Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Himalayan weightloss plan

Rhododendron madness
After a two-week journey through the ancient Kingdom of Lo, we returned to the relative civilization (i.e.hot showers and non-instant coffee) of Kagbeni, a small town in the Lower Mustang region. Although civilized, we practically evacuated out of our room that night because there a kerosene leak that had been going on for hours and we were getting dizzy, headaches and our throats burned. Apparently, the guesthouse owner couldn't even tell that there was something wrong (!!!!!).

We spent the next few days hiking through dramatic river valleys circumnavigating the west side Annapurna mountain range. The scenery looked a lot like Switzerland: burbling brooks, alpine vistas, temperate pine forests, moss covered rocks, etc. Idyllic villages dotted the landscape, famous for their locally brewed apple cider. Afternoon thunderstorms chased us to our daily destinations and, aside from a horrific bout of food poisoning  (the salad was so tempting!), we made it through relatively unscathed. Finally we arrived at the final stop of the Annapurna Circuit, a town called Tatopani famous for its natural hot springs.

Purest water on Earth
Ironically many trekkers now skip this last leg of the Annapurna Circuit route because a new road was recently built to short-circuit the journey. Although there are numerous alternate trekking routes, most tourists opt to take a Jeep and skip the last section. This is a damn shame. We found the west side of the Annapurnas more beautiful and dramatic than the traditional east side of the Circuit and we highly recommend anyone considering the trek to walk the whole way.

We had finished both Upper Mustang and the Annapurna Circuit sections of our 33-day trek and the finale was almost in view: Annapurna Base Camp (ABC).

I thought I knew what stairs were. Seriously, there are stairs in San Diego, hills even. But nothing compares to the stairs leading up to Annapurna Base Camp, aka ABC. If you ever want to train for the Stairmaster World Championships this is the place to do it. The trail consists of thousands upon thousands of vertical meters of rocky stairs that go up as well as down, eventually leading up into the sanctuary in the middle of the Annapurna range.

View of Fishtail peak from ABC
When you stop for air the scenery is absolutely spectacular. The humidity is much higher on this side of the range and everything was green. Bamboo groves danced in the mountain breeze and blooming rhododendron trees turned entire hillsides bright pink. Farmers urged on their water buffalo to turn over tiny rice patties alongside the path. At higher altitudes monkeys swung from tree to tree and vultures soared through the sky. Glacier-fed waterfalls showered the valley that leads up into the mountains. For most of the journey the humidity kept it relatively warm but on the second to last day we were rudely ambushed by a heavy hailstorm. Eliot bravely made it through the 2-hour storm wearing just a t-shirt while Andrea quickly put on her windbreaker, gloves and hat for protection.

We finally reached ABC after a long slog of a climb. The camp itself is surrounded by Annapurna's most scenic peaks. We sipped hot cocoa, crunched our way through the snow and watched the sunset turn the mountains rosy. Although a few of our fellow climbers fell victim to altitude sickness we had no problems, probably because we were already fully acclimated and the altitude was a mere 4,100 meters. The next morning we got up before dawn and watched the sunrise. It was gloriously clear and we had dazzling views of the different peaks.

The final few days of the trek were surprisingly challenging. We trudged our way through the hilly regional homeland of the famous Gurkha warriors to make it to the nearest road. At the end of our 33rd day we hopped into the first motorized vehicle we'd used in over a month and headed off to the lake town of Pokhara. No scales were available to test the effectiveness of the Himalayan weight loss plan but you can look at our pictures below and decide for yourselves.

Our tour of the Annapurnas was complete and our feet were ready for a well-earned rest...

co-posted on www.eliotpeper.com

Before
After

Damn pretty
Valley the path follows

Rural village

Keep that energy level up!


River valley

Waterfall

Almost there


ABC


Sunrise on Annapurna I

Annapurna South (I think)

Cool, right?

Local buckwheat

4 comments:

  1. so awesome. miss you both a ton!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That trek is definitely on the top 3 most awesome things we've done. Thanks for the love!

      Delete
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