Annapurna Base Camp Trek Part II

North Nepal

November 2017

This is the continuation of Part I. If you haven’t already noticed Part I, I recommend you to read that part first in order to understand the totality of the whole trek.

The snowy mountain in the center of the picture above is Annapurna I. It is 8091m high and it is the 10th highest mountain in the planet. With their majestic and gigantic appearance, my perceptions gets disoriented. It is incredibly surprising to realize that the height difference between its summit and the point I stand here is 4km!
None of the photographs are totally capable to tell the whole feeling of this beauty. You become petrified with astonishment and watch this magical grace for hours and hours with great respect. I feel extremely lucky to have the chance in this life to witness this spectacular purity. And they are witnessing my tears of gratitude. I am bowing down to the mountains with a great adoration.

While sitting in my silence and watching this magnificent sacredness, sometimes I hear so deep sounds, deep and so strong. These cracking sounds come from the glaciers that are breaking off. This makes me realize what a gigantic strength is there in front of me. This shakes me and makes me feel so alive.
As the sun goes behind Machhapuchhre in the early afternoon this whole view go into different colours due to the changing rays of the sun while red beaked mountain crows fly high up in the sky.

All the mountaineers who lost their lives at Annapurna are commemorated with Buddhist prayer flags.

Anatoli Boukreev was one of them. In 1997 when opening a new route at the southwest face of Annapurna he lost his life because of an avalanche. He was the most experienced mountaineer of his time. He climbed 7000m mountains for 30 times and 8000m mountains for 21 times. His words above impressed me so deeply.

When the sun goes down the weather changes rapidly. At night when I went out to the freezing cold to watch the stars, I had a warm and meaningful conversation with a young Nepalese porter. He said; “I don’t feel cold as I believe I am one with the mountains. The cold and the wind transcend my body and I become the cold itself.” I loved his wise words.
Ahh at night the clear view of the magical stars and the milky way look unbelievably spectacular. I guess I haven’t gone into sleep at a place as special and sacred as this. Sleeping that night in the embrace of the greatest mountains was an exclusive experience. There was nothing in between us. Just me and the mountains.

DAY 8: ANNAPURNA BASE CAMP (4130m) – MACHHAPUCHHRE BASE CAMP (3700m) – DEURALI (3200m) – HIMALAYA (2920m) – DOBHAN (2520m) – BAMBOO (2310m)
There is more than what you see with your eyes here. It holds an immense energy, maturity, wisdom, compassion and striking beauty.
In the early freezing morning I sat for meditation and listened to what my heart was saying. Then the realizations came. I could trust life and also trust myself fully. Fears stepped out of the way. Through my deep and real connection with the mountains the strength in me nourished and got multiplied. I realized that the courage and the curiosity I have for exploring the world was enriching my spirit greatly. With a great enthusiasm I once again engaged with mother nature.
When the time had come for me to go back to my trek, I left this embrace behind so lightly, peacefully and in deep gratitude. I was totally mesmerised, purified and almost reborned.

Today I walked for 5.5 hours and descend 1800m. I will be walking the same way back for 2 days till Chhomrong. This area is home for huge bamboo forests.

It was enough for today so I decided to stay at Bamboo. How relaxing it was to have a warm shower after rough and cold days. When I was sitting and resting under the sun, I felt some movements on the hills in front of me. The other trekkers brought binoculars and then we understood they were Thaars, Himalayan wild goats which are quite big in shape. We also saw deers up on the rocks.
It was not just this for today. Couple of hours later when I was chilling on a meadow, a big Langur family came to the trees in front of me. Grey langurs have genus of monkeys and they are endemic to Himalayas. I could barely take this photograph above. Can you see him?

Speaking of animals, the pictures above show the different species you can come across during your trek in this part of Himalayas. There are also so many types of vultures and I will be seeing many of them in the next days.

DAY 9: BAMBOO (2310m) – SINUWA (2360m) – CHHOMRONG (2170m) – JHINU (1780m)
The more I proceeded down the valleys, the more weather got mild. The sky was now clean clear. The descend till Sinuwa was quite easy.

Then I used the same never ending stairs and reached at Chhomrong. I loved to pass by some little villages and see the traditional rural life of Nepal. In between the villages this adorable dog accompanied me for hours. Each time he waited for me when I was giving a break. I loved his friendship. May he always be healthy and happy.

Each time I came across with mules I thanked them. They are the servants of mountain people.

In between the villages you see some little kindergardens or primary schools. Some of the children walk for kilometres up and down the hills to reach their school. There are boarding schools when it is impossible for the children to walk so long distances. None of these schools get support from the government, they live on donations.

Each time I turn back and see the valley I am coming from, I am greeting the sacred place I left behind at the base camp. I am just 2 days far from it and I am still carrying its healing energy in my cells, in my heart.
After 6 hours walk I reach today’s final destination, Jhinu that is famous for its natural hotsprings. I really like the feeling of this altitude, 1700m. The weather is clear and warm, the landscape is lush green and totally covered with trees. I like it so much that I decide to give one day off here.

DAY 10: JHINU (1780m) / day off
It was a really good idea to give a day off. I wanted this time not just for my body but also for my soul. It was time to breath in, internalise and celebrate the gifts that the mountains have been offering me in the last days.
The view above is from the terrace of the guesthouse I was staying at. Till noon I just sat under the sun, let the warmth penetrate into my body, listened music, danced to the soft breeze.

