Saturday, October 24, 2015

Trek Day 3…did you say “Shower”?

 

Monday, October 5th……

I started the morning VERY early as I had woken up at 3:30 but laid there happily thinking about how much fun the previous day had been.  Michael crawled out of the tent at 5:00, but immediately came to me and said that I really needed to get out of the tent. I looked up and found that the area that we had been looking at last night (a valley with clouds), was now a row of magnificent mountains.DSC06220

It was magical as the sun started hitting the tops of the mountains even though our camp was still in the dark …. IMG_3146

I spent a lot of my time watching the magic from the comfort of my tent, snuggled up in my sleeping bag…..DSC06222

And then another wonderful sight appeared…..DSC06223

…..Michael delivering my “bed tea” for the morning!!!

Last night several people had said that they were looking forward to having brewed coffee so this morning we had it on the table. Badri did say that there was only so much and when it was done, it was done!!  Along with coffee, we had a wonderful breakfast that started off with a bowl of hot Oatmeal followed by Pancakes with bananas and a very tasty fruit and granola mixture. DSC06230

By the time we were ready to start hiking, Annapurna-2 was well within view….

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Even the view out of the toilet window was amazing…..DSC06235

We walked out of Landrung about 7:45, naturally heading upward again……DSC06231

Last night Badri had told us that a portion of today’s hike would be “Nepali flat”…..not really flat, but flatter than some places.

After crossing yet another suspension bridge…..DSC06238

…..we saw our first sign that indicated that we were indeed headed to ABC (Annapurna Base Camp)IMG_3174

It was interesting that as we crossed over this river and up into the hillside, everything seemed to have a tropical feel to it, even though we are NOT in the tropics. 

I have loved the beautiful river crossings but have realized that we pay for each one because it means that we have descended into a valley and now have to re-ascend!!

As we walked, we passed many small waterfalls issuing out of the rock wall.  It was great fun to have water spitting on us as we passed.  We came upon one large waterfall that was remarkable as the water would hit a shelf and shoot away from the rock in an arc…..

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I could have watched it for hours!!!

This one was equally beautiful as it split off into different streams…..

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As you can see, there is a LOT of water here.   Water conservation has been so engrained in us that we all found it a bit disconcerting to see taps running and barrels of water overflowing.

Now we had the first fall of the trek and unfortunately, it was Michael.   He had seen an unstable rock and pointed it out to David and said to be careful. Then as he carefully stepped on it, the rock gave way, and he took a tumble into the vegetation, slightly downhill from the path. He landed fairly softly and then did a slow roll before coming to rest.  It scared me, but I quickly realized that he wasn’t hurt.  The funny thing was to watch Badri & Sera’s reaction. They were beside him immediately, asking if he was ok.  Sera held down his hand and Michael handed him his trekking poles. Sera said….”no, give me your hand”!!!

After Michael was up and starting to walk again, Badri sidled close to him and quietly asked if he was really ok and did he want any medicine for his scrapes.

As with everything with the trek, it was handled very professionally!!!

I now have my personal guide…..Monise spent the day walking in front of me and Badri or Sera often moved up to help me as well. At one point, we started up a slick area and I thought to myself, “here he comes”.  Sure enough Badri  was right there at my left arm ready to help me if needed.  They never help unless I ask them to but they are certainly there.  I feel very protected and safe!!!

As we were entering a small village area, one of the guides pointed out that there was a shed to the left of the trail where goats were being sheared.  Naturally, we all had to traipse over for a look….and a video…..

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It was interesting that they used a forked stick to keep the goat’s head immobilized.  Also, I loved that the dog had a bell around his neck, although I bet he got tired of the noise!!!

One of my favorite photos of this stop were these goats patiently waiting in the queue….IMG_3207

We stopped for a break around 9:00 and spent a few minutes looking at where we had been and where we were going….. IMG_3210

These “happy” chickens were being carried on a gentleman’s back……IMG_3211

….presumably heading to a lovely chicken coop where they could live out their lives peacefully.  However, I am afraid that one of them may be the guest of honor at our dinner tonight!!!

