BootsnAll Travel Network

Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Day Four: Beat of Your Drum

I woke after a peaceful night’s sleep. It was just starting to get light outside. Abs was already up and brushing his teeth. I ventured outside and stood on the lawn gazing up at the silhouetted mountains. I looked at my watch: it read 5.20am. Holy bat mobile! Twenty past five, in the morning, and I was up with no alarms and no express plans to get up so early. And it felt wonderful.

Abs and I sat on the lawn, sipping tea and snapping pictures while the sun crept its way up from behind the peak of Machhapuchhre. Ah, the serenity. There’s nothing like watching the sun rise over a couple of 7000 metre peaks: Machhapuchhre at 6997m and Annapurna South rising to 7273m. You really should try it sometime (sorry sorry, I couldn’t resist. I promise never again to let my smugness rise to the level of Australian Prime Minister John Howard)

It was daunting to think that over the next few days we would be walking right into the heart of these magnificent, domineering towers of rock and ice.

We ate breakfast out on the lawn with Babu and Salik; the bright sunshine now warming our backs. In the space of a few minutes I went from wearing a beanie and fleece, to a floppy hat and t-shirt. Pancakes, omelettes and Tibetan bread filled our bellies.

Four hours of walking followed, taking us from Ghandruk to Chomrong. The first hour was up stone steps, with barely a break. A small herd of buffalo, perhaps ten or so, blocked our path, and children in school uniforms passed us going the other way.

The top of the hill afforded a short rest and we looked out across a deep valley that we had to cross. Forty-five minutes straight down one side, across a wooden bridge over a gushing river, and past a group of pack-mules carrying gas cylinders and other supplies. And then straight up the other side. A recent landslide meant the original path, which gently rose up along the length of the hill had to be diverted. It now went straight up the slope. For an hour we marched single file, in silence. It was the steepest slope I could imagine walking before one would have to resort to using all fours. There were no steps, just a continuous rise of gravel and stones. The climb was somewhere around 900 metres. My legs were on fire when we finally reached the top.

We arrived at Chomrong by 12 noon, and after finishing my current book (Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas……. it was sort of weird to be reading about his drug-fuelled shenanigans in a place like Las Vegas, whilst I was sitting in the middle of the Himalayas, with no sound save for the distant crashing of rushing water), I simply sat and watched the clouds manouevre around the peaks. For three hours, the four of us sat together, chatting here and letting the silence engulf us there.

Tomorrow would be another long day.

Song of the Day: 78 Saab – Beat of Your Drum.

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