Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day 12: Muktinath to Tatopani

Waking to sunshine through condensation soaked glass, we had both enjoyed one of the best sleeps thus far, the combined effects of food coma, the previous day’s epic descent, lower altitudes and fading man flus.

Another epic breakfast and we were off down the hill, descending steeply on what could loosely be described as a road, more a rough four wheel drive track littered with rocks and dust. Our Ventana 29ers were in their element on these fast roads, squashing potholes and loose rocks and shredding past trekkers, tractors and tourist laden jeeps.

Michi pushes his bike through a washed out section of road
The sheer diversity of landscape we ended up passing through today was amazing. Starting in eroded high altitude hills where the only sign of moisture was in deep scoured gullies, gradually the land got greener and wetter till trees started to appear, then forests and finally the thick rainforest we find ourselves in here in Tatopani.

Michi riding the cliff edge road to Tatopani

A common theme across each landscape were herds of goats being brought down from high up for the yearly Dashain festival. Not something the goats themselves probably celebrate given it begins with a marathon walk and ends with them in a curry.

Goats on their way downhill
In Jomsom the goats had red dots on their backs and horns as wide as DH bars, while lower down they were skittery as pinballs, much to the chagrin of their herders.

Almost by accident we spotted the sign for the world’s deepest gorge on today’s ride. Turns out gorges are measured from the high surrounding peaks. The gorge itself was a bit of a non-event, but with the awesome 8000m+ height of the Annapurnas to the east and Dhulghiri to the west it clearly deserved its world beating status.

Looking down to Andha gorge; the world's deepest
Tatopani is a hidden gem on the Annapurna circuit. Arriving at 3PM we hit the hot pools which rival the best in New Zealand for laid back ambience. Sipping now reasonably priced Cokes we soaked in the warmth with a handful of fellow trekkers. When heat grew unbearable we would cool off with a hose bringing water from the raging torrent of a river only metres away.

The view to Nilgiri South from Tatopani
I’m trying the famed Nepali dish of Dal Bhat for the first time tonight. The bottomless lentil/rice combination should be more than sufficient to fuel us for the biggest single climb of the trip so far, up to Ghorepani, a gruelling 1700m above us.

No comments: