Nepal Annapurna Circuit – Trek of a Lifetime

I woke up to yet another round of movements from PK, my trek mate. The familiar burst of the door opening followed by a blast of cold air, he quickly unzips and urine right out from the door as fast as he could and then slams it shut, no sane man is going out there in this weather. I burrowed myself deeper into my soft and warm sleeping bag, which many treks or hikes later in the future I will find it one of the best gear I ever invested in. This is probably the hundredth time PK had done this ritual in our short restless sleep up in the high camp of Annapurna before our day of reckoning, the day we would cross the highest pass in the world – Thorung la pass.

It had been 10 days since we jumped off a 7-hours winding bus ride at Besisahar from Kathmandu and started trudging up to Khudi for our first-night stay at one of the many family homes that doubled as tea houses for visitors. Ironically, this first stay will turn out to be the worst of the rest of my entire 17 days trek. Sleeping on someone’s personal bed (the place was filled with Chinese workers that are fixing a nearby piping, the owner is kind enough to offer his room to us) staring at the cobwebs filled wooden ceiling, and after a “war” in the shower room where a huge spider was hanging down beside my faucet, a huge blanket of doubt came over me on what the hell am I putting up myself for. Of course, these doubts are unfounded as we trek on, the view was breathtaking and the joy of discovering villages to villages amazing while the tea houses improve one after another with surprising modernity or quaint traditional designs.

Just less than a day before this, we were in the bustling city of Kathmandu, hunting for the rest of the necessary gears for our great Annapurna Circuit Trek. How we came about to do this trek will baffle all the trekkers we will hence meet after that asked. It was the first night we were there and sitting in the common room of our guesthouse leafing through a used out of date Nepal guidebook from the exchange bookshelf, PK point straight to the small little section on the left bottom in the middle of the book and said “What about this trek? It has just about the right amount of days”. As we came in with a 1 month tourist visa in Nepal, we planned to stay the length of it and the Annapurna Circuit promised a trek of a lifetime (succinctly written in the short book space that it had) in around the range of 19 days, which would seem perfect for us to cover few cities in between plus buffer days. It was only after years after the trek while reminiscing I learned from PK that he did have some prior ideas about the treks in Nepal.

With that, we slam the book shut with conviction, set out the entire next day to equip ourselves, a detailed map because we would be doing the trek independently without a guide and which goes to say without a porter too, a pair of walking sticks which we used one each for reasons lost to me but probably not PK, and also some other knick knacks like backpack covers, trail foods and compass. We even manage to send some postcards to tell loved ones back home what we are about to embarked on, and in one of them for my dear friends I wrote partly “By the time you received this, I would probably be halfway along cursing myself”, which turns out unfounded as by then I had sunk into the rhythm of a pilgrim, looking forward daily to the open road ahead.

That night we unpacked and repacked all our possessions, stripping it down to the bare essentials as we would be carrying it for an average of 6 hours every day while trekking. It was then I realized I brought along too many unnecessary things on my 3 months backpacking trip, and initially, I thought I was doing really well in the minimalist department. We locked up the extra belongings (most are mine obviously), into the locker of the guesthouse and we would not be seeing it for the next 3 weeks, as we stayed on in Pokhara after the trek to unwind before returning here. We weighed ourselves here too and in return found that we had lost a substantial amount of weight, even after gorging ourselves silly in the leisure days of Pokhara.

As I woke up from the worst night, I shouldered on my backpack bravely. PK seemed the least bit deterred while backing out is not in my paradigm. As the sun started to shine, I am starting to fill up with optimism and excitement for the adventure to come, the arduous bus journey and restless night of the day before fading into the background as we step our first step into the conservation area of Annapurna Circuit. Yes, the trek of a lifetime is about to begin.

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