Leading out of the town, we passed a small corn mill operating on water power.   Here, the water is being diverted into the building……

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And here, is the mill slowly grinding the corn into meal….IMG_3214

We then passed big piles of rocks of ALL sizes.   We were told that the little rocks are made by chipping bits off of the big rocks. Whenever we hate our job…..just remember this one!!!

When we crossed over one smaller bridge, over a shallow stream, Badri actually walked in the stream and held his hand up so that I could use it to steady myself!!

As we climbed down to the bottom of the valley we crossed over the Modi Khola river Suspension bridge (known as the gateway of the Annapurna Sanctuary), probably the longest that we had crossed…….IMG_3215

Badri grabbed the camera and took a photo of all of the gang, with Sabine mugging for the camera.  You will notice that Monice is right in front of me……IMG_3218

Today we have seen a lot more traffic on the trail.  It has been fun  to say hello or Namaste and then try to figure out where they are from based on their accent in the return greeting.  Unfortunately there simply isn’t time to stop and talk to all of them!!!

We continued to pull uphill, mostly on stone steps as we headed to the camp for the day.  IMG_3230 And yes, I am wearing a most “stylish” skirt, but it was magnificent for the trip and I eventually quit worrying about what it looked like!!!

At times it was good to look back and see evidence that we had indeed climbed a long way…..IMG_3232

We encountered this fun goat obviously posing for our camera…..IMG_3237

…..and then almost immediately encountered this long horned Water Buffalo….IMG_3239

These animals must have classes in how to pose properly for tourists!!!

The terraced farms are everywhere and at every elevation….IMG_3246

Lunch stop was at 11:00 at the Hiunchuli guest house and restaurant on New Bridge Himal Kyu.  When we walked up, I saw a Sprite for sale and immediately paid $2.20 to own one!!   It did taste wonderful, but I ended up burping thru the rest of the afternoon so never deviated from the “approved” menu again!!! 

Lunch consisted of Spam, French fries, Chapatti bread, Cucumber, Green beans and Carrots, and Apples for dessert…… DSC06246

It was great food.   There were lots of other trekkers at the restaurant but WE had an REI reserved table and our own private cooks…..can’t beat that.

Let me say something here about Sera’s French Fries.  They were PERFECTLY cooked every time, crispy on the outside and very soft and tender on the inside.   I really don’t know how he does it meal after meal!!!

At every stop, they set up a bucket of warm water, soap and towel for us to use after going to the bathroom or cleaning up for meals.  DSC06248Also, there is a bottle of Dettol hand sanitizer on the table for each meal and they encourage us to use it as well.   This may seem like overkill, but it is SO important not to get a stomach virus while trekking…..it could easily put an end to the trip.

I loved the colors of these beans that were out drying in the sun…..IMG_3254

At 12:20, it was “Tick-Tock” time again and we headed….you guessed it…..UP.   IMG_3257 However, there were some gorgeous views to keep us motivated…..IMG_3255

Our chef, Sera, normally walks with us for a bit after each meal but then passes us and “skips” up the mountain to get our next meal prepared.  This afternoon, we asked him what was for dinner and his answer was “We will see”!  I honestly don’t think that he knows for sure until he gets there and sees what ingredients he can buy from the locals. 

Every once in a while, Badri will break into song or whistle a tune to keep our morale up but I have to wonder how he can walk UP and whistle at the same time!!!!

We crossed over one bridge that provided a wonderful view of a large rock braced between two sides of the gorge. with water running under it. I was a reminder that I really need to have my camera out on bridges but sometimes hanging on seems more important at the time!!!

As I got more used to them, I found that it was fun to walk thru small streams or to cross on rocks or logs.

We had been steadily climbing since lunch so we took a longer break at 1:30. 

