A snow storm raged outside our lodge.
It was by far the coldest night on our whole trek. Shoot, it was the coldest night on this Quest to the Seven Continents, yet! We slept in all of our layers and cocooned ourselves in our sleeping bags and topped off with the blankets our lodge provided. I was anxious to get to the summit, but also ready to get this trek over with. Yes, I was enjoying it, but I’m not gonna lie; the thought of getting back to the warmth of a Lakeside hotel bed in Pokhara and a rewarding gigantic Oreo milkshake from Perky Bean’s dominated my thought process.
So far, our trek up towards Annapurna Base Camp has been smooth and easy. No signs of altitude sickness. No mishaps. No lagging paces. No nothing.
Summit day, day seven, was when we made our biggest blunder during the whole trek.
Day 7: 9:30am Annapurna Base Camp Summit…
We woke up at 8am. Getting out of the coziness of our beds was difficult. Stepping outside, I found that the snowstorm from the night had passed and there wasn’t as much snow on the ground as I had initially thought. It was a beautiful morning!
The initial plan was to reach the summit and spend the night there, meaning we would have all day and night to bask in Annapurna’s mountainous glory. But, Hamish wasn’t having any of it.
You see, he hails from the sunny temperatures of seaside Sydney, Australia and this is the most cold he’s ever had to deal with in his life. He suggested that he wouldn’t know how he would fare spending another night in the cold. We had to compromise. So we decided to go up to the summit, stay up there for maybe an hour or two, and then head back as far down as we could go. On the bright side, that meant we could leave most of our belongings in our lodge at MBC and pick them up on our way back down.
The final ascent was relatively easy compared to the previous few days. We followed a rather linear path up a slope that never presented itself as terribly steep.
The temperature never played a factor either. In fact, trekking made us quite warm. The only issue I had was the light reflecting off the sea of pure white snow, directly into my eyes. I couldn’t keep my eyes open! I had everything I needed for my trek except for a pair of sunglasses because I was too stubborn to make an effort to bring a pair. I should have brought some, because I had to hike up the majority of the last leg like this.
I applied the same technique I adopted in New Zealand and wore my buff over my face. Thankfully, I could see through it.
*Snow blindness is a real thing. Bring your sunglasses!
We continued our slow, but steady pace up. Soon we could see the lodging of ABC in the distance. We were surrounded by snow and mountain peaks.
We made it!
We clocked in at 11:20am; almost two hours later at 4,130m.
The feeling of knowing that the hard part of the ABC trek was over (or so we thought) was endearing. The cold didn’t bother us anymore.
We stayed at the base camp for about an hour, enjoying hot tea and bread and chatting with a group of trekker’s who we’ve come across the past few days, before we made our way back down to MBC.
I realized at this point that I have a personal habit of eagerly wanting to get the heck off a mountain once I reach the summit. I felt this way on Kilimanjaro and also on Acatenango. The same applied here in Annapurna. I wanted off! Not because I hated it, in fact this is probably up there for some of the most enjoyable treks I’ve ever done. I wanted off because I was eager to get back to the comforts of Pokhara and to get back to my people and students in the villages.
My speedier pace going back down to MBC was what I would describe as “careful trotting”. The ice and snow was slick and some of the tracks were muddy from the melt. Hamish eventually caught up and revealed that he was getting a slight headache up there. I told him he should feel fine the more we descend.
We arrived back to MBC at 1pm to retrieve our big bags. We left at 1:20pm and continued back down to Duerali and arrived there at 2:12pm. We rested for about ten minutes and trekked to Himalaya and arrived at 3:20pm. Once there, we took a rest to eat our lunch. It began to sprinkle outside, nothing major, just a light drizzle. It didn’t deter us and we both decided to keep going.
As we walked back through jungle, the drizzle turned into typical rain. Not a downpour, but still rainy. I had on my water resistant jacket. As for my pants, I was certain they were also water resistant. My bag? I was positive it was water resistant as well. And so we made it back to Dovan at 4:25. Once we got there, it really started to pour but it was such a refreshing feeling. We encountered a group of trekkers who all decided to stay the night at Dovan, to let the rain pass. Hamish and I…stupid us, decided that we had ample energy to make it to Bamboo, which wasn’t too much further ahead. The rain never bothered us, so off we went!
