11/12/09 – 11/13/09: Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Day 9: Manang to Letdar (3.5 hours)
The snow is always whiter on the other side.
This morning I felt like Truman Burbank trying to escape Seahaven Island. Out of nowhere millions of trekkers raced to the trails, blocking all possible paths (all one of them) to the top. We had met a lot of trekkers to this point, but nowhere near this many. Fortunately, Zhou and I have one key advantage on most of them: we’re better than they are!
Most of the crowd stopped at the first rest area (less than an hour from Manang) presumably for a scone and a cup of tea, but we plowed on. It’s a good thing we did too, because soon it started to snow, and then it started to snow hard. I like to use the term blizzard, but for some reason Zhou does not think it applied in this scenario (I think in her mind, Dairy Queen has sole rights to the Blizzard). By the time we reached our destination just after lunch, there were four inches of snow on the ground and another eight on the way.
There are moments in everybody’s lives where they wonder how they turned out like they did, and why things didn’t end up better. Tonight I had one of those moments. Rock bottom for me was when ten of us were begging and pleading the lodge staff to get us more yak poo to stoke the nonexistent fire. “I need the poo!” and “Yak poo or I’ll smack you!” were two of the chants I heard from the angry mob. When more dried poo was finally shoved into the fireplace, the huddled masses erupted, only to realize that yak poo really does not generate all that much heat. Needless to say, it was a long, cold day at 4,200 meters.
Day 10: Letdar to Thorong Phedi (2.25 hours)
The snow was still falling in the morning, so it looked like it was going to be another yak poo kind of day (“YPKD”). We slogged through our porridge breakfasts while daydreaming that a group of mules and a pack of Belgians would clear a path through the snow for us to follow up to our base camp. As it turned out that might have been one of my more effective dreams, as sure enough, the mules and Belgians came to the rescue! (As we learned from our Belgian friends in Africa, you can always count on mules and/or Belgians.)
We completed the short hike through the snow up to 4,450 meters, our final stop before the climax of the circuit, the 5,416 meter high Thorong La Pass. Rumor has it that 100% of people attempt the Pass die at some point in their lives. It will not be an easy day to say the least. Will we live to tell our grandchildren that we once hiked 1,000 meters through the snow, uphill one way? Or will we become two more statistics in the Annapurna Book of Death (“ABD”)? Tune in tomorrow to find out…
Puzzles for Postcards
Hidden Countries (Remember, at least five letters long, can be hidden forward or backward)
For my own peace of mind I always lock the deadbolt and the handle at night.
The pudgy Latino boys snuck Mars bars into their morning Spanish class.
Picture of the Day: For a minute Zhou thought she was on a beach in Thailand.