One of the problems with the skirt is that air doesn’t really flow up under it so it can get a bit warm.   Since it was culturally inappropriate for me to have the skirt above my knees, I couldn’t do a lot about it when I was walking.  However, at this particular stop, I found that I could lift it enough to get the breeze from behind as well as from the sides…..IMG_3268

I just had to watch the trail below to make sure that hikers weren’t coming up behind me!!!

After about 15 minutes, Monise gave the fateful words “Tick tock” meaning that it was time to start again.   I said “NOOOOO….not tick tock” and held out my hands to him and said “Carry me”.   He grinned and turned his back to me so that I could hop on!!!    Obviously I didn’t accept the ride, but I was glad that this shy young man was starting to kid with me.

By this time, I was dying and when I saw a photo opportunity, all I could do was point to it and say “picture”.   Michael sweetly took all of the requested ones including this fence dividing the steps from the garden…..IMG_3273

Badri took the camera from Michael and got this excellent trekking photo…..IMG_3276

There was another short rest stop at 2:00, probably because Badri thought that I was going to pass out soon!!!   He assured me that there was only one more big pull to come.

There were several giant Fuschia plants along the path and I once again motioned for Michael to take a picture…… IMG_3280

I have long had a thing for Fuschias but have never been able to get one to live for more than a week or two.   I think that these were just mocking me!!!

This was our first encounter with pack horses or mules and it was fun to share the trail with them……IMG_3286

One even stopped at the bottom of a set of steps and waited for me to climb down before he started up!!  IMG_3290

The herder followed a few steps behind the parade…..  IMG_3291

And then, at long last, we could see the yellow tents of camp 3…HOORAY……IMG_3293

We were camping in the town of Chumrung at an elevation of 7,120 feet, a gain of about 1,700 feet for the day.

The one carrot that had dangled in front of me during the grueling climb was that we had been promised a SHOWER when we got to camp!!!   Our fellow trekkers were chivalrous and agreed to let me have the first shower!!!  There was a bit of a delay as the water heater had to be fixed since it hadn’t been turned on since before the earthquake and we were the first trek to come thru and use it.

The shower was interesting as the water was heated by a propane fueled water heater that hung on the wall.  It was a little disconcerting to stand under the shower and see the fire flickering just beside you!!!   But I honestly didn’t care HOW the water was heated!!  It just felt good to be clean again.

Once everyone had showered, the mood lightened a bit as we sat drinking beer and watching Machapuchare in the distance… IMG_3299

At dinner we marveled at the attention to detail in every aspect of the trip, even down to the napkin folding and cutlery placement!!!

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Dinner was rice with a lentil sauce, curried potatoes and, yes, there was a piece of fried chicken!!!!DSC06256

For dessert, Sera surprised us all by producing a magnificent Banana Cake…..DSC06257

He cooked it by using a large pot, placing rocks in the bottom and a plate on top of them.  He then put the cake pan on the plate and cooked it over a Kerosene camp stove…..AMAZING!!!

After charging up a few batteries (for a fee of course) and treating a couple of blisters, we fell gratefully into our sleeping bags….clean at last!!!!

3 comments:

Nan said...

Such a polite pack horse! And it sounds like y'all found the dream team of guides. From Badri always at your side if needed, to Sera whipping up a banana cake. Wow! I'm so glad Michael's fall wasn't serious. Looking forward to the next installment! :)

Nupur said...

Ooh sorry Michael took a tumble...glad it was not serious. I can't believe you're eating cake up in the Himalayas :) sounds like a great time!

Karen S said...

You answered one of my questions before I asked it. I was interested in how much food was being carried and if they obtained it daily from locals. You obviously had a very resourceful and creative cook.
Love seeing all the suspension bridges going across the waterways.
I know you have talked about meeting a lot of other groups along the way, but I am still guessing that since the earthquake the numbers visiting are still down a lot?

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