Sunday -- October 4th….
This morning we all woke up about 5:00am, happily sticking our heads out of the tents to be surprised by huge snow covered mountains that were just in front of us. Yesterday there were clouds covering this area and we had no idea that they were there. It was like finding an unexpected treasure slowly being revealed as the sun hit the top peaks.
And once again, Fishtail is prominent on the horizon…..
At 6:00, we were brought “bed tea” to wake us up and then at 6:30 we received bowls of warm water to use for freshening up.
As the porters were packing up the tents it gave us a chance to see what all goes into the process. Each tent has a tarp underneath and plastic between the tent and rain cover. These two extras go a long way toward keeping the tent clean and dry. One of the nicest touches is that there was a mat at the front door of the tent, giving you a place to put things that you don’t want IN the tent but you don’t want ON the grass either.
We have two thick sleeping pads that are as comfortable as our bed at home. We had been told to bring our own Thermorest Pads but there has been no need for them.
We packed up and left camp about 7:45, with Sabine acting as the trek leader and Badri bringing up the rear.
We passed a Trekker registration site and Badri took care of the paperwork while we walked on.
I finally got a photo of Michael ready for the day. Since he is always behind me, it is hard to get a photo of him!!!
The morning started with a slow, gentle climb and at a comfortable pace. We passed a number of Tea Houses with names such as “Nice View”, “Excellent View” and “New Excellent View”.
As we walked, Badri pointed out that when we are at our pinnacle (Annapurna Base Camp), we will be on the OTHER side of Fishtail but in front of Annapurna-2. I am looking forward to that sight, but it is kind of scary because it seems a LONG way away!!!
Michael made up slogans for us as we walked….”More walk, less talk” and “The more you drink the lighter your pack”, and “Less whine, More climb” We think that we could make a fortune making patches for backpacks!!!
There were more Leech sightings as the day went on, including one on my trekking pole…..I beat it to death!!!
We all had a good laugh at this trash can encouraging people to “save the environment” although no one seems to actually be able to put trash INTO the bin…..
We passed a number of small stores all thru the trip and were interested that they all carried Pringles, although many of the containers were slightly faded out, indicating that they MAY have been in the sun too long!!! We took a “Happy” (bathroom) break at 9:05 and then were told “Tick Tock” at 9:15. This term means that it is time to get loaded up again and ready to leave.
As we have walked, I realize that Michael adds a lot to our group, especially with his extensive knowledge of both flora and fauna!!
On Brian and Amber’s recommendation, we made a change to our trekking gear for this trip, purchasing a hydration system rather than using bottles of water. This has proved to be the perfect solution as we can drink from the pinch nozzle as we walk and don’t have to stop to remove a bottle from the pack. The only problem that arises is that it is hard to pant and suck water at the same time!
Badri had told us that roads were slowly being built into parts of this area. Our first instinct was that it was horrible that civilization was invading this beautiful country, but then we got to thinking about how the road would help the local residents and make their life easier. Having said that, when we crossed one of these roads, I had to wonder exactly why had we walked all this way when we could have ridden??
Someone asked what wild animals were in the area and we were told that there were deer, boars, leopards, bears, and monkeys (both red face, white face and long tail). I sure hope that we get to see a few of these although I can do without the bears and leopards!!
At one point, Badri yelled for us to look at Annapurna South, but where is it?? We are looking all around but not high enough and finally find it right in front of us, but ABOVE the clouds….. In one small village, we came upon this game board painted on a rock and Michael asked what it was…..
As you can see, he didn’t let me win and the only goat that I got to eat was a move by Sabine!!!!
I laughingly told Badri that a truly GOOD guide would have allowed the client to win….he had a good laugh!!
Today is where I found the importance of having a good guide and trekking crew. At one point the others got ahead of me a bit and I became unsure about which rock to step on and how to select my path. Badri saw me hesitating and immediate told Monise (the other Asst. Guide) to get in front of me. He slowed way down and carefully watched me as I descended. At one point he asked if I needed help but I told him that I was ok….very professionally done.
Once our long descent was done (from 7200 ft to 5400 ft in 1.5 hours) it was time for lunch (about 11:30). As we were walking into the village where we were eating, Michael found this shot thru a window……
The woman living there saw him take the photo and had a good laugh about why we were photographing her tomatoes!!
Everything was being ground together on a large stone, using another smooth rock as the grinder.
