Latamarang to Dhukur Pokhari. 18.5km. 7 hours.
It was just going to be a short day.
A 3 hour hike to Chame, fix my shoes, get Erica some medicine, but the annapurnas had other plans.
Of course it was another beautiful trek. I probably don’t even have to mention it any more, we can all assume from now on every single day is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. It was an easy trek to Chame, nice and sunny. It was too easy, it lulled us into a false sense of security.
We arrived at 12pm, my shoes were going to take an hour to fix so I wandered around town in a sexy socks and sandals combo. There was nothing to do but sit down and enjoy an afternoon of chai masala.
Sitting in a tiny indian take away shop with children running around everywhere, watching the owner cook tibetan bread crouching down in front of the fire. Before we knew it 2 hours had passed. We were all low on energy, Erica had her medicine but she was still sick, Tomas had a hectic cold setting in (which he later gave to me, bastard) so we thought ‘lets just cruise along to Bhratang, the next town, another 2 hours of walking and we can call it a day.
We set off just as the rain began.
We plodded along through pine forests, next to rivers, past locals huddled under overhanging rocks warming themselves by little camp fires. Staring at us as we trudged along in the cold rain. Berating ourselves for our decision to keep going. We saw more and more snowy peaks, our breath was frosting up. My fingers were getting colder and colder.
Today felt like we were hiking in the scottish highlands.
Finally the next town was in sight and a sigh of relief filled my soul. But as we got closer we saw Tomas and Marijn sitting and waiting for us. We’d lost them on the route so it was a double relief.
It didn’t last long.
They were shaking there heads.
“Don’t get your hopes up, there’s no rooms”
My back screamed in protest.
“The next town is 2 hours away”
I didn’t believe them. I can handle a long trek but not when I don’t expect it.
I’d mentally prepared myself for a 3 - 4 hour hike, and here I was 5 hours later preparing for another 2 hours.
My mind wasn’t ready. We were stopping in Bhratang. I still couldn’t comprehend that it wasn’t true.
Putting my pack back on will still remain one of the most demoralising things i’ve ever had to do.
We weren’t sure if there were rooms in the next town but we were hoping with everything we had. If there wasn’t rooms, it was another 2 hours to Upper Pisang.
I knew i could physically manage, but mentally?
As we trekked the snowy mountains got closer and closer, the clouds dropped lower and lower. I was so cold, i could hardly move my fingers and the thought of taking my pack off and getting my camera out was too much. But eventually there wasn’t anything I could do about it, I had to get it out, it was that epic.
Step by step I managed. I was so excited by the thought of the next town and putting my bag down, but I had no idea what was coming. After what felt like decades of trekking we crested the hill and suddenly there was the town. The first thing i noticed was the hotel signs. There were enough hotels around that I knew we’d have a place to sleep here. I could relax.
I dropped my bag and grabbed my camera and could now appreciate the view around me. I was dog tired but the view was so overwhelming, i didn’t know what to photograph first. Everywhere I looked snowy mountains, so close I could see the the wind blowing snow off the peak.
We were above the clouds, the trees were frosted over and the mist was roaming through.
I was standing on the rooftop of the hotel with my zoom lens on so overwhelmed I was close to tears. Energy was coursing through my veins. The cold crisp air was cleansing my body of its aches and pains and the view made me forget the hours of pain.
I’ve spent the last 5 days describing the trek, mountains after mountains, aches and pains, overwhelming views. I’m sure it’s getting boring now. So let me describe what life is like on the trek. It’s not all walking and pain.
I didn’t expect to enjoy every second of this trek so much, a lot of that is down to the people i was lucky enough to meet. But when you arrive in a new town first you feel the pure pleasure of being able to put your pack down. You check out your room, check the comfort of the bed. So far it’s been pretty good. You ask about a hot shower, every now and then you get lucky. (In this spot we were lucky, it was almost too hot.)
Then you head into the common area to order dinner. The only place that has any warmth. As soon as the place starts filling up they light the fire and everyone huddles around with there feet and hands next to the stove trying to return feeling to their extremities.
The warmth fills you up and you all wait for your food to arrive in anticipation.
Food has never tasted so good. You sip a hot tea and admire how glorious a simple lemon tea is.
There is usually another traveller or two in the guesthouse and you all bond around the fire, comparing trekking stories. Most of the time the other travellers have trekked far longer and quicker than us. It became an ongoing joke how slow we were. Not physically trekking, we’re fast walkers, we just didn’t push ourselves.
But why push, it’s the most beautiful place i’ve ever been, why rush through.
I remember this night specifically being quite enjoyable, such a tough day with such a sweet reward. Laying around the fire listening to music and discussing our different lives.
It was our first night above 3000 metres.
We were all starting to feel the altitude, a little bit heavy in the head, more tired than usual, the breathing just doesn’t come AS easy as it should.