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Trekking high in the rains: My Annapurna Circuit tale

July 26, 2013 16:01 IST

Trekking high in the rains: My Annapurna Circuit tale

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Mridula Dwivedi

Get Ahead reader Mridula Dwivedi, an academician from Gurgaon who blogs at Travel Tales from India, took a trek to the Annapurna Mountain ranges and sent us these amazing pictures. 

Last May I trekked up to Everest Base Camp in Nepal. By the end of it I was completely besotted with the country. I had to go there again. So this time I tried to trek through the Annapurna Circuit.

Only, my office wouldn't give me leave in May. I was so taken in by the idea that I settled for June merrily forgetting that the monsoon would have begun by then.

There is a jeep track on this route now up to Chame and a motorcycle one up to Manang. However I decided to trek.

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Photographs: Mridula Dwivedi

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Trekking high in the rains: My Annapurna Circuit tale

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The nearest big town for this trek is Beshishahar a seven-hour drive from Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. From here we hired a jeep up to Sangey which is a bone-crunching two-and-a-half hour ride.

We stayed the night at Sangey and started trekking the next day up to Dharapani.

Taal was our lunch point. It rained for an hour-and-a-half till Taal but after a good lunch and no rains in sight I managed to complete this long walk somehow.


Image: Village Taal
Photographs: Mridula Dwivedi

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Trekking high in the rains: My Annapurna Circuit tale

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On the second day I was not as lucky as this horseman (in the pic). I had to cross the 'river-road' on foot.

I was wearing waterproof shoes. However, while crossing I realised my shoes had good waterproofing but the water was more than ankle deep and I ended up with very wet shoes.

We were trekking up to Chame. Jeeps too go up to Chame, so while we were trekking up, these jeeps going up would honk us out of the road. We got no rains but clouds ruled, they obscured every high peak that could have been sighted.


Image: Crossing the Road
Photographs: Mridula Dwivedi

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Trekking high in the rains: My Annapurna Circuit tale

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By now we were into the fourth day of our trip, I had already crossed the beautiful village of Pissang. After Chame we only met motorcyclists on the way who would also honk us away.

With the roaring Marshyangdi River by the side, it was difficult to hear anything, let along a motorcycle's thump.

In spite of being very tired I did not sit on this makeshift bench (in pic) as we were still some way off from Manang.


Image: The Road to Manang
Photographs: Mridula Dwivedi

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Trekking high in the rains: My Annapurna Circuit tale

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After four days of continuous walking I was looking forward to the rest day at Manang. By now we were at an altitude of 3519 meters but thankfully I was coping quite well.

The next day, when I got down for breakfast it was raining. The original plan was to trek for an hour to a slightly higher altitude and then get down for better acclimatisation. But since it was raining and we had the entire day available to do it; we postponed the walk.

It was still raining at lunch time. Around 4 pm we went out into mild rain for our acclimatisation walk.


Image: Flowers at Manang
Photographs: Mridula Dwivedi

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We walked past the Gangpurna Lake for the acclimatisation walk. Above the lake is Annapurna III but all I saw was clouds.

The view of the village did compensate for view of the stunning peaks that I missed.


Image: Manang
Photographs: Mridula Dwivedi

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While returning from the walk I sat in the town square and soon started interacting with the local kids. They were interested in two things, using my cell phone and my camera.

When I told them I had no games on my phone they settled for watching my South Africa videos. Hindi TV is very popular in Nepal so almost everyone understood Hindi and spoke a bit of it too.


Image: The kids were interested in two things, using my cell phone and my camera.
Photographs: Mridula Dwivedi

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Trekking high in the rains: My Annapurna Circuit tale

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We started trekking from Manang while it was raining, and when we reached Ledar after six hours it was still raining. By now we were at 4200 meters above sea level and it was cold.

The following day we were supposed to go to the High Camp at 4800 metres and then cross the 5400 meter high Thorang La. But nature had other plans.

Next morning, it started snowing after breakfast. We decided to take a day off here as well because of the snow. For a few hours I was happy.

However, it was still snowing when I went for lunch and it snowed till I went to sleep. We decided to turn back as it had been snowing on higher places since three days or so. Trekking was becoming risky.


Image: The premature end of the trek
Photographs: Mridula Dwivedi

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Trekking high in the rains: My Annapurna Circuit tale

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Once any trek is over, all we want is to get back to civilisation. We were looking forward to the jeeps at Chame. However there were none.

There were landslides, minor streams (which I had to wade through) and waterfalls on the road by now. No one exactly knew where one could get a jeep from.

We walked for three days from Ledar (of which two days were in the rain) and finally found jeeps at Chamche. I also saw this rainbow at a waterfall.

Had there been no jeeps at Chamche as well, we would have had to walk for four more days to get to Beshishahar. I have never been happier on finding a jeep and a road on which it could still run! The same jeeps that irritated me with their honking while going up were a welcome sight now!


Image: A Small Rainbow in the End
Photographs: Mridula Dwivedi

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The original trek also ends at Pokhara. We boarded a minibus from Beshishar.

Pokhara is a beautiful place with views of Annapurna and Machapuchare but once again all I saw was clouds. Phewa Lake though was magnificent as ever.


Image: Phewa Lake, Pokhara
Photographs: Mridula Dwivedi

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I am not much of a boating person but I was intrigued by the boatwomen of Phewa Lake. So I went for a ride with Lakshmi. All the boatwomen I talked to, gave me the same reply -- it was for livelihood that they rowed a boat. They didn’t hint at anything even slightly romantic about their decision.

I will surely trek again next year but I am going to make sure it does not coincide with the monsoon.

Above everything else, I trek for the views. But the high mountains of the Annapurna Circuit Trek were almost completely invisible in June. Besides, walking an entire day in rain is not my idea of fun either.

Mridula Dwivedi is an academic from India who is passionate about trekking and travelling, and these days dreaming about going to Antarctica. She blogs at Travel Tales from India.


Image: Lakshmi, the Boatwoman at Phewa Lake
Photographs: Mridula Dwivedi

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