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NEPAL: TREK IN THE ANNAPURNA HIMALAYAN RANGE, PART 2 OF 2

Back on the trail...on top of the world

Back on the trail…on top of the world

Wake up at around 10,000 feet and begin a steep climb. I don’t understand. We’re not at the top of this trail? Turns out that we climb an adjacent “hill” that is about even with Poon Hill. This is the highest altitude that we shall trek for the next few days. Two tourist airplanes fly past at eye level, and we wave, just above clouds.

We are actually above the clouds

We are actually above the clouds

So many ups and downs. Descending on slippery rocks in mild rain can be more painful to the knees than climbing.

Up, down, up, down

Up, down, up, down

Once we enter the forest, though, a different world of giant Rhododendron trees greets us with snarly trunks. It must be spectacular to see them in full bloom during the month of March.

Rhododendron Forest

Rhododendron Forest

Rains pours on us and it feels wonderful. Rain also awakens the leeches. Those little blood suckers start out small, and then crawl up your shoe in search of a vein. We pull them from our legs quite easily.

Leech - I pulled this puppy off of my thigh!

Leech – I pulled this puppy off of my thigh!

They will get you, eventually. Unlike a vampire, they drink themselves full of blood, quadruple in size, and then die. Oops, some of them sneak into our boots.

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“Love marriage”

During lunch, where rice and spaghetti dominate many menus, Kumar tells us that most marriages in Nepal are arranged. He met his wife three days before the wedding…the Hindu way. Tek, the porter, is in a “love marriage,” a less common alternative. Both men share a common dream, for one of their children to obtain a United States visa. There are not enough jobs in Nepal.

This map shows the loop we made

This map shows the loop we made

“If you kill a man in Nepal, they send you to jail for 20 years, Kumar says. “If you kill a cow, even in a car accident, they send you to jail for 20 years also.”

Lonely Planet Hotel

Lonely Planet Hotel

After the fantastic forest hike, we arrive at our destination, the “Lonely Planet Lodge.” Take off those hiking boots and pull the leeches from your veins. All part of the game…not a health risk, just a little freaky. Locals believe that leeches drink only bad blood, which makes any animal healthier.

Gross!

Gross!

At this lodge, we meet a guy from Ireland who teaches weight-lifting in a remote school in India. Imagine that. His travel partner, a woman from the UK, will finish her degree with an internship in equestrian studies in Kentucky. After lots of beers with our new friends, we wake to incredible, though fleeting, mountain views.

Machhapuchhare

Machhapuchhare

Day four kicks our ass. Surely the most strenuous, or maybe we are just getting tired…slipping and low-stepping for several hours down a steep descent, only to climb the same terrain on a straight-up ascent around rice paddies and streams. There can be no toxins left in us, due to the constant leaking of sweat. After five hours, we eat, you guessed it…fried rice and mixed spaghetti.

Rice, rice and more rice

Rice, rice and more rice

We ascend yet again, up an environmentally exposed rocky trail. Another sodden sweat, this time with lunch in my throat. The magical views of valleys, and glimpses of ice-covered mountains relieve us of all pain, inspiring our spirit. At the top of most hills, Tek sings the trekking song. We don’t know the words to it, but sing along and end it with a throaty yell and renewed energy.

Sneak peaks

Sneak peaks

A family in the mountains wants to take photos with us. We show them the photos, and they laugh…and then they want a dollar. This is a first for us as there is minimal begging in Nepal. Folks are genuinely friendly and do not appear to want anything more than a smile and a “Namaste.”

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After nine hours of trekking, we land at the Paradise Hotel. It has an attached bathroom. We are the only guests. Kumar called ahead, knowing our habits now as friends. He tells the proprietor to fill the fridge with six cold beers! We party with Kumar and Tek under shelter from the monsoon rain, and enjoy our bond of friendship. Tomorrow’s hike will only be two hours.

I don't think these clothes are going to dry

I don’t think these clothes are going to dry

Cloudy skies block mountain views this morning. We enjoy the comfort of a car, riding back to the luxury of Hotel Peace Plaza, in Pokhara. What a privilege to experience a piece of the Himalayan Mountains, and the people of Nepal.

Thank you Kumar and Tek for a wonderful adventure in the most amazing of mountains!

Thank you Kumar and Tek for a wonderful adventure in the most amazing of mountains!

Thank you Abundant Universe! Namaste.     Ron Mitchell

http://www.trekkinginnepal.org/nepal-trekking-routes/annapurna-circuit/

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12 Comments Post a comment
  1. Tammy #

    Awesome!!! You both look great. Miss you

    August 29, 2013
  2. Annapurna Trekking is really nice trekking destination in the World and Second popular trekking destination in Nepal after Everest region trekking. As I saw your post i would like to suggest to visit Everest region if you haven’t. Photos are really nice and sorry to see wound by leech.

    August 30, 2013
    • Thank you, Tour and Trekking Guide. Yes, Everest region is next for us, thinking about doing it March. the leech wounds did not hurt at all, and made for a good story! Namaste.

      August 30, 2013
  3. Ann Smith #

    NAMASTE

    August 30, 2013
  4. Kim Barnes #

    Ron and Marilynn, LOVE your posts and pics! You guys are living the dream. Sister-in-law Gail (whom you met in Tulum, Mexico), is headed to Anna purna (sp) in October, so she wants to contact you for advice. She will be in touch soon, I reckon. Happy Travels to you and can’t wait for the next posts!

    August 30, 2013
    • Great to hear from you, Kim. I’m honored that you love our posts. Yes, definitely have Gail contact us. We have lots to share, and good advice for trekking guides and porters. Namaste. Ron

      August 30, 2013
  5. Oh my, I have heard about those leeches. Ack! I’m sure I would squeal in terror. So you’re not interested in trekking in Oct/November? Maybe you said so…I trekked in Bhutan in April/May and we saw the rhodies in bloom but they were sorta sad, not the glorious fat blossoms you see in the Pacific Northwest.

    Regardless, what a wonderful adventure compressed into your epic adventure! Thanks for the ride.

    September 1, 2013
    • Jill, yes, after talking with several locals, March is a great month for blue skies, huge blooms, and not as many tourists…that’s our current thought, but thoughts change daily!

      September 1, 2013
  6. Hi thank you for sharing this story with us, very nice post and it is a rain drop post and I would like to tell you one thing, do you really need a guide to trek in Nepal?
    Basically for doing famous trek like Everest, Annapurna Circuit, Sanctury…you really don’t need a guide……if you want you can hire easily consulting with any trekking agency.
    But if you are going for some not famous trekking trials have very less tourist. Then you need a guide. And enjoy the trekking in Nepal.
    I will suggest you if you finish your journey in Nepal please must go for Trek in India. I hope It will be awesome experience to you.

    September 13, 2013
    • Hello, Jack. I’m glad that you enjoyed the post. For our unique circumstances, a guide was perfect. You could hike just about anywhere in Nepal without one, as guesthouses are plentiful. In addition to the camaraderie and information relayed, hiring a guide gives much needed jobs to folks who wait all year to work three to four months. The choice is up to the trekker!

      September 14, 2013

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