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

Annapurna Day 9 – Shree Kharkar

Things have been awesome since leaving Manang. The day we left, we had a 2-hour hike to Khangsar and decided to blindly follow Luke on one of his infamous shortcuts. This led to us traversing ice patches on landslide territory, not to mention a nice steep climb at the end. Still, we arrived safely and found Luxmi’s Inn, which was nice and cozy.

Luxmi welcomed us into the kitchen and we all sat around the fire with her drinking Nepali tea while she cooked dinner. She fed us all at the same time and talked to us about our hike to Lake Tilicho, telling us to take our time (bastadee- slowly). There was so much warmth at this inn, despite being in a bit of a rundown town, and it was all due to Luxmi’s energy and disposition.
We were up early Monday morning and off to Tilicho Base Camp. This took about 4 hours – of consistent ups and downs, no real grueling trekking until the end where we were in proper landslide territory, as in, don’t look up or down or you may loose your balance. We stopped for a snickers break (this had become a valid reason for a stop on the trek) and took a look at the scenery around us. There were mountains in the background and cave-like rocks surrounding us, gravel-like rocks under our feet, which led down to what looked to be a small river below.
When we began traversing the landslide area, we came head on with a herder and his 20 yak. We had nowhere to go but back, but the yaks were too timid to pass us, so the herder waved us on, and we watched as the yak begin to slide down the gravel slope as we got closer. We eventually passed and once we turned the corner, we spotted basecamp in the distance. What a glorious sight, and it was downhill too!
We had lunch when we arrived and caught up with a few familiar faces who were a couple of days ahead of us. I felt a slight headache coming on, so I popped a diamox and chugged water. We were now at 4100 meters, the highest we’d been so far, but we had to climb to 4900 the following morning and I feared the headache getting any worse. The afternoon was spent in our sleeping bags, sipping hot chocolate. We crawled out for dinner but when the smoke from the wood fire got too unbearable we went back to our rooms for a good night’s sleep.
We were up around 6 the following morning, had a quick breakfast and set out. I got a 15-minute head start (because I am usually the slow one). I felt like I was on a solo mountaineering mission for the first hour. The climb was 800 meters, straight up. It was steep and 3 hours long, but it was so nice to shed my backpack and just go with no extra weight. For some reason, Bob Marley’s Is This Love was playing on repeat in my head, and I just put my head down and put one foot in front of the other.
B 10:30 we were standing at the highest lake in the world, 4,919 meters above sea level. The air was so clear and the colors so vivid- bright red, blue, green and yellow prayer flags against a blue sky and an aquamarine lake, a huge glacier dropping down a mountainside into the lake – all this beauty and the 3-hour upward trek seems like a distant memory. It was so windy though, we couldn’t stay up there too long.
I don’t think I realized how steep the climb was until I was trekking back down. This took about 1 1/2 hours, compared to the 3 going up and was a breeze. We got back to base camp, inhaled lunch, packed up and set out for Shree Kharkar. We had a 3 hour trek back the way we had come in- lots of ups and downs, but the midday heat had passed and after 2 hours, we watched the sunset change the light behind Pisang Peak from purple to pink to blue.
We arrived in Shree Kharkar just before dark and checked into a 3-bed room at one of the two lodges in town. We had left Luke at Lake Tilicho so he could spend another night, so it was now Emily, Lucy and me, although a bigger group had been forming along the trail, so we had dinner with about 10 of us, sharing travel stories and future Annapurna plans. We were in bed shortly after that. It had been a big day and the next two would be just an intense.
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