- 1 - Besisahar to Khudi: Most People Walk Further to Work
- 2 - Who Says Trekking in Nepal Has to Involve Lots of Walking?
- 3 - Conquering the Annapurna Circuit’s First Hill
- 4 - Trek to Jagat and a Rant Against Guides on the Annapurna Circuit
- 5 - Jagat to Tal: Our First Real Day of Trekking
- 6 - Tal to Chame: Falling into a Trekking Routine
- 7 - Chame to Pisang: Just Takin’ the Goat for a Walk
- 8 - A Well-Deserved Day Off in Upper Pisang
- 9 - Pisang to Ngawal: A Hard Climb to Beautiful Views
- 10 - Drinking Yak Sewage in Ngawal
- 11 - Arriving In Manang…Two Weeks Later Than Most
- 12 - Trekking On Our Day Off From Trekking in Manang
- 13 - Annoying Trekker Abuses Friendly Guesthouse Owner
The next day of our little stroll through the hills of Nepal was dominated by a humongous slab of rock. At least that’s the main thing I remember. That and the fact that we actually passed someone! Yes, it’s true! But more on that later. The day was actually fairly long and for the first time, we covered just as much ground as many of the slower trekkers. It helped that there weren’t any overly difficult sections, with the path climbing gradually, but never too steeply.
As usual, we started early with an average breakfast. To be fair, I don’t actually remember what I had or how it was, but I’m assuming it was average since most of them were. The one thing I do remember is that the guy I was trekking with ordered a couple of plain chapatti and slathered them in Nutella and I only remember this because that’s basically what he had for every meal over the next few days, until the giant jar of chocolate he had gotten for his birthday the night before was empty.
After breakfast we set out and were immediately reminded why it’s good to get going early. The first rays of sunlight lit up the white peaks, while everything else remained cloaked in darkness.
Leaving the town of Chame, we found ourselves behind a family taking their goat for a walk. It was attached to a leash led by a middle-aged Tibetan woman with a baby strapped to her back. Her other son was following a few steps behind, constantly distracted by every rock and leaf and particle of air. The goat actually seemed very obedient, which surprised me. I figured any attempt at walking a goat, would end up with the animal planting its hooves firmly in the dirt as it is dragged along the road, but this one at least, was much better behaved than any dog I’ve ever walked. It even followed the woman up a few steep steps and onto a swaying bridge without the slightest hesitation.
It was not so well-behaved when the woman gave the leash to her son, although that was mostly his fault. Distracted as he was by absolutely everything, he seemed to forget he was supposed to be holding onto something and within minutes the goat was running off down the road, dragging the leash loosely behind. Luckily, they were able to recapture it fairly quickly. For some reason, the woman gave the leash right back to her son a short while later and within a minute, the goat was free again.
Catching it proved much more difficult this time around, since it took off into the forest and went prancing among the trees. It took so long to get the goat that the unthinkable happened: we overtook the whole family and even managed to leave them so far in our dust that we actually lost sight of them! I’m sure some of you will want to point out that the people we passed were a mother carrying a baby, a small boy and a goat, but I think you should let us have our victory. It was the first time we passed anyone.
For the first part of the morning, we stayed close to the Marsyangdi River, leaving it only occasionally to walk through some fields or to pass through a tiny village.
Whenever we gained some altitude and rose above the river, we invariably had to climb all the way back down to cross it. The newly built metal suspension bridges that are found all along the trek were missing from this section, so we had to descend even further, all the way to the water’s edge, to cross two old wooden bridges, the second of which looked like it had been thrown together earlier that day.
After the last of these crossings, we climbed up away from the river again and soon found ourselves next to a gigantic rock wall. For the next few hours, we walked through a forest of pine and fir, with the wall constantly visible through the trees to our right. Words and photos can’t express just how massive this thing was. It hugged the other side of the river and followed it around a bend, so that it was actually next to us and ahead of us at the same time.
A claustrophobic town, little more than a few guesthouses and restaurants, sits right at the bend in the river, with the massive wall threatening on two sides. Since the wall is basically one solid slab of rock, I don’t think the inhabitants have to worry about avalanches during the warmer months, but I imagine a mountain of snow could come crashing down quite easily in the winter. I would be worried if I lived there.
The weather seemed perfect and we decided to sit outside and have some lunch. A strong and unceasing wind almost made us regret that decision, making it impossible to even open and read the flimsy menus. Not that it mattered—they were virtually identical to every other menu along the trek and we’d memorized all the standard offerings long ago. As for the wind, it would be our constant companion over the next week, since the wall works to guide it around the bend in the river and fire it up the next valley.
I actually remember the food in this town, since the restaurant we chose served the best pizza I ate the entire trek. True, it was one of the only pizzas I ate during the trek, but I had learned long ago that good pizza is very hard to come by in Nepal, so it’s a fairly safe assumption to at least rank this one near the top. It wasn’t even especially good either; it was simply better than the standard offering, because they used a slightly spicier ketchup-type sauce than the sickly sweet versions found on most pizzas in the country.
We didn’t have much further to go after lunch and basically just had to follow the best-kept road of the entire trek to the town of Lower Pisang.
Of course, where there’s a Lower Pisang, there’s also an Upper Pisang and as the name might suggest, it lies a hundred to two hundred meters higher up the side of the valley, resulting in much better views. It was also much more charming, so that’s where we were heading.
