Archive for the ‘Trekking / トレッキング’ Category

Sunday, 20th Nov

Posted: November 22, 2011 in Trekking / トレッキング

Today was our last day of trekking. We took many more photos of the mountains from the lodge and then followed Narayan for the last time along the path. Soon the path turned into a road and we saw our first vehicles for 2 weeks; a truck and some motorbikes. There was a checkpoint where my pass was checked and the details written down. I’m not sure how useful these checkpoints are; the chap was so busy practising his English with me that he wrote my first and second names in the wrong order! We left the road and started down the last stone staircase. It went on forever and this is the route that I had originally intend to take. There were people coming up the staircase and they were all huffing and puffing while they clutched their Lonely Planet guides. Eventually we descended to the main road to Pokhara and after some short negotiations we got in a taxi for the 25 minute ride to our hotel. It was the usual white knuckle ride and the driver drove right up to any vehicle in front before pressing the brakes and horn at the same time. We arrived back at about 11:30 in the morning and the three of us enjoyed a bottle of pop in the hotel garden while telling the staff about our adventures. Pop? Yes, well it was a bit early for anything stronger. With a final shake of the hand we said goodbye to Narayan and Julian and I made the final ascent of the day to our room and a long overdue shower.


Saturday, 19th Nov

Posted: November 22, 2011 in Trekking / トレッキング

Today was a fairly gentle day from Tolka to Dhampus. We climbed out of the Modi Khola river valley which we have been walking up and down for the last 2 weeks. The day was warm, sunny and the path was through a leafy forest. It felt very similar to a walk through the New Forest except that we are still at 2,000m; well above Ben Nevis. We had lunch in the garden of a lodge and had wonderful views of the Annapurna range. After another hour or so we reached Dhampus and a lodge run by another of Narayan’s friends. From the window of our room and from the roof there were superb views of the mountains. For perhaps the first time on the trek, the night was clear and we could see the stars – far more than we can see from Fuji city. The lodge is run by a family and Julian spent a long time in the kitchen watching the mother and two daughters cook the dinner over a mixture of wood and gas fires. In the ceiling of the kitchen was a birds nest and some swallows through in and out through the evening not bothered by the human activity below.



Friday, 18th Nov

Posted: November 22, 2011 in Trekking / トレッキング

Last night at Jhinu (1,780m) was the warmest we have experienced for about 9 days but it was still chilly. We’re halfway back down the valley and we are looking forward to getting back to civilisation. At breakfast we met Peter and Sue again and Julian showed them part three of the Sir Rutherford Alcock story which ends with a riddle. I read this part to Julian a few days ago and now he is asking English speakers if they can work out the answer. Peter and Sue did quickly as did some Germans yesterday. Tonight I will read the thrilling climax to Julian.

Our walk today followed a path that ran alongside the river and eventually came to a place called New Bridge which has a “new bridge” across the Modi Khola River. I asked Narayan how old the bridge is and he replied that it is quite old but they have never changed the name of the small group of lodges which make up New Bridge. This wood and cable suspension bridge is only about 10 metres above the water but it’s about 50 metres long and real Indie Jones stuff. Julian sailed across without any problems despite there being a pronounced sway once you meet the middle. From the bridge the path followed the river before rising steeply to Landruck which is the twin village to Gandruck across the valley where we stayed 8 days ago. The weather today was cloudy and despite having 7 or 8 lodges, Landruck felt like a ghost town in the clouds because there were very few trekkers around. We decided to press on so that we can get further tomorrow. On the path we met two Americans going the other way. They were following the Lonely Planet guide which suggested going up this side of the valley and coming down the other. This was my intention until I discussed the plan with our guide, Narayan who advised walking the other way round. We shared a hilarious 10 minutes with the Americans during which I told them that all the villages on the other side of the valley have a McDonalds and a Starbucks and the guy blamed the route choice on his girlfriend! These chance meetings on the trail are almost as special as the views of the mountains. We are now in Tolka at 1,700m; I would have liked to have gone on but the next village is at 2,100 which would have meant another freezing night. Julian went a bit quite as we found our room in the lodge. I think he has had enough of the walking in the mountains. The menus in all the lodges are the same too and there is not much on there that he likes. It’s all a mixture of tomatoes, vegetables, cheese, tuna, rice, potatoes and bread. This could be in the form of curry, pizza, spaghetti, noodles or a fried potato dish. Julian pointed out to me today that there is no meat on the menus….. I hadn’t realised but it’s true there is no bacon, sausages, ham, chicken, hamburgers; nothing. I promised him a big steak when we get back to Pokhara and he said I could have 100 bottles of beer! All the lodges sell beer and small bottles of Indian whiskey and Nepalese rum but I haven’t touched a drop while we’ve been on the trail. To raise Julian’s spirits I played him three short video clips which I asked Kayo to secretly record on my iPhone for him. They are encouraging messages from back home and I’ve been saving then for when Julian really needed them. They hit the target perfectly and he started laughing almost at once. He’s now having a pre-dinner sleep and no doubt dreaming of his steak.

