We trekked for 6 night and 7 days through Annapurna Conservation Area. It is the largest protected land mass (7629 sq. Km) in Nepal and is on its situated on its northern boarder. It boast climate zones tropical to alpine as well as great biodiversity.
Day 1: To start the trek we must first take an 8 hour bus to the town of Pokhara and then a jeep for another hour into the mountains. These were not easy rides. They were bumpy, twisting, turning and mostly on the side of a cliff. It was rough, mentally and on our stomachs. We were both thrilled to start trekking at 4 pm. We walked for two hours to get to our first tea house (a very basic hotel) for the night. The tea house was quite pleasant and we saw the tops of two snow covered mountains on our way.
Day 2: This is the view when we woke up:
Today Megan learned the differences between a “trek” and a “hike”! Webster dictionary defined as trek as “to make one’s way arduously” while a hike is “to go on a long walk”. This was not just a long walk but it was arduous. The beginning of the day was okay, a little up and a little down, but the afternoon was two steep ascents and a steep descent as well. We would be on the steep rises for 2-3 hours at a time and the descent took a little over an hour. The total trek took us about 8 hours and left Christopher with his first blister of the trek.
This shiny stone, rich in Mica, was common on the trail:
This dog followed us most of the morning and afternoon, even making it through a pair of territorial dogs who attacked her. We were quite tired while she walked with us and her company was encouraging when Dorian couldn’t be there. She thought it was quite the trek too!
We climbed to about 7,200 ft above sea level and Megan was defiantly feeling the affects of the altitude. She had a headache, was dizzy, and her nail beds were turning blue. At dinner our guide sat down to talk to us about the climb. We had been planning to complete a trek recommended for 8 nights in 6 nights and to climb to 13,550 ft above sea level. He never once told us we couldn’t do it but laid out what the next 4 days would look like. He also laid out three other options from where we were at that seemed appealing, but did not go quite as high (10,550 ft). We discussed it and decided to take one of the alternative treks; we simply didn’t have enough time to climb the other trail while having fun and not risking sickness.
Where we stayed:
Day 3: With our new trek we decided to take a bit of a slower day. We trekked down to the river, about 1.5 straight down some rocks. Once at the hot spring at the bottom of the hill, we soaked our already sore legs and feet. It was incredible to soak in the hot water while watching this powerful river flow over the boulders.
Around the hot springs many kinds of butterflies were flying!
We ate lunch down by the river and then made the climb back up to the top of the mountain. We climbed up in rain and a thunderstorm. It took about 2.5 hours and it was obvious Megan was adjusting to the altitude. It was empowering to look down at the river while we climbed. What had been a huge roaring river at the bottom, became a simple stream when viewed from the midpoint of the climb.
Day 4: Today was a big hike and we started early. We had breakfast at 6:00 am to be on the trail about 6:45. We trekked for about 6.5 hours with the end of trek being the hardest, steepest, incline yet. The incline lasted about 2.5 hours but we made it! There were multiple suspension bridges and Megan was scared of them in the beginning of the week but by day 4 she was enjoying them and their views!
As we climbed, we saw a troup of common langur monkeys climbing and jumping in the trees. It was Megan’s favorite part of the day to see such great wildlife in nature. Christopher enjoyed the dense fog that rolled into the forest after we saw the monkeys. It gave everything a deep wilderness feeling.
Day 5: We trekked again for about 6.5 hours. We saw another monkey troup. Our guide, Lekh, called them red/brown monkeys. They were smaller and used the cliffs and trees. It was special because we could hear them before we saw them. After we decided to change course, we really were alone on the trails, which was a huge plus. We were no longer on a “common route” which brought us closer to nature. Megan enjoyed listening to the birds while climbing, especially the cuckoo birds. We reached 10,761 ft above sea level this day, which was above the tree line and above the bird songs. We were even above the clouds! Megan was quite cold and bundled up. Chris loved being cold for the first a time in months and seeing the different climactic zone. By the time we reached the view point, it had started to rain and there wasn’t much to see. We were quite proud of climbing so high! We had to hike down a few hundred feet to get to the village to spend the night.
The hike down to the village:
Day 6: We went to see sunrise over the Himalayan Mountains from Poon Hill. From the village, Poon Hill is a 1.5 hour climb so we got up at 3:50 am and set out with out headlamps and flashlights. We were incredibly lucky and had a beautiful, clear morning to watch the sunrise over the Annapurna Mountain Range. As the sun came up, it illuminated the Dhaulagiri Mountain Range. We had climbed to 10,550 ft above sea level to witness the sunrise, and it was worth every step. We stayed up there for an hour or more after sunrise; it was hard to leave the view. However, we still had a 6 hour trek that day, not including coming down from Poon Hill.
We ate breakfast back at our teahouse, and then started our 6 hours. This involved a lot of downward trekking as we were starting to make our way back to Pokhara. We made the town in good time and just missed a huge rain storm.
Day 7: We woke up to a great view! We could see the snow-covered mountains between two other mountains. We ate our oatmeal and enjoyed the view.
We started the rest of the way down to meet the jeep. We climbed down 3,500 steps, then walked awhile in the woods, and then walked down a gravel road. You know when you’re close to being done with something, but the ending stays just out of reach? That is how the gravel road felt. We were under direct sun and it was hot.
As we reached the last village there was a celebration going on. The national election had been held on the 2nd day of our hike (May 14th) and people were walking, dancing and singing through the town in celebration of the election result. It was quite the experience and we were swept up in all of the celebration. Many people were putting red powder on their faces, carrying flags and playing instruments.
We took a jeep for about an hour ride back to Pokhara where we spent the night and relaxed before the stressful bus ride back to Katmandu in the morning.