Saturday, June 22, 2013

Trekking the Annapurna Circuit: Ice Lake and High Camp (Days 7-8)

This is the fourth of a few blog posts that are after-the-fact transcribed from my trekking notes. Some are more complete posts, some are more thoughts along the road as Sister2 and I take on Nepal for a month!

On the way to Ice Lake.
Day 7

Everyone says you should spend two nights in Manang to adjust to the altitude (the town is at 3540 meters -- 11,614 feet -- and we're about to go A LOT higher), so that's what we're doing. We opted for a day hike (no packs woooohooo!!!) to the Ice Lake, which is at 4600 meters (15,091 feet) and QUITE the vertical climb. (How do you climb the Himalayas? Slowly slowly!

View from our window in Manang. That is a glacier to your right, with a cloud-covered Annapurna behind it.
We passed through a herd of yak on our way up.
Ice Lake!
It took us 3 hours up and 1.5 hours down (because we're so fast/or we just chug along slowly with few stops), not including a Beautiful Nap on the way down. The hike was supposed to have amazing views of the Annapuras, but sadly it was a cloudy day, so we saw some mountains but not the whole sweeping range. Oh well, at least it's not raining on us!

Coming down from Ice Lake.

Annapurnas, leaving Manang.
Leaving Manang, looking back.
Day 8

I'm sipping milk coffee (a generous description of this hot sweet beverage, but I'm not complaining) in the windowed dining room at High Camp (elevation: 4833 meters/15,856 feet), about two hours from Thorong La, the highest pass in the world. We hiked a lot today (to make tomorrow a bit easier), leaving all vegetation behind and trekking along through a moon-surface-ish landscape, if the moon had mountains.

High Camp is COLD! And not particularly nice (no running water, terrible shared toilet, dark stone room), but I can't really complain...we ARE on top of the world.

High Camp!

Oh and we made a friend today! His name is Tyson and he's delightfully Canadian (from Toronto). He abandoned his less-awesome companions and hiked with us all day today up to High Camp, and we're planning to do the pass together tomorrow. Go us and being social!
We were going to climb the Himalayas, but then we though, huh, might as well just go to Mars.

And in other news, after the hike up and down from Ice Lake yesterday, and a vertical final hour today, my quads and calfs are burning like they've never burned before. I think a foam roller would make me cry right now.

It's 8:30 pm and I'm freezing. Aka bed time. Pass day tomorrow!