Thursday, 17th Nov

Posted: November 22, 2011 in Trekking / トレッキング

Today was a long hike from Bamboo to Jhinu. Jhinu is low down at 1,780m not far above the Modi Khola river and is famous because it has a natural hot spring. Before we started this morning, I told Julian that there would be a fun thing if we reached Jhinu this day but I didn’t tell him what it was. This was his incentive for today. There was a party of 9 or 10 Australians in our lodge last night. I think they were all from the same family and two generations. Over breakfast it became clear that they were heading for Jhinu too and for most of the morning we were leapfrogging each other as we stopped at different points to take photos. The Australians had been at Annapurna Base Camp yesterday and the view had been snowed out. I think Julian and I were very lucky to see a good sunrise this week. There was no snow at Bamboo or rain overnight but the path was still boggy and a little slippery. At times the path rose steeply and at others it dropped down. It was quite a knackering day. We had a very late lunch at Chommrong at the same guest house we stayed at 9 days ago and the last place that Julian and I had a shower or wash of any kind. The path then dropped down to Jhinu. Unfortunately the hot spring itself is another 20 minute walk down to the valley to the river itself. When we arrived, we found three baths, an information board, a donation box and a fairly stern looking elderly Nepali man who was making it very plain that donations were mandatory. The first pool seemed to be for porters and they didn’t seem to have to pay. The second two pools were about half the size of a tennis court in total and were pretty full of trekkers. The water was hot but not painfully so and Julian and I stayed for more than an hour. Our water-proof camera was put to good use; see it was a good idea! It felt so good to have a wash after 8 days and tonight we will sleep in the last of our clean clothes. We are out of the snow, the temperature isn’t to low and maybe we have two or three days left. Tonight at dinner we met Peter and Sue from England who have a good tale to tell. Peter is a dentist and a volunteer for the Gurkha Welfare Trust. After trekking for a few days, he will spend 5 days at a medical camp practising dentistry on anyone who turns up while other medical volunteers will sort out many other problems including cataracts. Peter has taken part in one of these medical camps before and at that time he extracted several hundred teeth in the five days. Julian is now playing UNO with Peter and Sue and their guide and porter. He’s playing well and already won one round. Another good day and evening.





Wednesday, 16th Nov

Posted: November 22, 2011 in Trekking / トレッキング

The snow didn’t fall all night but in the morning there was about 6 inches on the ground. Before breakfast Reece had decided not to continue up but there were people drifting past our lodge into the whiteness and so he changed his mind and decided to go up. The porters can’t remember the weather being this bad in November; it really is exceptionally bad. Terry and Inca were heading down from Deurali to Bamboo while our plan was to go slightly further to Sinuwa. Snow was falling as we left the lodge and the path was terribly slippery. We still had to test every footstep and it was very slow going. But people were coming up the path including a group of about 8 Japanese OAPs. We met them at an iced-up rickety bridge. They paused but still continued onwards despite our advice that path ahead was much worse. There were also Koreans and Europeans going up and the porters exchanged hurried words but few people turned back. At Hinko Cave Reece caught us up. He had gone about an hour further up the trail but the snow was much worse and he had given up reaching ABC. Reece had done about 90% of the Annapurna Circuit and although he regretted not seeing the mountains from ABC, he was keen to get down to Pokhara. Julian and I too are quite keen to get back to civilisation. Unfortunately, our pace was slow today and on the porter grapevine we heard that our destination, Sinuwa, was going to be full of trekkers so we settled for Bamboo. Tomorrow we will have to walk a long way up and down to get to Jhinu. We are starting to run out of money and so we should try and get down in 3 days. We are below the snowline now but it must have rained a lot recently because all the streams and waterfalls are torrents and the path is really boggy. Julian has run out of dry socks and he has some blisters. We’re in good spirits but it is time to get down…





