Friday, October 9th
Our fears about the clouds obscuring the mountains were unfounded as we woke to clear skies once again. We did however wake to a hoard of Korean tourists tramping thru our camp to get to the ABC shrine at sunrise.
I love this one with the flags and the mountains……
Way too soon, it was time to pack up and start our long descent out…..
…we said goodbye to the beautiful Annapurna Sanctuary!! We all seemed quiet as we began our descent, each savoring the views and experiences that we had encountered.
We passed the signpost where we had taken photos yesterday, never realizing that there was another message on the other side saying Goodbye and Thank You…..
Badri had told us that today would be hard trek as we would descend 6,000 feet in just the one day. I had mixed feelings about this as I knew that going down would be so much easier physically, but I also knew that descending is much tougher mentally as you have to constantly be thinking about where you place your feet and trekking poles so that you get the best traction. I also try to protect my right knee so am always shifting my feet around so that I take the steeper steps on my left knee.
The first hour was a nice walk thru the meadow to Machapuchare Base Camp. When we got there I knew that I needed to change out of my long johns before continuing on the hike. I went running on up to the teahouse with the idea of going to the bathroom to change. Instead Badri pointed to one of the Lodge Bedrooms and told me to use that instead. It was SO much easier to change in there!!!
As we came to one descent that was a bit crumbly, Sera moved in front of me and started kicking rocks off of the path so that I wouldn’t have to worry about slipping down.
I heard one fun interchange between Michael and Badri. Michael pointed to a large white flowers and said to Badri “Let me guess… tall white flower”. Badri’s answer…“Exactly!!”
It was fun seeing the stream winding down the valley below us and then to realize a few minutes later that we were now even with it, showing how far we had come down.
About two hours into the morning, Sera left us as we plodded along the path and headed down the track in front of us, almost skipping as he went. I don’t know how these guys can be so carefree in their walking!!
The valley below us was gorgeous, a fact that had eluded me when we were climbing up it……
You can really see exactly how much dirt and rock fell from above and how much it filled in the valley.
We again reached Hinku Cave after about 3 hours of hiking, meaning that we had already descended 2700 feet. We took a long rest break there, enjoying the views and the people, including two sweet Aussie women….
…and there was great cell phone coverage…..
Speaking of cell phones, coverage was spotty during the entire trip. We marveled at the places where you could get coverage and where you couldn’t!!
And, naturally, the view was still awesome!!!
We left Hinku Cave at 11:05 for the last push before lunch.
We arrived at Himalaya at noon for lunch and found that it was completely overrun with people, mostly the Korean group. We were wondering exactly where we would be able to sit to eat, but that problem was solved when we saw OUR tablecloth on a “Reserved” table under a shelter. Michael turned to me and said “I am so glad that we bought the “Ritz Carlton” of treks”!!
although it didn’t have quite the same ambiance of eating it out of a red plastic bowl and looking at spectacular view!!
I have noticed that Badri never gets to eat a hot meal as he is always jumping up to serve us more or to see that we have enough of everything. Lately he has started leaving the lunch table after the soup course and going away to eat Dal Bhat for lunch instead of our food. I can imagine that he gets tired of eating non-traditional stuff day after day!!
We talked to one Australian woman after she used the term “No Worries”….that is a dead giveaway that someone is from Down Under!!
We left Himalaya at 12:50 and now started a bit of ascending. On the trip up, I used to make up time on the descents, now I am faster on the ascents….go figure.
We had a stand-up rest about an hour into the afternoon. It is interesting that we are taking less rest stops while descending but that makes sense since we are not taxing our breathing as much.
Sabine was leading the walk and, as always, was on the alert for anything that he could show us. This time he found a troupe of Langur Monkeys in the trees to one side of the path. We stopped and watched, fascinated as they moved around the trees. I was especially enamored with a large male as he sedately climbed across a vine to join the others. Unfortunately, the foliage was too dense to get photos, but it is definitely imprinted on the photo board of my mind!!
At 2:20, we had another rest stop at Dovan and then arrived at Bamboo Village (altitude – 7,760 ft) at 3:15 where our camp was waiting…..
Our wash-up water arrived immediately followed by tea at 3:45. Since we were all pretty pooped, Badri suggested that dinner be earlier than normal (at 6:00) so that we could get to bed faster. We all agreed!!
Dinner started with Tomato soup and popcorn, and then continued with Spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce, and freshly grated Parmesan Cheese, fried Pakora (potato and something) and a fried egg!! It had been breaded and then fried and had an interesting texture and taste.
The big treat of the night was APPLE PIE for desert and this was no ordinary Apple Pie. It had a caramel flavor to it and was served with chocolate sauce….delish!! Unfortunately, I had left my camera in the tent and was simply too tired to walk over and get it so there are no photos of this amazing pastry!!
We all headed happily to the tents and most appeared to have gone to sleep immediately. It was a happy sleep knowing that we were so much further down the mountains!!!