While Lower Pisang has an abundance of newly built guesthouses, the upper part of town consists of a smattering of traditional stone structures, only three of which accept guests. It was one of the only places along the trek where finding a bed was a bit difficult—and a bit frustrating thanks to one greedy guesthouse owner. The town itself was lovely, though and we ended up staying two nights. On the second, we had our first encounter with easily the most annoying people of the entire trek. I’ll save the annoyances—both greedy owners and stingy, arrogant trekkers—for the next part in this series.
Series continued in part 8: A Well-Deserved Day Off in Upper Pisang
Anja van der Vorst says
I have commented this before, but I will repeat it here: trekking, camping, mountains and snow are not my cup of tea. But despite that I still love to walk along with you through your beautiful pics and reading your stories. Nice!
Anja van der Vorst recently contributed to world literature by posting..The Venetian, Macau
Daniel McBane says
Thank you! And I completely understand. I did not expect to enjoy the trek as much as I did (after the first day or two anyaway).
Daniel McBane recently contributed to world literature by posting..Don’t Let China Into Your Home!
Love the mountains. I know I will never get to Nepal in my lifetime, so appreciate this series. As for the goat, I too find it amazing that it walked behind the woman so obediently.
Graefyl recently contributed to world literature by posting..Help out for the Philippines
Daniel McBane says
But only the woman. It definitely did not respect the boy’s authority…
Daniel McBane recently contributed to world literature by posting..Survive New Delhi Station and the Rest of India is Easy
“…I’ll save the annoyances—both greedy owners and stingy, arrogant trekkers—for the next part in this series.”
O.k. you’ll be happy to know that now I’m utterly confused. Was that you intent all along?
I mean… in the first 14 words (well o.k. 12 words and 2 numerals, but still…) at the top of this post clearly states:
“This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series The Annapurna Circuit Trek”
So maybe you just miscounted (beentheredonethat myself – see my “5 of 12 So You Wanna Be… Huh?” series)?
In any case, I DO hope there’s at least an *8th* part ‘cuz I sooo want to hear your ever-droll take on those “…stingy, arrogant trekkers”.
Dyanne@TravelnLass recently contributed to world literature by posting..Loy Krothong and the Yi Peng Lantern Festival
Daniel McBane says
Believe me, that annoys me every time I see it… The plugin I use to create series only counts existing posts, not planned ones and I don’t have the expertise needed to change that. Not that I actually know how many posts will end up being in this series—every post I write, series or not, ends up being longer than intended and many are so long I actually turn them into two separate posts (both of which are still overly long).
There is definitely going to be an 8th part and at the rate I’m going, there will eventually be an 18th part and perhaps even a 28th. And my series plugin will then helpfully inform you that you are reading part 8 of 8 or part 18 of 18 and once again make me look like a liar for promising future installments.
Daniel McBane recently contributed to world literature by posting..Bargain Prices on Elephant Torture in Chiang Mai
Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) says
It’s amazing to see how much this trail has changed in just 2 years—as you know, Tony & I were just on the APC and we did the same walk you outline here (though on our day from Chame we only made it to Dukhur Pokhari, the claustrophobic little town where you had pizza…) but it’s miles different now. For one, you can no longer trek down to the river to take that sketchy bridge (ironically, it is still standing and can be seen but the one BEFORE it has been washed out), and secondly, the road to Lower Pisang now looks 100 times worse than it did two years ago. I guess that’s what happens when people go racing down it on motorcycles carrying heavy loads and at speeds that suggest they have a death wish.
Also, we did not see a lady with an errant goat and foolish child, which perhaps saddens me most of all…
Still, I love this series and I can’t wait to hear about the next part when you inevitably tackle the beast that is the ascent to Ghyaru! (You are right, I did curse you as we climbed up there. But yes, it was worth it!)
Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently contributed to world literature by posting..Tasting Heaven at the Gurdwara Sahib Melaka
Daniel McBane says
Wow, so we walked further than you guys on this day! Of course, it was one of the only days where we completed a full section and we immediately took the next day off to recover and did nothing, deciding to spend two nights in Pisang and just hang out for a day.
It’s hard to imagine that road to Pisang being busy; there was almost nobody on it when we were there, but that’s because it didn’t really begin anywhere. I can’t remember exactly, but it must have started somewhere around that little town where you guys spent the night (I liked that place and wish we had stayed there instead of Chame).
They definitely hadn’t completed the section of road coming up from Chame, as you may have guessed by the two bridges we crossed. I’m not surprised the first one washed away, since it was so low; I remember thinking at the time that they probably have to rebuild it every year after the rainy season. I’m a little surprised the other one is still there, though. By the looks of it, they were rebuilding it fairly often, too.
I can’t wait to read about your guys’ trek and to see your photos! It sounds like things have changed quite a bit in just two years. I guess by now they’ve probably completed the entire road from the beginning all the way to Manang and they must be making pretty good progress on the section over the pass.
Daniel McBane recently contributed to world literature by posting..The Hassle of Finding a Hotel in Rural China
goat walks, amazing
Daniel McBane says
I hope it catches on and everybody who now has a dog gets a goat instead.
Daniel McBane recently contributed to world literature by posting..Barcelona Hides Its Bus Stations Well
Wow Daniel, I was simply blown away by the scenery! So beautiful and this sky… I’m speechless! Little stroll through the hills of Nepal is on my bucket list so I will follow your steps once I get there :D.
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Daniel McBane says
I actually want to do it again, too. Even though I didn’t like all the walking, the incredible scenery made it well worth it.
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