After the woman added the final ingredient, she put a small dot on the other cook’s hand so that he could taste it…didn’t even dirty up a spoon!! When lunch arrived there was a small dish of this product on the table. Well, Michael and David both fell in love with it so before we knew it, an entire jar had been purchased. Between those two and Badri, there was virtually none left at the end of the trek.
At 12:20 it was “Tick Tock” time and we started up and down a series of hills heading to Landrung, our second campsite.
We passed a large marijuana plant and Badri said it is sometimes used in the chutney and everyone agreed that MAY be the reason it was so good!
It was a bit too hazy for landscape shots in the valley, but the scenery was fantastic with lots of terraced lands and the mountains hovering above.
During this section of the journey, we crossed over our first suspension bridge. I greatly appreciated the supports on either side that I could hold on to, but didn’t appreciate the broken boards and places that you could see thru the bridge to the rushing river beneath….
Badri learned that we were enjoying knowing more about the area and he spent much time walking right behind us and giving lots of information. Eventually everyone figured out that if they were closer to the him they would learn more so Michael and I now had more company at the back of the line. I thought that it was sweet that Badri told us that he appreciated us asking questions because it gave him a chance to practice his English!!
The kitchen boys soon passed us after they had washed the dishes from lunch and packed up all of the supplies. We watched them passing, knowing that they were headed to the campsite to get everything set up so that we could have tea and dinner shortly.
We passed this interesting contraption and asked Badri what it was……
He told us that it was used as part of a Hindu festival, although I never really understood exactly how it was used. When we were back in Kathmandu and looking at our photos, one of the waiters saw this and told us that they put boards thru the holes and people would sit on them, making a primitive Ferris Wheel.
I love the look on the Water Buffalo’s face…..pure enjoyment!!!!
We passed thru one town that had two schools side by side. The kids were dressed in uniforms with groups of boys standing in circles playing a game with coins and rocks. Badri said that it was some sort of betting game.
Many of the smaller children would see us walking up and come running to say “Namaste” (hello). Obviously other trekkers had given them food, because many of them said “Namaste….have a sweet?” or “Namaste Chocolate?”. Badri had encouraged us not to give them candy as it wasn’t good for them, but from that time on, every time I said “Namaste” I really wanted to add “Chocolate?”!!!
As we walked thru villages it was fun to see people living their daily lives. Some were sitting in groups talking, hanging clothes out, doing preparation for their meals or working in the fields. We passed one young woman sitting at edge of a ledge and messing with her phone…..20-somethings are the same all over the world!!
We passed two women who were digging in mud and putting it into bowls to carry home. Badri said that they mix it with cow dung and use it to clean the floors of their homes. Don’t you know THAT smells good!!!
……up, always UP!!!!
We walked on rocks to pass one waterfall that had a big drop off to one side. I looked at it uncomfortably and immediately Badri came up and grabbed my poles, took my hand and carefully walked me across the stones. I DO feel safe here!!!
A few minutes later we crossed another stone bridge. I was doing ok on this one but I heard a splashing from behind and Badri gallantly dashed up and grabbed my hand to help me across!!!
As we have hiked, I have enjoyed coming to a corner and wondering, when you round it, what you will see. Sometimes it is simply more steps, but more often it was another gorgeous scene!!!
This cute kitten watched quietly as we passed…..
These corn “pillars” were set up for drying the corn away from rats and other foragers…..
Just before we arrived at Camp 2, Badri stopped us and pointed to a house on a ridge that seemed a LONG way away. He told us that this is where we will stop for tomorrow…..YIKES….
As we took off our boots, Michael and I both found that we had been Leeched again and Badri carefully treated both of our new bites. Michael walked toward him, limping and acting like he was in pain. Badri asked “do you need me to send two porters to wrap their arms around you?” He has definitely learned our sense of humor.
As we were finishing up our afternoon tea, a 60 year old woman showed up saying that she had a headache. Badri called for the First Aid kit and administered two Tylenol and some water to drink. She had been walking all day and was headed further up to visit her parents.
This isn’t a good photo because I was trying to be surreptitious, but this woman looked like she was MUCH older than 60. I guess this is just the result of the hardness of life!!!
Dinner for the evening consisted of Vegetable pasta with tomato sauce, perfectly roasted potatoes, steamed cauliflower and carrots and vegetable fritters (called Pakora)….
Michael and I had said that we were DEFINITELY going to stay up later tonight, but were sacked out by 8:15!!!!
What will tomorrow bring?????