ぼくは今、アンナプルナ ベイスキャンプにいるよ。
みんなからおくってもらった しゃしんを たいせつにもって、とりました。
ここまで のぼれたのも、みんなのおかげだよ!
どうも ありがとう(^v^)


Tuesday, 15th Nov

Posted: November 22, 2011 in Trekking / トレッキング

The lodge at Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) was full last night including 3 huge men from Estonia. They ordered a large bottle of Kukri Rum and then began entertaining everyone with Estonian songs. The Nepalese porters then sang a trekking song and everyone clapped along. We turend in early and hoped for a clear morning. We shared a room with a German called Gert who was very friendly. He was a camera enthusiast and later gave Julian a can of Coke which must have cost a fortune being carried to Annapurna Base Camp, ABC.

Everyone woke early and we were out of our tiny room before 7. The temperature in our room at that time was minus 6. It was light although the sun wasn’t up yet. We stood on a huge bank of lateral moraine and and down below us was the South Annapurna Glacier. There was still a lot of thin night-time cloud around and so we only had brief glimpses of the mountains although Annapurna South and Machhapuchhre were clearly visible. During the night it had snowed and there was about 6 inches of snow on the ground. Everyone tried to get a good vantage point on the moraine which lead to the comical situation of an older German speaking woman berating the German speaking Gert for standing in a prime position and spoiling everyone else’s view but berating him in English! Eventually everyone spaced out but the clouds returned and there were no more shots to take so most people went back to one of the four lodges at ABC and had breakfast. Our kitchen was overloaded and before our omlette and Gurung bread arrived, the sky brightened outside and most people headed out to get another look. This time we were rewarded with the spectacular view of the whole Annapurna Range. It was awesome. We were surrounded by mountains and 50 metres below us was the glacier. Across the glacier the valley side was bare rock but all the higher peaks were covered in snow. We saw the sun emerge from behind Machhapuchhre and it was another glorious sight. People were shouting and cheering; it was a really festive atmosphere. Julian made a snow angel by lying in the snow and waving his arms and legs. Gradually people started drifting off but Julian and I walked up to the cairn area that I had seen the day before. It was all covered in snow now which made walking a bit treacherous. We found a nice spot in view of Annapurna I and Julian made a cairn in the shape of a ship. I just sat and gazed at the mountains. It was so peaceful…
We were some of the last to leave ABC although other people were just arriving who would stay the day and the night there. We left at 10:30 and the clouds were returning. As we walked down to Machhapuchhre Base Camp (MBC) it started to snow and visibility was down to 50m. The path was slippery and the going was slow. At times our porter was a dim figure in the distance. It took ages to reach MBC by which time we were walking in a sleety cloud and our porter was nowhere to be seen. I was just beginning to think that we should stop at MBC for the day and wait out the bad weather when we met our porter in the gloom and after a short discussion decided to continue on and try for Deurali. It was snowing continually but when walking we were warm. The path was quite clearly visible because of all the other people who had walked down that morning. But the main problem was that it was very slippery. We were having to test every footstep. We broke out our wet-gear and trudged on the slippery path. It was such a contrast to the glorious morning. In the late afternoon we fell into a lodge at Deurali – exhausted and pretty wet.
The evening was better. We met a woman again who we had met several times on the way up. She had a pain in her knee and so was moving up the trail almost as slowly as we were. This evening she still had the pain in her knee and I gave her some of our deep heat cream. (Kayo- I just gave her the tube. I didn’t actually apply it on her knee or anything like that!) Her next problem was that she needed an adaptor to charge her Nokia mobile phone. She was asking everyone; trekkers and porters alike and hence she became the Nokia Lady. Everyone took her to be an American because of her accent but it turned out that Inca (sorry about the spelling Inca but you did say as in the South American civilisation!) was from Finland! This made the Nokia phone charger quest even more ridiculous. We were joined at the dining table by Terry who lives in Southampton and is researching neuro-science. When he saw my slightly puzzled look he said “the brain”- I really must read some more intellectual books. There was also Reece, the dreadlocked Welshman who has been travelling around S.E. Asia for months and is just completing the Annapurna Circuit which had taken him 21 days so far. He was the only one of the party going up; all the rest of us were coming down the valley. After dinner Julian and I introduced the group to Annapurna Rules Rummy. It was good to play in a group of five. Terry won most of the hands. It was snowing outside as we then produced the poker dice. Reece got two perfect scores in a row and won the game. Eventually the porters started arranging their blankets to sleep in the dinning hall and taking the hint we turned in for the night. The snow continued and the last thoughts of the day were whether we would be snowed in and whether Reece would continue up the valley tomorrow.