This Tibetan lady was helping the kitchen of the guesthouse. She was living at the refugee camp in Pokhara but in some seasons she was coming here to sell some souvenirs to support her living. We became quite close, she took good care of me and I called her Mama.

It always made me happy to see vegetable gardens in most of the areas I walked. I was so pleased to eat from these fresh and clean food that was not contaminated by chemicals.

Jhinu is famous for its natural springs. So in the afternoon I walked down the hill to the river. On my way I passed through a dense forest that was almost like tropical. Lush green and beautiful. Once in a while I heard the screams of monkeys.

I feel like a nymph, like a forest fairy. I feel pure and strong. I feel home.

When I reach the bottom of the valley I see this strong river. Without losing time I go into the pool of the hotsprings. With a good timing, I am alone here. What a great treat I gift to myself.
I am letting myself into the water, opening myself to its healing. I look above and see the big trees bent on me. I am hearing the birds singing. I am giving massage to my legs, feet, arms and loving myself. Then I dive into a meditation. When I feel free, I feel totally alive. This understanding makes me contemplate on my attachments to family, lovers, friends. How much do I attach to them, due to my needs? When I let go off the needs, when I don’t make distinction in between anyone I am related to, I feel more real. This is a fine line on which I am building up my awareness more and more each day. In the upcoming months on my journey, life would tell me that I have many things to learn on this matter.

DAY 11: JHINU (1780m) – NEW BRIDGE (1340m) – LANDRUK (1565m) – TOLKA (1800m)
Today I was leaving Annapurna Base Camp route and joining another one; Mardi Himal. Therefore I crossed Modi river to its east side. I walked in a dense tropical forest for couple of hours. I again came across with big waterfalls on the way that were falling down from high rocky hills.

I was now on a less famous route that goes by some villages like Landruk and Tolka that still preserve their traditional way of living. When I was having a rest at one point I met with an old man from the village who could speak a little bit of English. While having our tea he told me about their traditional agriculture techniques, how they turn monsoon season to an advantage for water retention. He also told me about the ethnic groups in Nepal. He said; “There are two main roots; one from Mongolia and Tibet, and the other from India. You can understand this distinction from people’s faces. These roots have sub-groups like Sherpa, Gurung, Tamang, Rai, Limbu, Mogar, Poon. Unfortunately they may still have some disintegration in between. For instance some people don’t let their children marry with someone from another ethnic group.”

Namaste! This little girl on the left welcomed me with flowers when I was entering her village. She blessed me with a sweet song. Then I met with this gang. It was so fun to play frizbi altogether.

The buildings in the villages were way too sweet. Harvesting season of millet was over and now they were left under the sun to be dried.

As I arrive at the little village Tolka I am choosing Sunlight guesthouse to stay for the night. It would be more suitable to say home-stay rather than guesthouse to this place, as it is the home of this lovely couple above. Since so few people are walking this route I am the only one staying with them.
Their son and grandson are also with us for the night. She is asking me what I would like to have for dinner. I say whatever you have for yourself I eat from that. After the dinner their son, with his little English is telling me about the politics in Nepal and how the government can not support the rural areas. Than the conversation starts to get funny. We play with the adorable grandson. I am loving to be in their humble and joyful environment.

I am in deep gratitude for my each breath, each step. I feel home.

DAY 12: TOLKA (1800m) – POTHANA (1950m) – AUSTRALIAN CAMP (2060m)
I woke up to the new day so early. After a short walk in the surrounding I came back for breakfast and saw this old lady at the porch of the neighbour house. I learned later that she was 97 years old. While heating her weak body in the sun, she was weaving straws to make something to sit on. She did some gestures to tell me that she couldn’t speak but she gave me big smiles and warmed my heart.

I waved goodbye to the beautiful people I stayed with and started my walk again. Today I was going to shift from one valley to another one. So there was an ascend followed by a descend, again with many stone stairs.

After a four hour walk I reached at Australian Camp located at a very beautiful hilltop that was open to three directions. Now we can see a new mountain range, Manaslu (the one on the right above). I chose a peaceful guesthouse that has a clear view of the peaks.

As the sun was still high up, I decided to enjoy this beautiful warm weather. When I was resting on the grasses and watching the sky, 4 vultures approached and started to fly in circles so high above me. I felt this was a blessing.
My trek was coming to an end. Tomorrow evening I was going to be back in Pokhara. Feeling deeply all the great gifts of last 2 weeks, I started a joyful celebration.

The sunset was magnificent once again.

DAY 13: AUSTRALIAN CAMP (2060m) – DHAMPUS (1660m) – PHEDI (1430m)
The last day of my trek took me through forests for couple of hours till Dhampus. The bottom of the valley seen above was my destination.

Then I arrive by the rural areas that had a beautiful view of Machhapuchhre and Manaslu range.

This mother and her daughter, how adorable they were. They reminded me of my childhood and those years with my mom.

Finally as I raised my head out from the forest I saw that I was almost at the bottom of the valley. All I needed to do was to go down and take the first bus to Pokhara.
My journey in Himalayas ended with light and in peace. That night I had one of the most peaceful sleep ever.

The Author