Watch out Annapurna. Here come the Block sisters!

Trip Start Jan 21, 2010
Trip End Jun 30, 2011

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Where I stayed
Fish Tail Villa

Flag of Nepal  , Himalayan Region,
Monday, April 19, 2010

Well....we made it! After a 13-day mad dash circuit around Annapurna, we are alive and well in Pokhora. We marched up mountains (or slowly walked, to be more accurate), traversed high passes, survived cold nights and even was even able to stomach very 'local cuisine'. Carly and I spent today walking around town feeling very accomplished and indulging in beer, french fries and other treats we have 'earned' from our hard work. We thought the Bodacious Blocks were pretty tough...that was until we met the Annapurna sisters (all five of them)! What an adventure!
In a nut shell this is what we just finished....
Day 1: Wake up early and travel from Kathmandu to BhuleBhule. 13-hour ride. Bus breaks down at end of road, must ride Maoist revolutionary bus (on roof) sandwiched between young Nepalese men wearing red and waving flags...scary but surprisingly polite. Stay in nice guest house and sleep well.
Day 2: Wake up early and start the trek! Getting used to walking with two new, yet very important friends, Bikram and Nathro, our porter and guide. It is hot and dusty but we are excited to start the trek. Hike for 8 hours. End trek in Jagat and stay at North Face Guest House. Amazing views of the river, good food and learned new card game called Dumbalee (Nepal favorite). Forced to finish the bottle of Jim Beam (no sense carrying the extra weight) with crew and off to bed.
Day 3: Up early to hit the trail. Lots of construction due to new road being built on part of the trail, which means diversion to higher ground for us...AKA, higher and harder route. Carly's 'trick knee' starts acting up so heavy doses of Tylenol are consumed. Trail is dusty with no great views of the mountains but nice gorge. Hike for 8 hours and end in Bagarchhap. Quick dinner of soup and fall asleep early..not used to this schedule yet :)
Day 4: Once again, up early. Quick breakfast of Chapati (Indian tortilla) for us and dahlbaat (rice and curry) for the boys. Starting to feel the elevation change but trek for another long day (8 hours). We walked through the beautiful Manage Valley. Rhododendrons and beautiful trees line the trail as we gently weave up towards the mighty Himalayas. We had our first view of Lamjung (6986m) and Annapurna II (7936m).  It was amazing. We stopped around every corner to take photos. Found small guest house at the bottom of a huge sheer cliff wall. Dined on garlic and onion soup (supposed to be good for acclimatization process but unfortunate for your roommate) and went to sleep.
Day 5: Short but sweet trek through the valley. Ended the day in Manage around lunch time. Stopped in to Himalaya Rescue Association Center for informative speech on AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). Left armed with education and medication. Prepared to keep a hawk eye on the group's health (to the annoyance of everyone!) and make sure we acclimatize correctly. Watched amazing sunset on top of local family's roof. Went to see a movie at the 'Movie Hall' (Into Thin Air), not really the most optimistic film, but still got us in the mountain spirit.
Day 6: Rest day in Manange. Went for a short and steep hike to a mountain lake to help our bodies prepare for the next few day at high elevation. Carly and Nathro went one way on the path and Bikram and I went another. We ended up at a high iced over waterfall with a group of Aussies. We attempted to glissade down a small snow field to everyone's amusement and then met back up with the group. After a quick lunch C and I took our books to a stumpa on the top of a hill and watched the sun sink into the mighyt Annapurna sisters. Sweet dreams.
Day 7: Big climb to Ledar. As we weaved up the high trail, the mountains got closer and closer. Each turn was true motivation to continue. We reached our 'maximum' elevation gain for the day at a small and desolate village. We met up with fellow trekkers from Manage and as the snow started to fall, we settled into a long night of cards, chatting and early bedtimes. (Sidenote: It started to get really cold here. The tea houses are very rustic and Carly and I pulled out our thermals and down jackets. Long and very cold night).
