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Annapurna Circuit: Blood sweat and tears (and also Brittany’s account)…part 1

Code:

Brittany – red

Sean – black

 

Day 1: Getting to the start of the trail head- We left Kathmandu around 11am after struggling to find internet all morning so we could call our moms for mothers day and upload blog posts, all while last minute packing and getting a taxi to the bus park. (Hectic to say the least) We arrived at the bus park and got a microbus to Besisahar for around 500 each. The microbus was tiny, fititng 15 people in a bus big enough for 8 max. We got about 30 minutes outside Kathmandu and of course we had some sort of wheel problem (not sure what the problem was…it seemed like people just got as close as possible to the tire, took the tire off, looked at the axle, made questioning faces to each other, shrugged, reassembled the bus and we were on our way).

After around 5 hours we arrived and Besisahar and hoped another smaller bus to Bhulbule. An hour later we arrived in Bhulbule with more excitement that we didn’t have to ride a bus for the next two weeks then anything.

“You buy  three seat” the microbus ticket guy says slightly embaressed, “very big, you know”. If anyones ever asked you if you play basketball, what your shoesize is, if you can get something off the top shelf, or how the weather is up there, Nepal will be a challenge. Challenge #65: 5 hour ride in a microbus. A Microbus is like a church van, but instead of fitting three people per row, they fit four or more. If it weren’t so painful, it would be comical, actually despite the pain and my neurotic obsession with deep vein thrombosis, it was hilarious. While three seats didn’t keep us comfortable, it did manage to keep me from hulking out in the back of a Nepalese van. The best part of the drive was that it broke down 20 minutes into the drive on the mountain roads.

5 hours later we arrive in Besisahar and every muscle, vein, bone, and cell in my body screamed in a cacophonous joyful sound – Thank god, now I can stretc-“BUS TO BHULBLE?” shouted the devil, I assume in his Nepalese form. I look at Brittany, much like a puppy looking at the person about to put it down, begging for mercy with my big blue eyes. And so we traveled on a bus the size of a sardine can, with less structural integrity at between 4 and 12 miles per hour while the arm rest dug into my floating rib. Each rocking motion and lurch of the bus alternated attempts to tear off my rib and using my body to squeeze Brittany out of her tiny window like tooth paste out of the tube. But we made it! I never thought I’d be so excited about walking 150 miles in my ever loving life.

 

 

Day 2: Bhulbhule to Jagat- This was our first day of trekking so we started off strong. Hiking at a fairly fast pace with determination on our minds, we had no idea what the two weeks were going to entail but we were excited about the possibilities. There were beautiful waterfalls around every corner, the scenery was something you’d expect in the tropical jungles with bright green plants, colorful flowers, and sreams everywhere. Everyone we passed it seemed was happy to see us, we passed an adorable group of boys on their way home from school, and a little old lady who was obseessed with Sean’s height!

We got lunch in Bahundanda after a fairly brutal uphill climb, and continued on to Syrange. This is the point that everyone we had seen on the trail stopped for the night but since we were feeling ambitious we decided to press on to Jagat. Little did we know the “1.5 hours” to Jagat was more like 2 hours of straight uphill climbing… We kept seeing the elusive Jagat on the climb but it seemed like it never got closer. Like a mirage. When we finally rolled into Jagat around 6pm after a full day of walking we were dead, our feet were on fire and our backs ache. (how were we gonna do this for two weeks?!) We found a great guesthouse right on the edge of town called Hotel NorthPole and resteraunt. The rooms were clean and on the third floor so we had a nice breeze at night, but most importantly the beds were actually long enough to fit Sean! (Im pretty sure this was the only place to the trek where that happened).

 

Follow the yellow dots. They are your savior. Never trust the first sign that says you’ve reached town. Real town  is still 20 minutes away, lying bastards. If you don’t have the energy at syrange, DO NOT CONTINUE, the walk to jagat is the steepest constant uphill climb. I am so thankful for my base tan in India, my alabaster skin would typically make snow white look like a haitian field worker. If you are pale, tan before coming here, the sun is ever present .

 

 

Day 3: Jagat to Dharapani- The “1 hour” to Chyamche took wwaaaayyy over, due to a sign that said “Beautiful sceneic trek”. We later understood that anything that had the words “beautiful trek” automatically meant uphill… rocky… and probably hanging off a cliff. The beautiful treks were the hard ones by far but def worth it after the fact.

