Friday, October 22, 2010

Day 16: Annapurna Base Camp to Jhinu

Sun rising over the Annapurna range
After a rough night sleep in the storeroom at the Base Camp lodge where we were periodically woken by clanging pots and the manager describing the blanket distribution process we awoke to catch the sunrise over the most amazing mountain scene I’ve ever laid eyes on. Wall to wall 7000m+ peaks all glowing in the light of the fresh day. Again my efforts to capture the scene on film won’t do the scene any sort of justice.
The sacred mountain of Machapuchre in the morning light
On beginning our descent it struck me how here in Nepal the land doesn’t really seem to rise up to the mountains as in New Zealand. Already insanely high at 4100m, peaks still tower above us as if the impossibly high ridges were invented as a joke, the near vertical slopes of ice clinging to rock left to match the 3000m step the valleys below.

An actual Himilayan  mountain goat
Fresh as it was, we set off briskly stopping only to take snaps of the sacred Machapuchre from new angles. We were on fine form as we half skipped, jumped and ran from village to village. Stopping only to pass pole flailing trekkers or to mock the travel times listed at guest house murals.

In short we managed the ten hour trek in under six, albeit with some aching calves for our troubles.
Michi was blisteringly fast in the morning, but faded by lunch, still managing to ascend the countless stairs up to Chhomrong with typical pluck. One porter described my climbing style as ‘like a goat’ during a daring rock move to pass the porter’s train. I’m taking it as a compliment.

Michi doing his best mountain goat impersonation
Pizza lunch at Chhomrong was followed by bike collection then a blat down the hill (steep unrideable stairs) to Jhinu. Hot pools failed to live up to the high standard set by Tatopani but were still heaven on fatigued muscles. All that is left is an epic dinner of momos, chocolate cake for desert, then to bed for our final day in the Annapurna sanctuary. The ride out to Pokhara shouldn’t be too strenuous and we plan to take heed advice to seek the most rideable western route.