Monday, 14th Nov

Posted: November 21, 2011 in Trekking / トレッキング

What a disaster this morning! Instead of waking up early and getting to ABC before mid morning, I didn’t hear the alarm clock and Julian and I were still asleep at 7:45. That was good because it had taken me ages to go to sleep last night – the zip on my sleeping bag which I rented from a Pokhara lowlife is broken and so obviously makes the nights even colder. Again we were the last out of our lodge apart from 2 young Japanese men. I had a chat with them and one is from a city not far from Fuji City. The path today was a gentle uphill trudge. There are no trees or bushes now just boggy grass and heather-like vegetation. Looking behind us we had a glorious view of Machhapuchhre (the fishtail mountain) and at one point the sun appeared around the southern side of it. Thanks to Julian pointing this out to me, I managed to get it all on film. Ahead of us was Annapurna South and we also had glimpses of Annapurna III behind the smaller hills in the foreground. Julian found a pond that had frozen over and took great delight in breaking the ice. Many people were coming down from the base camp. Some of them we recognised from previous days and conversations. Before long Peter and his guide came down and we had a good 2 minute re-union. He said the sunrise this day had been good and they had had excellent views of the mountains. All the people coming down were smiling and in a good mood – it was like they were all on happy gas.

The clouds started to follow us up the mountain and soon Machhapuchhre was invisible to us. There were a few black birds flying through the mist and the scene was becoming quite eerie. Narayan was ahead of us and most of the time and it was quiet all round. By the time we reached the sign saying “Welcome to Annapurna Base Camp” the place was completely in cloud and we could barely see 50m ahead let alone the mountains. We had an early lunch and met again the four elderly Japanese people; 3 men and a woman. They made a big fuss of Julian and he opened up a bit to them. Then I put Julian to bed. It was only about 1pm but he was getting a bit quiet and I don’t think he slept too well last night. While he slept I walked further up towards the mountains. It was totally silent and still cloudy. There were small cairns of 6 or 7 rocks on top of each other which people had piled up but my eye was caught by a group of payer flags which draped a much larger permanent cairn. On this I found the memorial plaque for Ian Clough who was killed in the 1970 on the final day of Chris Bonington’s Annapurna South expedition. There was also a plaque for Anantoli Boukreev, the Russian mountaineer who saved some people’s lives during the 1996 Everest disaster. Both these men were killed by avalanches on Annapurna. If the weather is good tomorrow, the views should be spectacular.






Sunday, 13 Nov

Posted: November 21, 2011 in Trekking / トレッキング

Today was a great day. We were woken up by Peter’s porter banging on the door telling him that breakfast was ready. They had decided that to leave Deurali early and make the dash to Annapurna Base Camp – a climb of 900 metres. I thought that wasn’t a wise idea for us at this altitude. So we were just going to walk to Machhapuchhre Base Camp – a climb of only 400 metres. The room was very cold last night. In fact our thermometer read minus 1 degrees. We hurried to the dining hall and had a simple breakfast of lemon tea, Gurung bread and an omelette. The portions in all these lodges are big and so we have decided to order few dishes and then share. This is especially true for breakfast where it’s not good to eat too much. We have learnt the lesson of the pizza breakfast.

