We departed Marpha at our usual 7:30 then put in a longer than normal day. As a result we are now in Ghasa nestled at the foot of Annapurna I. The scenery has changed enormously. We are in the deepest gorge on the planet, Kali Gandaki, and are surrounded by pine and fir trees and …. wait for it…… bamboo and marihuana shrubs taller than me. Slopes rise steeply above us to the rocky crags and cliffs of 7000 to over 8000 metre high mountains. They seem particularly high from our current vantage point of a mere 2000 meters! My day’s bliss was two fold. This morning our “tea break” place happened to serve cappuccinos. I could not resist, so sat in the sun and sipped a most delicious and incredibly caffeinated coffee. It gave me quite the buzz. Not sure if it was the quality of bean of the fact I’m not drinking much in the way of coffee these days. The second bliss was a hot shower a few minutes ago. Too nice for words! And the bathroom wasn’t even that cold so it was all good.
Well I have the funniest story to tell you about today. We did a fair bit of road walking and it was essentially all downhill. The road is very rough and we were plodding along at a brisk pace. Suddenly I caught my toe on a protruding rock and down I went onto my hands and knees. Because of the downward slope, and the forward momentum of my pack, my body carried on forward onto my head. So there I was in a sort of Muslim prayer position in the middle of the road. To add hilarity to the picture – this section or road was running with a stream of icy cold water. Tendi had the grace to not laugh, in fact he looked a bit worried. But very soon, once I was upright again and we all realized that I was wet – head to toe – but otherwise unharmed, we fell to laughing. That afternoon we were in Tatopani so I soaked my cares away in the hot springs there. Ah that was so lovely to be immersed in really hot water!
Today’s trek was only three hours but every single step was up hill and most of those steps were up stone stair cases! We’re now in Ghorepani.(2860 metres) yesterday we’d been at our guest house for about 30 minutes when clouds came broiling down over the peaks above and it began to deluge. The rain carried on – off and on – for the rest of the day. Today the same thing has happened. I’m so glad we are tucked into a guesthouse, cold as it is, we are dry. Because we are quite a bit higher here were in the clouds so it’s a pretty dismal scene outside the windows. After I send this I shall curl up in my sleeping bag for an afternoon’s reading. This is the hard part of trekking for me. Short walking days with long cold afternoons to abide. It’s easy when the sun shines, hours spent in the warmth go by so much quicker.
“Why not walk further than?” you may ask. Well three hours of steady “up and up” is hard work and to go on to the next hamlet on our route is another 6 to 7 hard hours of up and up and down and down. Too much for today. Three people have just arrived and they are sopping wet and look half frozen. So are tough as it is to be here, it would be worse to be out in the current weather. Unfortunately these unseasonable rainstorms may be putting the kibosh on our Annapurna Sanctuary plans. Rain here means snow there, and snow there can mean serious avalanches. Don’t worry we’ll not go if there is a risk.
In case you are wondering what it is with all these “pani” places…..Tatopani means hot water. Named so for the hot springs. Ghorepani means horse water. Named so because horses drink water here after their long climb up to this place. Tomorrow we will be staying in Tadapani. Named so because it is far from a water source.
Well I think that’s it from me until this trek is done. I don’t believe we’ll be in any other places with wifi.