I recently returned from Nepal where I ran/hiked the Annapurna Circuit with three other ultra runners Cindy, Tammy and Todd. It was an amazing journey and experience.
We started our trek in Besisahar after an 8 hour taxi ride from Kathmandu. The start of the trail was more of a road and I was a little worried that I my visions on single track were way off. But they came quickly. Each day we traveled 14-18 miles mostly hiking fast and some running. We carried our packs which each weighed about 12+ lbs. That took some getting use to at first and it got heavier as we found fun things we couldn’t resist to buy along the way.
We got to spend some time with the local people when we stopped at night. One young man told us that he use to travel 2 hours each way to school on the trails we were hiking. We met families young and old and everyone was very nice and welcoming. Here is a picture in this ladies kitchen where she made us milk tea and we sat by her fire to warm up:
We stopped in adorable little villages along the way and stayed in guest houses.
These guest houses usually had dinning rooms where we would eat dinner each night.
Yummy milk tea and tibetan bread, dal bhat and best of all APPLE PIE!
Because things move rather slowly in Nepal we would skip lunch and eat gels and cookies and boilded potatoes we bought along the way. We were very fortunate with weather as the skies became more clear to closer we got to Thorung La pass.
We ran through valleys and stopped to see some temples in Pisang and highly recommended Braka and Manang. Below is a view shot from Manang:
They actually had internet cafe’s here and we stopped to send a few messages as well as take a look at the bakery full of chocolate and cinnamon rolls.
We decided to get up high rather quickly and go over the pass on day 5. We stayed in Thorung Pedi the night before which is at 4550 meters. I had a bit of a headache at this altitude and we didnt sleep very well. We were up to the top of the pass in just over two hours in the morning and then headed down very steeply to Muktinath where it started to snow- again perfect timing!
Here is a picture on top of the pass:
When we arrived in Muktinath there was some kind of festival going on at the temple. Hundreds of people were there to make offerings and receive blessings apparently and so I have read they can gain Karma merit in a number of ways at this temple which is symbolized by fire and water. People were wearing flip flops or bare feet in the snow and running through the 108 fountains.
We left to head down the valley as Todd and Tammy both had nasty colds and we were ready for a good nights sleep and some warmer weather. We jumped in a local bus as we would have hiked on the muddy and snowy road and that was an adventure in itself since they pack as many people as possible into the vehicles!!
Here is a view heading out- stunning!
We next stayed in a little village called Ghasa where they make a local apple brandy which we tried (fire water!) and everyone slept that night. In the morning we heading down to Tatopani and found a great little shop that sold goods from the Tibetan refugees- beautiful turqouis and coral and we were in heaven (ok I was!). On the way out we had fabulous views of Niligiri and Annapurna South – below:
At this point after a nice lunch we headed back up, up ,up to a small town called Sikha which was another big climb of about 3000 feet. We passed lots of folks just walking up these steep trails heading home from school or work. Most people looked straight at our legs since we had skirts on and they were not use to bare skin. We stayed the night and decided to take a “short cut” that Todd had traveled when he was in Nepal 2 years prior. It was fine to start with and then became very steep up and very much jungle
then down the other side and it was a huge drop down 1000+ meters where it started to pour rain and got cold- buurrrrr! But we did see monkeys on this trail which was ahuge treat
This was our last night on the circuit and we found a bottle of shiraz in a little shop and enjoyed a little red- well deserved! This had been a big day and I was very tired (ask my buddies who heard a few unexpected words from me!).
The next day we headed to our final destination Birethanti and at this point I gave this cute little boy my La Sportiva hat which we was thrilled about- and a good spokesperson for us abroad
The people on the trip were so nice- both those we met along the trail and the locals as well as my three buddies that invited me on this wonderful journey. I am forever grateful and I look forward to many more adventures like this in the future- I am hooked!!
Tags: Annapurna Circuit