We said goodbye to Peter; there’s a chance we might meet him coming down as we are going up but there are so many people climbing up this valley we may miss him. The walk today was great; very few steps, not too much up and down, just a gentle up hill slope. The path has now met the Modi Khola river and for part of the way we were walking beside it. At one point we came across some snow lying the beside the cliff of the valley wall. We realised that this was the aftermath of an avalanche. The snow wasn’t on the path and there wasn’t a lot of it but it was a reminder that this was avalanche territory. The valley is now about 100 metres wide. There are very few trees and we have left all the bamboo behind. Now it’s only grass and small plants. It was cloudy for much of today so we couldn’t see the mountains above and behind the valley walls. The avalanches are a silent danger. The snow starts moving high on the mountains above and then falls suddenly into the valley in which we are walking. Narayan said that a week ago the whole valley above Deurali was covered in snow. It has all melted now which is good for us. We walked from 9 to 12:30 and when we arrived at Machhapuchhre Base Camp the place was completely in cloud. There are 4 large lodges but also today there were some tents. Some of them were identical and in a regimental line so I think that must be an organised trip. I wouldn’t want to be in a tent tonight! We had a soup lunch and then went to bed from about 2pm to 5pm. It was so cold. I’m now in the dining room writing this diary with pen and paper. The batteries on the iPhone and camera are pretty low and I’m saving them for Annapurna Base Camp tomorrow.

In other news I seem to be damaging international relations at every opportunity. Across from us at the dining table last night was a chap who must have been in his early 70s. He was speaking English and after a few minutes our eyes met and I asked him where in England he was from. “I’m from Australia!” was his reply. It turned out that he left England with his parents when he was 16. This is his 7th trip to Nepal so he’s quite a veteran. He’s one of the people who wanted to go on a trek near Mount Everest but because of the bad weather he changed his plans. A few days ago we also met some middle-aged European women and I asked them if they were from Italy only to be told they were from Spain! We met them again on the trail and they were genuinely worried about Julian because he was being slow and no communicative. Despite being the poorest speakers of English on the whole Annapurna Route, they got the message across that Julian should walk slowly and drink lots of water. They gave him some chocolate which of course was bound to cheer him up. Whenever we saw them again, I always urged Julian to smile and pretend to be ultra happy lest I receive another ticking off from the Spanish witches. (I bet they were nurses!)

Before going to bed I gave Narayan one of our precious hot patches. I hope it kept him warm because we were freezing in our room…


Saturday, 12th Nov

Posted: November 21, 2011 in Trekking / トレッキング

Last night was very cold. We both used one of the 10 hot patches which I brought from Japan. They are about the size of a postcard and once out of the packet they quickly warm up and stay that way for about 12 hours. God knows where Narayan slept but he was his normal smiling self in the morning. Peter slept on the floor but said he was OK. We were among the last to leave again, this time at 8:15. Peter and his porter walked with us for the first 20 minutes but it was obvious they could walk much faster and they took off. The route today was very slippery; it rained heavily in the night. There weren’t too many rock steps just a relentless uphill slope. At times we had to cross rickety bridges over tributary streams but Julian can do these now without hesitation. At one point a porter came struggling past with a basket on his back from which we could see legs protruding. It was a small, old Japanese man who was being carried down. He looked pretty cheerful and we wished him well in Japanese which made him smile more and he waved to us. Not sure what the problem was but it shows how strong these porters are. The path went higher and higher curving round the valley. The path and the Modi Khola river and getting closer and closer. About 3 o’clock we reached the Hinku Cave. It’s under a huge over hanging rock and we believe it is where the Yeti sleeps. There was a cylinder of Pringles, some burnt firewood, a few cigarettes and the names of people scratched on the roof of the cave. Perhaps these are names of his victims! We are on his scent now. Finally at 4pm we arrived at Deurali. Peter was waiting for us with a chocolate bar which was very welcome. Just after we arrived it started raining. We had mad it just in time.


This is all the luggage we took. Narayan carried the large rucksack with a sleeping bag tied on top. I carried the smaller rucksack.