Annapurna, Around the world travel, Backpacking, Bucket List, long term travel, Nepal, Travel

Annapurna Day 6 – Manang

Boy, was I happy to see Manang when we got here. I know some of the toughest days still lie ahead but Manang for me is a semi-light at the end of the tunnel, 3/4 of the path covered and an acclimatisation day on top of that!

It’s 12:40 on Saturday, and I’ve literally done nothing today. I don’t think my body would’ve let me even if I’d tried. I’m enjoying a few hours of proper chilling out before we decide if we’re going to move on to Lake Tilicho or spend one more night here and head to Letdar tomorrow.
I’m feeling slightly indecisive. On one hand, I would be able to see the world’s highest lake. On the other hand, it’s an additional 2 days climb to over 4000 meters and I don’t want to push my luck and risk any altitude sickness and then not get over The Pass. Plus, it will be bloody cold, but that’s not what you remember, is it?
We have been hiking with Luke and Lucy, so there’s 4 of us now. Lucy stayed in Ngawal last night, 2 villages away and Emily and Luke have gone for a walk locally. I guess we will make a call when everyone gets back.
Yesterday, after a hearty breakfast, the four of us set out from Upper Pisang. We decided to take the upper, more scenic route instead of the 4-hour flat route. We covered the first hour pretty quickly with Annapurna II behind us, Annapurna III looming above us ahead, and very authentic Tibetan villages dotting the landscape around us.
We then crossed a suspension bridge and began a 500 meter climb, straight up, not one flat bit, just a continuation of an upward winding path. Sometimes it’s a blessing not to see the stopping point because you know how far you have to go. Then again, when it’s never-ending, sometimes you want to know. This upward climb continued for about 1 hour, at which point I was cursing myself for wanting to take the more “scenic” route. We found a makeshift temple at the highest point and dropped our packs for a 15-minute breather and a snack break.
Thankfully it was a pretty flat trek to Ngawal. We were about to breeze through when Lucy suggested lunch. I was sort of thinking the same thing, not so much because I wanted to eat, but because I wanted an hour to sit down. After 1 1/2 hours and another plate of momos, I was feeling rejuvinated.
The village we were in, Ngawal, was rustic and charming. Brick abodes were built in clusters and yaks, horses and goats roamed freely. There was not a cloud in the sky and everything seemed so much brighter the higher we got. Lucy liked it so much here, that she decided to stay, so Luke, Emily and I set out for Manang.
I inquired about distance and terrain before leaving and the lady at the Inn where we’d had lunch said it would take about 3 hours and that after an initial downward climb, it would be a relatively flat trek – music to my ears.
We set off at 2:30. The downward climb was through some really unique terrain. It reminded me of Cappadocia, Turkey. In fact, the landscape has changed completely since the beginning of the trek. Here, the land is protected from the monsoon and therefore barren and dry, but not too much higher up are dense pine forests that flank the mountainside. The villages we are passing are much more rustic and I’m starting to feel like we really are in the middle of nowhere.
Our rooms are wooden-beam lodge like accommodation, with 2 single beds, no extra furnishings or accessories, other than blankets (thankfully), and an outhouse. Haven’t seen hot water in days.
We made good time to Manag and did 5 1/2 hours of trekking. I’ve sort of got into a routine when I arrive somewhere – dry clothes on, sleeping bag out, hot tea and then dinner. We had no electricity last night, so we ate by candlelight and headlamps, and we had a little wood stove at our feet that we all huddled around. It’s such a luxury but it’s always hard to leave and go to a cold room afterwards.
I polished off my dal bhat but felt a little uncomfortable after dinner. Usually I’m starving, but my food had left me uncomfortably full and I had a dull headache. It could have been a number of things – dehydration, elevation, soreness from lugging the pack, so Emily, who has just finished one month at a yoga ashram in India lead Luke and I in shoulder stretches. Before you knew it, we were full on doing yoga, the three of us, in our thermals, in a room no bigger than 10×10 – hilarious.
I slept until 12:45 a.m. and then woke up with a killer headache – almost like a migraine, throbbing pain so bad I thought I would puke. I hoped I would puke, thinking it would make me feel better. Again, I started to run things through my head, wondering what was causing it. I had been drinking a lot more water, so I didn’t think I was dehydrated. I was taking the Diamox (altitude sickness medication) as a preventative measure and didn’t think it was the altitude. Did I have food poisoning? And then, I started to get nervous because we had been refilling our water bottles throughout the day with river water still using water purifying tablets, but what if? So, at 2 a.m. in the middle-of-nowhere-Manang, I scared the shit out of myself thinking I had contracted meningitis from contaminated water!
I was up for at least 3 hours willing myself back to sleep and praying that I would wake up and the headache would be gone. I fell asleep listening to a mouse rustle through Emily’s bag of almonds.
When I woke up this morning, my headache was gone, but I was feeling pretty lethargic. I laid in bed until around 8 and then ventured down for some breakfast. Luke and I talked about the hike to the lake and breaking it down an extra day to acclimatise. I then excused myself and went back to bed. I piled on some extra blankets and was in and out of sleep until late morning.
I walked around town in early afternoon and then sat in the courtyard of the Inn to let the sun warm my bones. We have decided to stay another night before setting out for the lake via Khangasar. We’re going to take our time with it- acclimatise and cut the length of the treks down. Hopefully this works to my advantage.
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