with our guide and porter. Sort of a farewell stroll. These two guys have been good friends and very dependable and caring. I want to use the term friend carefully, but when you have spend so much time so close together you either dread each other or you become friends – even if only for a limited  time. 

 Maybe sometimes  with real friendship it is like with theae boats. You get together, you spend time together, things rub off on each other and then you drift apart again  for a while because you need to follow different currents and winds. But while you were together you made common memories, you were there for each other and no one got hurt.

 
Although, I wonder if the boat analogy was really the right one for friendship. Just look at what happened to the two boats with the yellow bows – that looks more like betrayed love or Romeo and Juliet. So the boat analogy stands.

But I need to show you the beauty of Pokhara and the view you have from that lake onto the mountains.

 
In the middle you see a green pointy  hill. From there tourists can do tandem Paragliderflights. To the lett of that hill is Nilgiri. To the right of the green hill from leftvto right are: Machapuchre (pointy tock pyramid), Annapurna III, Annapurna IV, Annapurna II. All of these mountains are solidly above 6000 meters and when trekkers walk the Annapurna Circuit or the Annapurna Base Camp trek, the mountains get very close and are constant trekking partners, although stationary and quiet. Think of them as a much older and very cool big brother.

And that catches up fully with the live blog part of this great vacation. Tomorrow, tomorrow we fly back to Bangkok to see a factory about toy cars. I will do a visual summary of the while trip as soon as I have sorted through all the images. And I will write one more Sidenote entry about Klaus, a 77 year old  true traveller in the foot steps of Marco Polo, who we met along the way and with who we chatted extensively for the travel duration from Jomsom to Pokhara.

Alright, I will now go to bed and let you stay sharp by yourself.

Namaste dear readership.

Cheers Markus \m/

Day 15 – Jomsom To Pokhara

Introduction:

This trip is on its final legs. We have braved  weather, altitude, cold, heat, dust, a little bit of disappointment (Chulu), bigger disappointment (Jomsom), tiredness, very rocky roads for hours on end (Besishahar – Chame), what could go wrong or could throw us off our tracks? Nothing.

Fly Off My Friends:

Off we went at 6:00 in the morning to the airport. Sun was rising, perfect blue skies without the slightest hint of a cloud and no wind. OK is was a bit crisp today, but for that we have clothing. We checked our packs, got our tickets, managed security check and then proceeded to the departure hall – where we waited for the plane to arrive. And we waited. Then a little longer. The sun was out now in full force – I applied sun lotion, because I sat outside reading my book. Then the  rumors started . The planes could not leave Pokhara because there was wind somewhere along the 15 minute flight. A few minutes later cam the:”All Flights For Today Are Cancelled”. I thought wind and planes are friends. We grabbed our stuff and walked the two minutes back to our teahouse. 

The Fellowship Of The Jeep:

By now it was 10:15. We had spent about four hours waiting for a plane that would never come. People were throwibg around all sorts of ideas to still get to Pokhara – bus, tax, muke, walk, bicycle, jeep. When a dude, I talked with a bit while we waited at the airport came by and asked if we’d split a Jeep with him. We were three, plus Josef and an elderly gentlemen Klaus – 5 people, we can leave. The trip was supposed to be 7hours.   

It’s Gonna Be A Bumpy Ride

The first 74 kilometers were a true twst for any off-road vehicle, qhich is why it took is five and a half hours.  

We drove through beautiful landscapes as wedescended from 2700m to about 850m. We saw waterfalls and saw arid rocky moon landscapes change to jungle forests.

  But, it was still 74 kilometers of bumps. We saw a bus with its steering linkage broken, held only in place by rocks begind his wheels – passengers still sitting in the bus, while the driver was trying to mend the problem with rocks he used to bang away on the linkage. Still it was a bumpy ride. For a short while we followed a World Cup 2014 truck loaded with goats.  

I will try to give you a sense of how bumpy the ride was …for 74 kilometers:

  
Once we got to Beni, the road was a lot better and we made the remaining 87 kilometers in about three hours. We arrived in Pokhara in the dark at about 20:15 (8:15 pm).

And that concludes our “flight” from Jomsom to Pokhara.

Stay sharp

Cheers Markus \m/

 

Day 14 – Jomsom

Jomsom should be one of the luckiest mountain towns in the world , because it has a perpetual opportunity to delight customers and hence make good money. Apparently, the cotizens of Jomsom know that, but instead of delighting they figured “let’s see how much profit we can make by barely doing the absolute minimum?”

The restaurants advertise on wonderful, hand-written chalk boards all the goods they have ever heard of, without having about 90% of them in atore and ready for immediate consumption. That gets a bit frustrating for the tired traveller whennthat disappointmebt happens place after place. When the good people if Thorung La Base Camp in the middle if nowhere at 4400m can get it sorted and have a handmade variety of delicious goods on sale, why not the people of Jomsom?  On top, the people are unfriendly, too. If you can somehow manage, avoid Jomsom and its unwelcoming, uncaring, greedy people!

Now, what did we do on our day off? We got the hell out of town and explored the surroundings. Jomsom lies in what seems to be a one kilometer wide dried out river bed. What thousands of years was likely a glacier, turned into a wide wiver and is now spiderweb of creeks cris-crossing the valley. Overall the area, except the valley bottom, is pretty arid and dry. Nonetheless, Jomsom has got an airport which makes it a mandatory destination for travellers from Tilicho Lake, Tilicho Pass, Thorung La Pass and Mustang, unless those  travellers want to walk for a further 3-4 days through this rocky landscape. Anyway, I found one great spot on our walk around Jonsom – an apple orchard. 

  
It is quite amzing, that just like in arid Ladakh, India, the agriculture in this area of the Himalaya produces a wide variety of such excellent fruits. The apples are between a tennis ball and a golf ball in size, but their taste is second to none….yes and with the exception on Jomsom, the locals turn them into the most delicious applepies. The trip has been great and full of surprises – Jomsom disappointed.

Cool, tomorrow at an ungodly early time by plane to Pokhara.

Stay sharp and eat your applepie.

Cheers Markus \m/