Tuesday 15 December 2009

Nepal, October 2009, Annapurna Circuit Trek

The Mera Peak group departed on October 26th for the UK. Iain's partner Kirstin arrived in Kathmandu on the 25th so she was able to meet the guys for our last night out in Thamel before they departed for home.

Kirstin & Iain departed Kathmandu on the 26th to head for Besi Shahar in the Marsayangdi River valley at the eastern end of the Annapurna Himal.

The planned itinery was a 10 day guided trek finishing at Jomsom in the Kali Gandaki valley This picture shows Kirstin (centre) with our guide Mek (left) and our porter Mingma (right) and the Marsyangdi Nadi river behind.

These pictures were taken on our first day. The Peak in the background is Himalchuli 7893M - part of the Manaslu Himal.

Each night we were accommodated in teahouses with on average, a daily walk of approx 6 miles and over the course of the next 9 days we would climb from 760M at Besi Shahar to the Thorung La Pass 5416M - our high point on the trek. So, in total we ascended 4656M over the course of the trek and to go to this altitude was certainly a first for Kirstin.

As with the Mera Peak trek, there are lots of river crossings to be done in the Marsyangdi Valley - some are on very modern metal suspension bridges, some are a little more rustic, but fortunately still work! Kirstin is crossing this one during our first day on the trek and this one is constructed from bamboo which grows up to 40 feet high and has stems of up to 8 inches in diameter.

For the first three days of the trek we followed the river valley though terraced paddy fields where rice and millet were being grown along with beans and maize.

The picture right shows maize harvested and stacked to provide food during the winter months. In some areas we saw people harvesting rice and it wasn't until we got to Dharapani at 1860M that the climate became too cool for these sub-tropical crops to be grown.

The picture right shows Tal where we stopped for lunch on day 3 en route for Dharapani. At this point the Marsyangdi Valley widens out before dropping 1500 feet into a much narrower section between here and Bahundanda.

It is planned that a jeep track (currently operating as far as Syang) will eventually run all the way to Manang - the municipal centre of the Marsyangdi Valley. There was evidence all along the way of this road, currently under construction and being built by hand on the opposite bank of the river from our route. However, it seems that as fast as it is constructed, the monsoon causes it to be blocked by landslides and some of the terrain yet to be crossed is precipitous to say the least. One cannot help wondering if this feat of construction will ever be achieved and if so it will undoubtedly be to the cost of porters & mule teams - currently the only way of supplying goods to this part of Nepal.

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