Day 8: Early morning wake up call. Downed some tea and hit the trail! It was a long day as we gained elevation quickly through many switchbacks to Throng Phedi a small village at the base of a steep vertical climb to high camp. We hitched up our bags, put in the I-Pods and got ready for the challenge. It took about two hours to climb only 800 meters, but it was straight up! Our reward was High Camp at 4900m. We had some soup for lunch and climbed to a Buddhist prayer flag Carin at the top of a small hill. We were rewarded with dynamic vistas of the Himalayas. As the weather started to change, our panoramic view quickly morphed from a serene landscape to a brewing storm. It was incredible. Later that night it started to snow and you could see the anxiety in the faces of fellow trekkers in the lodge. Who knows if they had anxiety about having to possibly postpone hiking the next day due to the weather or if it was the lack of heat and blankets? The tea house ran out of wood and fire, was a very cold night!
Day 9: Naya baseeko sooba kamanah, or something like that. At 0330, we were greeted by Natros knocking at the door and telling us to get going. Not only was it 'Throng La Pass Day' but it was also the Nepal New Year. Happy 2067! We got up and hit the trail. It was freezing and our hand warmers were the saving grace! It was worth the effort though to see the sun slowly rise over the mighty mountains as we trekked to Throng-La Pass at 18500ft! This was sky-high! We made it to the top, took some quick snaps and high fives and started down the hill. As with most mountains, the descent was the trickiest part. 6 hours of steep downhill and we arrived in Muthinact, and oasis of hot showers, temple celebrations and APPLE BRANDY. As it was a holiday, we had to indulge with our boys, and had a fun holiday celebration, complete with tikas and cards!
Day 10: Rest Day!!!! We hitched a jeep ride catch a local bus and after 6 hours we arrived in Tatopani! We unloaded, took hot showers, ate good food and hit up the hot springs! We met a couple from San Francisco and Boulder, small world as we have met very few Americans in Nepal. We hit the sack early after learning what was in store the next day.
Day 11: Wake up and get ready to get high! Today was all about elevation gain! We gained over 6000 ft and felt every step. To add insult to injury, halfway up the trail I was head butted by a bull. I was walking a little ahead of the group and had to pass a group of local cows and bulls. I tried to pass as unobtrusively as possible but my 'sweetness' caught the attention of the big daddy of the group and he charged me twice! Luckily, I came away with only a couple bruises, cuts and a great story. Needless to say, I walked closer to the group for the rest of the trip :) We joined forces with two guys  from South Africa and France and trudged up hill to Ghorepani, barely escaping the rain. That night we taught the boys how to play the card game 'Asshole' much to the amusement of the Nepali guides. They had no idea what we were doing but seemed to get a kick out of the rules we created. Lots of laughter made us forget the pain of the day and everyone went to sleep early ready for the 0400 wake up call the next morning.
Day 12: 0400, alarm goes off! Beep, beep, beep! Am I still dreaming or do we really have to get up? I looked over at Carly who blissfully ignores the watch. Finally we both get up, get dressed and head up to Poon Hill, an hour trek uphill to watch the sunrise. Bikram decided to sleep in but Natros endured the challenge with us and we were rewarded with fantastic views of Annapurna and Fish Tail Peak. We went back to the lodge, packed up and hit the trail to Ghandruck. We stopped for lunch at Natros sister's restaurant (didi Tara) and winded our way down into the jungle to Tarapani for the night.It was sibling night in Tarapani as we met two brother/sister groups. We tried to outwit each other with cards during the night and had a great evening of laughter and fun!
Day 13: Up early to watch sunrise. Packed up the bags for our last day of trekking. We followed the river and valley down to our exit point in Bairithani. It was bitter sweet to spend the final day in beautiful mossy jungle and walking the flower lined trail, so beautiful and sad to leave. Hard to believe it is over! We finished the day proudly and got off the trail just as the rain started to fall. Caught a cab into town and said goodbye to our new saitis, or friends. Hike of a lifetime.

The mountains are different for everyone. For me, I am at peace when surrounded by this colossal environment. It is my church, my place to pray and to think and my place to just simply exist. I could not have asked for a better group to hike with. My sister and two new friends. I will never forget this experience. Maurice Herzong was the first person to climb Annapurna and I read his book during the trek. His quotation is a great summation of the experience...' The mountains were there and so was I. Every person must have his Annapurna'.

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