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

Annapurna Day 11- Thorong La Pass

The alarm went off at 4am, and we were up, packed and finished with breakfast before 5. Lucy was feeling better and had decided to trek the Pass with us, so at 5:30, in the pitch dark, bundled and sporting headlamps, we began the 1,000 meter climb up to Thorong La Pass.

The first hour to basecamp was done in the dark and was a straight vertical climb. I’m glad it was dark and couldn’t see what lay ahead. We had a quick stop here to shed some layers and use the toilet, and then began the 3-hour climb to the pass. This was a gradual ascent and nowhere near as steep as the lake climb, but with my pack on and the higher elevation, there were times when I felt like every step was an effort.
The last 45 minutes felt extremely long and each time I saw a trail marker, I thought, “Oh, I have to be close,” only to turn the corner and see the next one in the distance. There was no mistaking the Pass though. Hundreds of prayer flags hung over what looked like a finish line. Suddenly, the last ten minutes up felt effortless.
5,416 meters, equivalent of 17,769 feet! We played around at the top, took pictures, chatted with our larger group that had formed over the last 5 days and after the novelty wore off, we began the 4-hour climb back down the other side. The views of the mountains in the distance were beautiful, but thinking of the Pass as some sort of finish line was deceiving, because the 4-hour climb down was hot, grueling and covered 1600 meters.
We stopped one hour away from Muktinath (our stopping point for the day) for a snack and rehydration stop and the last hour went quickly. I was TIRED and began having second thoughts about committing to the Sanctuary trek that I’d been debating about doing following this trek. I hoped it was just fatigue causing any doubts and that it would pass.
We arrived in Muktinath around 4:00 and heard rumors of hot showers on our way into town. As we approached, we saw this built up village and it was quite a shock compared to the quaint villages we’d been staying in. Still, after a couple of strenuous days, a hot shower was a really nice thought, and so was a warm nights sleep in a proper lodge.
We checked into Bob Marley hotel, complete with marijuana tea on the menu. First things first- a HOT shower. It had been 5 days since a shower and weeks since a hot one, and I can’t really put into words how nice it felt to have hot water hit my tired body, soothe my muscles, scrub off the dirt and clear my head. I know it sounds cliche, but I felt like a new woman.
Feeling re-energized, I headed down to dinner with Emily and Lucy, and the South American crew. After dinner, the re-energized feeling had passed and I wasn’t even up for conversation. It was time for bed! The sad thing is, it was only 8:30. I slept all the way until 5:30 this morning, and it was the first time I hadn’t slept fully clothed, with a fleece and hat on. It was glorious.
After breakfast, we are all in proper chill out mode but we have plans to continue trekking to Khagbeni today and then make a bee-line for the hot springs just south. No decisions about future trekking have been made… I’m just savoring clearing the Pass yesterday before I think about the next challenge…
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