Friday, 12 October 2012

Picturesque Pinnacles



Day 3
Bagarchap to Chame
14 km
7.30 am - 3.30 pm


Donkey Dodging - Always put yourself
between the mountain and the donkeys!
We decided to experiment with breakfast since the muesli the day before had made us both rather sluggish for most of the morning, so Sarah tried the Tsonga porridge and Dave tried the corn bread.  Turns out that the Tsonga porridge was essentially a slushy version of the corn bread and required repeated additions of honey in order to be edible. The corn bread itself resembled a thick, undercooked pancake but was easier to force down. Maybe traditional muesli wasn't so bad after all...

Our first stop for the day was only half an hour down the road at Danagye where there was a refill station for our water bottles and given the rising cost of water and our depleting water purifying tablet supply we made the most of it. As we exited the town we had to decide whether to take the high or low pass for the next section of the trail and since the views were already excellent we figured that they must be fantastic from the high pass so we deviated to the right and started our ascent. 

We continued to climb quite steadily over the next hour, but the views were well worth the sweat and donkey-dodging they required. At around 10.30am we arrived at Timong and rewarded ourselves not only with a Nescafe but paid the extra for milk.  We took our time eating and drinking so that we could soak up the amazing views of Annapurna II but it wasn't too long before we started to cool down and decided it was time to continue on up the mountain. 
Rock-cut track on the edge of the mountain

It seems a fairly consistent rule that down always follows up and after crossing the high point of the trail we descended to cross another swing-bridge (you'd think by now Dave would be used to these, but he still hates them).  As scary as they may be to some, they are still better than the alternative which requires hiking down the valley, crossing the river on the donkey's bridge and re-ascending... better to face ones fears!

Soon after our crossing we were faced with another steep climb on which we could see the hikers in front of us struggling to ascend so we figured a chocolate stop was in order before we attacked the mountain. As we ate we watched sherpers with heavy steel piping manage to achieve the climb so we determinedly set out to do the same. In the end; it was not as daunting as it had looked and we used our usual technique of simply continuing to put one foot in front of the other and we finally reached the top.

From there it was a pleasant walk through pine forests to the next town of Thanchowk and since it was spot on 12 we stopped there for our lunch as we were beginning to get hungry.  We were, however, starving by the time our food finally arrived at 1pm.  To pass the time between the ordering and receiving of food we ordered a Tibetan tea since it was on the menu and we had no idea what it actually was and we still didn't know what it was after it arrived.  It had a thick layer of fat on top, tasted a bit like the cooked yoghurt we had in Amman, and despite the addition of a few heaped teaspoons of sugar it proved to be completely undrinkable (this might've been a good thing as later research revealed that Tibetan tea is in fact brewed tea with yak butter added and mixed with a salt..)

Hiking along the valley
Fortunately lunch on the other hand was worth the wait and the mixed curry and vegetable fried rice was delicious and full of flavour.  Since we'd waited so long for lunch we ate quickly and by 1.20pm we were on the road again, arriving in Koto 40 minutes later where our ACAP permits were again checked.  From there it was only half an hour further and we arrived at our destination for the day, Chame.  We had read in another blog 'Kathmanduo' (one well worth reading if you plan to do the trek) that Marsyandi Mandala was a good place to stay and when we asked the price the lady gave us a large room with a double bed at a decent price so we took it. It was a good decision as the shower was the hottest yet which compensated for the glacially cold water we had to use to wash our clothes in! 

Again our dinner was an excellent vegetable curry (they were different at every place we had one so even though we ordered the same dish a lot it never felt like we were repeatedly eating the same meal) and the Masala tea was a great brew.  Not long after we'd finished dinner the power went out so after a quick explore of the darkening town we retreated to our warm sleeping bags, as the nights were already beginning to be cool, and read by torchlight until exhaustion took over. 

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