After Tilicho lake Filipe and I walked back down to Manang. We spent a rest day there and visited a 500 year old monastery in the next village over. Once we were well rested it was time to head towards Thorung La, the pass that takes you around Annapurna.
There were hundreds of Buddha statues at the monastery.
From Manang we hiked through yak pastures to Letdar. We stopped for tea midday and were rewarded with some excellent views and live Russian music.
We spent the night in Letdar where we ran into Ryan and Vlad who we’d meant earlier in the trek. The next morning the four of us set out for High Camp which sits at 4900 meters. It’s quite desolate up there and some folks were really struggling with the altitude. Fortunately we were all feeling quite well and were jumping around for some silly photos.
After a cold night we woke up to a cloudy morning and some flurries. Filipe decided to hang out for another day in hopes of clearer weather. The remainder of the group decided to push on. It took a few hours but we made it to the pass without any issues. I did have to use my giant yak-wool socks as improvised mittens, which I’m sure looked hilarious but wasn’t captured in any photos.
The descent from the pass was grueling downhill. Descending into the cloud filled valley made for some interesting views that were hard to capture on film. We took our time going down and eventually made it to Muktinath where we treated ourselves to a room with a western-style toilet.
Muktinath is home to large temple complex and there were countless pilgrims coming up the road to visit it. Some were walking and others riding horses. When Vlad and I set out down the road the next day we saw a pilgrim get bucked off his horse. The horse wasn’t content just to shed his rider and starting galloping down the road. After a few steps it changed directions and started coming right at us. My flight instinct kicked in and I quickly scrambled up an embankment. Vlad played chicken with the horse and narrowly avoided getting trampled. After regaining our composure we carried on into town and met up with Filipe who had just come over the pass.
The next day we departed Muktinath for Kagbeni, which is a medieval-style Tibetan village. It was a few hours walk through very deserty terrain. The next morning we went to morning prayers at the Buddhist monastery. We had to show up at 5:30 AM and walk around the temple three times in the clockwise direction before we were admitted. Watching the ceremony was quite interesting, and definitely worth giving up some sleep.
Its windy in the desert.
This guy guards the entrance to Kagbeni.
After visiting the monastery we walked to Jomson and bought a bus ticket to Ghasa. A major Nepali festival was just getting started and the already chaotic public transportation had devolved into complete fucking chaos. We boarded an overcrowded bus and exchanged some heated words with folks saving seats and/or refusing to put their luggage on the roof. Eventually the eight people without tickets were kicked off and we embarked on the bumpy ride. The bus situation in Ghasa was even worse, with hundreds of people standing around in the parking lot. Everybody you talked to said something different about when the next bus would come and if it was full. I eventually got fed up and convinced Filipe we should just hike from there.
The village we planned to spend the night at was across the river from where we were hiking. Upon cresting a massive hill a local told us we had about twenty minutes to go to the bridge and that we’d find it at the bottom of the hill. Forty minutes later we still hadn’t found it. We were out of water and there was lightning further down the valley. We decided to turn back, after going back over the giant hill we found a sketchy teahouse. The food was good but the accommodation was a musty spider-filled shack. Just before going to bed we noticed the saucer sized spider on the wall next to my bed. After five minutes of gaping at it we grabbed some locals who helped us flush it out with some barbeque tongs. They had a few laughs and claimed it wasn’t a dangerous spider.
The next morning we carried on with the hike, passing the bridge we couldn’t find the night before about 15 minutes past the point we turned around at. A couple hours later we were in Tatopani. We checked into a very nice teahouse which seemed to be free of man-eating spiders. Tatopani has a nice set of hotsprings where we spent the evening. The next morning we took another terrible bus ride to Beni, followed by a van ride back to Pokhara. I spent the next few days unwinding in Pokhara and gearing up for the next trek.