Saturday, July 16, 2011

Actually Yes. This is the Last Post About the Annapurna Circuit. (Annapurna Circuit Wrap-Up.)

Supertrek: The Map
View our Annapurna Circuit Trek in a larger map, and if you have Google Earth, use it.
• Blue pins: where we slept          • Green pins: places of interest
• Fork & Knife: where we ate          • Blue line: where we drove

Links to each post from the trek are at the bottom of this post.

Trekking the Annapurna Circuit was a fantastic two weeks. Everything came together perfectly: terrific company, a superb guide, exceptional weather, and breathtaking scenery made this one of the highlights in our year of travel. My account of the trek, however, might not convey this. So here I try to capture the best aspects of the trek and share with you, and remind us, why it was so fun.

The scenery. The Annapurnas are a spectacular mountain range. Dhaulagri, the highest peak reaches 26,795 feet, though each of the Annapurna peaks (named, I, II, III, and IV) demanded our attention as they soared upwards filling the picture-perfect blue sky. With this for a background we spent our days walking through the gorgeous Marsyangdi River Valley: watching the lush forests turn to grasslands and terraced fields, high-plains and ultimately barren windswept mountain tops. Photos cannot capture the experience of crossing swaying footbridges with the Marsyangdi thundering underneath; passing stupas and collectively spinning prayer wheels for good luck; and, of course, stopping to simply take in the spectacular scenery.  Below is a slideshow of the changing scenery as we trek from Besishara to Pokhara.

Shiba, our guide, was an encyclopedia of information. He easily answered any question we posed, whether it was about the mountains, (including our many questions about the time he summited Mount Everest! Without oxygen!), Nepali culture, and even the best dishes at each of the restaurants we ate (though the best dish does not mean it was a good dish). He quickly became more than a guide and was our friend for the duration of the trek.
Actually, Shiba.
The Friends.  Finally, committing to two weeks of walking, eating and sleeping with a small group of people can be risky. Thankfully, our group came together wonderfully. A highlight of each day was sharing Everest beers, large pots of ginger-lemon, or my personal favorite, Johnnie Walker Green Labels!) as we recounted the day’s adventures, fantasized about non-Nepali food, or speculated on the conditions of the next tea house’s bathrooms (dirty squatter, or really dirty squatter?). Sharing the trek with all its ups and downs with such great company was as good as the views themselves.

And thanks to Ted's running ahead, or intentionally hanging back, he captured tons of excellent walking shots. As for those shots that I took, I am sad to say that they were the only upside of my glacial pace. Follow along as we walk for eleven days:

And if you still haven't gotten enough, here are the best 1000 (out of over 2,500) photos from the Annapurna Circuit trek.

Links to each of the Annapurna posts:

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