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Photos: Annapurna Trek

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

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Okay, so we actually drove the Annapurna circuit.
Nope, lying again. Actually this is a photo when we crossed a river after coming from Bardia National Park on the west side of Nepal. Since my hard drive crashed I was pilfering Justin’s and Mirriams camera for photos.

Since following a time line is just now what I am in to, I will just post the pics grouped by photographer. Just about ten each. Justin is slowly uploading all the photos to his flickr account so I might post that link when he finishes and you can get a real in depth timeline photography session. For now, just some of my pics of pics.

Justin’s Photos.
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What I like about using other peoples pics is that I tend to be in all of them. That speck on the middle left is me. Great contrast and a sort of “destiny” to it. Actually I was looking at a little village that I had my heart on going to but Mirriam chose at that moment to be a “leader” and chose the path to the left even though I was standing on the right path which would have taken us to the most magnificent village. We ended up only getting to see it from a far distance.

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A typical Nepalese kitchen. The women take great pride in their kitchens as it is almost like showing family pictures.

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Thats me on the lower left again but I was wearing a wig. Nepalese kids are actually all over six foot tall. Freaky.

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Money shot.

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Some local beer. Like I say over and over, wherever you go in the world there are so many similarities. I’ve seen this stuff in pretty much every country I have been. Just throw any fruits and veggies in a barrel with some grain and water. Wait a few days and bam….beer.

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This is what AMS looks like (Acute Mountain Sickness).

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Me, Me, Me….

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My favorite photo

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Mirriam celebrating her overcoming of heights, pre-fears, and a new height record.

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Success.

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Getting back the “Going to heaven” point I lost by stealing the sacred cloth from that temple on the Lachlung La pass coming from Ley to Manali. From my calculations stealing a religious icon lost me a solid point. By not only returning it to another place but another place that was 400 meters higher than the other holy place, I actually end up with an extra 33%. Score. Carla if you are reading this, you don’t have to worry about me bursting into flames.

Now some Mirriam photos.
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The gang at one of the most scenic stops on the route. That is Annapuna II in the background with L to R. Pao, Carla, Roni, Nissan, Justin, and of course me with my umbrella.

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Me again, fjording a river.

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Me napping.

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One of the most beautiful areas of the trek was this huge mountside bowl. Somehow I was not in this photo however Photoshop can fix that.

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Trekking on the Jomsom side.

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Mirriam’s excuse for not climbing Poon hill. Such a girl. It didn’t even fall off yet.

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The whole gang in Manang. L to R. Carla (Argentina), Pao (Spain), Justin (Canada), Roni (Israel), Nissan (Israel), Me (America), and Yoshi (Finland). Mirriam (Canada) the photographer behind the camera.

Now me as a photographer.

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Justin and Mirriam scootching down the river.

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Nepalese lettuce. Stuff was everywhere between 1500-3000M. Care packages are being sent back to the US as we speak (Wink-wink).

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Nepalese hippies. Peace baby.

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As Justin had to constantly tell Mirriam when she burst into crying, “you wanted to go hiking in the HIMALAYAS, did you not think there would be heights involved.” She actually did very well after day three and we broke down her real fears vs. pre-fears vs. perceived fears vs actual fears vs. mental and physically exhausted induced fears. I thought it would be fun and it was. Perhaps I will go into psychology when I go back.

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One of my other favorites.

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Trekking up from Thorung Phedi to High Camp where we stayed the night at 4800M.

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Magnificent shot up at high camp.

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Getting back my Shiva points.

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Shot of Dhaulgiri from Poon Hill. 2000m in six and a half hours after twenty days of trekking. Enjoy. No, I mean look at it again, make it your screen saver, print it out, that was a freaking pain in the ass day for me so take advantage of it.

Howdy (that means hello in Nepalese). Sorry about the no posts, I just got back from the trek.

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

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Okay, I lied, twice. I’ve been watching a lot of House (tv show). Sooooo, “Namaste” means hello and I have been back in Polkara for over a week now watching tv and eating tons of Western food.

Breaking it down, 90% of the lackadaisicalness is really due to tv and food. The other ten percent I can break down accordingly.

5% due to the computer breaking before I left (hard drive crashed and the up arrow key not functioning), picked up the semi-repaired laptop (portioned off the bad sector and now the period, down and left arrows no longer work (different problem)), spent some time re-installing everything that I had and was slowed down quite a bit due to a scratched up back-up dvd that I had all my pictures and drivers on. This was followed by the hard drive fatally crashing and me losing all my pictures from Ley until now. I was able to salvage my trekking pictures because Justin downloaded all my pics onto his Ipod so I was able to get those back as well as hours and hours of patching together the scratched dvd stuff . So ten days later I have the laptop up and running again.

