Thursday, January 3, 2013

Day 2 Annapurna Circuit

Our lodging on this night was some of the most basic, simple lodging I've ever had.  There appeared to be no one else in the building and it seemed this was the only inn in town.   We were checked in by a guy who didn't live there.  He went and found a young boy who spoke English and who negotiated the deal, including no bathroom inside or running water.  A room with 6 bunks to ourselves, and a balcony for 200RU or $2.25 US.  He then brought us a menu, came back with our drink, and then showed up about 1/2 hour later with all our food.  We saw him once more that evening when he picked up the dishes.  We didn't see another person or pay any money before retiring.

The haunted hostel and the young boy.   Nepal
 We woke up pretty early.  When you are trying to go for longer days on a thru hike, getting up early is one of the most important things you can do.  It turns out that to get 20 or 30 miles per day, you don't have to walk faster, you just need to walk longer.  Getting 10 hours of hiking time in a day is harder than it sounds and getting up early is important.

Yessi and I standing very close to a very long drop!
We saw no one in the morning while using the bathroom, about 50 steps up a narrow path paved with flat rocks to where there were two springs, each with a small wall on one or two sides for privacy.  To the left of these was a very small mud coated stacked rock building with a roof made out of straw and pieces of wood and a hole in the floor.  A bucket sat in one corner with a dipper for an automatic self regulating environmental low flush toilet system.  When I walked around the building I could see the pipe head into the ground, unsure of how much further it extended, if any.

Having obtained water from the spring, wondering if we'd accidentally purchased the building and that's why no one was in it, we decided to make our own breakfast.  One of my rules is always carry some extra food.  I also brought a stove for which Yessi and I were grateful for when it got cold, higher in the mountains.  I boiled water, made coffee, hot chocolate and instant oatmeal and we sat there enjoying the moment.

We packed up our bags, it was after 8am now, cleaned up the room, straightened the table cloth, grabbed our garbage and headed downstairs.  There we were relieved to find the boy from last night, leaning against a porch support.  We gratefully paid finally having a bill.  Off we went.

We ended up walking about 18km from Khudi to Ngadi.  This is a good time to say that Yessi had never hiked or camped before so this was really her first day hiking ever. She did great.

We took it pretty slow and still overwhelmed with the uniqueness of our environment and the people, stopped at the next town Bhulbhule for coffee.  A great view of a spectacular waterfall with snow covered BAM's (Bad Ass Mountains) in the background.

Brad and Yessi passing a thrashing machine.  Two cows, a post, lots of grain and a covering of straw with plenty of Nepalese to keep the cows walking around the pole where their hooves separate the grain from the chaff and the straw helps keep it clean.

After another hour of hiking, we came to another town, Ngadi, and had lunch with a wonderful hostess at Hotel MINA.  In very basic English, she gave us an English menu, navigated drinks and ordering, told us her husband was fishing in the next town and that one of her children goes to boarding school in Kathmandu. (a 3 hr hike with a 1 hour jeep ride to Besishahar and then a 5 hour bus ride).

These construction sites have more machinery and fuel than the rest of the towns along this river combined, and the damage is proportionate.
We hiked another 2 hours but somehow we ended up on the wrong side of the river,  I think because of construction of yet another large bridge.  As a result, we missed Bahundanda and Ghermu, but learned an important lesson.  The maps of the Annapurna Circuit are scaled too big (for the convenience of having a single map), are inconsistent, abstract, and many of the roads, and even more trails, aren't represented.

Yessi, having never backpacked before, quickly adapted to the rough terrain and the use of trekking poles for balance and support.  

I believe it's better to look at the map, look at the river, look up the valley for the road, locate suspension bridges and always head away from the road.  You'll still have to walk some roads, but a lot less and the trails are so much more interesting.

Yessi and a local boy on a suspension bridge.
One of the locals helps us with directions as we contemplate a long climb to the hot pools in Mipro.
After a steep climb, still on the wrong side of the river, we arrived at Syange just about dark.  As it turns out, there are some hot pools in Mipro, said to be about a half an hour walk.  The walk however, was entirely made up of steps going straight up the mountain.  While we both wanted nothing more than to be on top, looking at the spectacualr view and soaking in a hot tub, neither one of us wanted to do the climb.
Stairs near Syange that head up to hot pools, or so we heard. The hot pools along the Annapurna Circuit are a lot like Sasquatch along the PCT.  Everyone has a story but no one really knows where they are, including the maps.
After 15 minutes we decided to turn around and find a place for the night. The Waterfall Inn caught our eye with it's intense verticality, perched on the edge of a cliff,  high above the river with windows providing a wonderful 360 degree view.

This evening I contemplated the value of thru hiking in such a cultural rich environment with not enough time.  Would it be better, I wondered, to not have tried to do the whole circuit leaving more time for side hikes, hot pools, temples,  and mindless wandering through the spectacular villages. The down side is that we wouldn't have hiked much and would have seen less overall, though in more detail.  When you have a goal, progress is always hanging in the air, but when you're just traveling, it's easy for time to just slip away leaving you feeling like you didn't see that much.

No comments:

Post a Comment