8 October 2010 – Day 20 Sikha to Ghorepani
After a good nights sleep in a quiet village we set off from Sikha at 7.41am having chowed down a couple of boiled eggs and a chapati each. The day’s trek saw us climbing most of the way and as we did so we passed various villages such as Phalate and Chitre all perched idyllically on mountainsides with lush farmlands and quaint stone houses. As to be expected in habited areas, the paths was strewn with livestock dung of every kind imaginable and the trek was made more challenging as we dodged these pads as best we could. Guess on the positive side, it’s organic.
Had a quick drink stop at the Barahi Teashop in Phalate before continuing our upward trek towards Ghorepani. Early on we were walking away from the Daulagiri & Tukuche peaks and so as not to miss the views, we kept turning back to appreciate the majesty of the highest mountain in the area. The higher we climbed, the higher the mountains seem to rise. As we got to the Phalate/Chitre area, Annapurna South showed itself above the opposite hills to our left.
Adding to the beauty of the scene were sporadic cherry blossom trees flowering in their full glory and boy these trees when flowering are really out of these world. More stone steps and refreshing water fall crossings later we were faced with the final climb up to Deurali Ghorepani. Knowing that this will be one of the final climbs on our long circuit trek, I savored it feeling pleased with myself that climbs do not seem to exhaust us as much anymore. Marina also had great form on these climbs and kept close to us throughout.
Deurali Ghorepani is a nice little enclave with numerous guesthouses and shops catering to trekkers with sweeping views of the Annapurna South peak and it’s associated range when the skies are clear but today clouds covered it for the most part and so my earlier suggestion to visit Poon Hill in the evening for sunset shots was shelved.
Passing through Deurali Ghorepani, we headed down to our rest stop for the night, the Hotel See You Lodge. It’s a nice enough establishment with plywood cladded room walls and bathroom attached although hot shower is only available at the ground level bathroom. The dining hall is well heated as they heat the hot water for showers from this same fireplace as well.
Having arrived early at 11.35am, we settled into our rooms, yes Adam had his own room next to ours tonight as the rooms are too tight to fit in 3 guests and spent the better part of the afternoon sitting in the dining hall chatting and killing time. Lunch was Ginger Chicken with rice with a plate of stir fried green veg which was just what we wanted. After lunch I went for a walk back up to Deurali and then it was shower time. After a little lie in, we proceeded to the dining hall at 5ish and had pots of tea before dinner was served at around 6.45pm. While having tea, spoke to an elderly couple from Canada who was on as they called it an “intensive Himalayan tour”, having just come into Nepal from Tibet and heading into Bhutan after their Nepal experience. They’re Canadians so yes they’re kinda nice people abc friendly enough.
Dinner was a repeat of lunch for us except Adam who wanted Chicken steak of sorts with Chips and Rice as well. He also helped us polish off our portion of rice whine we could go no further. What an appetite, ah the wonders of youth.
Tomorrow we will have an early start at 5am to Poon Hill for the sunrise and then it’s back to our guesthouse for breakfast and then we shoot downhill all the way to Nayapul a distance of about 7 hours walk to catch the public bus back to Pokhara. Our last day of the Annapurna Circuit Trek, I have mixed feelings about this but after 19 days out here in this wondrous nature, it is indeed time to see and do something different for the rest of our time in Nepal. Time to shut down now for the big day tomorrow. Suberatri everyone.
9 October 2010 – Day 21 Ghorepani to Poon Hill to Nayapul to Pokhara
After a somewhat sleepless night by comparison, we woke up at 4.30am just before Shanker was due to knock on our doors. Got ourselves together and headed straight down for the trek to Poon Hill for the sunrise vista of the Annapurna ranges. As we were slightly late we decided to omit the tea altogether. The trek up to Poon Hill from Ghorepani was from a slightly different trail than those going from Deurali Ghorepani. As it was still pitch dark, I had the head torch on and was behind Marina giving her light. We were passed several times by people scurrying up the hill for any number of reasons. As we neared the summit, Marina told me to go ahead and set up our camera gear so we can get some good shots in before the sun came up too high and I adhered.
The crowd that gathered up at Poon Hill was enormous, at least 200 pax in total and it was a real challenge to jostle for a good spot to set up but eventually I found a few idyllic sites and went about shooting away, making sure to bracket my shots for the possibility of fusing them together with HDR later. Think I got much beet shots this time round than when we did EBC 2 years ago but we’ll see. At a quarter past seven we started to make our way down after taking some timer shots with us all in to. The trek down seemed much shorter and by 7.45am we were back at the guesthouse ordering breakfasts and getting our stuff packed and ready to go. It’s going to be a big days walk today to Nayapul where we will
Catch a bus to Pokhara.
The trek was downhill all the way and Adam and I decided not to use our poles today which was a good decision as we were fit and strong enough to skip down the stones steps quite effectively. The landscape along the way was breathtaking transiting from Rhododendron forest areas with swift flowing alpine creeks to moss forests with lichens hanging off trees to eventual farmlands and quaint villages dotting the trail. Many Trekkers were struggling their way upwards and our heart goes to them as their destination seemed much more challenging than ours being uphill. After the village af , the trail took us to the 3000+ steps down to Tikhedunga and then to Hile where we will have our lunch break. We got to Hile at 12.30pm making our mornings trek some 4 hours long. After a good hour lunch break we continued our way to Nayapul through farmlands with villagers busy harvesting and thrashing their crops. As the sun dropped slightly at 3pm it was ideal light for some photography and we did not let this opportunity go to waste. We eventually got to Nayapul, thighs aching from the constant braking downhill at 4.15pm and sat by a roadside shop waiting for the bus to Pokhara. High fives all around for making it through the last 19 days of trekking unscathed, it really is quite an achievement and we thanked Shanker and our porter boys for a job well done taking care of us too.
Several buses came but were all filled to the brim with passengers heading back to town after the recent festival. Eventually one came with one seat inside and Shanker asked if we were game to ride on the top of the bus with Marina riding inside and we all said yes and climbed aboard the roof rack. It was a first for me but I must admit that it’s quite the novel way to travel with great views and open air as opposed to the stuffiness inside. Soon more and more people joined us rooftop and there was barely room to move which was good also as people in front kinda broke the wind for us riding more to the aft. After 2 hours we finally made it into Pokhara at 7pm, which was already nightfall. Adam was relieved; as he had to hurry down to ease his bladder, which was close to bursting. We headed to our Fishtail Villa at Lakeside and settled into our room and had a nice long hot shower to wash off the days of dust and dirt from the 19 days on the trail. Our laundry which smelt more like salted fish were put together to be sent off to the laundry first thing tomorrow. Ah it’s nice to be back to civilization once again.
We then headed to our last dinner with the boys at the Pizza Restaurant down the road and had a few beers to celebrate. By 10pm we were all dead tired as it is well past our usual bedtime for the past 3 weeks or so. Adam suggested we head back to our hotel to retire and we all agreed. We passed the sleeping bags and down jackets to Ganesh who will be going to Kathmandu the following morning and also handed tips of RM150 each to our porters for their good work. It has indeed been a long long day and it was great to eventually lie in bed. The Annapurna Circuit Trek is finally done with.