After getting soaked from head to toe, we arrived in Bamboo at 5:00pm on the dot. We got our room and started to peel off our wet layers. I opened up my bag to get some dry clothes and found that everything inside was dripping wet. All of my clothes, my sleeping bag, my toiletries. My camera?! My most expensive possession for this trip was also wet but thankfully I had put protective covering on it, so it survived.
We hung everything in our rooms and outside. It was still raining and a bit chilly outside. We really needed the morning/afternoon sun to dry our things. Hopefully it comes out.
Day 8: 12:15 Bamboo to Jhinu
Good news? The sun came out in the morning and I learned that my pants and my bag were not water resistant like I thought. Bad news? Our trekking was delayed a few hours but since we got a head start yesterday by not spending the night at ABC, it was okay.
After everything was mostly dry, we repacked our bags and continued on the rest of the trek. Now out of all of the days, this was the day I dreaded the most. Remember all of those steps we had to climb up and down during Day 5? Well, we had to do it all over again soon.
We trekked to Sinuwa and arrived at 1:45pm and continued on the never-ending steps down and up to Chhomrong. For some odd reason, going the opposite way leading to Chhomrong was a lot more work than coming to Sinuwa from Chhomrong.
Once we finally slogged our way up to Chhomrong at 3:10pm, we continued onto a different route back to the foot of the mountain. We heard that in a village called Jhinu, there ere natural hot springs trekkers could dwell in. How rewarding! Hamish and I decided to go there and relax in the springs. However the jaunt down to Jhinu did work on my legs. The steps were extremely steep leading downwards and it never ended! But eventually we arrived in Jhinu at 4:00pm.
We were too tired from the trek today that we best decided we would do the hot springs, first thing in the morning–during our final day of the trek!
Today was the day of few thousand steps!
Day 9: 8:30 Jhinu to Nayapul; Back to Pokhara
It’s the final day of trekking. What better way to begin the day than with natural hot springs?
Hamish and I woke up, had breakfast and barely mentioned the hot springs. Going to the hot springs required going down for roughly twenty minutes to the springs and then hiking back up to get our things and then continuing on our planned route. We were game for it the prior night but on this morning, neither of us could be bothered with it. We both just wanted to get off the mountain and so, we skipped the hot springs.
The trek back to Nayapul was straight forward. We cut through some villages, followed a river, crosses a couple bridges, and even walked along herds of goats.
Once we reached New Bridge, we both decided to take a cheap 200 rupee bus back to Nayapul and eventually a taxi ride back to Pokhara.
We haven’t showered in nine days. My hair was matted to my head and my beard felt like a brillo pad. I was the ugliest I’ve ever been and I was glad to be finished! The trek was very enjoyable, but it’s just me with any hike–once I make it to the summit, I’m ready to get back to the bottom immediately afterwards.
Some things I learned from the Annapurna Base Camp Trek
- I was weary of using water purification tablets at first because I’ve never used them before in my life. Looking back, I wish I used them from the start of the trek. Would have saved me a few hundred rupees.
- I already knew this but sleeping with my electronics in my sleeping bag really does help to preserve battery.
- Speaking of sleeping bags. It’s possible not be okay with not bringing a sleeping bag during this trek because every lodge that we stayed in provided one. Some lodges had a limited number of blankets however. Since we were in the low season, we never had an issue.
- We hiked in the middle of February and despite what people say that it might be too cold or what not, the weather during our trek was mostly perfect.
- At the lodges, if you’re hungry then always go with the dal bhat. You are always offered second helpings for no extra charge.
- Staying hydrated is what kept us going.
- Slow and steady really does wonders for your stamina during a trek.
- Bring a waterproof cover for my bag next time!
- Be bold. Start cold! Otherwise all of your layers are just going to get wet from sweat
Annapurna you were great! My most enjoyable hike yet! But it’s time to get back to the village in Pokhara that I call home.
I made a promise to the students at my school from two years ago that I must fulfill.