NEPAL: Annapurna Circuit PART 1 of 2

Hey Everyone,

After a wonderful 24 days trekking the 186 miles (300KM) around the Annapurna mountain range, I am back here in the land of Internet and hot showers. I have so many pictures it has been really difficult to choose which to put in this email. In order to make it more manageable, I have split the circuit into two emails -- one for the first half while I was hiking up to the Thorong La pass (elevation 17,650 feet, 5416 meters) and another email for the journey back down to the city of Pokara. This trek is famous for its spectacular views of the Himalayas and natural beauty, but also because of the cultural aspect -- wandering through the dozens villages along the way. Enjoy!

Jungle So, the first leg of the trip started in Besi Sahar, a few hours by crowded public bus from the city of Pokara. I got there in the afternoon and decided to only hike a couple hours to the beautiful little village of Kudi. I was a little concerned about my ability to do the full circuit alone (and carrying all my gear), but decided I would just go as slow as necessary. Kudi was warm and humid, and for the next few days I was hiking through beautiful jungles, terraced valleys and across rivers by rope bridge.

My second day I met some french mountaineers from Chamonix who motivated me to pick up the pace and eventually make it through 18KM of very steep terrain. I then split off from them and stayed in a village named Jagat.

For the next several days I took it slower, usually hiking by myself or with various villagers/trekkers that I happened to pass. I would usually leave around 6:30am and finish around noon when it got hotter. I'd then filter my water for the next day, bathe, wash laundry if necessary and eat a huge Dhal Baat (see earlier emails if you are wondering what this is).

Bhola and Tanya 5 days into my trek (when I had climbed to a height of about 9000 feet and it was a bit colder) I was sitting having a tea and was surprised to see Tanya (the Irish girl I had met in Delhi) just walk on by!

I knew Tanya was doing the circuit at some point, but that was as much as I knew. It turned out she had hired a great Nepali guide named Bhola and the two of them were doing the circuit together. I began walking with them and got to see some wonderful places as a result. Bhola had a great sense of humor and was a wonderful source of information on the local villages, Nepalese language/culture.

Annapurna 2 peak at sunrise We stayed in a small village named Ghyaru where I took this picture of Annapurna 2 at sunrise.
JC playing with the Kids in Ghyaru Playing with some fun little kids in the yak stables.
Peak from Ngawal Mountains from Ngawal. You can see the prayer flags of the local Tibetan Buddhists flapping in the wind. I was such a magical place!
Nawal Monastery We took a walk out of the village to this monastery perched on the edge of the snow covered mountain. The boys were studying in the afternoon sun. We had a nice time with the one of the head lamas. Tanya is considering going back there for a few months to work as a volunteer English teacher. The whole experience was really magical feeling.

From these villages we were able to start the acclimatization process (necessary to prevent altitude sickness -- A.M.S.).

JC outside Yak Karka Yours truly on my way up to Manang (~12,000 feet). We took it slow and aside from some headaches and difficult nights, we acclimatized well. In Manang several people had to be helicoptered down because of A.M.S.

From Manang, we hiked another day to Yak Karka and then another day to the Thorong La High Camp. Others we had met on the trek also showed up there and we had an exciting night of anticipation, eating well and drinking hot water to stay warm.

Thorong La

At 5:00 am we awoke and started the 8 hour accent across the Thorong La pass. About 10 days earlier a freak snow storm had dumped 18 feet of snow in the region -- killing 7 french climbers and 11 Sherpas. But by the time we were up there, a path had been shoveled through the snow and the sun was out.
The accent to 17,650 feet (5416 M) was very cold, but not particularly difficult to hike. The decent down the mountain was another story : )

Well, that it it for the first email! I'll write another one soon with photos and stories remaining 11 days of the trek.

Take care,


Part 2 of this adventure  |  Additional pics from Nepal