We pre-ordered a proven winner in the Yeti Hotel’s set breakfast, which made for a lightning fast 7:30AM getaway. In no time we were riding the smooth rocky steps out of town, with liberal bell use required to scatter the morning donkey trains.
The skyward ride was surprisingly and enjoyably very ridable, only the odd gravelly pinch requiring a bit of extra grunt and an associated fit of puffing on completion.
Yak Yakara was where we spied our first of the woolliest of Himalayan mammals, the Yak. They were sunning themselves on the grassy slopes and posed non chalantly for photos.
We also witnessed a battle royale between mountain goats, clashing horns in a war for supremacy over the stinky herd. Michi and I placed bets on our favourite but the battle ended in a draw as they fled the scene.
This high up there was a significant drop in trail traffic, with only the odd porter. A coke now costs eight times what it did in Kathmandu so porters that do make the effort are hopefully rewarded.
We had planned to take the whole day to get to our destination but rolled into Thorong Phedi at 11:30AM, deciding to settle in with a game of chess over a pot of lemon tea.
The quality library at our guest house had clearly been established by people with time to kill acclimatising and was stocked with everything from Stephen King to Seven Years in Tibet (the book). I even garnered some sneaky tips from a guidebook for the Annapurna Trek.
One rather alarmingly reported that at least two days acclimatisation was the norm for this final section of the trek. Still feeling fine apart from the odd tingly appendage; a side effect of the Diamox we are taking to keep altitude sickness at bay.
In the afternoon I braved the chill mountain air to get some pictures of the amazing cliffs and ranges surrounding us. One especially awesome use of prayer flags had them strung over a 100 metre canyon, and one could only speculate what combination of extreme rockclimbing or explosive devices had put the flags in place.
We hit the hay early for an early breakfast and 6AM start to push for Thorong La pass then Muktinath arguably our biggest day so far.