After Chyamche we were on the road to Tal and got stopped by the military for ~30 minutes because the Nepalese army was using dynamite to blow up the side of the mountains to make way for a road.

Dynamite!

It was a pretty crazy scene sitting with Nepalese farmers, four goats, a few other travelers and seeing the side of a mountain getting blown up!

We got to Tal around 3 and at my first dose of Dal Bhat…

Dal Bhat is the traditional nepalese cuisine of rice, lentil soup, some potatoes or bok choy or what ever other vegatable they happen to be cooking. There’s also some sauces and pickled something that comes and goes depending on where you order the dal bhat. At this point in the trek i was super excited about the Dal Bhat… (that excitement last for about 3 days, i cant even stand the smell anymore!)

The rest of the afternoon we walked to Dharapani. The walk was absolutely breathtaking… i know pictures wont do it justice, but i figure i gotta try :)

 

Annapurna gives you nothing. Every sweeping view of majestic mountainsides and roaring rivers is earned in blood sweat and tears, most the afformentioned coming from me. Salt stains cover my clothes head to toe, the blisters on my feet continue to enlarge and I take advil like Rush Limbaugh takes Oxycontin. As we near dhanipuri, the path crosses right next to a waterfall, the sun is going down, it’s getting cold, but I can’t resist the childlike urge to play. I drop my pack take off my shirt, throw on my rock star bandana and charge into the glacial waters. The sound of the water falling onto the  worn rocks grows louder with each footstep, my heart starts racing as I try to plant each foot on a stable rock that won’t roll my ankle and my your trip. Fleeting practical thoughts enter my head- my shoes will be soaked, Lt Dan said The Mekong will eat a grunts feet right off his legs, what if the cold water causes me gasp, allowing Giardia infected water in my mouth, what must the locals think- fleeting thoughts that you clear out of your head as you force your body into the frigid maelstrom. Describing the plunge into the waterfall as “invigorating” is like calling Southpark “Slightly Offensive”. Ice water flowed through my veins and the rest of that day, I was trekking machine.

We stay in dhanipuri at. The beds are plenty long, the rooms sufficient, the wooden slats that create the walls of each room have gaps in them, so a voyeur could peak if the desire struck them, and the two toilets are not western, the power is out to the whole city, so the owner cooks by flashlight . The food is good, the people are extremely nice. We meet up with a Russian we met earlier, Gliep, and have some whiskey with him and teach him Egyptian Rat Screw. Partway through the game, the owners young son comes out with a headlamp shining it in all of our eyes, he speaks no English, so Gliep puts his headlamp on and shines it in the kids eyes declaring “Intercultural Dialogue!” We all laugh and try to introduce ourselves and get the boys name. I am Gliep, I am Sean she is Brittany. We point to him and say “and you?” to which he points to himself and says “and you!” and laughs hysterically. Perhaps it’s the whiskey, perhaps it’s the altitude, or perhaps it’s the seeming absence of laughter I’ve experienced while in India, but the laughter is contagious and the three of us just keep laughing at each other, laughing in sequence, the thing that seems to transcend the language divide. I’m truly loving Nepal and its people, they are just the happiest I’ve ever met. We call it a night and Gliep wanders off to his hotel with a bottle of his “medicine” – bag piper whiskey – and shouts look out for the crazy drunk Russian!, laughing and wandering down the road. Tomorrow brings new views, new food, new people, and new pain.

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Comments (3)

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  1. susan says:

    I really enjoyed this article. I always learn something, and am entertained while doing so. I like the co-authorship. Nice to hear from both of you..describing the same journey but from different perspectives( a wee bit). Sean, I can hear your voice as I read your blog..some of your descriptions are hilarious..I can hear your DAD in some of yhour phrasing(e.g. bastards). I LOVE reading the blog. Thank you. Call yo momma

  2. Adam says:

    Incredible description of your experiences. I am very jealous of your adventure! The picture of Sean with the little old lady! HAHA! Your mouth is as big as her head. I love it. Missing you guys loads. Seeing your rigs on other people is like whoa… Or seeing your canopy in the sky I am like damn. Wish I had my jump buddies back. 😛

  3. Steve Morrow says:

    A++ “Like Rush takes Oxy”…. genius.

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