Monday, June 17, 2013

Trekking the Annapurna Circuit: Up Through the Rain Forest (Days 3-4)

This is the second 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!

Day 3

The trek so far is nothing like either of us expected.  It's warm, humid, and we're walking on a jeep road through what looks like a rain forest, cleared in places for terraced fields of unidentified crops. We're here in the off season, so we have yet to encounter another trekker. It's a bit odd and deserted, but definitely nice to have the guest houses (and bathrooms!) to ourselves. I can't imagine what it's like in high season when every guest house is full and the road is packed with trekkers -- it would be a totally different experience and I'm pretty sure I prefer it our way.

View from our guest house room (Day 3)

We hiked SO FAR today! After a bowl of apple porridge (with milk and sugar yum!), we started walking at 7:20, took about 2 hours total of rest throughout the day, and finally stopped around 3:40. We've gotten into the habit of a mid-morning cookie break, followed by lunch and tea. Other than that we pretty much just chug along, chatting about everything and nothing, "namaste"-ing passing Nepalis, or hiking in silence.

Our last hour was pretty unnecessarily challenging, but ultimately totally worth it. We accidentally turned up a hill trail (ok so there were misleading signs -- clearly these people wanted to make their village on top of a freaking mountain a tourist attraction), and walked up stone stairs for about 45 minutes straight. Oof. 

Soooo many stairs.
 It was a grueling plod -- one foot in front of the other -- but the farm village built into cliffs, surrounded by terraced wheat fields, was totally worth it. 

Terraced wheat fields
We took some pictures then descended, exhausted, into Bagarchamp, agreeing that our little accidental detour was the most beautiful thing we've seen so far.

Day 4

Before coming here, we heard so much about how nice and friendly Nepali people are ("Come for the scenery, return for the people!"). And they are nice, but so far in our experience the most applicable adjective is "indifferent." They "namaste" us back when we greet them, and point us in the right direction when we look lost, but they're not over-the-top in any way. The Annapurna Circuit is Nepal's most popular trek, so maybe people along this road are just kind of over tourists? We walk through their towns and they barely notice us. I don't mind at all though. I prefer subdued-friendly over aggressive-friendly any day.

Oh and on a completely different note, I'm happy to report that the most threatening thing we've encountered so far is a baby goat. Sister2 (panic voice): "Oh he's coming at me! Ohmygod! Ohmygod! He's nibbling on my things!!!"