Our 12-day adventure began at 7:30 am when we took a minivan from the tourist city of Pohkara along twisty and very bumpy mountain roads to a village of Nayapul.
Nayapul to Tikhedhunga: On the first day of hiking, we walked about five hours along a dirt road up the mountainside. The road was like a snake because it twisted around the mountains. It was very hot because there was no shade.
Tikhedhunga to Ghorepani: The second day we climbed up about eight thousand Gurung steps. The stone steps were not the same height as the one before it so it was really hard. There were many mules along the trail carrying goods or building materials. These groups of mules are called mule trains. The mule trains were sometimes scary because a mule would come barreling down the stairs towards you. Fortunately, we were not hit by a mule train because the mules have bells on their necks to warn you when they are coming. When the mules get close to you, you have to step to the inside of the trail so that you do not get pushed over the edge of the trail. There have been people killed by the mules because they were pushed off the side of the mountain.
On day three my parents and my sister got up at 4:30 am to head to Poon Hill to see the views of the mountains. I was too tired to go so I decided to remain in bed. That day we decided to take a break day to acclimatize. When hiking up a mountain, you need to take time to acclimatize to the altitude so that you do not get altitude sickness. When you get up higher, there is less oxygen in the air and it is harder to breathe. Taking a break day means that your body can make more red blood cells. More red blood cells means that your body can take in more oxygen and you can breathe better. Check out this article on All About Blood and Adapting to High Altitude to learn more.
Ghorepani to Chhomrong: On day four the views were great and you could see many mountains off in the distance – the Dhaulagiri range, the Annapurna range, Himalchuli, and Machhapuchhare. The rhododendron trees were blooming with red and pink flowers and were beautiful. We saw four Langur monkeys in the magnolia trees. They were eating the magnolia flowers. It was interesting to see them jump from branch to branch, reach up and pick a flower and stuff it in their mouths.
Chhomrong to Bamboo: On day five, we spent the day going up and down a lot of Gurung stairs because the terrain isn’t flat. It was really difficult because we had to go down one side of the valley, then up the other side and then back down. At the bottom of the valley, we had to cross a long suspension bridge and it swung when we walked on it. When we got to Bamboo, I spent time feeding the bunnies and smashing cans. This was kind of fun.
Bamboo to Deurali: On the sixth day we walked from Bamboo to Deurali. Bamboo is at 2145 meters and Deurali is at 3200 meters. So we walked about 1055 meters up but in total we probably walked 20 kilometers. It is very hard to measure distance in the mountains because of the large up and downs.
Deurali to Machhapuchhare Base Camp: On the seventh day we walked from Deurali to Machhapuchhare Base Camp (MBC). MBC is at 3900 meters. We got there just ten minutes before the really thick clouds rolled in. We played cards while sitting inside the lodge in the clouds.
Machhapuchhare Base Camp to Annapurna Base Camp: The next day we walked up to Annapurna Base Camp (ABC). It was a really hot and hard walk up because of the snow and altitude. ABC is at 4130 meters and even though it sounds as if this is not far from MBC, it is actually a very long distance and took over 2.5 hours to hike up. When we got there, it wasn’t what I had expected. Annapurna seemed a lot smaller than I thought it would be because we were now so close to the mountain. A cool thing about ABC was that when you go up and look over the moraine there is a cliff and you are literally standing on a glacier that has dirt on top of it.
The walk out: Then we walked down to Himalaya, which is a small village before Bamboo. On day ten we walked back to Chhomrong. Then we walked 8 hours to Pothana the next day. On our last day, we walked to Pheti and took a taxi to Pohkara where the next day we took a bus back to Kathmandu. This trekking experience was great because at the beginning I didn’t think that I would be able walk that far. At the end, I was happy that I had made it (with only one sore knee).