3% was due to a huge gas shortage in Nepal. Apparently Nepal was not paying its fuel bill to India so gas deliveries were reduced to 33% of demand. Other issues which magnified the problem was a road strike over increased prices and fuel trucks were targeted, black market as because fuel is subsidized in Nepal, it is much cheaper than in India, and finally as I sure everybody is aware, petrol prices have sky rocketed. Because three of us were driving bikes, we found out quickly that getting fuel was going to be a problem. Fuel deliveries were limited to about one station a day and locals had an idea where, but as tourists we had no clue. The standard procedure for a Nepalese that knew was to find out what station was going to get fuel that night and drive their vehicle to the station before 6am, 4:30am if you really needed fuel, and hang out there until that evening/night when the fuel arrives. The problem we ran into was that since we had no connections we could only drive around in the morning to look for the correct station and by the time we got there, there would be cars and motorcycles already lined up for kilometers. Nissan (Israeli I rode with in Ley) got fuel by going to the tourist police and they were nice enough to line up some fuel for him. They unfortunately are only helpful one time a year so we were not so lucky. Finally, we banked on Nepalese hospitality and begged a petrol station manager to help us. He was very helpful and had us drop off our bikes and after the fuel arrived he had them filled up for us. Our fuel problem was solved.

1% was due to the group of people that I knew before the trek and the others that I met on the trek all being in town so we spent a lot of time just socializing at the Laughing Buddha, a little restaurant that we took over and spent way too much time just hanging out eating and complaining how much time we were wasting doing nothing. Yesterday, Justin and Mirriam left making me the last one here and which gave me some motivated to get writing.

The last 1% but probably much larger is the fact that I am lazy. Enough said.

After buying a few additional trekking pieces, a wide brim hat and a fleece one too (bald guy), and an umbrella (really heavy duty and strong enough to be used as a walking stick- I hate wearing rain gear as you end up getting just as wet from the sweat build up as you do with the rain) we grabbed a bus to the starting point and off we went.

The Annapurna Circuit is a 250 km circular trek that encircles a stretch of the Himalayas. Elevationally it goes from sub-tropical paddy at 500M up to the high altitude 5415M Thorung La (pass). The trek takes about three weeks. Accommodation is fairly upscale with most local villages being turned into little tourist centers with “tea house” hotels. The locals with government and NGO support have established a fairly main stream trek. Pricing was all standardized (although high) with pre-set menus and no need for bargaining. Since it was off season we were offered deals on the accommodation part (free to 50% off) because the locals knew that the real money was in the food.

I ended up teaming up with Justin and Mirriam as Nissan and Roni were tired of waiting and decided to leave a day earlier. Neither one had done any high altitude trekking and Miriam had a huge heights phobia so I figured it would be interesting if my guiding skills were still up to par as well as figuring that we wouldn’t be moving super fast which would fit my plan of wasting time and staying away from the heat and humidity of having to go back to India (plus I secretly hoped that she would want to quit and we could go back after the first cliffside pass (I’ve seen as many snow capped peaks as I have markets)).

Weather wise, we were very wary of trekking conditions as hiking during Monsoon season didn’t seem like such a smart idea. In the end it turned out excellent. We got wet on the first day and the last. The rest of the time it was fairly clear to fair. The really lucky part was in the areas where you get views of the Himalayas, we were extremely lucky and the skies parted each time we arrived at a view point. We even had a clear morning the day we cleared the pass which even surprised the locals. If anyone says that you have to trek only during the peak seasons, they are wrong.

The other negative about hiking during the monsoon season is Leeches. Supposedly this is the worst time to trek as the wet conditions sets the gauntlet of blood suckers to high. Again we were very fortunate and we got exactly 0 bites. The trek itself is pretty well maintained so if you stayed on the main trail you really did not need to get into the green areas where leeches might lie. Nissan and Roni did get a few so they were out there. I guess it was my guiding skills.

Our trek went like this

Day one: We walked.
Day two: We walked.
Day three: We walked
.
.
.
Day nineteen: The others took a shortcut and grabbed a couple of buses back to Polkara. I continued on up over a big ass hill called Poon Hill.
Day twenty: I grabbed a bus back to Polkhara.
Day twenty-one: Buddha Café for brunch and dinner intermixed with internet
Day thirty: Still following itinerary of day twenty-one

I know, kind of crappy descriptions, but I think the photos provide a much better story.

Responses to comments.

Saturday, July 26th, 2008
steves-8.JPG Hello and thanks for reading the blog. Sorry about the long time between responses. I assume everybody has an idea why. Mom- Doing fine as always. Roy- The inspiration is pretty much because ... [Continue reading this entry]