Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day 14: Ghorepani to Chhomrong

Himalayan sunrise over Poon Hill
Ignoring a kerfuffle downstairs at 4AM we maximised all important sleep time and woke at 5:30AM for a 20 minute dash to the peak of nearby Poon Hill, just in time to watch the sun rise over endless ranges of the most beautiful mountains one could imagine. What seemed like 500 people had all awoken before us and crowded the peak, all trying desperately to capture the moment in stunning digital clarity. It is moments like this when I wonder if it isn’t better to just live the moment rather than trying to capture the uncapturable. Quite simply no photo could do this Himalayan sunrise scene justice.

Photographers capturing their own portion of the sunrise's slendour
Back down to our lodge for a round of porridge and Tibetan bread and we were off again, this time with bikes in tow for what would turn out to be an awesome day of jungle singletrack on steeply undulating terrain.

Michi on morning's the climb from Ghorepani

Parts of today’s ride reminded me of sections of Nelson’s Black Diamond ridge. Root strewn sections with soil eroded away made for plenty of chain ring-obstacle interaction. A big squishy bike would have been the ticket but our short travel 29er hardtails still fared surprisingly well. Anything too steep to ride usually had a raggedy set of stairs with a death cliff at the end which gave ample motivation for playing it safe.

Michi on the descent to Chhomrong
Flight after flight of stairs with a sprinkling of perfect singletrack was the order of the day.

After one section I noted a leg of my Freeload buzzing the tire, so stopped to realign it. A rare lapse in an otherwise commendable performance by the rack so far. Michi opted to tighten his straps only he cranked the webbing so hard it tore. Some ingenious use of a belt and we were rolling again.

Lunch was a delicious potato, vegetable and cheese number, and afterwards I entertained our hosts (at their request) with a daring display of trials riding. He recorded it on his camera phone but made no promises to make me the next You-tube hit.

Ollie carves a corn field turn
More descent and more climbing and we’d made our goal of Chhomrong. Tomorrow we plan to drop bikes for a speed trek to the Annapurna Base Camp, as all reports are that this out and back section would be a nightmare on wheels.

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